Sunday, February 7, 2010

Gag order

Some of you will have been following little snippets of info on facebook that make it obvious that I have had some opposition to my blog this week. Overwhelmingly people have been positive about my blog and I am so happy to hear everyones comments. I am sure a number of people haven't liked what they have seen here and have respectfully left it alone. What I want to address right now is the one person who tried to shut me up and yet still believes that he has said nothing offensive (for brevity's sake lets call him No-talkie). Let me be very clear straight off the bat that if you disagree with anything I write here anywhere on the blog I would love for you to write a comment; or not write a comment, it's up to you. Open dialogue is exactly what I encourage, just add respect!

As No-talkie first posted his comment to Rockstars wall on facebook (the wall people! you know, where everyone can read it!) I think that I can safely assume he wouldn't mind if I reposted it here:

i've followed some of the comments that you and maureen have made about the church, if you choose to leave the church thats fine but what i have a problem with is when you insult active members by putting down there beliefs. do you think that i am that stupid and i am not free thinking enough to make conscious/educated decisions about my own faith. every active member that reads your comments would be offended by it but i am prepared to stand up for it. you'd be better served keeping your comments to yourself. typical case of 'you leave the church but you can't leave it alone'. live your own lives but don't insult the life that i still choose to live. live your own life and enjoy it because i enjoy mine and don't for one minute think that you or your wife are bringing me to the light with these issues.

Well there's plenty to discuss in there but for today I just want to highlight the gag order. So for those of you who have been lucky enough to have a conversation with No-talkie, now you can make your own mind up. Was he being offensive?

Apparently I am not allowed to voice my opinions about what I consider to be an insidious institution yet No-talkie can say whatever he wants (which of course he can, you know freedom of speech and all). As I said in one of the messages I sent back - he used his freedom of speech to quash my freedom of speech. Look, should I really be so surprised, Joe Smith did the same thing when William Law tried to speak out against polygamy etc in his Nauvoo Expositor. That didn't end so well for old Joe.

No-talkie earns this name for these reasons: He sent his complaint to my husband, not me. He refuses to respond to any of my messages (fb and email). I have asked him to call me but I have received no answer. His wife ordered me to end communication with them.

The saddest part of all is that within the space of a few hours my friendship with No-talkies wife ended abruptly. With only a few written messages as her information and absolutely no verbal communication to attempt reconciliation my friend decided that the best thing to do was to insult, mock and discard.


So....the only way to responsibly respond to a gag order is to expose it. My 'mentor' sums it up nicely:

" I didn't leave people alone as an LDS missionary. LDS parents don't leave their children alone about religion. And the LDS church doesn't have the best record of leaving the marital status of gay people in neighbouring states alone.

As long as religions are sending out missionaries every week, I will not be leaving it alone, I can assure you."
Well said.


  1. Dear No-Talkie! (Yes, I am that confident that he continues to read this blog)

    No-Talkie, you say that people who leave ur church (presumably because they don't like it) should then leave the church alone.

    I say, Practice what you Preach! If you don't like this blog, then leave it, and it's author alone!

    Stinking of Hypocrisy! Yet in my experience, this is what organised religion is all about. And don't even get me stated on double-standards...

    Yours Respectfully

    Happy Aetheist :)

  2. Isn't that just the way. When you believe it, you're supposed to shout it from the housetops. When you don't, suddenly you're supposed to shut up. Now, who benefits from that arrangement?

    When we embrace reason and make reality our guide, we immediately put ourselves at odds with those who have pledged to live their lives in a community held together by fiction and superstition.

    I've lost some friends because of my very public stand against the LDS Church (and indeed all religions). I feel bad about that, but I mostly feel bad for them. They've learned to subvert their thinking, their plans, their goals, and ultimately their lives, and replace them with someone else's version of reality. A whole lifetime given in exchange for an imaginary eternity with a god that in all likelihood doesn't exist. How very sad.

  3. My beautiful and couragous friend. So proud of you and your blog!

    It takes courage to stand up and speak ones truth. If that truth "offends" the delicate sensibilities of No-Talkies or other "active members" then they have the freedom to focus their attention elsewhere.

    Your simple act of 'disobedience' is the beginning of your own freedom and the development of your own reason. This causes the likes of No-Talkies to feel extremely threatened.

    George Washington said, “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

    You have expressed yourself so honestly and so elequently and I for one am grateful for your courage and authenticity - a rare and precious gift in this world.

    Albert Einstein said - "All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom." Freedom is a choice, and No-Talkies and co are free to live however they choose and would be "better served" leaving you alone to be as free as you choose.

    Hallejulah sister!

  4. I think you read a lot more into 'No-Talkie's words than he intended. Telling you to keep your comments to yourself is an expression of displeasure, but it hardly constitutes a gag order; he doesn't claim any authority over you.

    I know we've already spoken about this, but I think a balancing of the public response may be in order. Some of your friends are inevitably going to take your comments about the Church personally; the Church isn't merely a set of beliefs, but an entire worldview that is inextricably tied to their self-perception at an identity level. The same psychological processes that make deconversion painful for you are the ones that produce the feelings of revulsion and anger in your friends like 'No-Talkie.'

    These people are still your friends, but your comments are painful for them to read, and the fact that they might shout 'shut up!' doesn't make them tyrants or oppressors, it just makes them human beings.

    This isn't a criticism; you know I have the infuriating habit of arguing every side of an issue at once. I understand that this blog is primarily a personal cathartic tool for you. Comments like the ones you quoted serve much the same purpose for your friends too.

  5. That's a false equivalency, CC. Maureen never insinuated that No-Talkie shouldn't make comments, and in fact has affirmed his prerogative to say whatever he wants.

    The only one trying to curtail the dialogue is No-Talkie.

  6. Ah, this is very good. Thank you for you comments Cavalcanti. As this is a public forum I am glad that you are taking the time to moderate my explosive expression of feelings.

    I would never have written this post if NT had had the decency to talk to me or at least to respond to me in some way. His message and then silence was taken by me to be a clear bully tactic even if he didn't mean it to be.

    I only introduced friends to this blog. People who I honestly thought would be interested in learning about how and why I feel the way that I do. Overwhelmingly this has been the case. Even thought the material is sensitive, I did warn about that and I guess naively thought that people would know how to look at it objectively.

    The only people who have complained to me about this blog have expressly told me that I am not their friend anymore. I have been ordered (and I do mean ordered) not to contact them in any way. One of them has removed me as a facebook friend.

    If NT needs to vent, then great, I was (still am) prepared to talk back and forth with him until we understood how the other felt.

  7. Daniel: I never claimed that Maureen wanted 'No-Talkie' to shut up. Having spoken at-length with all the parties involved, I was offering an explanation (and in some sense, a justification) for a reaction that Maureen herself has said surprised and confused her.

  8. I was under the impression that you were claiming that NT's reaction was in some way similar to Maureen's. I was pointing out an important distinction which is pertinent to the topic of this blog post. But never mind -- it's a minor thing.

    I think you were right on here:

    the Church isn't merely a set of beliefs, but an entire worldview that is inextricably tied to their self-perception at an identity level

    This is really true. It's made me reflect on how people I know identify with the church so closely that their identity as a Mormon eclipses their identity proper. The church's vision of life, the future, and the movement itself seems more real to them than any of their own non-church goals. And again, how sad that this should be so.

  9. If you subscribe to Geertz' view of religion, then this isn't so much sad as it is inevitable. Even if your 'religion' (symbol system) doesn't include anything supernatural, it still plays an important part in how you define yourself.

    Maybe that's 'sad' if you think said system is ridiculous and/or morally worthless. Personally, I value the Mormon component of my identity.

  10. Valuing it is one thing. I value my Mormon experiences.

    Mistaking the system for yourself is another. I notice that many Latter-day Saints identify so closely with the religious system that when someone insults the system, they react as though they themselves have been insulted! Which suggests to me that they've lost track of where the religion ends and they begin.

    All armchair psychology on my part, of course.

    And I don't view the Mormon religion as (very) ridiculous or morally worthless. I do think it teaches (as do all religions) incorrect things as facts, while at the same time using various techniques that make its members unlikely to want to see that the teachings are incorrect.

  11. Well done -keep it up