Thursday, July 12, 2007

William's Story

Note: This entry has been edited only to handle the e-mail addresses more expeditiously. -Badge Postmaster


I joined Crosswalk as “Liberalguy.” Despite the provocative handle I tried to engage in serious and civil discussion. I’m not that far to the left, it’s just that Crosswalk’s conservative milieu made it easy to be a “Liberalguy.” There were a few TOS issues during my three year membership. On occasion Fred Alberti surprised me with his fairness, but I felt that it was begrudging and that my status was precarious.

In the thread “Why do we need a Pope?”(in the Christian Doctrine folder) I got off topic discussing religious tolerance with someone called Turretinfan (after the Reformer Francis Turretin.) Some of this discussion can be found on pages 62-63 of the thread. Citing Leviticus 24: 16 Turretinfan defended the 1553 execution of Michael Servetus for denying the Trinity and said a government’s role in “preventing excessive immorality” applied to suppressing deviant
religious views. I called Turretinfan a “theocratic fascist” and even defined the terms to show that I wasn’t being flippant. Alberti expelled me under TOS 20 (now TOS 19) saying that the decision was final and not open to discussion.

I admit I may have been a bit pugnacious. Calling someone a “fascist” is forbidden in the TOS, but I thought it only applied in the context of name calling, not to describing someone who thinks it’s ok to put people to death for their beliefs. (Isn’t that the definition of fascism?) Knowing I probably couldn’t appeal my expulsion I felt that Alberti at least owed me a better explanation than an “Alice in Wonderland” rule that allows him to pronounce the sentence without a verdict.

After two e-mails he cited other TOS numbers.

What got me was that Turretinfan was not expelled or openly reprimanded. Even if my expulsion was justified you’d think Alberti would still take issue with someone advocating capital punishment for hersey. He has zero tolerance for inclusive language Bibles and gay rights. Why didn’t he apply the same policy to what can only be described as a Christian Taliban? Under the circumstances I had to conclude that either Alberti thinks it’s ok for Christians to advocate
executing heretics or his bias got the better of him.

Ten months after my expulsion, on a whim, I wrote Alberti about readmission and asked him about this discrepancy. He said he doesn’t believe in executing heretics and that he enforces the TOS impartially, which seems to imply that Alberti must think it’s acceptable for other Christians to advocate executing heretics even if he doesn’t agree. When I e-mailed him for further clarification he said the matter was closed to further discussion.

Though lengthy, here is the correspondence so you can judge for yourself.

Dear Liberalguy,

Thank you for taking the time to request a review of your status with our Community. Before progressing further, I would like to ask you a few questions.

1. What have you learned during your absence from our Community, and how do you hope to apply it in any future participation?

2. Do you agree to refrain from participation in Current Events folder as well as homosexual related topics?

3. Have you reviewed our Terms of Service, and do you promise to conduct yourself in our Community in a manner that conforms to the rules of conduct as outlined therein?
(http://l.salemweb.net/CommunityTermsofService)

4. Specifically, do you agree to #19 of the Terms of Service? (Included below for your review)

Salem Web Network reserves the right to:

> respond to the violation of any of the above Terms of Service with any of the responses available to Community administrators and moderators without warning including involuntary movement to another area, "booting" (involuntary expulsion from chat and forums), and various forms of prevention of access to all community services including "Private Messages" for any duration of time including permanently at its sole discretion.

> report any violations of the Terms of Service to law enforcement and/or the Internet Community Alliance.

> remove any content which is considered to be disruptive to the Community and that is in violation of the Terms of Service.

> bar, restrict, block any user including Internet Community Alliance offenders for any reason as well as remove any content at our sole discretion.

Thank you for taking the time to respond to these questions. Your responses will assist me in reviewing your status and determining your future participation in our Community.

To clarify, this email does not guarantee your return to the Community. However, we are hopeful of a positive resolution and complete restoration.

Sincerely,
Fritz
Manager of Communities
Salem Web Network

From: (William's e-mail)
Sent: Monday, June 04, 2007 6:34 PM
To: Fred Alberti
Subject: Re: [ Liberalguy Status Review ] RE: Rejoining?

Dear Mr. Alberti,

My answer to question 2 is no. While I agreed to stay away from homosexual related topics, the majority of my posts were in the current events folder.

You could have just said no, instead of imposing obstacles.

Regarding my dismissal, why was Turretinfan allowed to remain when he was advocating the execution of heretics? Even if calling him a "theocratic fascist" for it justified my expulsion I would have expected you to have the same zero tolerance for what amounts to a "Christian
Taliban" as you do for same-sex marriage advocates. Did your biases cause you to overlook this or do you think that such views are within the pale of Christianity?

Sincerely,
William Jarrell, once known as "Liberalguy"
Greensboro, NC

From: "Fred Alberti" (F. Alberti's e-mail address)
Date: 2007/06/05 Tue PM 08:38:32 EDT
To: (William's e-mail address)
CC: (salem's "community" e-mail address)
Subject: RE: [ Liberalguy Status Review ] RE: Rejoining?

Hello there!

Thank you for taking the time to write us with your question.

Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to discuss the status of other users with unauthorized personnel.

Clearly, our is not the ideal platform for your activity. Fortunately, the World Wide Web offers you a number of alternatives which I'm sure you will find more accommodating of your style of participation.

Sincerely,
Fritz
Manager of Communities
Salem Web Network

From: (William's e-mail address)
Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2007 10:08 PM
To: Fred Alberti
Subject: Status, no status

Dear Mr. Alberti,

I'm not interested in the status of other users, only as to why you have a double standard and why you tolerate such egregious views when other views are unacceptable in CW forums? I would think that executing people for their religious views would be as unChristian as same sex marriages and inclusive language Bibles.

I know that you never had any intention of readmitting me. Your questions were deliberate obstacles. How was I suppose to answer the first question, "What I have learned?" when you never really told me why I was expelled. Ever read Kafka?

I recently discovered a blog where exCW members share their experiences.

No doubt, you are aware of it. I am thinking about submitting my impressions of CW but I am willing to show you the fairness that you never showed me. As I said assessing your handling of my expulsion left me with two possible conclusions:

A. You think it's acceptable for Christians to advocate the execution of heretics. I'm not saying you're a theonomist, but you must think that such views are within the pale of Biblical Christianity. Perhaps you are a theonomist.

B. Your bias (either against me personally or against liberals in general) allowed you to overlook such egregious views. A sort of "they all stick together" if you will.

If there are other possible conclusions I'd like to know since I do not want to misrepresent you. But I'd welcome any clarification of this before submitting comments which might be posted online. (Personally, I tend to think it was B.) After being expelled during an exchange with a person who thinks it's ok to execute people for their religious opinions how else would expect me to assess the situation aside from a double standard or an acceptance of theonomy?

Sincerely,
William Jarrell
Greensboro, NC

From: "Fred Alberti" (F. Alberti's e-mail address)
Date: 2007/06/06 Wed AM 10:00:01 EDT
To: (William's e-mail address)
CC: (salem's "community" e-mail address)
Subject: [ Liberalguy community participation ] RE: Status, no status

Hello there!

I appreciate the offer. Unfortunately, your options are based on assumptions based on the participation of other users of which I am not permitted to discuss with unauthorized users.

1. I do not support executing people just because they are opposed to Christ and/or the Word of God.

2. I enforce the Terms of Service on users despite their political persuasion, religious affiliation, or any other characteristic.

Please do not email me further as I am clearly not going to be able to address your concerns without delving into issues regarding other participants of our site.

I wish you the best in finding a community that is better suited to your style of participation.

Sincerely,
Fritz
Manager of Communities
Salem Web Network

From: (William's e-mail address)
Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2007 12:15 AM
To: Fred Alberti
Subject: Re: [ Liberalguy community participation ] RE: Status, no status

Mr. Alberti,

Taking your response at face value I think it's fair to conclude that you must think it's acceptable for Christians to advocate executing heretics even though you do not personally subscribe to this position.

William Jarrell
Greensboro, NC

Dear Liberalguy,
After the recent emails and prior incidence(s) requiring a ban from our Community, it's apparent that our website is not the ideal platform for your style of participation. Fortunately, the World Wide Web offers you a number of alterative communities that I'm sure you would find more agreeable.

Unfortunately, as caretakers of our owned and operated communities, we must at this point insist that you make no further attempts to participate in any of our chats or forums, even under a different name.

This decision is final and not subject to negotiation or any further discussion, so please refrain from further contact.

We appreciate your cooperation in respecting our decision in this matter.

Respectfully,
Fritz
Manager of Communities
Salem Web Network

2 comments:

Turretinfan said...

William,

From my perspective:

a) I advocated death for blasphemy (not heresy) as Biblical;

b) it pretty obviously is Biblical (and no, advocating capital punishment is not the definition of facism);

c) you can check out a recent post on my blog regarding capital punishment that lists various other offenses for which capital punishment is just;

d) I (and others I've talked to) have had a similar negative experience with Fritz's administration, which seems to be guided more by his objective of promoting his personal beliefs than by fairness. Some time, perhaps, I'll share my own story.

-Turretinfan

William said...

Turretinfan,

Whether it's capital punishment for blasphemy or heresy is moot. I did not say that capital punishment perse is fascism. Suppressing viewpoints, whether by execution or imprisonment, is fascism. We'll have to agree to disagree.

I'm curious to learn about your experience with Fritz. Despite our disagreements I'm not surprised that you too question Alberti's moderating style.

William