Note: This is where we were in mid-2006, when I and many other people still naively thought that some rules of decorum could be observed on the internet. Before social media took over. Before trolling became a profession. And before disinformation spread through fake accounts became an instrument of national policy. How little we appreciated the devastation that was on its way, when everyone with a keyboard gained access to the world’s attention, and a professional troll got elected President of the United States. Still, I think this early battle with one of my online detractors is worth documenting. –Sean Prophet, August 2022
Most people understand that you don’t go in to someone else’s forum or blog and start posting vast quantities of tripe. You don’t do this and expect not to be banned. Freedom of speech is a concept that allows people to express themselves. But it also has limits. You don’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater, and you don’t expect to be allowed to go into someone else’s home (or blog) and carry on an unrestrained monologue. The entire concept of free-speech is based on utilization of proper forums. The concept of debate involves conceding points where points are made, and providing evidence for unsupported statements when asked.
It had to happen at Black Sun Journal eventually.
Commenter Steven S. Showers ignored all these rules, and in response to my short post on Pride and Allegiance, posted over 4000 words in a total of 9 separate comments, using the word “god” 36 times. Mr. Showers’ views are well known. He has been a vociferous critic of Church Universal and Triumphant for many years. He maintains a site called Homeward Bound Journal. Unlike this forum, the Homeward Bound Journal makes no attempt at critical thought or reasoned dialog. Mr. Showers instead is judge, jury, and executioner of all knowledge. His points of view are narrow, and completely subjective. He presupposes the existence of god, and while thrashing CUT at every opportunity, has sought to replace the teachings of CUT with his own brand of (CUT inspired) theism. I think he views himself as a the new messenger of the ‘true’ teachings of the ascended masters. His moniker “your little brother” belies his megalomaniacal self-image.
[UPDATE 06.06.06: In response to Mr. Showers email protestations that he is “NOT” a vociferous critic of CUT, I reproduce his statement here:
Since 2003, when the leadership shattered the unity of the Russian Congregation by dismissing all members of the Moscow study group board of directors, and when Church Manager Linda Worobec Performed a Beatles tune on Altar of the Holy Grail in King Arthur’s Court, I have challenged what I believe to be wrongdoing in these two areas, and I have since argued for the resignation of all who were involved in these offenses. There are a few other things, like the mountain top light house, putting that onto the Chart of the Presence, and the ape face in the chart of the presence, and the issue about the naked statue of David being used as an object of meditation, and perhaps a couple of other things that don’t come to mind now, that I have challenged.None of this has been criticism of Church Universal and Triumphant. All of this has been an effort to hold the leaders accountable to the standards for which Church Universal and Triumphant stands.
In other words, Mr. Showers thinks he should be the one setting the “standards for which Church Universal and Triumphant stands.” ergo, he thinks he would do a better job leading the church than its current leaders, ergo, he is a persistent and vociferous critic of said church.] Over the years, Mr. Showers has also been one of my most persistent critics. He accuses me of having forsaken my ‘true mission,’ and for that he has appointed himself my personal ‘savior.’ So recently, I attempted to establish a dialog with him. I had hoped that getting to know me personally might disabuse him of these ridiculous notions, and that we might speak reasonably. So I met with him at a coffee shop for several hours. I attempted to establish even the smallest point of commonality, and acceptance of reason. We agreed on some points of politics, but on the point of the existence of god, he was completely unresponsive. I asked him if there was any way he could allow for even the possibility that the universe had evolved naturally. He said no. I pointed out that I was willing to accept the existence of god if he could provide evidence. I asked Mr. Showers if he should not extend me the same courtesy in the debate. He said no. There was no way that the universe was not wholly created by god, and that he ‘knew’ it from personal experience.
Over the next several weeks, I exchanged numerous emails with Mr. Showers, totalling perhaps 15,000 words on his part. I tried to get him to read even the first 3 chapters of “The Blind Watchmaker,” which he steadfastly refused to do. He just kept avoiding my points, and sending me ever more twisted and meandering emails. These included voluminous theistic rantings, as well as arcane science-fiction and fantasy stories that rival L. Ron Hubbard’s writings in their complexity. (LOL!) But to Mr. Showers, these stories are not stories.
Then came the 4,000 word posting (which doesn’t even include the additional article on John Muir which he copied from the Sierra Club site and PASTED in it’s ENTIRETY into the comments field). Last night, I telephoned Mr. Showers and asked him if he would please refrain from posting in this way, and also asked him to refrain from claiming divine authority and citing spiritual opinions without evidence. I thought we had agreed on some guidelines.
But this morning, he sent me an email accusing me of censorship, and comparing my techniques to those of Communist China:
And of course, this is what Atheists do, when they get into power, as I have noted. Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and so forth. They close down all debate. Your response below could have come out of the mouth of any communist functionary in the Soviet Union in its 70 year history, or in Communist China today, indeed, they will not allow the discussion of democracy anywhere on the Internet. And your stated desire to “banish all religion from the public square” goes in that direction of course.
This is utter nonsense. I don’t care if anyone wants to practice their religion anywhere. Freedom of conscience is vital for human society. My problem has always been when theists attempt to legislate their brand of morality onto others, through passage of laws. Or when theists rely on government support or tax-exemptions to spread their opinions. This is how theism begins to approach theocracy. Religion should have to compete on a level playing field with all other forms of advertising. That was the intent of the establishment clause. Schooling children to do violence to non-believers should also be banned as a form of hate speech.
Controlling the debate of a moderated forum such as this one is the right of any publisher, internet or otherwise. Mr. Showers is living in a dream world, if he thinks he can move in and take over any given blog by sheer volume of prose. With this approach, he would be banned anywhere. And with typical hypocrisy, Mr. Showers’ own blog does not even allow comments.
Just to give the ‘devil his due’ (I know, I know, poor choice of metaphor, but I had to) I have posted Mr. Showers’ entire comment stream on his very own page. And I’ve linked to his blog, which is probably giving him way more attention than he deserves. As to his accusations of ‘censorship,’–how can I censor something that is so predictable? His future comments (and everything I’ve heard from him for the past 5 years) would be doubtless along the same lines. Enough already–we get it.
So good-bye Steven Showers, it’s been nice knowin’ ya. I know it’s not likely, but hope springs eternal: May you live long and prosper in reason.