September 7, 2012

Attacks on Motives Do Not Belong...” at Sharper Iron?

In the previous article we discussed Sharper Iron and Censorship by Omission. Today, we are going to review elements of a thread comment by SI site publisher Aaron Blumer. The following excerpt appears in the SI discussion thread (comment #50) under Questions for Matt Olson and Northland International University.

I’m disappointed to see so many emoting so much in the thread…. I seem to be increasingly alone in believing this, but attacks on Don’s motives or Matt’s motives or anybody else’s motives do not belong here. You all agreed to the Comment Policy. Some of you need to review it. Some have reacted here without apparently even reading Don’s piece…. The situation calls for reining in tempers and making measured statements (if any at all). Chances are good the thread will close before much longer. Edit... OK, that sounded worse than I intended. There are some pretty good observations in the thread and I don’t want to too broadly criticize it. I do appreciate what many of you have contributed here. (It’s been a really hard week and I probably need a vacation)
Aaron Blumer IS increasingly alone in believing attacks do not belong at SI. SI moderators and certain vocal members have historically ridiculed, badgered, attacked motive and impugned character with impunity. In fact, there are occasions when Aaron has joined in these episodes taking sides against participants in the threads. In past and current SI discussion threads if Aaron admitted who was attacking motives, who was impugning character then he would have to admit his people have at times been in the wrong. It seems he can’t bring himself to admit certain things. It’s as if he could not afford to lose face with his people even if it meant being a hypocrite, which is sad.

Aaron wrote, “I seem to be increasingly alone in believing this, but attacks on…motives do not belong here.” So, how did Aaron exemplify this admonition to forum participants? On Friday, August 31 Aaron published an article on SI’s Front Page, a ten point article, How to Blast…a Christian Brother.... Taking into consideration his thread admonition on attacking motives and comparing it to his How to Blast... article we have IMO the crown jewel of hypocrisy! In the article Aaron assumes much motive, which really shoots himself and his leadership in the foot. Personally, I don’t think Aaron will acknowledge this or walk-back the article.

Is That a “Pretty Good Observation?”
It also appears Aaron cannot accept or cannot grasp that others are right when it comes to criticism of the blatant problems with the SI commenting world. Let’s consider another excerpt from Aaron’s statement above, “There are some pretty good observations in the thread….” The following statement can be found under comment #3 in the Questions for MO & NIU Filings thread, the same thread where Aaron posted his admonition. Does the following from SI member Matthew Richards qualify as a “pretty good observation?”
What about Chuck Phelps? Any good articles discussing his hatchet job on the Tina Anderson situation?”
SI’s team has the ability to delete such an irresponsible comment, if they were inclined to do so, which they obviously weren’t inclined to do. Apparently, Aaron believes that is a “pretty good observation” because it is still there.1 Apparently, that kind of off topic rhetoric passes SI Comment Policy.

Aaron Blumer, his team and many of the vocal members there often follow typical leftist strategy: When you cannot refute or answer the question, then you attack the messenger and/or discuss something else, even if tangential. Redirect to anything to move off the pertinent issue at hand.  The SI deletion of comments in violation of comment policy only seems to be implemented in order to cast objectors in as poor a light as possible.2

SI Drives Off Another:
Long time SI member JG formally and permanently ended his participation at SI. Following are excerpts from JG’s explanation to Aaron Blumer/SI for requesting that his membership be cancelled.
You know, friends, I’m a busy tent-maker. Anyone wonder why I’d take so much time on this when most people here apparently don’t want to hear what I say? There has been little of the Lord’s compassion in some statements…. Sharper Iron is far from the forum I joined years ago. Much has disappointed me. I’ve cited Scripture repeatedly in this discussion. No one bothered to interact with it…. This used to be a place where the Scripture WAS the discussion. Not on this topic, not even close. The double-standard I mentioned in a prior comment would never have been tolerated in the past. It used to be charity was extended to those who were different…. SI was a place where actions and beliefs of all could be scrutinized, but harshness in tone would cause those from across the spectrum to rise up as one in opposition. That’s gone. But this, to me, goes beyond all that and is a line I have to draw. 
I will not stand silent while our Lord’s grace is dishonored in a forum where I am a member. 
Thank you to all who have been friends to me, been gracious to me when I’ve not been all I should have been. There have been many I’ve appreciated here, many who I still appreciate greatly. But I’ll have to bow out now. Please cancel my membership of this forum.3
And the SI crowd can’t seem to understand why JG left the forum.

A Somewhat Positive Note:
While the behavior of Aaron’s own team and certain members has risen again, we do acknowledge a first time new and different reaction. In the recent Matt Olson/NIU threads SI administrator Jim Peet reacted to SI moderator Joel Tetreau’s violations of SI’s official commenting policy. In a pair of the Matt Olson/NIU Filing threads, Joel Tetreau was twice publicly warned by Jim Peet for “ascribing…attacks on the motive of other participants.” Of course, Joel’s personal attacks were not deleted.

While I am pleased to see a first time effort to rein in the behavior of SI’s moderators, my question is: Why this week, after six years of ignoring its own moderator abuses, does SI now deal with their own team’s abusive behavior in the forums? In any event, while this action is appreciated I seriously doubt it makes good (in anyone’s mind) the six previous years of participating in and/or ignoring moderators’ abuses.

The last week of August was a “really hard week” indeed for Aaron Blumer. SI moderators drove off one of the last participants that did try to speak for and on behalf of a good and balanced Fundamentalism. This is what SI moderators, admins and certain members have done to virtually every member who once did or might have participated from a Fundamentalist perspective. The week ended with a long overdue admonition against attacking motive from Aaron, which inexplicably he ignored in his Ten Things article.


1) Last accessed, Friday, Sept. 7 @11:55am.  Please continue to: Does SI Allow for the Name of Christ to be Sullied?
“Aaron Blumer has been derelict as a Christian publisher and sinful in his approach to addressing the entire tragic situation. There has been no ‘attitude of forbearance’ whatsoever. Aaron has shown no inclination of forebearance. Aaron (and Jim Peet) have repeatedly allowed for the publication of ‘reckless accusations of crime or cover up,’ which as SI site publisher and owner makes him complicit in the doing of it.  Aaron Blumer and Jim Peet have been enablers of sinful gossip, hurtful innuendo and rumor mongering.”

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