“Mormon and Evangelical Bullies Online”

 

Your Obdt Servant, as some seem to imagine me

 

By sheer chance, I came across a 28 June 2013 blog entry by Jana Riess that I missed when it first appeared — probably because I was in the throes, then, of finishing off several articles and dealing with urgent practical matters and beginning to pack for departure, a couple of days later, on a nearly month-long trip to England.

 

Anyway, I quite liked what she had to say about civility online, and I empathize (on the basis of abundant personal experience) with her laments about angry, impolite, immature insults and attacks (up to and including death threats), so I decided to share a link to her remarks on my own blog.  Here it is:

 

http://janariess.religionnews.com/2013/06/28/mormon-bullies-online/

 

I also began skimming through the comments following her short article that accumulated during my relatively Internet-free time in England, and I was pleased to see my Evangelical friend John Morehead and my friend and former student Nate Oman among those weighing in.

 

I absolutely concur with her (and their) plea for better online behavior.

 

But then I ran across a comment by one Fred W. Anson, an Evangelical Protestant critic of Mormonism, that included this passage:

 

“I think you can understand why I found your article as encouraging as I did the firing of LdS Apologist Daniel C. Peterson – who made a career out of ad-homineming, belittling, insulting, and character assassinating Mormon Critics – from The Maxwell Institute. “

 

According to Mr. Anson, I’m the parade example of the kind of “misbehaving Mormons” to whom Jana Riess was referring.

 

Happily, Dwight Rogers (whom I don’t believe I know), in a response to Mr. Anson on several points, included this:

 

“Regarding Dan Peterson: You claim that he uses ad hominem attacks against his critics or the critics of Mormonism. I have followed him a lot and I don’t see that. I have seen him use a kind of mocking or sarcastic approach when the original material by the critic started out with that tone. This approach would be in keeping with Proverbs 26:5 which says ‘Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.’

‘I have consistently seen Dan point out the non-historic and non-factual statements made by critics of Mormonism. Dan used better first-hand sources rather than the third hand and out of context sources the critics typically use.”

 

To which Mr. Anson then replied as follows:

 

“On the issue of Dan Peterson, I’ll just say that your stance runs contrary to what those on the other end of the behavior that I’ve noted (as well as their friends and colleagues) have reported.”

 

Whereupon he cited several passages from Jerald and Sandra Tanner about an incident from 1994, to which, one of these days, I’ll probably have to devote a blog entry.  (Suffice it to say that Mr. Anson, along with his source, the Tanners, has the incident significantly wrong.)  He then continued:

 

“Finally, please remember that it was a planned, lengthy article on Mormon Stories founder John Dehlin – that allegedly was filled with ad-hominem attacks and attempts at character assassination on John – that ultimately led not only to Peterson being fired as Maxwell Institute editor but a complete overhaul of the institute.

“So my critique of Peterson stands.”

 

Happily though, in fact,  the lengthy article  to which Mr. Anson alluded (and on which he very clearly pronounced judgment without ever having laid eyes on it) is actually up online, as is a second article (“Return of the Unread Review: A Mormon Story”) intended to accompany it and put it in perspective.  They can be inspected, and readers can decide for themselves whether it’s really fair or just to describe the first article as “filled with ad-hominem attacks and attempts at character assassination.”

 

But Mr. Anson wasn’t quite finished yet:

 

This isn’t to say that Peterson isn’t a nice guy – several of my friends and colleagues who know him personally have told me that he is. However, it seems that often his passion for defending the Mormon faith blinds him to Christ’s clear teaching …

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
– Matthew 5:43-48, The Joseph Smith Translation

“… and often seems to turn him into a fanatical bully.

“Gordon B. Hinckley, on the other hand (see my other post), not only “got” Christ’s commands in this area, he challenged Latter-day Saints to remember and obey them.

“Perhaps someday Mr. Peterson will too.”

 

I’m amazed when I read things like this.  I’ve developed a pretty thick skin, but I’ll admit that it’s sometimes a bit discouraging to be falsely (and, in my judgment, quite ironically) accused of defamation, character assassination, and flagrantly unchristian behavior.  To have, in fact, made a career out of such reprehensible misdeeds.

 

I saw a message board thread the other day in which a handful of my veteran critics were earnestly discussing (with, I suspect, varying degrees of sincerity) whether my closing remarks at the most recent FAIR conference, earlier this month, represented a declaration that I was finally going to turn away from my vicious and mean-spirited past.  Which, to me, is almost precisely analogous to wondering whether I’ve stopped beating my wife.

 

Along with others, I’ve personally asked several times for specific examples of my exceptional nastiness, a few specimens of the personal insults and cold-hearted unchristian cruelty that have been typical, apparently, of my sordid public career.  Very few of my critics have even made the attempt to furnish anything of the sort, though I’ve been assured several times that there’s no point in supplying any particular illustrations since my repellent bullying fanaticism is visible virtually all the time and almost everywhere.  The few examples that have been offered have, in my experience, without any substantial exception relied upon wild and hostile misreadings.

 

I deny the charge that I’m a “fanatical bully,” a nasty piece of work who doesn’t give a fig for the heartaches and pains of people who cross my path and who actually (some say) takes pleasure in the sufferings of others and hopes to inflict further suffering where possible.  I say it’s false, and a slanderous mischaracterization.  I’m astonished, given what I really and obviously am, that there’s even any occasion for me to deny the charge.  Virtually nobody who actually knows me, I would guess, would think me capable of the kind of behavior that’s often attributed to me — and there’s excellent reason for their opinion of me.  I don’t claim to be perfect; I acknowledge only one perfect life.  But, as mortals go, and particularly as mortals go who are routinely involved with controversial issues and regularly subjected to very harsh personal criticism, I think I’ve done reasonably well.  I’m naturally a rather sunny person, disposed, by parental training, to be a nice, polite fellow.  I find it difficult to sustain grudges, and very rarely lose my temper.  I’m what used, at least, to be called a Type B personality.  I have plenty of flaws, and I’m acutely aware of them.  But habitual impoliteness and nastiness, to say nothing of hatred and cruelty, simply aren’t on any plausible list of my defects.

 

So claims that I’m driven by rage, consumed with a desire for vengeance, obsessed with hostility toward those who disagree with me, unconcerned about the feelings of others, hard-hearted and nasty, are genuinely perplexing to me.  Frankly, I regard them, for the most part, as casually accepted slanders — where they’re not outright lies.

 

I suffer from no messianic delusions, and I harbor no fantasies about particular demonic persecution (beyond the common lot of humankind in this fallen world).  But there is, I’ve begun to think, something distinctly weird, something profoundly uncanny, about the truly baseless notion, devoutly held in some circles as an article of unexamined faith, that I’m something of a monster and an embarrassment to Mormonism.  That the idea has grown so healthily among some people in such poor and inhospitable soil — that soil being the truth about me, what I write, how I think, and how I act — is, genuinely, rather mysterious.

 

But, once again, I invite specific examples of the horrible, hateful, fanatical ways in which I’ve allegedly mistreated people in print and online over the years.  Since they’re supposedly routine with me, my regular way of life, and the supposed basis of my entire unholy career, they shouldn’t be difficult to come up with.  Those eager to supply them are welcome to post them to the comments section of this blog.

 

Otherwise, in the absence of clear evidence of such corruption and depravity on my part, I would encourage fair-minded people out there — to say nothing of charitable people — to consider the likelihood that the charge is, on the whole, defamatory and false, and therefore, if they encounter it, to refuse to spread it or to endorse it without solid and specific warrant.  “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor,” says the ninth commandment.

 

Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.

(Othello III.iii.155-161)

 

 

  • Bruce Webster

    Dan: the simple problem is that you’re too good at what you do, and your would-be critics have to resort to this in order to try to discredit you, since by and large they can’t answer your actual arguments. As Elder McConkie said, “The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.”

    • DanielPeterson

      Thank you for the very kind (not to mention flattering) comment.

      • Bryan Cahoon

        I’m not familiar with your work to say one way or another, but personally I have found that the people who most readily fling around accusations of ad hominem tend to have heard the phrase, and find it good at disarming arguments without really understanding (or perhaps caring) what it is. For example, I have seen the act of pointing out another logical fallacy, the inappropriate appeal to authority, condemned as being an ad hominem in and of itself.

        Proclaiming ad hominem often is not the act of pointing out logical fallacy that it should be, rather it is the act of making a charismatic argument instead of a logical one. From what you have said, perhaps this is what is happening to you.

        • DanielPeterson

          Thanks for your perceptive response, Bryan Cahoon.

          In my experience, people who freely toss around accusations of “ad hominem” (a) very rarely know what the ad hominem fallacy actually is and are (b) very often guilty of it themselves — both in the precise logical sense and in the looser sense (e.g., as a synonym for “insult”) in which they tend to use the term.

  • Guy Briggs

    The French have a saying: “Cet animal est très méchant; quand on l’attaque, il se défend.”

    Roughly translated, “The animal is quite vicious; it defends itself when attacked.”

    • DanielPeterson

      Exactly, Guy Briggs.

    • brotheroflogan

      Literal conversation with my 6-year old:
      6-YO= “Daddy, Alicia (age 3) hit me!”
      Me= “Do you know why?”
      6YO= “No.”
      Me= “What were you doing at the time?”
      6YO= “I was just trying to squeeze her head!”

  • Doug Ealy

    I’ve been reading this blog for some time and I have attended one of your lectures and other than being too busy to respond to email :) you seem nice enough to me.

    • DanielPeterson

      I fake it well, don’t I?

      • brotheroflogan

        Once you learn to fake sincerety, you’ve got it made. :).

  • Stephen Smoot

    I’ve been reading Dan Peterson’s writings since High School (this is pushing nearly a decade now), and have had the privilege of interacting with him in a personal setting on a number of occasions. There’s one thing about his sharp wit I’ve come to realize, which I think most of his critics, or those who accuse him of being some mean, nasty bully, fundamentally miss. It’s this: Dan Peterson, when he employs satire and sarcasm, is not directing it towards the individual in some malicious, personal manner, but rather is, like Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, using it to show the silliness of his opponents’ arguments or attitudes.

    Knowing Dan’s political leanings, perhaps he’d not fully appreciate the comparison to Stewart or Colbert (two men I find very funny). Nevertheless, those are the two men who immediately come to mind when I think of how to compare Dan’s use of satire and sarcasm. It’s not being done maliciously or to make his opponents look like stupid idiots (like how the insufferable Bill Maher does it) but rather to highlight the fallaciousness of their arguments. Humor has the capacity to do this very effectively (think of how many of the greatest writers and debaters have also had fantastic sense of humor), and Dan employs humor in a very entertaining, if not also lively and interesting, manner.

    Add to that the fact that Dan doesn’t just ride on his satire, but actually backs up his arguments with compelling reasoning and evidence. Well, at least when he’s talking about Mormonism. Sometimes I have to raise an eyebrow at his political shenanigans. ;-)

    And, to add to what Doug has said, yes, Dan is very nice in real life. The only time I felt my life threatened around him was when Mark Wright let him toss atlatl darts at me for being a Democrat!

    • DanielPeterson

      And, dang it, I missed.

      I find Colbert and Stewart really funny, too. I like humor. And I don’t mind being the target of it, either, when it’s not actually mean-spirited.

      Thanks, Stephen. You get it.

    • brotheroflogan

      The difference being, of course, that Colbert, and to a lesser extent Stewart, do NOT back up their arguments with reason and evidence. They merely innoculate, using mockery.

  • Josh Segundo

    Just off the top of my head, I recall a fairly recent set of posts on the mormondialogue.org board that weren’t very charitable towards someone named Kishkumen.

    • DanielPeterson

      That may well be. I rarely post there any more. Was I involved in it?

      I make no claim that Mormons as a whole are entirely free of overreactions, harshness, defensiveness, and so forth.

      If you have a URL, I’ll take a look at the thread when I have the time.

    • Darren

      “Just off the top of my head, I recall a fairly recent set of posts on the mormondialogue.org board that weren’t very charitable towards someone named Kishkumen.”

      My post on Kishkumen flinging squirrels got deleted there. :(
      I thought that post was fun. Could you recap for me the original content of that thread?

  • DanielPeterson

    Mister Prizza: Thanks for your question.

    I was serious when I said, in the blog entry above, that it’s a genuine mystery to me. (I don’t rule out the possibility — I’m being candid here — that there’s a demonic component to it, so transparent is its falsity and yet so fervently is it believed by too many.)

    And I was also serious in saying that, to the extent that my critics have responded to frequent requests for specific examples of my extraordinary unpleasantness — which is said to be remarkable even by permissive Internet standards — the few paltry specimens they’ve supplied have seemed (and not only in my estimation) far too weak to sustain the accusation. Which is why the success of the charge puzzles me.

    I suggested, in the entry above, that some of it rests upon active defamation by a few people, a few of whom in turn, I suspect, are aware (to at least some degree) of what they’re doing. Mostly ideologically motivated, but perhaps also, in a few cases, urged on by personal factors that I simply lack the training to discuss, they’ve been very, very active — one or two to the point of bizarre obsession — in fostering the image of me as a callous, heartless, unscrupulous monster, and they’ve had a degree of success in framing the narrative for their audience. More of it, though, by far, seems to me to be reminiscent of one of Richard Dawkins’s “memes.” It’s taken on a life of its own, and has become the Received Wisdom in certain circles, even though (as in many other cases of Received Wisdom) those holding to it would be extremely hard pressed to justify their presumption of my wickedness if somebody asked them for specific, unambiguous, supporting examples.

    Of that latter group — I have no hope whatever for the former, at least in their current state — I simply ask that they consider whether it’s morally and ethically defensible for them to continue believing, let alone passing along, a notion that, I solemnly declare, has little or no basis in reality.

  • FredWAnson

    The article states:

    “Otherwise, in the absence of clear evidence of such corruption and depravity on my part, I would encourage fair-minded people out there — to say nothing of charitable people — to consider the likelihood that the charge is, on the whole, defamatory and false, and therefore, if they encounter it, to refuse to spread it or to endorse it without solid and specific warrant.”

    However it also fails to cite that evidence (from a neutral source, I might add) choosing instead to wave it off with a dismissive wave of the hand and promise to set the record straight at some undefined point in time. So let me remedy that now:

    ‘On the issue of Dan Peterson, I’ll just say that your stance runs contrary to what those on the other end of the behavior that I’ve noted (as well as their friends and colleagues) have reported. I will point to the same Exhibit A in this regard that everyone else seems to: The William Hamblin “Metcalfe is butthead” episode which occurred while Peterson was FARMS editor. For those unfamiliar with the incident here is a very brief synopsis from a neutral source:

    “Under Peterson’s editorship of the FARMS Review he was involved in an incident, along with William Hamblin, where they personally disparaged an independent researcher that had been critical of the LDS Church, Brent Metcalfe. Metcalfe himself, Jerald and Sandra Tanner, and others pointedly criticized Peterson and FARMS scholarship in general over the incident. According to Peterson, the board of directors were displeased with the incident”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_C._Peterson#Controversy_over_personal_attacks

    And I too encourage the readers to read the Gregory L. Smith article on John Dehlin entitled, “Dubious “Mormon” Stories: A Twenty-First Century Construction of Exit Narratives” that resulted in Mr. Peterson’s dismissal from the Maxwell Institute for themselves. To claim that it isn’t, ” filled with ad-hominem attacks and attempts at character assassination on John” is, in my opinion, either dishonest, intentional blindness, or extreme denial.

    So, again, my critique of Mr. Peterson stands.

    Thank you.

    • Stephen Smoot

      “To claim that it isn’t, ” filled with ad-hominem attacks and attempts at character assassination on John” is, in my opinion, either dishonest, intentional blindness, or extreme denial”

      I’ve read the article, and I still deny it.

      Would you please pick, say, your top three examples of ad hominem and character assassination in the article for public dissection?

      • FredWAnson

        Stephen, I’ll be happy to. However, since copy and paste has been disabled from the Adobe Acrobat file I’ll have to parse and transcribe – so please bear with me and be patient as I do so, it’s a time consuming process.

        • DanielPeterson

          I’m looking forward to what you come up with, Fred Anson.

          • FredWAnson

            Actually, a friend on Facebook suggested that for the sake of time I just refer you all to this analysis and critique of the original article as well as the piece that followed it.

            Frankly I’m not sure that I can top it, in substance or quality – it’s quite good.
            http://mormonstories.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Review-of-Smiths-Review-of-Mormon-Stories.pdf

          • DanielPeterson

            Well, Fred Anson, I don’t have the time or the patience to rebut that lengthy thing by the pseudonymous “Rollo Tomasi,” with which I was already familiar and which I didn’t find very impressive from the start. (I mean, really: The Smith article is outdated? That’s because its publication was delayed, largely by John Dehlin’s machinations, for so long, and because we decided that we would publish it has it stood at the time it was suppressed — lest we be accused of having gone through, in the wake controversy, to delete all of the incriminating personal insults and viciousness.)

            I was hoping that you would come up with two or three specific, discrete examples that we could discuss, as Stephen Smoot requested and as you promised to do.

            It’s alright, of course. As my blog entry above indicates, I’ve long since grown accustomed to the routine inability of my accusers to substantiate their accusations of hateful viciousness and blatantly unchristian behavior against me.

            Even in this case, you were somehow intending to demonstrate how personally hateful I am by citing material written by Dr. Gregory Smith.

            And just who is it, by the way, who’s been doing “personal attacks” here? Not I, Mr. Anson. Not I.

          • FredWAnson

            Well, I’m finding this interesting Mr. Peterson. OK, so you want some direct quotations from YOU and won’t be satisfied until you get them? Your work as a Senior Staffer and Editor over a 23-year period (yes, I looked it up – I was curious) is somehow off limits? Irrelevant? Pointless? Without merit?

            OK, fair enough, I will be happy to oblige – just give me research time and I’ll get back to you.

            As for your telling closing, in the words of a Sociologist friend who read through your article . . .

            “Being Passive Aggressive Does Not Mean You are Not a Bully… just sayin’”
            http://wp.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/blogs/approachingjustice/files/2013/08/ME_350_Passive-Aggressive1-1024×318.png

          • DanielPeterson

            “Well, I’m finding this interesting Mr. Peterson. OK, so you want some direct quotations from YOU and won’t be satisfied until you get them?”

            If you’re intending to sustain your personal attacks against me as hateful, mean-spirited, and unchristian, yes, a few actual quotations from me would seem essential to your case.

            It surely isn’t enough to cite somebody else’s summary of something written by somebody else — and especially so when that somebody else has already responded to your source.

            “Your work as a Senior Staffer and Editor over a 23-year period (yes, I looked it up – I was curious) is somehow off limits?”

            A few cherry-picked items plucked from the thousands of pages by other people that we published over nearly a quarter of a century would seem to be pretty weak evidence for my personal viciousness.

            “OK, fair enough, I will be happy to oblige – just give me research time and I’ll get back to you.”

            Take all the time you need.

            “As for your telling closing, in the words of a Sociologist friend who read through your article . . .

            ‘Being Passive Aggressive Does Not Mean You are Not a Bully… just sayin’”

            LOL. Much as I respect amateur pop psychologizing of people they’ve never met when it’s done at a distance by people without training, I continue to be puzzled by your insistence on attacking me very personally on the grounds that you’re opposed to personal attacks.

          • FredWAnson

            Actually Mr. Peterson many of your critics HAVE met you and have walked away with that assessment. No, I have never met you but I’ve yet to see any evidence that would suggest that they’re wrong.

            And I would remind you sir that I wasn’t the one who devoted an entire blog article based on a few comments made in passing back in June. That fire was dying (or perhaps dead) it was YOU who decided to throw a log on it and apply lighter fluid and match to it.

            After all, my assessment of your behavior back in June is hardly new is it? And I think that you’ve probably spilled more ink on rebuttals than your critics have on criticism.

            Perhaps now would be a good time to let the fire die – or better yet, acknowledge past mistakes, apologize and move on.

            Thanks.

          • DanielPeterson

            “Actually Mr. Peterson many of your critics HAVE met you and have walked away with that assessment.”

            Vague and anonymous second- and third-hand sources are very difficult to rebut, so I guess I should surrender.

            “No, I have never met you – and after this exchange, candidly I hope I never do.”

            And, of course, you’re opposed to personal attacks.

            By contrast, I would have no problem at all meeting YOU. Most people — not all, but most — are nicer and more personable face to face, and I’m guessing that you probably are, as well.

            “but I’ve yet to see any evidence that would suggest that they’re wrong.”

            I’m not sure how much evidence you’ve really looked at. We know that you’ve read “Rollo Tomasi’s” critique of Greg Smith’s article, but its far from obvious that you’ve actually read Greg Smith’s article. We know that you’re aware of Rollo Tomasi’s response to Greg Smith’s rebuttal, but it’s unclear whether you’ve actually read either of them. You’ve sought to demonstrate that I’m a nasty and hateful person (and guilty of personal attacks!) on the basis of writings by other people and on the basis of unspecified anonymous others, but you apparently decline to provide any examples from my own personal writing of my unchristian nastiness.

            “And I would remind you sir that I wasn’t the one who devoted an entire blog article based on a few comments made in passing back in June. That fire was dying (or perhaps dead) it was YOU who decided to throw a log on it and apply lighter fluid and match to it.”

            Your comments weren’t particularly important. They simply surprised me a bit, and supplied an opportunity to address the broader issue.

            “After all, my assessment of your behavior back in June is hardly new is it?”

            Nope. See above.

            “And I think that you’ve probably spilled more ink on rebuttals than your critics have on comments.”

            Not even close. Not by light years.

            “Perhaps now would be a good time to let the fire die – or better yet, acknowledge past mistakes, apologize and move on.”

            But you haven’t troubled to demonstrate my “mistakes.” And the fire doesn’t die.

          • FredWAnson

            “No, I have never met you – and after this exchange, candidly I hope I never do.”

            And, of course, you’re opposed to personal attacks.

            You’re right Mr. Peterson, that was wrong of me. I apologize and I have deleted my snarky comment.

            Now, I’m curious, can you do the same regarding all the personal attacks you’ve been involved in over the years?

            Now I’ve already spent over half a day on this and I don’t feel like we’re any further along than when we started. So I’m going to agree to disagree with you all leave it there.

            Again, be well.

          • DanielPeterson

            Can you apologize for beating your wife, Fred Anson?

            That’s the point: I flatly deny having engaged in nasty, unethical personal attacks.

          • FredWAnson

            I don’t need to apologize for it – she can set the record straight herself, just ask her.

            That’s the point: There’s a whole chorus of people and body of evidence that demonstrates that you DO engage in nasty, unethical, personal attacks yet you would rather stay in denial and engage in PUBLIC nasty, unethical, personal attacks on them than stop the behavior, apologize for it, and stop doing it.

            As they say, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”

          • DanielPeterson

            Then supply the evidence, Mr. Anson.

            Or drop the nasty, unethical, personal attacks against me.

          • FredWAnson

            Sigh, I believe I have – and I know that others in the past have too. I give up. I feel like I’m describing red to a blind man.

            Here’s the big “take away” that I’ve gotten from your comments and those of others here: LdS Apologists seem to be of the opinion that as soon as they label someone “Anti-Mormon”, “Mormon Critics”, “Enemies of the Church”, or whatever, they’re fair game – those “Anti-Mormons” can be treated anyway the LdS Apologists like, gloves off, guns drawn.

            And they just don’t see it at all!

            I’m reminded of the infamous quote from Mormon America that says:
            “The thin-skinned and image-conscious Mormon can display immature, isolationist, and defensive reactions to outsiders, perhaps because there is no substantive debate and no “loyal opposition” within their kingdom. With some, it almost seems that the wilderness is still untamed, the federal “polyg” police are on the prowl, and the Illinois lynch mob is still oiling muskets and preparing to raid Carthage Jail. All too often Saints use the label “anti-Mormon” as a tactic to forestall serious discussion.”
            (“Mormon America: The Power and the Promise (2007 Edition)”; Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling; p. 115)

            So that will have to suffice as my closing statement your honor.

            Thank you.

          • DanielPeterson

            Mr. Anson, I could respond, of course, that just because I’m a Mormon you believe that you can lie about me, personally defame me, and usurp the prerogatives of God in pronouncing judgment upon me as “unchristian.”

            You seem to have missed my denial — I guess I haven’t yet repeated it enough — that I believe it right and proper to mistreat others, and that I have, in fact, done so. I don’t, and I haven’t.

            You simply keep repeating your charge (while declining to supply evidence to support it), and then demand that I apologize for the crimes of which you’ve falsely accused me.

          • kiwi57

            Still citing opinions as data, I see.

          • brotheroflogan

            Fred, he was not being passive aggressive. He was saying that you were doing exactly what you were incorrectly accusing HIM of doing. And he was right.

          • DanielPeterson

            Precisely, brotheroflogan.

          • FredWAnson

            Thank you for your opinion, you’re entitled to it.

          • DanielPeterson

            Fred Anson, you’re simply wrong. And you’re entitled to my opinion on that.

    • DanielPeterson

      If you’ve really read Greg Smith’s long article since I posted about you late last night — you plainly hadn’t read it when you posted on Jana Riess’s blog — I take my hat off to you for your diligence and envy you your free time.

      If, having read it, you still believe it to be filled with “ad-hominem attacks and attempts at character assassination,” I have to profess mystification — and to ask you both for very specific instances of this and for your definition of “ad hominem attacks” and “character assassination.” (They’re not, for example, synonymous with frank criticism.)

      I love your description of Jerald and Sandra Tanner as a “neutral source.” I can’t say that I’ve ever thought of them that way, and I doubt that very many others have, either. But I will, indeed, post my perspective on the “Butthead” matter when I feel inclined to do so, which will be fairly soon but probably not immediately.

      • FredWAnson

        The neutral source referred to Mr. Peterson was Wikipedia – please refer to the link provided. The Wikipedia article is on “Daniel C. Peterson” under the section entitled, “Controversy over personal attacks”.

        One needn’t use the Tanners as a rhetorical hot button to rally one’s supporters as you have now chosen to do here repeatedly. Like it or not, in this case reputation (not to mention the historical record) trumps rhetorical gamesmanship.

        Thank you.

        • DanielPeterson

          Ah. Okay. Well, Wikipedia’s summary is a bit misleading.

          And, of course, Wikipedia is, on controversial issues, a battleground at least as much as it’s a “neutral source.” Roger Nicholson has demonstrated that very plainly:

          http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/mormonism-and-wikipedia-the-church-history-that-anyone-can-edit/

          • FredWAnson

            Well it’s an encyclopedia and they’ve always tended to be battlefields for warring ideologies and worldviews. I will concede this.

            Never-the-less they strive to be neutral – can you concede that?

          • DanielPeterson

            “They,” in the case of Wikipedia, is a very inclusive term, Fred Anson. The leadership of the whole thing does, I’m sure. The contributors to any given article may or may not. My entry — at which I rarely if ever look — has tended to go back and forth and back and forth between friends and enemies of mine.

          • FredWAnson

            Understood. I see, for example, that the content of that section has changed from when I cited it and it said:
            “Under Peterson’s editorship of the FARMS Review he was involved in an incident, along with William Hamblin, where they personally disparaged an independent researcher that had been critical of the LDS Church, Brent Metcalfe. Metcalfe himself, Jerald and Sandra Tanner, and others pointedly criticized Peterson and FARMS scholarship in general over the incident. According to Peterson, the board of directors were displeased with the incident” So apparently your friends were the last to get their content approved by the section editor.

            Regardless, do you now deny that the “Metcalfe is butthead” incident occurred? Do you now deny that you in your role as editor were planning to publish a hit piece on John Dehlin – and quality of content aside, the fact remains that John Dehlin was directly being targeted in? This is, I believe, the very example and definition of a personal attack is it not?

          • Stephen Smoot

            “the fact remains that John Dehlin was directly being targeted”

            No. Dehlin’s online material was being targeted. Smith focused on critiquing his “Mormon Stories” podcast and Dehlin’s publicly expressed opinions on Facebook and elsewhere.

            There’s a crucial difference between the ad hominem argument and the ad hominem fallacy. Many people, including Dehlin, fundamentally misunderstand this important difference. One of them is totally legitimate when used appropriately, the other is, well, a fallacy.

            I see Smith using, in part, the ad hominem argument, not the ad hominem fallacy, in his writings against Dehlin. He used this form of argumentation very effectively, in my opinion.

          • FredWAnson

            I will refer you both to Rollo Tomasi’s analysis of the Dehlin articles:
            http://mormonstories.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Review-of-Smiths-Review-of-Mormon-Stories.pdf

          • Stephen Smoot

            And I will refer you to Greg Smith’s rebuttal of Mr. Tomasi.

            http://seesangelsinthearchitecture.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/rollo-review-introduction/

          • FredWAnson

            And here’s Mr. Tomasi’s rebuttal of Greg Smith rebuttal of Mr. Tomasi:
            http://mormonstories.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Response-to-Greg-Smiths-Response-to-My-Review.pdf

            So long are we going to do this gentlemen?

          • DanielPeterson

            I don’t think we need to do this ad infinitum, but what this shows is that, at a very minimum, your charges are debatable. (And many of “Rollo Tomasi’s” complaints don’t even have much to do with YOUR complaints, let alone with your personal attacks against ME.)

          • FredWAnson

            Please see above. And I agree we can do this ad infinitum.

            I propose that we agree to disagree.

            And if we ever meet in person Mr. Peterson, I hope to buy you the beverage of your choice, have a lovely chat, and prove to myself that you are the warm, nice, and charming person that I’ve been told you are in person.

            Be well.

          • DanielPeterson

            I”m the same person in print.

            But I’d be willing to drink the beverage of my choice with you.

          • FredWAnson

            LOL! If you’re the same person in person that you are in print I may have to withdraw that drink offer.
            ;-)

          • ChssAddct

            NOOOOOOOO! How disappointing. It all ended without a single citation of one of Daniel Peterson’s alleged ad hominem attacks. Instead there were quotations of people who say he makes them. But no example of him actually making one. Too bad I’m a day late. I would have preferred that Fred/Dan persisted until Fred actually provided such an example. However, I completely understand Dan’s calling an end, his time is valuable and he says that past experience has shown that such a citation has not been forthcoming. Note: an assertion that Dan does something, or a quote of someone else asserting that Dan does something doesn’t hold the same water as a single example of Dan actually doing it! So sad.

          • DanielPeterson

            Not to worry, ChssAddict. Mr. Fred Anson, still indignant at my alleged personal attacks on other people and now filled with renewed righteous anger at my brutal treatment of him in this thread, is currently attacking me personally on at least two other message boards. “It goes on, Judah,” said Messala. “It goes on.”

          • FredWAnson

            Dr. Peterson fails to mention that one of the message boards – The Jana Reiss article that started all this – was invaded by one of his followers here who took upon himself to cyber-stalk me over there. This so called “attacks” on Dr. Peterson are nothing more than responses to the cyber-stalker that Dr. Peterson unleashed as a result of this article.

            I repeat again, that board was DEAD – and had been dead for a couple of months – until Dr. Peterson posted this article on the 19th of August and lit it back up again.

            The other board is the Mormon Discussions board that has had a discussion going BEFORE I was even aware of Dr. Peterson’s Personal Attack article on me of the 19th. I didn’t even get on that board until last night so I’m late player to that game – as anyone who cares to visit that discussion can see for them self if they care to.

            Dr. Peterson is spin-doctoring folks – that’s the plain truth.

          • kiwi57

            Your double standards are showing again.

            If I “invaded” Jana Reiss’ blog, then didn’t you “invade” Dan’s?

            After all, I went to Jana Reiss’ blog, read her article, noticed your comment (that was so mightily important it had to be posted three times) and responded to it. You came here to Dan’s blog and responded to his article. How is one of those an “invasion” while the other is not?

            Also, “cyber-stalking” is a crime. Anyone reading that accusation would suppose that I had hacked your email account, found out your credit card details or installed spyware on your home computer. Instead, you use it to bleat about the fact that I had the temerity to challenge your personal attack against Dan in the forum where you first made it.

            As such, your accusation bears false witness.

            Well, it’s not like we haven’t seen that before, is it?

          • Stephen Smoot

            Not much longer. Given the attitude of disdain you’ve exhibited towards Mormonism elsewhere, I don’t see much good coming out of a continuation of this discussion.

            I’ll simply reiterate what I said before: those who have complained that Smith engaged in “ad hominem” attacks on Dehlin have both misunderstood what Smith was attempting, and have not understood the difference between the ad hominem argument and the ad hominem fallacy. Since you’re keen on quoting Wikipedia:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem#Questions_about_the_notion_of_an_ad_hominem_fallacy

            “Doug Walton, Canadian academic and author, has argued that ad hominem reasoning is not always fallacious, and that in some instances, questions of personal conduct, character, motives, etc., are legitimate and relevant to the issue, as when it directly involves hypocrisy, or actions contradicting the subject’s words.”

            If you ever bother to actually read Smith’s review, and not rely on the polemics of one of Smith’s critics, you’d see how this is relevant.

            I could provide others examples of this in a Mormon context (such as Louis Midgley’s treatment of Grant Palmer), but I very much doubt that would dislodge you from your negative assessment of Mormon apologists.

            Cheers!

          • FredWAnson

            “Given the attitude of disdain you’ve exhibited towards Mormonism elsewhere, I don’t see much good coming out of a continuation of this discussion.”

            Thank you for proving my point with that closing ad-hominem Mr. Smoot. I appreciate it.

          • DanielPeterson

            That’s an “ad hominem” only in a rather loose and completely legitimate way.

            Surely you’re not suggesting — leaving particular personalities here out of the discussion — that X is somehow obligated to continue conversation with Y even if X has concluded that Y is irredeemably biased and hostile?

          • FredWAnson

            Yes, Mr. Peterson I am. I’m saying that personalities are irrelevant.

            I don’t particularly care for your book of work but I will acknowledge that you have done some good work and I have even (sit down for this one) cited from you on more than one occasion to support an argument. In those cases, your evidence and reason were sound despite any other bias you may bring as baggage.

            However, I think that you have just revealed the root of the problem here and where your pattern of ad-hominem and personal attacks comes from: Who cares if someone is “irredeemably biased and hostile”? If their arguments and reasoning are sound then they’re sound – period.

            Labeling someone “irredeemably biased and hostile” doesn’t give one a license to kill, ad-hominem, character assassinate, or attack in any form or fashion.

          • DanielPeterson

            So, Fred Anson, if you were sitting down to read a book about a historical subject of which you knew little to nothing — say, the Islamic Revolution in Iran — it would be irrelevant to you to know whether its author was for or against that revolution? You wouldn’t want to know whether you should perhaps be on your guard against partisan spin or selective use of sources with which you were unfamiliar?

            “Labeling someone ‘irredeemably biased and hostile’ doesn’t give one a license to kill, ad-hominem, character assassinate, or attack in any form or fashion.”

            And, of course, I never said that it did. Any more than bearing the name Anson gave you license to abuse prescription drugs, drive under the influence, and mistreat women.

            But realizing that somebody is hopelessly biased, hostile, and unreasonable is certainly sufficient grounds for deciding not to waste any more time with him. And that is precisely what I was talking about.

            If you were actually opposed to personal attacks, you wouldn’t have repeatedly attacked me personally.

            If you had any actual primary-source evidence on your side, you would cite it, rather than relying for evidence of my alleged wrongdoing on the precise wording of a newspaper writer about something else, a hostile summary by one person of an article by another person (neither of them me), an anonymous Wikipedia writer, and Jerald and Sandra Tanner. And you wouldn’t have to misrepresent what I’ve written.

          • Stephen Smoot

            To quote Inigo Montoya from “The Princess Bride”: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” :-)

          • FredWAnson

            No problem, then, let’s define it so there’s no mistaking the meaning shall we?

            From the Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary:
            ad hominem
            1: appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect

            2: marked by or being an attack on an opponent’s character rather than by an answer to the contentions made

            To quote from the Wikipedia article on Ad-hominem tactics:
            “An ad hominem, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: “to the man”), is an attempt to persuade which links the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise.[1] The ad hominem is a classic logical fallacy.[2] …

            Ad hominem abusive
            Ad hominem abusive usually involves insulting or belittling one’s opponent in order to invalidate their argument, but can also involve pointing out factual but ostensible character flaws or actions which are irrelevant to the opponent’s argument. This tactic is logically fallacious because insults and even true negative facts about the opponent’s personal character have nothing to do with the logical merits of the opponent’s arguments or assertions.”

            ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem )

            Again, for emphasis:
            “The ad hominem is a classic logical fallacy.”

            “This [Ad-hominem Abusive] tactic is logically fallacious because insults and even true negative facts about the opponent’s personal character have nothing to do with the logical merits of the opponent’s arguments or assertions.”

            Or, getting practical:
            Translated from Latin to English, “Ad Hominem” means “against the man” or “against the person.”

            An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument. Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting). This type of “argument” has the following form:

            1. Person A makes claim X.

            2. Person B makes an attack on person A.

            3. Therefore A’s claim is false.

            The reason why an Ad Hominem (of any kind) is a fallacy is that the character, circumstances, or actions of a person do not (in most cases) have a bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim being made (or the quality of the argument being made).

            Example of Ad Hominem

            Bill: “I believe that abortion is morally wrong.”

            Dave: “Of course you would say that, you’re a priest.”

            Bill: “What about the arguments I gave to support my position?”

            Dave: “Those don’t count. Like I said, you’re a priest, so you have to say that abortion is wrong. Further, you are just a lackey to the Pope, so I can’t believe what you say.”
            http://www.lds.net/forums/general-discussion/12038-fallacy-ad-hominem.html

          • kiwi57

            Thank you, Fred.
            And since Greg Smith’s article on John Dehlin’s “MormonStories” project does not rely upon such arguments, and since you are unable to show that anything Dan has written anywhere has relied upon such arguments, your prolonged personal attack against him is shown to be unsupported.

          • FredWAnson

            See definition of “ad-hominem” above. Yes, I know perfectly well what it means – so I can easily recognize it when I see it.

            Thanks.

          • DanielPeterson

            When you see an actual instance of a defamatory personal attack by me — of the kind you’ve been aiming in my direction here and on Jana Riess’s blog (and who knows where else?) — I hope you’ll bring it to our attention!

          • FredWAnson

            Pages 2-4 includes a list of the direct, personal attacks on Mr. Dehlin:

            a. Dehlin included among “a few particularly vocal and visible leavetakers from traditional or literal-faith Mormonism.” (Dubious Review at 4);

            b. Describing Dehlin as an “overt doubter” and “unbeliever.” (Id. at 5);

            c. “Dehlin’s on-line endeavors endorse skepticism about LDS truth claims, oppose the teachings of [the LDS Church] on some matters of sexual morality, and seek to form a network of ‘uncorrelated Mormons.’” (Id.);

            d. Dehlin “invokes many of the standard anti-Mormon themes and criticisms.” (Id. at 8);

            e. Dehlin characterized as “exit counselor” similar to anti-Mormons Jerald and Sandra Tanner. (Id. at 9);

            f. “It is shocking that Dehlin” complains about the atonement as espoused by “the normative Latter-day Saint views of sin and atonement.” (Id. at 13);

            g. With respect to Dehlin’s questioning a historical Jesus, “Dehlin promotes an absurdity that hasn’t been taken seriously by informed readers for decades.” (Id. at 14);

            h. Dehlin “spends considerable effort poisoning the well against those who support the Church.” (Id. at 19);

            i. Dehlin compared (negatively) to the editor of Mormon Think. (Id. at 20);

            j. In “less formal moments [i.e., on Facebook], [Dehlin’s] attitude toward those believers who are dishonest, unintelligent, or humorless enough to dispute his conclusions is revealed as less tolerant or benign.” (Id. at 33; see also Smith’s footnote at the end of this sentence, which reveals that Smith was referring to Dehlin’s rough treatment of classic-FARMS apologists);

            k. Smith, apparently role-playing as Dehlin’s bishop, attacks Dehlin’s worthiness to hold a temple recommend. (See id. at 38-42);

            l. “Dehlin’s attitude toward homosexual acts is opposed to the Church’s stance, but some LDS participants in his study [i.e., a study completed in 2011 about the experiences of gay LDS members] might well be unaware of this if he only describes himself as a life-long Mormon. They may expect, but not get, someone who is fundamentally friendly to their values and covenants.” (Id. at 68);

            m. Dehlin attacked for enjoying The Book of Mormon musical. (Id. at 69-70; see also id. at 74);

            n. “Dehlin shows little empathy for the Mormon believer. His attitude might be seen by some as contemptuous towards those with whom he still claims some nominal connection.” (Id. at 70);

            o. Concluding Dehlin’s activities satisfy criteria for “false prophets and teachers” as described by Elder Ballard at the Oct. 1999 Gen’l Conference.(Id. at 71-76);

            p. Describing Dehlin as having “traits which mirror those of a sociological apostate.” (Id. at 81-82);

            q. Suggesting Dehlin is in it for the money. (See id. at 82);

            r. Part of Smith’s conclusion: “The material reviewed herein has a persistent bias and it is oriented against the Church’s truth claims, its moral teachings, its leaders, and the doctrine of Christ.” (Id. at 96);

            s. Part of Smith’s conclusion: “But, as far as the Church of Jesus Christ is concerned, [Dehlin] generally helps members by moving them intellectually away from belief. He also moves them emotionally and spiritually away from the Church’s traditional support systems.” (Id. at 96-97); and

            t. Also as part of his conclusion, Smith charges Dehlin with trying to usurp power from Church leaders: “[Dehlin] cannot control or displace Church leaders on their own turf, so he will create parallel communities of Mormons (whether active, disaffected, or former)[,]” and “[Dehlin] seeks to replace this social system with his own group, with its own ethos and counter-narrative, with him in a position of leadership.” (Id. at 97).

            And I can keep going – this analysis is, IMO, excellent.

          • DanielPeterson

            I’m beginning to wonder whether you’ve actually read Greg Smith’s two articles yourself, as you suggested you had, or whether you’re simply dependent upon “Rollo Tomasi.”

            And, although I see a great deal of criticism of John Dehlin’s work and publications summarized by “Rollo Tomasi” and copied and pasted by you, I see nothing that strikes me as “ad hominem” or “character assassination.” Not, anyway, according to the normal definitions of those terms. Moreover, your summary of “Rollo Tomasi’s” summary omits the evidence that Dr. Smith cites, in abundance, to support each of his claims.

            You seem to be objecting to criticism of a specific individual — except that, since you’re plainly willing to criticize ME very harshly, by name and in public, and to publicly judge me unchristian, your motivation can’t really be abhorrence of harsh personal criticism directed at specific persons.

          • FredWAnson

            Again once I will simply point to my words from my original post in response:
            “To claim that it isn’t, ” filled with ad-hominem attacks and attempts at character assassination on John” is, in my opinion, either dishonest, intentional blindness, or extreme denial.”

            And the editor who had approved it for publication was who again Mr. Peterson?

          • kiwi57

            Mr Anson,

            Repeated assertion is not usually considered as a legitimate way to support one’s position.

            Your repeated accusation that the Smith review is “filled with ad-hominem attacks and attempts at character assassination on John” is an ideologically driven falsehood.

            Since every post you have made on this thread has been nothing but a personal attack against Dan, your posturing is a clear-cut case of the pot calling the kettle black.

            Those of us who are familiar with the internet persona of the pseudonymous “Rollo Tomasi” know in advance that anything he bothers to write about Dan Peterson and/or the former Maxwell Institute will be completely hostile.

            And the old saw about “where there’s smoke there’s fire” is also known as the Gossips’ Creed.

          • FredWAnson

            “Those of us who are familiar with the internet persona of the pseudonymous “Rollo Tomasi” know in advance that anything he bothers to write about Dan Peterson and/or the former Maxwell Institute will be completely hostile.”

            Kiwi57, in case you didn’t know that’s known as an ad-hominem argument. As a widely respected Mormon Studies Scholar once said well:

            ” I can care less about bias. I look at the evidence and arguments and decide for myself.

            I think Mormons have a special penchant for dismissing opposing views no matter the source or respectability as ‘anti-Mormon bias.’”

          • kiwi57

            And I think anti-Mormons have a special penchant for lumping all Mormons together.

            My point was not to dismiss “Rollo Tomasi” or his lengthy hatchet-job. My point was to show that merely waving the hand at him as if he were some kind of authority is unwarranted.

          • DanielPeterson

            In other words, you aren’t willing to simply choose two or three specific examples of my misbehavior and discuss/defend them here.

            But you’ll continue, on the basis of “Rollo Tomasi’s” debatable analysis of an article by Gregory Smith to publicly and personally attack Daniel Peterson as having supposedly made a “career” out of personal attacks. And you’ll probably feel very virtuous about it.

            I suppose that must make sense somewhere.

          • FredWAnson

            Mr. Peterson I believe that I HAVE chosen two or three specific examples of your misbehavior and I believe that we ARE discussing and/or defending them here.

            Further, I believe that I have now responded to each of your challenges with supporting evidence and reasoned responses.

            But I’m puzzled, were you NOT the senior staffer/editor at FAIR/FARMS/Maxell Institute when each of these incidents occurred?

            Weren’t you the editor that approved the content?

            Do you mean to tell us that these things just happened on your watch without your knowledge or consent?

            Do you now expect us to believe that such a track record of public personal attacks just kind of happened and you weren’t aware of it and didn’t approve of it?

            And we’re to believe that this pattern of paid behavior which extended over a number of years (decades as I recall) doesn’t constitute a “career”?

            Indeed, I suppose that must make sense somewhere – but not here.

          • DanielPeterson

            “Mr. Peterson I believe that I HAVE chosen two or three specific examples of your misbehavior and I believe that we ARE discussing and/or defending them here.

            “Further, I believe that I have now responded to each of your challenges with supporting evidence and reasoned responses.”

            You’ve supplied a whole long laundry list, copied and pasted from somebody else’s hostile take on an article that I didn’t write.

            “But I’m puzzled, were you NOT the senior staffer/editor at FAIR/FARMS/Maxell Institute when each of these incidents occurred?”

            By “incidents,” you mean the unpublished acrostic and the unpublished Smith/Dehlin article?

            Yes, I was.

            “Weren’t you the editor that approved the content?”

            Yes, I was.

            “Do you mean to tell us that these things just happened on your watch without your knowledge or consent?”

            No, I don’t.

            “Do you now expect us to believe that such a track record of public personal attacks just kind of happened and you weren’t aware of it and didn’t approve of it?”

            You’re using question-begging language, Fred Anson. A hidden acrostic is scarcely a clear example of a “public personal attack,” and Greg Smith’s article, while critical, is critical of John Dehlin’s publications — which is quite legitimate.

            You, by contrast, are publicly attacking me, personally — as having attacked others personally, which you claim to be against.

            “And we’re to believe that this pattern of paid behavior which extended over a number of years (decades as I recall) doesn’t constitute a ‘career’?”

            My career was then, and remains now, to teach Islamic studies and Arabic within the Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages at BYU.

          • FredWAnson

            I see. So could you explain to us how one gets “fired” from a job that one never had for the last 23-years?
            http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/54358137-78/mormon-institute-studies-peterson.html.csp

          • DanielPeterson

            First, Fred Anson, you try to prove that I’m nasty, hateful, and unchristian (and guilty of personal attacks!) on the basis of your summary of somebody else’s summary of an article by yet another person, and now you’re demanding that I account for a word choice made by a newspaper reporter who didn’t even talk with me — I was out of the country and unavailable — before publishing her article?

            Are you going to hold me responsible for the Napoleonic Wars today, or can I expect that tomorrow?

          • kiwi57

            For those of us who are informed about these matters — which is always a good idea if you’re going to opine upon a subject — Dan’s role with the then Maxwell Institute was never his career. Getting backstabbed in a maneuver of university politics did not interrupt his actual career.

          • DanielPeterson

            I have no idea whatever about changes in my biographical article at Wikipedia. As I’ve said, I pay no attention to the thing.

            I don’t deny that the “Metcalfe is Butthead” incident occurred. I dispute your interpretation of it.

            I also don’t deny that we were planning to publish a review of John Dehlin’s online “Mormon Stories” materials. And, in fact, that review is now up on the website of The Interpreter Foundation, along with a companion article:

            http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/gregory-l-smiths-review-of-mormon-stories/

            And no, writing such a review isn’t “the very example and definition of a personal attack,” any more than reviewing a novel by J. K. Rowling, or all of the novels by J. K. Rowling, is, by definition, a personal attack — even if the review is negative.

          • FredWAnson

            Mr. Peterson, in regard to your denials that the Greg Smith articles isn’t filled with personal attacks and ad-hominems, I will simply refer again to the original article and reference my own words from the original post:
            “To claim that it isn’t, ” filled with ad-hominem attacks and attempts at character assassination on John” is, in my opinion, either dishonest, intentional blindness, or extreme denial.”

            And apparently I’m not alone in my assessment – it seems that those in power at the Maxwell Institute agreed as well. Further, since one rarely gets fired for just one infraction I think it fair to conclude that they also saw the same pattern of bullying behavior that your critics do.

            Now, one might ask, how much ink (and how many more hours) are you going to spend denying and denouncing what others seem to see so clearly?

          • DanielPeterson

            You’re repeating yourself, Fred Anson. And your self-justification for attacking me personally because you think I’m guilty of personal attacks and you’re against such things isn’t ringing any truer with repetition.

            How many hours do you intend to spend here, attacking personally in order to make your stance against personal attacks clear?

            Finally, has the Maxwell Institute made any public statement about the reason for the Purge? Or are you simply supplying the motivation to fit your agenda — just as you’ve already, on this very thread, tried to blame me for your interpretation of articles written by other people.

            There’s relevant evidence, and there’s irrelevancy. It’s helpful to distinguish the two.

          • FredWAnson

            Mr. Peterson, I’m not the first to level the charge and I certainly won’t be the last – I think we both know that. As they say where’s there’s smoke there’s fire.

            However, thanks to your persistent insistent that I provide proof that Daniel C. Peterson advocates and uses ad-hominems and other forms of personal attack in his work someone more familiar with your work than I was kind enough to provide me with this:

            “By ad hominem “attacks,” he [Gary James Bergera, Signature’s director of publishing] obviously means the use of insulting or abusive language. I do not advocate such rhetorical attacks. However, the classical ad hominem is an argument, and I do believe, along with virtually all logicians, that ad hominem arguments can be legitimate, relevant, and significant—provided their limitations are clearly understood and their conclusions properly weighted. Obviously, they can be abused.

            But they are by no means invariably fallacious.

            I will admit that this nuanced view of the subject runs counter to the way many people speak of arguments ad hominem.

            ‘In twentieth-century usage, an ad hominem argument is a device intended to divert attention from the critical examination of the substance of an argument, and to discredit that argument by dragging in irrelevant considerations having to do with the character or motives of its author. That this is a disreputable procedure is clear enough in cases where the argument itself is “followable”: in which those being addressed have the opportunity of addressing themselves systematically and exclusively to “relevant” considerations.’39

            The popular view, however, is inadequate. But we must be clear, in order to make sense of this, just what it is we are talking about here: An ad hominem argument is precisely that—an argument. It can be a good or bad argument, valid or invalid, relevant or irrelevant. Insults, on the other hand, while they may in a sense be ad hominem (i.e., “against the man”) are not arguments at all, neither of the ad hominem variety nor of any other. neither of the ad hominem variety nor of any other.”
            (Daniel C. Peterson, “TEXT AND CONTEXT”; FARMS Review of Books 6/1 (1994); pp. 534-535)

          • FredWAnson

            For a man who doesn’t engage in ad-hominems it seems odd that you can so eloquently and passionately advocate and defend them Mr. Peterson.

          • DanielPeterson

            You need to try to understand what I was saying, Mr. Anson. It has nothing to do with the alleged personal attacks that you’re personally attacking me for.

          • DanielPeterson

            By noting that “where there’s smoke there’s fire,” I suppose you’re saying that all slanders are, at their root, true.

            As for the cited passage about “ad hominems,” it would be prudent if you were to try to understand my point, which has nothing to do with the kind of personal attack you’ve been making against me here and elsewhere.

          • ChssAddct

            This is still not a citation showing an ad hominem attack by Daniel Peterson. It is a citation of Daniel Petersen discussing ad hominem arguments. I’m starting to wonder if there really is an example out there of Dan Peterson carrying out an ad hominem ‘attack’. Sure wish those that claim he does so plentifully would just provide an actual example.

          • DanielPeterson

            ChssAddct: There isn’t. Which is why, after all the huffing and puffing about how vicious and nasty I routinely am, there never seem to be any very impressive actual examples of this regular behavior of mine.

          • DanielPeterson

            “Mr. Peterson, I’m not the first to level the charge and I certainly won’t be the last.”

            True, Mr. Anson. But I’ve given you the chance to be the first to supply actual specific evidence to JUSTIFY the charge — and, just as others have done before you, you’ve squandered your opportunity.

          • FredWAnson

            Please be patient Dr. Peterson, 23-years of material takes a while to parse through. However, thanks to the continuing taunting by you and your cronies here – one of whom has taken to cyber-stalking me across websites – I’ll accommodate your rabid desires shortly.

            Thank you.

          • kiwi57

            Fred,

            Since you admit that you have to trawl through “23-years of material” in order to find something to make the charge stick, it follows that you don’t have any examples ready to hand.

            And since you don’t have any examples ready to hand, it follows that you were merely repeating the opinions of others, which you rather uncritically accepted.
            And so now you are engaged in prooftexting to support your predigested opinion.

            Got it.

            And I note your double standard here: you first attacked Dan Peterson by name, elsewhere, but he was a “bully” for responding to you here. And then you crossed websites to argue with Dan here, but I was “cyberstalking” when I responded to you after following Dan’s link back there.

            If you want to lecture people about polite behaviour, don’t you think first adopting a single consistent standard might be a good idea?

            Just a suggestion.

          • FredWAnson

            Geez, you guys are just SO darn charming! It’s no wonder so many former members have reported that interacting with LdS Apologists drove them out of the church. Like this one for example:

            “As a retired professional investigator probably nothing was more convincing proof against my faith then LDS Apologists.

            The douchbaggery of Dan Peterson alarmed me. I asked questions of FAIR and in response was immediately accused of being an “Anti-Mormon”, “a non-member posing as a member”, “not having a testimony”, “an apostate” and so on. Yes, I had developed some serious questions but a response like that told me there was a HUGE problem.

            These same morons I later vented at and in response one said “it would be better if you just went and slit your throat”, interestingly enough this same apologist had previously identified himself as “we are somewhat like the Danites”. (Danites being those who carried out blood atonement in said manner). It made me so sick to my stomach reading these peoples lies and seeing how they twisted everything that I can’t believe I was ever LDS.

            Its one thing to believe in something its another to defend it by attacking people like myself who have donated nearly $200K to the church and served my whole life. At the worst point, Dan Peterson himself told me in his intellectual best “why you have never had a testimony to start with now have you, of course the church has never hide that the plates where translated with a stone and hat”.

            My response was please tell me where? His reply was to cite a single sentence in a 1980ish Ensign Magazine! I’m so glad to have found the truth and so grateful to those who expose Mormonism as I think it makes people arrogant and preys on the ignorant and appeals to a sickening desire to become Gods and has nothing to do with worshipping any God, but only worshipping demented men.

            My GG Grandfathers are Heber C Kimball and Orson Pratt, they had lots to gain and everything to lose in their day…I had nothing to lose and have gained everything by leaving Mormonism.”
            03/05/2010 – Steve K

          • DanielPeterson

            I’m fascinated by the form that your increasingly angry crusade against my supposed personal attacks seems to be taking.

            Yet again, for example, you cite, as evidence of my nastiness, somebody else’s account of my “douchebaggery” — an account that cites alleged accusations and threats from anonymous others as evidence for my bad behavior.

            And I particularly like the semiliterate statement that I’m supposed to have made to Steve K, which he even puts within quotation marks as a guarantee of its authenticity: “why you have never had a testimony to start with now have you, of course the church has never hide that the plates were translated with a stone and hat.”

            With undeniable and unambiguous evidence like THAT against me, I’m plainly guilty.

            Finally, as punishment for my supposed nasty attacks on other people, I’m accused of “douchebaggery” and unnamed people who are somehow alleged to be associated with me are called “morons” and implicitly accused of being liars, while the leaders of my faith are described as “demented.”

            I’m pleased to see, yet again, how resolutely opposed you are to personal attacks.

          • FredWAnson

            I am pleased Dr. Peterson to see you prove the points in my last post. At least you’re predictable.

          • DanielPeterson

            Predictably, I don’t do the nasty personal attacks for which you falsely criticize me.

            But, plainly, Mr. Anson, you DO.

          • kiwi57

            Thank you for that, Fred. That rant, which you cite with such relish and obvious approval, provides us with a most convenient bar against which to measure whatever specimens of Dan’s wickedness you manage to actually produce.

            I find the gossip you have so gleefully produced to be more than unconvincing. I know of no informed Latter-day Saint, much less anyone plausibly describing himself as a “Mormon apologist,” who subscribes to the notorious “blood atonement” libel which you here flourish as if it were some kind of accepted truism.

            I do not believe that anyone ever told “Steve K” that “it would be better if you just went and slit your throat,” or anything plausibly like it. And frankly, I would expect anyone who is genuinely interested in truth and/or civility in such discussions, to exercise a degree of caution before uncritically accepting and regurgitating such clearly non-credible and inflammatory accusations.

          • FredWAnson

            Well, I didn’t write it – a former Latter-day Saint did from their direct, first-hand experience with LDS Apologists like yourselves.

            And based on your behavior yesterday and today, I certainly empathize with it and can certainly understand why they would be so incensed that they would share their experience publicly and with “colorful” language to boot!

            Personally, I wouldn’t stay in ANY church that allows it’s members to treat outsiders and disaffected members like you guys do – especially if those guys are supposed to be working to keep people in the organization!

            In fact, the reason why I’ve been left to take you all on alone is because others (who are probably reading this I would guess) have already been on the receiving end of your “charm” and know better. One even told me that you all seem to like to provoke and pester people to the point of an angry, frustrated outburst so you can then point and say, “See! See! See! Just look at how they persecute us for standing up for the truth! What mean spiteful people or ill will they are!” Apparently, this is a common LDS Apologist tactic.

            So keep it up fellas – and just know that while they’re not posting some of your “fans” are watching the lovely little soap opera that Dr. Peterson has generated here unfold. And, no, I didn’t know that they were here all either – until today.

            Now I do.

            Have a good night.

          • DanielPeterson

            You’ve personally attacked me on at least three blogs or message boards now, Fred Anson, because, you say, you’re opposed to personal attacks, which you claim I regularly indulge in.

            I’ve asked you to supply specific examples of my supposed nasty personal attacks. In response, you’ve supplied anonymous hearsay and specimens of other people’s writing.

            I’ve been posting and publishing a very long time now. So if, as you claim, nasty personal attacks have been my hallmark, it ought to be easy for you to provide specific, clear examples of such personal attacks in my own language.

            If you can’t supply such examples to justify your accusation, the least you can do is to stop personally attacking me. Getting angry at me because I’ve asked for specific examples and you haven’t been able to provide them is scarcely an appropriate response.

          • FredWAnson

            Gosh fellas, I don’t know why y’all are getting so upset with me. After all, I didn’t write any of this stuff and after all none of it was ever printed onto paper in a national publication!

            It’s almost as if you’re holding me responsible for it – and since Dr. Peterson can get away with such passive aggressive, “plausible deniability” type behavior I’m kinda scratchin’ my head over why I can’t too!

            I mean y’all are tellin’ me that things like this isn’t valid as evidence for Dr. Peterson’s use of personal behavior and ad-hominems so why is it MY case?

            And y’all are tellin’ me that others are just plain wrong for saying that it is, so . . .

            I guess I’m just a little bit confused at this point. If I were smarter I might even start thinkin’ that there’s some kind of double standard at play here!

          • DanielPeterson

            Rest easy, FredWAnson. I’m not upset with you. I’ve begun to find you tedious, though. You must be the fiftieth person to attack me personally in protest against my alleged personal attacks who, when asked to supply specific examples of my extremely poor behavior — extreme even by message board standards — has, after pledging to do so, fail to provide much, if anything.

            Incidentally, too, there’s excellent reason why it’s plausible to deny many things that are “plausibly deniable.” Asserting that some accusation has the property of “plausible deniability” doesn’t miraculously prove it to be TRUE.

          • kiwi57

            Correction: someone who *claimed* to be a former Mormon *claimed* to have experienced all that stuff at the hands of people he *claimed* were LDS Apologists.

            And no you didn’t write it; you merely uncritically accepted it and then repeated it as if it were unquestioned Gospel TRVTH, which it plainly is not.

            Here are some clearly demonstrated facts you are unable to deny:

            1) The very first “personal attack” in all of this was posted by none other than your generous self.

            2) Not only that, but every other “personal attack” in this long thread has likewise come from you.

            3) Dan has not attacked you. He has merely asked you to substantiate your accusations with actual evidence.

            4) You have admitted that you have no such evidence, and that you are still looking for it.

            5) Scarce as such evidence is, you have no trouble finding anonymous hearsay accusations and posting those instead.

            Now you resort to citing some anonymous cheer squad as if their claims are evidence. To wit:

            “One even told me that you all seem to like to provoke and pester people to the point of an angry, frustrated outburst so you can then point and say, ‘See! See! See! Just look at how they persecute us for standing up for the truth! What mean spiteful people or ill will they are!’ Apparently, this is a common LDS Apologist tactic.”

            It’s not, actually; whoever it was that authored that claim, it’s a fabrication. But it is apparent that you are trying to claim that your relentless attacks are really the fault of those you are attacking.
            So how exactly does this ploy manage to explain your initial attack on Dan over on Jana Reiss’ blog? How exactly did Dan “provoke and pester” you into that?
            I realise that for someone who has no evidence to back up his accusations, being asked to provide such evidence must seem extremely provoking. But why exactly should anyone put up with being the target of such accusations? Just because he’s a Mormon, and therefore deserves it?

          • DanielPeterson

            If I’ve commonly been nasty and personally insulting, you should be able to find lots of examples fairly quickly. You should have to come through 23 years of material in order to come up with just one or two specimens. They should be, I would imagine, quite common.

          • cromley222

            I dont see them as “rabid desires” FredWAnson. You made the claim, and the burden of proof is on you to back it up. Otherwise it is just a claim, and anyone can claim anything, like “cheese is made from rocks”. if Daniel’s viciousness is so prevalent (as you claim), you won’t have to go through “23 years of material” to find something, the viciousness should be everywhere and easily found.

          • quickmere graham

            Why hasn’t the Smith article actually been “published,” though? Interpreter has been eager to include articles as part of its invented journal numbering system, but Greg Smith’s is notably absent from having been “published.”

          • DanielPeterson

            Several factors went into my decision (with which my friend Greg Smith concurred) not to run it in the print edition of “Interpreter,” among them the sheer fact of its length, which would have dominated one of our typical volumes. Relatively brief deviations from the express theme of “A Journal of Mormon Scripture” are acceptable in any given volume and were foreseen from the beginning, but to give the bulk of an entire volume over to something only tangentially connected with that theme was, I finally decided, inappropriate.

            There will be judgment calls in the future — indeed, I’m considering one right now — but the fact is that The Interpreter Foundation has tools available to it that the old “FARMS Review” seldom if ever did, including a blog, videos, podcasts, roundtables, and the like. The journal is only one among our efforts. We have lots of ways of publishing, and we believe in them all.

            Thanks for asking.

          • kiwi57

            So an unpublished acrostic is the best you can do.

            Got it.

            And no, the review of Mr Dehlin’s so-called “Mormonstories” project is not “the very example and definition of a personal attack.”

            Thank you for asking.

  • DanielPeterson

    Oh man, Josh Segundo, you’re right. That was HORRIBLE. And I WAS involved, to my eternal and everlasting shame.

  • Loran

    This seems to have seeped from the secular Internet anti-Mormon world into the EV anti-Mormon world, as this meme of you as Simon Bar Sinister has been common within certain Internet venues for a long time, but, having not followed the EV counter-cult for a long time, I cannot be sure what who affected who first.

    As with the Greg Smith “hit piece,” all of this settles in as the stuff of exmo/NOM urban legend and its now impossible to dislodge, and those who purvey it knowing it to be less than ingenuous have too much invested in it now to back off and just argue the merits of various issues.

  • Loran

    Oh, and just to be clear, I did read Greg Smith’s piece, when it first became available, and I confess consternation as to the claim of ad hominem” attacks therein. I also look forward to some clear examples.

  • ozfan2013

    Dan, I read the linked article on John Dehlin and Mormon Stories. Based on the Wikipedia definition of “ad hominem circumstantial” (Ad hominem circumstantial constitutes an attack on the bias of a source.), I would certainly argue that the article meets that definition. As I read it, I got the impression of a subtext where John Dehlin was being accused of not being as open and honest as he claims. While it does have a couple of specific historical/scientific issues cited, these appear to be a sideline to the primary intent of warning Mormons to beware the ulterior motives of John-Dehlin-type people. Anyway, you asked for an assessment, so there it is.

    • DanielPeterson

      Do you think, ozfan2013, that that kind of analysis — which isn’t the way, I think, most of the critics apply the label to me and mine — is illegitimate?

      That is, do you think a reviewer should never, in considering a book, raise any issue regarding bias in the author, or failure, in discussing an issue, to adequately consider all sides or all of the relevant evidence?

      • ozfan2013

        To be honest, I don’t know if it’s legitimate or not, but the question was whether it constituted ad hominem, and based on the definition I looked up, it appeared to meet that criteria.

        Obviously, you do feel that it is legitimate to consider bias, but it seems to me that such an approach is very subjective and is prone to errors of judgement about people’s character and/or intentions. A good example is yourself. You feel, from your other comments, that you have been unfairly characterised by Fred’s own ad hominem attacks (using the same definition). I’m sure John Dehlin may feel the same way about the article in question.

        • DanielPeterson

          Of course it’s subjective and prone to error. Most humans and human productions (including writing) are.

          In the sense that you’re using the term “ad hominem,” though, I’ve argued in print — and so have others, including Douglas Walton, whom Stephen Smoot quotes above — that consideration of bias and motives is entirely legitimate and perfectly acceptable in terms of logic.

          Mr. Anson seems to regard it as intrinsically illegitimate, but I doubt that he would be able to find many historians, for example, who would agree with him on that.

          • Stephen Smoot

            “consideration of bias and motives is entirely legitimate and perfectly acceptable in terms of logic.”

            Here’s an example to illustrate:

            Ad hominem argument: Martin Heidegger was an influential German philosopher who made important contributions to post-Kantian philosophy. He was also a member of the Nazi party, and had sympathies with National Socialist ideals. As such, our evaluation of his philosophical arguments needs to keep in mind his National Socialist views, and how they might affect the thinking and rational behind his theories.

            Ad hominem fallacy: Martin Heidegger was a Nazi, so his philosophy is wrong!

            Does everyone see the difference?

          • DanielPeterson

            I certainly see the difference..

          • ozfan2013

            Yes I do. But it seems to me there is a spectrum between those two examples, where one could discredit the philosophy by consistently referring to aspects of the first paragraph.

          • DanielPeterson

            I say “tomayto,” while you may well say “tomato.” Everybody writes differently, too.

          • ozfan2013

            Yes, I suppose it would be hard to argue that there is no place at all for bias assessment.

            It’s just that the way it is done in the article seems a little laboured. It almost feels like the person in question (John, etc) has to be freshly discredited at the outset of each major analysis. I think this is where the criticism of the technique could get some traction, because it is usually an unsympathetic assessment of the person’s motives.

          • DanielPeterson

            If it was “laboured” — Canadian, British, or Oceanian? — that was because the author felt that he had to overdocument every single criticism he leveled, lest he be accused of make false personal accusations.

            Had he provided less evidence, he would have been attacked, so it seems a bit funny that he’s attacked because he overdid the evidence.

  • Dennis Potter

    Dan, you explicitly defended the use of ad hominem arguments in your final article in FARMS’s infamous review of Brent Metcalfe’s _New Approaches to the Book of Mormon_. Logically speaking, your point that ad hominem arguments are not ALWAYS fallacious is correct. But you fail to mention how narrow the requirements are for a legitimate ad hominem argument and you don’t show that FARMS’s ad hominems meets this requirement. One can only make a legitimate ad hominem argument in the event that one’s interlocutor has already made an argument from her authority and, then, only if the ad hominem gives good reason to question that authority. Otherwise, ad hominems always miss their mark (since the argument being criticized could be made by somebody besides the person being attacked). And, of course, the books reviewed by FARMS don’t make arguments from authority, but instead, they make arguments based on textual, historical and scientific evidence. Here’s the link http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu//publications/pdf/review/971252775-6-1.pdf

    • DanielPeterson

      Dennis, thanks for your input.

      I think the restriction of legitimate ad hominem to cases where there’s an argument from authority is too narrow. Or, perhaps better said, I think that arguments from authority are often made even when they’re not explicitly announced as such.

      For example, while a mathematical argument is typically entirely public — e.g., the premises and reasoning are on public display such that the motives or biases of the mathematician are of little or no relevance — a historian’s argument, to choose one kind of counterexample, is public only in a weakly analogous sense. She may cite plenty of evidence, but the non-specialist reader cannot be certain, in most cases, whether she has accurately represented it, or whether she has cited all of the RELEVANT evidence. It may well be that a controlling bias — Catholic, feminist, Mormon, pro-Reagan, Marxist, whatever — has led her, perhaps consciously (in which case, we’re talking about fraud) or more likely unconsciously, to suppress or undervalue evidence inconsistent with her point of view.

      I don’t think it’s a bad thing to learn from a review that Author X is a very devout Evangelical or a committed Freudian or a practicing Latter-day Saint or a convinced atheist when I’m considering books to which those commitments are relevant. (It might be a good warning, so that I can be particularly vigilant.) And I don’t mind learning from a reviewer that certain peculiarities (e.g., arguable evidentiary weaknesses, or disputable conclusions) in an author’s work might have something to do with, say, a prior ideological commitment.

      I hasten to add that I’ve read and profited considerably from works by Marxists, feminists, and the like. I’m not saying that such books have no value or shouldn’t be read. But, on the whole, I very much prefer more information over less.

      • Dennis Potter

        Dan: Thanks for your response. You make some good points.

        First, you claim that the restriction of legitimate ad hominem arguments to cases where an argument from authority is made is too narrow. But you don’t give any cases to show that there are cogent ad hominem arguments that are not criticisms of an argument from authority. Of course, you go on to qualify this
        claim by saying that arguments from authority are often made implicitly. That is plausible. However, I don’t see it in the examples that you give. See the following:

        You argue that because a historian might have a bias (such as being Marxist) she might fail to present relevant evidence to the reader. You conclude that it would be appropriate to use an ad hominem against her (i.e., since she has used an implicit argument from authority). There are two problems with this argument as far as I can see.

        First, it is not clear that she has given an implicit argument from authority. If the Marxist historian has given an implicit argument from authority, then when I (a metaphysical and methodological naturalist who is not persuaded by the design argument) present criticisms of the design argument in class, I am giving an implicit argument from authority. So, a legitimate criticism of my criticisms of the design argument would be the ad hominem that I am an atheist. But that doesn’t seem at all correct to me. If the Marxist historian has given an implicit argument from authority just by presenting her arguments for her conclusion (without explicitly stating that the reader should believe her because she is an expert), then it would seem that any scholar would be giving
        an implicit argument from authority. This is just not plausible to me.

        Second, if there really is some relevant evidence that she has missed in constructing her theory, then that evidence is a much better criticism than any ad hominem you can give (legit or not). So, if you have that evidence just give it and don’t bother with attacking her person.

        You point out that it is a good thing to learn from a review that an author has a certain bias. I agree. But I would say that this doesn’t make noting that bias an argument. And when one notes this bias one should do everything possible to avoid making it into any kind of ad hominem argument.

        Next you claim that it is a good thing for a reviewer to delve into unstated ideological motives for the evidentiary weaknesses in an author’s conclusions. I disagree. This strikes me as petty and it detracts from the very real arguments based on the evidentiary weakness. Also, I think that it is bad form not to take an author at her word when she offers you explicit arguments for a conclusion. These are the arguments that she wants to defend, not the fact that she’s a Marxist. She may have been motivated to make these arguments because she’s a Marxist. But, unless the arguments are explicitly Marxist, then Marxism has nothing to do with those arguments—non-Marxists could accept them. This kind of speculation about hidden psychological and ideological motives for the conclusions drawn is so distasteful because it amounts to doubting the sincerity of the author (what’s you REAL reason for advocating this conclusion?). You fail to take them at their word. That violates a principle of charity in the interpretation of others’ scholarship. Or, at least, that’s how I see it.

        • DanielPeterson

          Dennis:

          Thanks for your reply. I actually don’t think we disagree all that much. I simply need to clarify my position, if (as seems to be the case) I haven’t already done so sufficiently.

          “First, you claim that the restriction of legitimate ad hominem arguments to cases where an argument from authority is made is too narrow. But you don’t give any cases to show that there are cogent ad hominem arguments that are not criticisms of an argument from authority. Of course, you go on to qualify this
          claim by saying that arguments from authority are often made implicitly.”

          More precisely, certain kinds of arguments ARE arguments from authority.

          I give the example of a historian who tells me the story of X because, unlike me, she has spent time with the sources that enable her to do so. In accepting her account, I trust her to have taken all of the relevant sources regarding X into account, and to have dealt with them fairly. In other words, I grant her a kind of unique authority that I, by reason of my ignorance of X and the relevant sources, don’t possess.

          “You argue that because a historian might have a bias (such as being Marxist) she might fail to present relevant evidence to the reader. You conclude that it would be appropriate to use an ad hominem against her (i.e., since she has used an implicit argument from authority).”

          No. Not quite. I think it’s relevant to helpful to know that she’s a Marxist (or a triumphalist Catholic, or a conservative Mormon, or working on a fellowship from the Tobacco Institute), because that might alert me to certain kinds of potential problem. It also might help to explain certain kinds of observed problems. But it doesn’t, as such, invalidate what she has to say. It isn’t, in that sense, an argument at all.

          “First, it is not clear that she has given an implicit argument from authority.”

          See above.

          “If the Marxist historian has given an implicit argument from authority, then when I (a metaphysical and methodological naturalist who is not persuaded by the design argument) present criticisms of the design argument in class, I am giving an implicit argument from authority.”

          No. I don’t believe that at all. Your arguments and presumptions are public, laid out entirely for (and before) your class. They can be critiqued directly.

          A historian, by contrast, is working from documents, interviews, artifacts, and so forth, that I have almost certainly not personally seen, let alone inspected. She selects from those what she believes to be helpful and relevant. But I, who have not personally examined those materials, have to trust that she has done so adequately, honestly, and so forth.

          “So, a legitimate criticism of my criticisms of the design argument would be the ad hominem that I am an atheist. But that doesn’t seem at all correct to me.”

          Nor to me.

          “If the Marxist historian has given an implicit argument from authority just by presenting her arguments for her conclusion (without explicitly stating that the reader should believe her because she is an expert), then it would seem that any scholar would be giving an implicit argument from authority.”

          And, in a sense, each scholar is doing just that. But I don’t believe the same to hold for mathematicians, logicians, and analytic philosophers.

          “Second, if there really is some relevant evidence that she has missed in constructing her theory, then that evidence is a much better criticism than any ad hominem you can give (legit or not).”

          I agree.

          “So, if you have that evidence just give it and don’t bother with attacking her person.”

          I think the problem is that you judge me to be offering a plainly ad hominem argument (e.g., “Moshe is Jewish, therefore don’t trust his physics”), which I fully agree to be fallacious. But I’m not.

          I do, however, think that it isn’t illegitimate to observe that Moshe, author of a book on the Arab-Israeli conflict, is a colonel in the Israeli Defense Forces and a professor at Bar-Ilan University, as opposed to being a leader of Fatah and a professor at Bir-Zeit. His book wouldn’t be invalidated in either case, but one might want to watch for pro-Israeli (or pro-Palestinian) bias and to consider reading a book from the other side in compensation.

          “You point out that it is a good thing to learn from a review that an author has a certain bias. I agree. But I would say that this doesn’t make noting that bias an argument.”

          I don’t think that it’s an argument. Not, at least, a fully (or even particularly) dispositive one.

          “And when one notes this bias one should do everything possible to avoid making it into any kind of ad hominem argument.”

          I agree.

          “Next you claim that it is a good thing for a reviewer to delve into unstated ideological motives for the evidentiary weaknesses in an author’s conclusions. I disagree.”

          I think we may genuinely disagree here.

          If I read a book that strikes me as fundamentally unfair to, say, the Israeli point of view, I may be very puzzled by it. But my puzzlement may be resolved when I learn that the author is, for instance, an ardent anti-Semite with a history of Holocaust denial (or, to choose a less extreme example, a member of a fringe political party in Romania that strongly opposes the existence of Israel). I think that the resolution of puzzlement is a good thing.

          “This strikes me as petty and it detracts from the very real arguments based on the evidentiary weakness.”

          I don’t offer it in lieu of such arguments, and would never do so.

          “Also, I think that it is bad form not to take an author at her word when she offers you explicit arguments for a conclusion. These are the arguments that she wants to defend, not the fact that she’s a Marxist.”

          But, as I say, in history (as opposed to mathematics) relevant evidence may not have even made an appearance.

          “She may have been motivated to make these arguments because she’s a Marxist. But, unless the arguments are explicitly Marxist, then Marxism has nothing to do with those arguments—non-Marxists could accept them.”

          Precisely. And I have accepted such arguments. That wasn’t my point.

          “This kind of speculation about hidden psychological and ideological motives for the conclusions drawn is so distasteful because it amounts to doubting the sincerity of the author (what’s you REAL reason for advocating this conclusion?). You fail to take them at their word.”

          I’m not necessarily accusing such a historian of dishonesty or insincerity. I do, however, accuse her of a lack of objectivity. But, since I don’t believe that any historian is or should be “objective” in the purest sense, the only question that remains for me is the direction of the particular bias.

          “That violates a principle of charity in the interpretation of others’ scholarship. Or, at least, that’s how I see it.”

          I understand your concern, and I share it. I don’t actually think that I run afoul of it in the position that I’ve sketched out here.

          • RG

            I think that the resolution of puzzlement is a good thing.

            …the only question that remains for me is the direction of the particular bias.

            But the resolution is based on presumptions of what those biases are and how they have shaped the analysis. Consider it this way, knowing that the analysis is not objective, but not knowing what information the historian has neglected, nor being able to prove that the historian has purposefully neglected counter evidence, how do you determine bias?

            This leads me to a more general point. When people object to your so-called rudeness (objections, IMO, that often have tones far worse than anything you’re accused of), my sense is that they are objecting to your mode of discussion in threads such as the MLK thread that I participated in (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson/2013/01/a-hasty-note-on-martin-luther-king-day.html). In one discussion you imply that I can’t read (“One of the principal things that has irritated a few here is, in my judgment, their own inability to read. But I’m not responsible for that. It’s our inadequate public schools.” And “If so, I hope that they can read more accurately and with less acute Pavlovian responses than a number of the commenters here have shown.” Also, “You could start by reading and understanding what I’ve already said.”), that I’m not worthy of your time (“I’m massively bored by what I regard as a pointless and futile discussion” and “I think it’s silly and a waste of time…” ), that I’m in line with Stalin (” You’ve already sided with Stalin….” And “You’re to reflect on the interesting fact that you come down on the side of Josef Stalin rather than that of Abraham Lincoln.” Also “I’m with Abraham Lincoln on this one; I regard him as a good companion (certainly better than Comrade Stalin) in questions of morality and ethics.” Lastly, “Welcome to the Gulag.”), and that I’m geared to smear you as a racist (“I’m neither a racist nor insensitive to oppression, and I haven’t appreciated your determined attempt to make me appear so.”).

            That’s quite a bit for one anonymous interaction.

            FWIW, I think this post is spot on: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithpromotingrumor/2013/03/wheat-and-tares-apologetics/ Some of your attempts to engage become far too concerned with the deligitimation of the other’s authority. And this becomes, all too often, disrespectful and frustrating.

    • Stephen Smoot

      “One can only make a legitimate ad hominem argument in the event that one’s interlocutor has already made an argument from her authority and, then, only if the ad hominem gives good reason to question that authority.”

      Kind of like when Grant Palmer and his publisher went wild with claims of him being an “insider” who had special, privileged understanding of Mormon history because of his illustrious career in CES.

      When Louis Midgley was obliged to point out Palmer’s overstating of his qualifications to give the real scoop on early Mormon history, critics of FARMS went nuts. John Dehlin and others keep pointing to Midgley’s review “Prying into Palmer” as a baseless ad hominem attack.

      Ironically, Midgley anticipated this criticism in his review long before critics started crying foul:

      “I realize that some will complain that, by probing Palmer’s background (or beliefs), I offer a diversion from the issues he raises and that what I have presented is an ad hominem attack. This is nonsense. Palmer and his publisher have made his CES career an issue. And his book has a history; he and his book cannot be separated. His book is the product of motivations and sources that also have a meaning and history. In addition, he makes claims about himself. Looking into such things is called intellectual history. It should be noted that Palmer strives to engage in just such a venture by attempting to set out what he thinks were the sources of Joseph Smith’s story, the Book of Mormon, and so forth. If my look at Palmer’s motivations and his own history of attempting to unravel the faith of the Saints is a personal attack, then the same is true of his treatment of Joseph Smith. But neither Palmer’s attack on Joseph Smith nor my treatment of his attack on the Prophet should be dismissed as an ad hominem or as a personal attack.”

      What’s also interesting is how Dehlin and other fans of Grant Palmer who complain some sort of mistreatment of Palmer by FARMS routinely ignore the four other reviews published by eminent Mormon historians who took Palmer to task on the claims of his book, and said little to nothing about his personal circumstances.

  • DanielPeterson

    Announcement: I’ve been enjoying the give and take here. Perhaps a bit too much. But I’ve got four Education Week lectures to prepare, several meetings to plan, two columns to write, and so forth, and this is taking too much of my time. So — I think I’m caught up now on my responses — I’m going to back off a bit now and get some work done. Best wishes to all — including, in my typically snarling and unchristian way, to Mr. Anson.

    • Scott_Lloyd

      I, on the other hand, am taking a week off from work to catch up on some home projects and thus have a bit of leisure time at my disposal. So I will cheerfully assume part of the burden of reminding Mr. Anson, as many times as it takes, that he
      – is continuously indulging in the same offense of which he has repeatedly accused you.
      – as yet has failed to provide anything meaningful to back up his accusations, despite repeated invitations to do so.
      – is repeating himself and doing it no more persuasively than in the prior half-dozen or so iterations of his accusations.

  • Ray Agostini

    I think that this debate, and others like it, is largely about perspectives, or, which side of the fence one falls on, because we tend to defend those who share our ideals and beliefs, or unbelief, as the case may be. One man’s hero is another man’s villain, and so on. Over the past ten years I’ve had occasional clashes with Dan (long and short term), and I can honestly say that in all of those differences, I don’t recall a single instance, not one, where he was insulting towards me (that can actually be unnerving, and it would have been a lot easier if he *had* been insulting). In strong disagreement, yes, but never insulting. I most assuredly cannot say the same for *most* of my “ex-Mo” critics (not that I claim to have been a saint in some of my own responses, because I’m just not as cool-headed as Dan).

    In regard to the Maxwell Institute, I’d recommend a re-reading of Professor David Earl Bohn’s guest post, “Why I Find Developments at the Maxwell Institute Concerning.” http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2012/06/guest-post-why-i-find-developments-at-the-maxwell-institute-concerning/

    “Arguments based on methodological claims that value free research,
    neutrality and objectivity, harbor an unjustified, and in some respects
    disabling, prejudice of their own. For well over a century, such claims
    have been under attack and, epistemologically speaking, all but
    abandoned as a philosophically defensible. In fairness some of these
    tenets continue to be popular on practical grounds, and the research
    protocols they authorize have no doubt proven useful. The bottom line,
    however, is that the most effective scholars realize that all research
    is preconditioned and necessarily led by key values and basic
    commitments…

    “To be sure, the malevolent attacks made on the Church by some of its
    sectarian and secular detractors should not stand as a legitimate
    exemplar of apologetic posture…

    “The goal of an honest apologia should be to expose the failures in the
    dishonest, misguided, or simply mistaken efforts of others through a
    high-minded, intellectual and spiritually-guided response; one that is
    able to draw the honest reader to a more secure ground without
    neglecting consideration of areas where we too have progress to make.
    It is this aim that distinguishes the very best work done at the
    Institute from the work of those who would attack, either explicitly or
    implicitly, what we as a Church hold sacred. All of us who value this
    approach can hope that the present attempt to create an alternative
    mission for the Maxwell Institute, one that neglects the reason for its
    very existence, will be reconsidered.”

    Thus, a straight-forward critique of Dehlin’s methods and motives *ought* to be done, for the reasons Bohn states, and such critiques will not be “value-free” as far as the defense of the faith is concerned. Contrarily, those who attack the LDS faith, are very likely to consider such critiques as “ad hominem”, when they are not.

    • DanielPeterson

      Excellent comment, Ray. And you didn’t even see through my feigned civility. My fiendish plan is working!

  • cestalyne

    All I know is that you were a very funny and friendly professor. So because of that whenever you come up, I will continue to defend you if needed, even if I haven’t read a particular article in question haha :)

    • DanielPeterson

      Thank you!

  • cromley222

    Your malevolent stalker and his buddies are currently yukking it up over at the stalker’s board. Guffaw! (and they think apologetic behavior is bad.)

    • cromley222

      Chino Blanco is now mocking the death of a loved one in his attacks on Dr. Peterson. He’s even stooped to attacking Steven Smoot!

      • DanielPeterson

        That’s another funny element: Some of them crow over the supposed fact that no young people approve of the kinds of things I write and edit and publish, but then, when young people show up who obviously support “Interpreter” and, yes, me, they often mock those young people cruelly and mercilessly for, among other things, their youth.

      • Stephen Smoot

        I wouldn’t consider myself a good Mormon if I didn’t say something to get Chino Blanco, or the other good folks at MDB, to start attacking me. :-)

    • DanielPeterson

      That’s been one of the most fascinating constants in all of this: The people who most zealously accuse me of personal nastiness and of making personal attacks never seem to recognize the irony of their constant, nasty personal attacks against me. Mr. Fred Anson is simply a recent and rather tired reiteration of the same increasingly tiresome phenomenon.

  • RG

    Sorry, something funky seems to be going on with my Disqus account. I’m not sure what happened to my earlier post, so I’ll post it again here. This is building on your exchange with Potter.

    I think that the resolution of puzzlement is a good thing.

    …the only question that remains for me is the direction of the particular bias.

    But the resolution is based on presumptions of what those biases are and how they have shaped the analysis. Consider it this way, knowing that the analysis is not objective, but not knowing what information the historian has neglected, nor being able to prove that the historian has purposefully neglected counter evidence, how do you determine bias?

    This leads me to a more general point. When people object to your so-called rudeness (objections, IMO, that often have tones far worse than anything you’re accused of), my sense is that they are objecting to your mode of discussion in threads such as the MLK thread that I participated in (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson/2013/01/a-hasty-note-on-martin-luther-king-day.html). In one discussion you imply that I can’t read (“One of the principal things that has irritated a few here is, in my judgment, their own inability to read. But I’m not responsible for that. It’s our inadequate public schools.” And “If so, I hope that they can read more accurately and with less acute Pavlovian responses than a number of the commenters here have shown.” Also, “You could start by reading and understanding what I’ve already said.”), that I’m not worthy of your time (“I’m massively bored by what I regard as a pointless and futile discussion” and “I think it’s silly and a waste of time…” ), that I’m in line with Stalin (” You’ve already sided with Stalin….” And “You’re to reflect on the interesting fact that you come down on the side of Josef Stalin rather than that of Abraham Lincoln.” Also “I’m with Abraham Lincoln on this one; I regard him as a good companion (certainly better than Comrade Stalin) in questions of morality and ethics.” Lastly, “Welcome to the Gulag.”), and that I’m geared to smear you as a racist (“I’m neither a racist nor insensitive to oppression, and I haven’t appreciated your determined attempt to make me appear so.”).

    That’s quite a bit for one anonymous interaction. Can you explain this behavior as anything other than demeaning?

    FWIW, I think this post is spot on: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithpromotingrumor/2013/03/wheat-and-tares-apologetics/ Some of your attempts to engage become far too concerned with the deligitimation of the other’s authority. And this becomes, all too often, disrespectful and frustrating.

    • RG

      When you have a chance I’d actually like to hear what you have to say about my comment. I think portrayals of your nastiness stem from three things:
      1) Demeaning interactions such as those I describe.
      2) An insistence in these situations that you’ve done nothing wrong.
      3) An attempt to portray yourself as the one wronged.
      This can leave those you interact with feeling hurt (because of 1), frustrated (because of 2), and angry (because of 3). This anger, IMO, then surfaces in hyperbolic descriptions of your nastiness. So this is why it isn’t possible to find examples of your so-called nastiness; but it is possible to find examples of 1-3.
      This model, in my opinion, goes a long way in explaining the current situation, and can even be tied into the whole ad hominem concern in as much as the success of your arguments are built on deligitimating those you disagree with.

      • DanielPeterson

        When I’m attacked over and over again on the basis of things I didn’t actually say, and when the critic persists in saying that I said what in fact I didn’t say, I see little reason to continue to take that critic seriously, I won’t admit that I’ve said what I didn’t actually say, and I do think that I’m being wronged.

    • DanielPeterson

      “But the resolution is based on presumptions of what those biases are and how they have shaped the analysis. Consider it this way, knowing that the analysis is not objective, but not knowing what information the historian has neglected, nor being able to prove that the historian has purposefully neglected counter evidence, how do you determine bias?”

      I’m not talking about any sort of private “gnosis.” If a historian openly and publicly self-identifies as a Marxist (or a feminist, or a Mormon, or whatever) it’s pretty easy to identify likely biases and, if omissions are both flagrant and congruent with the likely bias, to establish with reasonable confidence that they exist.

      RG: “This leads me to a more general point. When people object to your so-called rudeness (objections, IMO, that often have tones far worse than anything you’re accused of), my sense is that they are objecting to your mode of discussion in threads such as the MLK thread that I participated in (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/d…. In one discussion you imply that I can’t read (“One of the principal things that has irritated a few here is, in my judgment, their own inability to read. But I’m not responsible for that. It’s our inadequate public schools.” And “If so, I hope that they can read more accurately and with less acute Pavlovian responses than a number of the commenters here have shown.” Also, “You could start by reading and understanding what I’ve already said.”), that I’m not worthy of your time (“I’m massively bored by what I regard as a pointless and futile discussion” and “I think it’s silly and a waste of time…” ), that I’m in line with Stalin (” You’ve already sided with Stalin….” And “You’re to reflect on the interesting fact that you come down on the side of Josef Stalin rather than that of Abraham Lincoln.” Also “I’m with Abraham Lincoln on this one; I regard him as a good companion (certainly better than Comrade Stalin) in questions of morality and ethics.” Lastly, “Welcome to the Gulag.”), and that I’m geared to smear you as a racist (“I’m neither a racist nor insensitive to oppression, and I haven’t appreciated your determined attempt to make me appear so.”)”

      I don’t attack others. But when I’m attacked, which is constantly, I do sometimes defend myself. And when people read into what I’ve written things that my writing didn’t actually say, and when they insist on continuing to do so over my objections, I eventually grow tired of the exercise.

      Incidentally, too: The URL in the paragraph quoted above doesn’t seem to work.

      RG: “That’s quite a bit for one anonymous interaction. Can you explain this behavior as anything other than demeaning?”

      See above.

      RG: “FWIW, I think this post is spot on: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/f… Some of your attempts to engage become far too concerned with the deligitimation of the other’s authority. And this becomes, all too often, disrespectful and frustrating.”

      When people attack me, and do so on the basis of mind-reading, distortion, eisegesis, and the like, I deny them the authority to do so.

      • RG

        I don’t attack others. But when I’m attacked, which is constantly, I do sometimes defend myself.

        Can you show me in the MLK thread where I “attacked” you? If not, how do you explain your exchange with me?

        When people attack me, and do so on the basis of mind-reading, distortion, eisegesis, and the like, I deny them the authority to do so.

        I think this predisposes you to assume the worst of your interlocutors; and in assuming the worst, your “denying them the authority” can easily lead to demeaning them. Surely some mis-readings are innocent, no?

        I’m not talking about any sort of private “gnosis.” If a historian openly and publicly self-identifies as a Marxist (or a feminist, or a Mormon, or whatever) it’s pretty easy to identify likely biases and, if omissions are both flagrant and congruent with the likely bias, to establish with reasonable confidence that they exist.

        But this presupposes that you have identified omissions before you determine the bias (nevermind the fact that assume that you know which ones are flagarant and which ones aren’t); and if you have identified omissions they should be dealt with as an omission made by anyone trying to make the arguement the author is trying to make. If an omission changes the argument being made, then it’s irrelevant whether the omission is made by a Marxist, Mormon, etc. The argument is still flawed.

        So which is it? Can we only determine bias with a handle of the evidence? Or can we determine bias simply by knowing that no observation is objective and that the author is a Marxist, Mormon, etc.?
        If the former, then you seem to believe in the effectiveness of ad hominem in the same narrow sense that Potter does. If the latter, then you haven’t proven how bias can be determined without a handle of the evidence.

        Lastly, here’s the link. Not sure why it was cut off in the previous post:http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithpromotingrumor/2013/03/wheat-and-tares-apologetics/

        • RG

          When you’re truly interested in having a conversation about this, let me know.

  • ozfan2013

    Hi again Dan,

    I’ve been reading through your exchange with Fred Anson, as well as a light reading of some of your other online exchanges over the years. On the one hand, it seems wholly inappropriate to discuss your real or imagined character flaws, especially in a public forum. On the other hand, you seem to “like” (probably not all the time) the opportunity to defend yourself, and you consistently ask for details of alleged offences. So, at the heavy risk of “pulling out motes,” I felt to add my own perspective to the debate.

    You appear to have a solid intellectual framework from which you usually argue. There’s a logic to your arguments and perhaps a hint, even, of intelligence. ;) It seems clear in many of your exchanges that your opposing forces do not always possess the same rigour in their analysis or the same logic in their reasoning. Your approach to these exchanges appears to be, first and foremost, a requirement that these people engage you on your level. Some people are just not able to do that as effectively. And when they make their inadequate attempts, they are shot down, usually with a dose of sarcasm. This leads to frustration on their part (and yours), which leads to more anger, etc, etc and things continue to slide downhill from there.

    What appears to be lacking, in your approach, is empathy. Most disaffected/former Mormons carry a degree of pain associated with their exit from the church. And there are real issues – doctrinal, cultural, spiritual, whatever. Many, from my reading, are just reacting emotionally to the tactics of Mormon apologia. In particular, I think the apologist strategy often seems most similar to that of lawyers, i.e., a focus on discrediting witnesses, omitting damaging facts, and, of course, a lack of empathy for the issue at hand. And just like lawyers, this tactic frustrates the average person to no end. When they predictably lash out, they are treated to more of the same strategy.

    I do believe there is a place for correction of inaccurate facts. I also do acknowledge that a lot of the regular Mormon scholarly material is very interesting and thought-provoking. It’s just that when the topic moves to “defending the faith”, the result seems to be, as I say, a more legalistic approach that feels a lot like sidestepping issues. A notable exception, I think, is Richard Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling, which, while I realise was not written as a defence of the faith, nonetheless felt like a balanced approach to discussion of Mormon history, with a clearly understood sympathy for the believing perspective.

    Once again, sorry for weighing into this. Hope there is at least something worthy of consideration.

    • DanielPeterson

      ozfan2013: “you seem to “like” (probably not all the time) the opportunity to defend yourself, and you consistently ask for details of alleged offences.”

      Yes. When I’m publicly attacked, I do sometimes choose to defend myself. And when I’m unjustly accused of a whole class of offenses, I often ask for specific examples.

      ozfan2013: “Your approach to these exchanges appears to be, first and foremost, a requirement that these people engage you on your level.”

      I try to hold both myself and my critics to the same high standard of clarity, evidence, and reasoning.

      ozfan2013: “Some people are just not able to do that as effectively. And when they make their inadequate attempts, they are shot down, usually with a dose of sarcasm.”

      Typically, I believe, only if they’ve attacked me or something I care about, and if they persist in misrepresenting what I’ve said despite my corrections.

      ozfan2013: “What appears to be lacking, in your approach, is empathy.”

      The people who know me, I expect, realize that I’m quite empathetic. I hope and believe that the young people with whom I counseled as a young single adults bishop would agree to that.

      I admit to being fairly unempathetic with people who assault me unfairly and who won’t back down even when corrected.

      ozfan2013: “Most disaffected/former Mormons carry a degree of pain associated with their exit from the church. And there are real issues – doctrinal, cultural, spiritual, whatever.”

      Despite what some of my critics say, I understand this full well.

      ozfan2013: “Many, from my reading, are just reacting emotionally to the tactics of Mormon apologia. In particular, I think the apologist strategy often seems most similar to that of lawyers, i.e., a focus on discrediting witnesses, omitting damaging facts, and, of course, a lack of empathy for the issue at hand.”

      In counseling situations, I’m quite sympathetic and empathetic. And if people reach out to me for help, I try as hard as I can to help them. (More than a few people, even online, even among critics, could testify to this, I believe.)

      When I’m engaged in debate about issues, though, I go by logic and evidence. I won’t concede a falsehood just to be thought nice. I’m not brutal about it, but I insist on being honest.

      ozfan2013: “And just like lawyers, this tactic frustrates the average person to no end. When they predictably lash out, they are treated to more of the same strategy.”

      It would be interesting to see survey data on how “the average person” would judge exchanges such as mine here, say, with Mr. Fred Anson. I understand that there are many readers who dislike me, but I’m not persuaded that they necessarily represent the average. I see powerful ideological factors at work here.

      ozfan2013: “I do believe there is a place for correction of inaccurate facts. I also do acknowledge that a lot of the regular Mormon scholarly material is very interesting and thought-provoking. It’s just that when the topic moves to “defending the faith”, the result seems to be, as I say, a more legalistic approach that feels a lot like sidestepping issues.”

      I absolutely don’t believe in sidestepping issues.

      ozfan2013: “A notable exception, I think, is Richard Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling, which, while I realise was not written as a defence of the faith, nonetheless felt like a balanced approach to discussion of Mormon history, with a clearly understood sympathy for the believing perspective.”

      While I disagree with specific elements of his book, Richard and I are very much on the same page with regard to frankly facing issues. We’ve had a number of conversations on the topic.

      ozfan2013: “Once again, sorry for weighing into this. Hope there is at least something worthy of consideration.”

      I appreciate your reasonable approach and your civil tone. Thank you.

  • FredWAnson

    Lets be clear here: Daniel C. Peterson is a public figure. He’s for 23-years he was the director and/or one of the most influential members of what’s considered the premier LdS Apologetics organization in the world – so much so that his name is nearly synonymous with the words, “LDS Apologetics”.

    He’s also a tenured BYU Professor with a number of published works – including regular contributions to the Deseret News and other LdS publications. He’s also a well known and popular LdS lecturer.

    He is in fact so well known and so influential that there’s a Wikipedia article on the guy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_C._Peterson

    He’s so well known and so influential that when he loses his job articles are written about him: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/54358137-78/mormon-institute-studies-peterson.html.csp

    So when some unknown plain vanilla Evangelical guy makes a few passing comments – in fact, the SAME comments that have been made about him for decades now – in the comments section of a dead, two-month old blog on the same Religion News blog site that the famous Dr. Peterson is a contributor for what does he do?

    Does he just move on and say, “Oh well! I guess that’s a part of the cost of fame”?

    Does he reply on that site before a neutral/mixed audience in an even dispassionate tone giving his side of the story without engaging in the very behavior that he’s being criticized for?

    Does he write a blog that discreetly critiques the content of these and past comments without getting personal and without engaging in the very behavior that he’s being criticized for?

    No to all the above.

    Rather, Instead he, as I put it directly to him earlier in this discussion thread:

    “… devoted an entire blog article based on a few comments made in passing back in June. That fire was dying (or perhaps dead) it was YOU who decided to throw a log on it and apply lighter fluid and match to it.

    In this blog . . .

    - He, this famous public and influential figure, named names – mine.

    - He, this famous public and influential figure, selectively used quotes – choosing to gloss over the most notorious example of his behavior: The “Metcalfe is Butthead” article that he edited and approve for publication in the FARMS Review of Books.

    - And he, this famous public and influential figure, did so in a venue where he knew that the audience would be sympathetic and biased in his favor: His blog site.

    What he did was the equivalent of calling a less powerful, less well known kid onto his “turf” where: a) He knew he already had backing, and; b) He knew if that kid was stupid enough to show up (and I admit I was that stupid) they could gang up on him.

    And yet he wonders why others call him a bully – and worse?

    Wow, just wow!

    • FredWAnson

      This same Daniel C. Peterson (DCP) then demands evidence. That evidence is given:

      1) The famous “METCALFE IS BUTTHEAD” William Hamblin incident that occured while DCP was the senior staffer and editor at FARMS/The Maxwell Institute.

      2) The famous John Dehlin article that led to DCP’s termination from FARMS/The Maxwell Institute.

      I’m told both by DCP and the DCP friendly audience on DCP’s blog site that this evidence is irrelevant since the personal attacks and ad-hominems in those articles were done by other people and not DCP.

      This argument – which was rehashed again and again ad nauseum – ignores DCP’s role in Mormon Apologetics – a role so pronounced that his name is virtually synomous with the term. There is NO question that DCP is the most influential personality within the discipline and that he set the tone for the craft via not only his leadership of FARMS/Maxwell but through the editorial style that HE set in their publications and via his behavior in lectures, articles, and internet discussions.

      Therefore, YES, these articles – though done by others – are in reality nothing more than an extension of DCP himself. He commissioned them, he edited them, and (had he not been caught) he was prepared to release them for publication.

      Period.

      Therefore, they are as legitimate as evidence as if DCP had written them himself.

      Period.

      • FredWAnson

        Never-the-less, DCP has left an impressive body of direct evidence that demonstrates his propensity to engage in personal attacks. Let’s consider those now:

        1) I’ve already provided a direct citation from the FARMS Review of Books that was essentially a treatise on why ad-hominem arguments are OK.

        It didn’t escape my notice that the same DCP supporters who have been defending him here conveniently ignored that evidence. Clearly Dr. Peterson has NO problem with ad-homineming others.

        2) DCP has consistenly engaged in a campaign to discredit D. Michael Quinn’s body of work focusing on his homosexuality rather than his scholarship. This one is long and involved so I’ll just have to provide a link:

        http://mormondiscussions.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5764&st=0&sk=t&sd=a

        3) Just this year DCP broke Church Rules with the following – and, BTW, would anyone care to argue that THIS wasn’t a personal attack?

        There’s always “Everybody Wang Chung,” I suppose. He claims to be a currently serving bishop. He also claimed that his wife surprised him with a tour to Israel this past April/May, led by me. He was, he promised, going to go and to report back to his apostate buddies on all my silly Mopologist antics there. Later, when asked, he claimed to have actually gone, and again, under prodding, promised to provide a chronicle of my ridiculousness while he was with me in the Middle East. So far as I can tell, he’s never done so. Finally, just the other day, I got out a list of all of the people who accompanied me on that tour, and I had a friend who is a bishop cross check it against the Church’s leadership directory. There were no currently serving bishops on that tour. I suppose Everybody Wang Chung’s claim could still somehow be true, but I very much doubt it. It seems far and away most likely that he isn’t a currently serving bishop, despite his assertions (he doesn’t seem to believe much of anything, and is contemptuous of those who do, often in pretty foul language), and that he didn’t go to Israel with me. In other words, if I had to bet, I would bet that he’s a fraud.”

        http://www.mormondialogue.org/topic/60262-review-of-greg-smiths-review-of-mormon-stories/page__st__80#entry1209235403

        FYI, here’s the rule that he broke:

        Section 13.8 entitled “Confidentiality of Records” in Handbook 1 (2010) (emphasis added):

        The records of the Church are confidential, whether they exist on paper, in computers, or in other electronic media. These include membership records, financial records, notes of meetings, official forms and documents (including records of disciplinary councils), and notes made from private interviews.

        Leaders and clerks are to safeguard Church records by handling, storing, and disposing of them in a way that protects the privacy of individuals. Leaders ensure that information that is gathered from members is (1) limited to what the Church requires and (2) used only for approved Church purposes.

        Information from Church records and reports may be given only to those who are authorized to use it.

        Information that is stored electronically must be kept secure and protected by a password (citation omitted). Leaders ensure that such data is not used for personal, political, or commercial purposes. Information from Church records, including historical information, may not be given to individuals or agencies conducting research or surveys.

        The full history of this incident can be read here:

        http://mormondiscussions.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=28800

        4) We’ve discussed Rollo’s Tomasi’s critique of the now public John Dehlin article in some detail here. Please consider this clear-cut case of bullying from an email he sent to Rollo Tomasi:

        “This is not merely disagreement; you are bearing false witness against me, and you will, I believe, someday have to account for it. You have the temporary advantage of what, in this context, strikes me as a rather cowardly anonymity. But that will not save you from the accounting.

        But I will deny as false, and slanderously so, your depiction of my attitude and behavior toward Mike Quinn as “venomous,” “sick,” and the like. This is not only untrue, but libelous. Nor did I ever suggest that it was Quinn’s homosexuality that has kept him from getting a job, or that it ought to do so. You traduce me when you publicly say such things, and you will someday be obliged to acknowledge the falsehood and injustice of your public accusations.

        I do not take this lightly. I’m not joking, and this is not a game. As God is my witness, what you are saying is false, and I will so testify.

        I will have no further dealings with you, so far as I can avoid them. In my eyes, whatever claim you may once have had to the moral high ground — and I was more than willing to give you the benefit of the doubt — has now been forfeited. Your behavior is contemptible and unwarranted.

        Don’t answer. At this point, I don’t care. You are beneath notice.”

        http://mormondiscussions.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?p=12065#p12065

        5) And there’s DCP’s stunning insensitivity regarding Jewish protests over proxy baptisms in which he offered these “gems” on a public discussion board:

        “I’m not sure why some Jews appear to be offended by Mormon temple service on behalf of Jews. Jews have precious few friends around the world.”

        “I hope that Jews, of all people, will be very careful not to entertain the kind of religious hatred and bigotry that some will undoubtedly attempt to inflame over this issue (and that is already evident in some of the comments by other posters above).”

        http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=32414509&postID=116642588329603513

        And lest you think I’m nit picking, let’s see what some others on the board had to say about DCP’s comments:

        “Your comments here simply show the uncouth nature of members of the Mormon Church.

        As to people hating your Church, people have good reason to. One is that the Church thinks it owns truth. Second, your Church has ruined many peoples’ lives. Gays, lesbians, Mountain Meadow Massacre, polygamy, etc. And the Church will not leave people alone who want nothing to do with it anymore.

        Mr Peterson, look carefully at your religion and really try and see how it is an offense to people. Your mythological beliefs and practices are an affront to many people. Your church is not a restoration of the Church that Jesus’ followers set up after his death. And for you to say that Mr Wiesenthal’s family should be greatful that your Church is doing this for him “is” an affront and against decency.”

        AND

        “Gosh, is it just me or does Mr. Daniel Peterson come off sounding like an arrogant boor?”

        etc., etc., etc.

        6) DCP has quite a history of name-calling rather than arguing from evidence to evidence or from logic and reason to logic and reason. For example, he calls well known Ex-Mormon Tal Bachman “Tall Tales Bachman.” He’s also been calling a regular poster (“Dr. Scratch”) on the Mormon Discussions board the “Malevolent Stalker” for nearly a decade.

        7) DCP has threatened lawsuits on several occasions, the most notable of which came during his stint as an “Expert Witness” in the Elizabeth Smart trial. Some people on the Mormon Discussions board were speculating on whether or not Peterson’s bad behavior on the Web might be used by Brian David Mitchell’s defense team. DCP went through the roof and sent this threatening Private Message to the board founder and owner “Dr. Shades” and several other people:

        “I’ve put up with more than four years of incessant character assassination from Scratch. But this thread, in which a consensus seems to be growing — on the basis of absolutely nothing at all, and even before Scratch and Gadianton arrive to fan the flames — that I’ve engaged in a conspiracy to illegitimately affect the conduct and thus to tamper with the outcome of a very high-profile federal criminal trial, crosses a line, and I’m disinclined to let it pass.

        The charge is both deeply serious and absolutely false. I had nothing to do with the shutting down of MADB. I don’t know what occasioned it, and have had no input on it nor (until just this evening, and that on a peripheral matter) any communication regarding it. I haven’t even posted there in two or three weeks (or something on that order, perhaps more), and I was scrupulously careful to say nothing substantial there or anywhere else about my involvement in the Brian David Mitchell case or about the government’s case against Mr. Mitchell. (That he had been found competent to stand trial was a matter of public record; the competency hearing, including my involvement in it, was covered in the news media when it occurred late last year.)

        I’m not a lawyer, but I suspect that some of your people are accusing me (falsely) of having committed a crime. If that is so — I will check early next week, unless this ends, to see whether it is — their accusations are slanderous and legally actionable.

        Be warned. This is not one that I will let go of if it continues. I will go after the board, and I will go after each and every one of those who have publicly slandered me in this matter to the extent that the law allows. Enough is enough.

        As I wrote to another participant on your board just tonight — one who is not on my “team,” but who is reasonable and fair-minded — charges such as this live forever on the Web, and are accessible from every place on the surface of the planet. And I have literally no idea how many people are or will be reading them.

        Shakespeare’s point, in “Othello,” seems to me sound:

        Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,

        Is the immediate jewel of their souls.

        Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;

        ‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;

        But he that filches from me my good name

        Robs me of that which not enriches him,

        And makes me poor indeed.

        My name has been dragged through the mud virtually every week on your board for years now. But when your board becomes a vehicle for casually and falsely accusing me of serious crimes, that’s beyond toleration. I’ve copied this note to a few others who participated on your board and who, for one reason or another, should probably know about it.

        Very sincerely yours,

        Dan Peterson

        P.S. This is absolutely not personal. I have no wish to do you any harm. I trust that you know that. And, of course, I still recall that I need to get your book back to you, which I will do very soon. I’ve been too preoccupied with the Mitchell matter to be able to surface for air over the past several weeks.”

        Basically, he threatened to sue as a means of silencing talk about his history of bullying others. In other words, he bullied peoople to get people to stop publicly talking about his bullying behavior.

        8) This link to an email exchange (archived on the SHIELDS website) between DCP and Alpha and Omega Minstries is rife with DCP ad-hominems and personal attacks. Here’s an example: “I’m sorry you broke your arrogance meter. Was it a gift from your mother?”

        http://www.shields-research.org/Critics/A-O_03.html

        9) A favorite target for DCP attacks has been Egyptology professor Robert Ritner. DCP has been hinting for years that Ritner acted unscrupulously and was thrown off the dissertation committee of LDS apologist John Gee:

        http://mormondiscussions.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2109

        And, trust me, there’s more – a LOT more – where all this came from!

        • FredWAnson

          Now, you all have hounded me for 3-days now demanding evidence – well there is it.

          However, I don’t expect any of you to honestly consider it any more than you considered the first set of evidence that you were presented. Never-the-less, none of you can say that you weren’t presented with any evidence of Dr. Peterson’s bullying behavior and personal attacks on people – you have it in spades.

          And Dr. Peterson will no doubt use his, “He’s just reiterating the same old stuff” argument to which I will simply ask – well which of that “same old stuff” DOESN’T show him to be a bully who engages in – and even seems to relish – personal attacks, ad-hominems, and other such behavior?

          Further, if anyone needs any evidence as to what Internet bullies Dr. Peterson and his disciples are they, really, need look no further than this web page – you all have provided such evidence in abundance (though I do realize that you’re blind to it).

          However, if any of you have the desire, courage, and integrity to break free from the bullying model “old school LDS Apologetics” model that you have demonstrated so well here may I suggest this excellent article:

          https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/pdf/132%2022-55.pdf

          Really, it’s quite good and it’s very practical!

          As for me, I’m done here.

          And, BTW, my critque of Dr. Daniel C. Peterson now stands more than ever – not only has nothing changed, I am even more convinced that my position is true and right.

          Thank you.

          • kiwi57

            So what is the evidence in support of your relentless campaign of personal attacks against Dan?

            1) The “Butthead” acrostic, which Dan didn’t write;

            2) The Greg Smith review of “MormonStories” which Dan didn’t write and which was not a personal attack on anyone;

            3) Dan’s argument that a person’s intellectual background is valid when considering the source of their ideas;

            4) Dan being prepared to defend his good name against internet libel by a gaggle of anonymous haters;

            5) Dan asking you to provide actual evidence for your mindless acceptance and regurgitation of the “Evil Dan” meme invented by those same haters.

            Have I missed anything?

            Because it’s rather desperately poor stuff, isn’t it?

          • DanielPeterson

            Mr. Fred Anson: “However, I don’t expect any of you to honestly consider it any more than you considered the first set of evidence that you were presented.”

            Deeply opposed to personal attacks, Mr. Fred Anson accuses everybody here who disagrees with him of dishonesty.

            “And Dr. Peterson will no doubt use his, “He’s just reiterating the same old stuff” argument to which I will simply ask – well which of that “same old stuff” DOESN’T show him to be a bully who engages in – and even seems to relish – personal attacks, ad-hominems, and other such behavior?”

            Deeply opposed to personal attacks, Mr. Fred Anson attacks me personally, pronouncing me a bully who engages in personal attacks, ad hominems, and other unethical behavior.

            Mr. Fred Anson: “Further, if anyone needs any evidence as to what Internet bullies Dr. Peterson and his disciples are they, really, need look no further than this web page – you all have provided such evidence in abundance (though I do realize that you’re blind to it).”

            Deeply opposed to personal attacks, Mr. Fred Anson accuses everybody here who disagrees with him of being blind.

            Mr, Fred Anson: “However, if any of you have the desire, courage, and integrity to break free from the bullying model “old school LDS Apologetics” model that you have demonstrated so well here may I suggest this excellent article:”

            Deeply opposed to personal attacks, Mr. Fred Anson accuses everybody here who disagrees with him of bullying, cowardice, and lack of integrity.

            Deeply opposed to personal attacks, Mr. Fred Anson appears to have little or no sense of irony.

          • kiwi57

            For me, the greatest irony of all is this: in his attempt to turn Jana Reiss’ article into an excuse to posture about Mormon misdeeds, including yours, he ended up providing us with yet another specimen of “EV’s behaving badly.”

            He’s been doing nothing but personally attacking you. And he fails entirely to come to grips with that fact.

          • DanielPeterson

            It’s weird — I mean, really, I find it baffling — but he still doesn’t seem to have grasped the fact that, in waging righteous warfare against personal attacks, he’s been personally attacking me in the most obvious possible way.

        • DanielPeterson

          Mr. Fred W. Anson: “Never-the-less, DCP has left an
          impressive body of direct evidence that demonstrates his propensity to engage in personal attacks. Let’s consider those now:

          “1) I’ve already provided a direct citation from the FARMS Review of Books that was essentially a treatise on why ad-hominem arguments are OK.”

          You’re committing a fallacy of equivocation here, Mr. Fred Anson. Even a casual reading of the citation you
          gave shows that it wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination a charter for insults, invective, nastiness, or hatred.
          It was an argument that an author’s biases (and, in extreme and rather uncommon cases, an author’s character) can legitimately be mentioned in a discussion of that author’s published work. (For example, it was directly relevant to an evaluation of the autobiography of Howard Hughes that appeared in the 1970s that the man behind it, Clifford Irving, forged it.)

          Mr. Fred W. Anson: “It didn’t escape my notice that
          the same DCP supporters who have been defending him here conveniently ignored that evidence. Clearly Dr. Peterson has NO problem with ad-homineming others.”

          You’re playing word games with this one, Mr. Fred Anson. What I actually wrote there doesn’t even BEGIN to establish your accusation that I unashamedly favor, advocate, and
          practice personal attacks of the kind in which you indulge.

          Mr. Fred W. Anson: “2) DCP has consistenly engaged
          in a campaign to discredit D. Michael Quinn’s body of work focusing on his homosexuality rather than his scholarship.”

          Your accusation—a borrowed one—is utterly false and a lie.
          I’ve published several articles critical of his work, and, many years ago, I myself co-authored a negative review for “Sunstone” of one of his books. None of these articles has focused to any substantial degree on his personal sexual orientation. In fact, so far as I can recall, perhaps only
          one of them (a review of his book on same-sex attraction) has even mentioned it.

          Mr. Fred W. Anson: “This one is long and involved so
          I’ll just have to provide a link:”

          Your link is to a discussion on a small message board that is largely devoted to expressions of contempt for Mormonism and Mormon believers, and, to a truly remarkable degree, to personal hostility directed at ME. Hardly a reliable or trustworthy source. A place, in fact, devoted to precisely the kind of personal attacks of which you falsely accuse me, and which you claim to oppose. Nothing any believing Mormon ever does or says, if it comes to their notice, escapes mockery, derision, and harsh criticism there. (You may have found your natural home!) For years, I’ve been personally accused on that board, where I’m far and away the favorite target, of anti-Semitism, homophobia, slander, libel, homicidal fantasies, sympathy for Nazism, racism, religious bigotry, voyeurism, dishonesty, sexual perversion, mercenary motivations, psychological instability, sadism,
          incompetence, and just about every other defect or depravity a handful of posters there can name – including (I’m not making this up) poor taste in movies, novels, and drama.

          Mr. Fred W. Anson: “3) Just this year DCP broke
          Church Rules with the following – and, BTW, would anyone care to argue that THIS wasn’t a personal attack?

          There’s always “Everybody Wang Chung,” I suppose. He claims to be a currently serving bishop. He also claimed that his wife surprised him with a tour to Israel this past April/May, led by me. He was, he promised, going to go and to report back to his apostate buddies on all my silly Mopologist antics there. Later, when asked, he claimed to have actually gone, and again, under prodding, promised to provide a chronicle of my ridiculousness while he was with me in the Middle East. So far as I can tell, he’s never done so. Finally, just the other day, I got out a list of all of the people who accompanied me on that tour, and I had a friend who is a bishop cross check it against the Church’s
          leadership directory. There were no currently serving bishops on that tour. I suppose Everybody Wang Chung’s claim could still somehow be true, but I very much doubt it. It seems far and away most likely that he isn’t a currently
          serving bishop, despite his assertions (he doesn’t seem to believe much of anything, and is contemptuous of those who do, often in pretty foul language), and that he didn’t go to Israel with me. In other words, if I had to bet, I would bet that he’s a fraud.””

          No Church rule was broken in that case, Mr. Fred Anson. No personal information was revealed about the pseudonymous “Everybody Wang Chung.”
          No personal information was accessed. I don’t even know who he is. I neither sought, nor received, nor passed on any “confidential information gathered from members.”

          I simply pointed out that his claim to have been a serving LDS bishop who accompanied me to Israel and could thus speak with special authority about my misdeeds—in other words, his claim to be specially positioned to engage in
          the kind of personal attack of which you approve—was almost certainly untrue. That isn’t a personal attack, and, beyond any reasonable doubt, it’s true.

          And it’s significant, again, that your source for this is that same hate-obsessed message board—the very place where Everybody Wang Chung was making his false claims.

          Mr. Fred W. Anson: “4) We’ve discussed Rollo’s
          Tomasi’s critique of the now public John Dehlin article in some detail here. Please consider this clear-cut case of bullying from an email he sent to Rollo Tomasi:

          “”This is not merely disagreement; you are bearing false witness against me, and you will, I believe, someday have to account for it. You have the temporary advantage of what, in this context, strikes me as a rather cowardly anonymity. But that will not save you from the accounting.

          “But I will deny as false, and slanderously so, your depiction of my attitude and behavior toward Mike Quinn as “venomous,” “sick,” and the like. This is not only untrue,
          but libelous. Nor did I ever suggest that it was Quinn’s homosexuality that has kept him from getting a job, or that it ought to do so. You traduce me when you publicly say such things, and you will someday be obliged to acknowledge the
          falsehood and injustice of your public accusations.

          “I do not take this lightly. I’m not joking, and this is not a game. As God is my witness, what you are saying is false, and I will so testify.

          “I will have no further dealings with you, so far as I can avoid them. In my eyes, whatever claim you may once have had to the moral high ground — and I was more than willing to give you the benefit of the doubt — has now been forfeited. Your behavior is contemptible and unwarranted.

          “Don’t answer. At this point, I don’t care. You are beneath notice.””

          Yet again, Mr. Fred Anson, your source is that very prejudiced message board. In fact, you’re quoting a
          personal message that was provided to you and to others against what I believe to be the privacy policy of that board itself.

          But I don’t back away from what I said to Rollo Tomasi. Though the recipient of the note and his small handful of anonymous associates thought it hilarious, I do believe that
          those guilty of bearing false witness incur the judgment of God. (Certainly the biblical God is quoted as
          saying that they do.) After years of his quite consistent and relentless defamation against me, I decided to get as
          serious with him as I know how. That it had no impact on him is, I think, not MY problem.

          Mr. Fred W. Anson: “5) And there’s DCP’s stunning
          insensitivity regarding Jewish protests over proxy baptisms in which he offered these “gems” on a public discussion board:

          “”I’m not sure why some Jews appear to be offended by Mormon temple service on behalf of Jews. Jews have precious few friends around the world.”

          “”I hope that Jews, of all people, will be very careful not to entertain the kind of religious hatred and bigotry that some will undoubtedly attempt to inflame over this issue (and that is already evident in some of the comments by other
          posters above).””

          It’s pretty obvious to me that you’ve received research help for your list, thus far, from one or two of the folks at the message board that you cite as your source. I would guess that you’ve been given these helpful materials from Rollo Tomasi and, very likely, his far more obsessive associate, whom I call my “Malevolent Stalker” and who has been engaged in a systematic campaign of character assassination against me for something on the order of seven long years now. The themes that you’ve raised thus far are personal favorites of his, and bear his cloven hoofprints.

          But what I said there has been grossly misrepresented, and, in your zeal to attack me personally in order to demonstrate your dislike of personal attacks, you’re furthering that misrepresentation. In fact, though I haven’t checked the original passages to be certain of it, I’m quite confident that you or your source, by the way in which you’ve quoted me, have taken my comments out of
          their proper context and, thus, distorted them.
          Let’s examine the two passages:

          “I’m not sure why some Jews appear to be offended by Mormon temple service on behalf of Jews. Jews have precious few friends around the world.”

          The second sentence doesn’t flow (in my mind) from the first. They’re quite unrelated. And, in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the item that I actually wrote on that obscure Jewish website many years ago, they were separated by other sentences that have been quietly omitted.

          The first sentence indicated my genuine puzzlement as to why anybody would be deeply troubled by a religious ritual in which she didn’t believe, which she thought to have no efficacy at all, and which those performing it insist has no power to compel. Some challenged me as to how
          I would feel if, for example, Satanists had ritually offered membership in their movement to my deceased parents – to which my answer is that I wouldn’t care in the least. Nor would I be offended (I would actually find it touching) if my Catholic friends were to light candles for my parents, or to have a mass said for them.

          The second sentence is the more significant, though.
          My critics have tried to make it appear anti-Semitic, but it’s a sad ACKNOWLEDGMENT of anti-Semitism. I’m an
          Arabist, and I travel a great deal in Europe, where anti-Semitism is again on the rise, and I grew up as the son of a man who participated in the liberation of one of the Nazi concentration camps, and I LAMENT the sad fact that the Jews have so few friends, world-wide. Thugs
          deface Jewish cemeteries in Europe, French cabinet ministers feel free to tell grossly anti-Jewish jokes, and governments and the news media across the Arab
          world and beyond frequently traffic in hateful anti-Jewish cartoons, articles, and inflammatory rumors.

          Mr. Fred W. Anson: “And lest you think I’m nit
          picking, let’s see what some others on the board had to say about DCP’s
          comments:

          “Your comments here simply show the uncouth nature of members of the Mormon Church.”

          An anonymous hostile generalization about the Latter-day Saints scarcely proves me guilty of hateful personal attacks, Mr. Fred Anson.

          Mr. Fred W. Anson: “As to people hating your Church,
          people have good reason to. One is that the Church thinks it owns truth. Second, your Church has ruined many peoples’ lives. Gays, lesbians, Mountain Meadow Massacre, polygamy, etc. And the Church will not leave people alone who want nothing to do with it anymore.

          “Mr Peterson, look carefully at your religion and really try and see how it is an offense to people. Your mythological beliefs and practices are an affront to many people. Your church is not a restoration of the Church that Jesus’
          followers set up after his death. And for you to say that Mr Wiesenthal’s family should be greatful that your Church is doing this for him “is” an affront and against decency.””

          How exactly, Mr. Fred Anson, do the comments immediately above demonstrated ME to be nasty? (And, by the way, I had nowhere said that Simon Wiesenthal’s family needed to be “grateful” for Mormon temple rituals.)

          Mr. Fred W. Anson: “”Gosh, is it just me or does
          Mr. Daniel Peterson come off sounding like an arrogant boor?” etc., etc., etc.”

          Again, Mr. Fred Anson, how does somebody else’s anonymous hostile comment prove ME guilty
          of nasty personal attacks?

          • kiwi57

            @DCP:
            “Your accusation [regarding DCP's treatment of D. Michael Quinn]—a borrowed one—is utterly false and a lie. ”

            So? What makes you think Mr Anson cares about truth?

            @DCP:
            “No Church rule was broken in that case, Mr. Fred Anson. No personal information was revealed about
            the pseudonymous ‘Everybody Wang Chung.’ No personal information was accessed. I don’t even know who he is. I neither sought, nor received, nor passed on any ‘confidential information gathered from members.’”

            I have often noticed the righteous zeal with which certain of the Church’s attackers purport to appoint themselves to the role of policing and upholding the Church’s rules and policies — but only when there’s some kind of polemical point to be scored.

            The reality is that Anson’s only interest in that incident — if he has any, apart from his need to find something to accuse you of — is unlikely to be anything more than a partisan indignation that one of his team got outed as a liar.

            @DCP:
            “An anonymous hostile generalization about the Latter-day Saints scarcely proves me guilty of hateful personal attacks, Mr. Fred Anson.”

            Again, why should he care? Mr Anson is clearly not concerned about truth. If he can get you in the same room as some mud-throwing, then some of the mud may well stick to you. That this is his intent is demonstrated by the eagerness with which he produces the rather spiteful accusations of others and flourishes them as if they have some kind of evidentiary value about the target of their spite.

            Which is a further demonstration of his lack of real evidence. Anson is padding the file, and he knows it. But let’s not be too hard on the poor fellow; if you throw out the padding, there’s nothing left.

        • Ray Agostini

          “And, trust me, there’s more – a LOT more – where all this came from!”

          Of course, Fred, and let me guess from where your *informants* arise? MDB? Groundhog day, it is. You’re regurgitating, but if you enjoy being piggy-backed by DCP-haters – enjoy the ride, at your expense.

        • DanielPeterson

          Mr. Fred W. Anson: “ 6) DCP has quite a history of
          name-calling rather than arguing from evidence to evidence or from logic andreason to logic and reason. For example, he calls well known Ex-Mormon Tal Bachman “Tall Tales Bachman.” He’s also been calling a regular poster
          (“Dr. Scratch”) on the Mormon Discussions board the “Malevolent Stalker” for nearly a decade.”

          How horrible! How blood-curdling! How truly awful! Virtually every other nasty thing ever said by anybody, anywhere, on the Internet pales into insignificance compared to these horrors!

          Tal Bachman was calling me a sociopath, arguing that I was a fascist, claiming that I was a postmodernist and a moral relativist who didn’t care about truth, and telling
          outrageous stories about me and dubious ones about himself and his church leaders. And he insisted on this
          nonsense despite my protests. (These were actual personal attacks, of the very kind that you endorse.) So, several times, I called him “Tall Tales Bachman.” Kinda makes yer flesh creep, don’t it?

          And, as for Scratch, yes, he’s my Malevolent Stalker.
          Nearly a decade of malicious fictions, mind-reading, and obsessive criticisms. Day after day, week after
          week, month after month, year after year. The title seems entirely apropos to me. And it scarcely hurts him much.
          Whereas I post under my own name, he attacks me from deep cover.

          Mr. Fred W. Anson: “7) DCP has threatened lawsuits
          on several occasions, the most notable of which came during his stint as an “Expert Witness” in the Elizabeth Smart trial. Some people on the Mormon Discussions board were speculating on whether or not Peterson’s bad
          behavior on the Web might be used by Brian David Mitchell’s defense team.”

          They were doing more than just “speculating.” At
          least one was talking about contacting Brian David Mitchell’s defense team and trying to influence the legal proceedings by maligning me to them. Since I believed strongly that Mitchell ought to be found guilty and sent to jail, I didn’t think that a group of anonymous anti-Mormons on a message board should take their games into a felony criminal trial in a federal courthouse.

          I realize that, in your righteous indignation about supposed personal attacks, you’ve now, apparently without the slightest trace of irony, chosen a message board
          that could justly be considered Personal Attack Central as your source, and that people who’ve been attacking me personally for years are your newest friends. That’s your prerogative, of course, but others should understand what this says about your sincerity.

          Mr. Fred W. Anson: “DCP went through the roof and
          sent this threatening Private Message to the board founder and owner “Dr. Shades” and several other people:

          “I’ve put up with more than four years of incessant character assassination from Scratch. But this thread, in which a consensus seems to be growing — on the
          basis of absolutely nothing at all, and even before Scratch and Gadianton arrive to fan the flames — that I’ve engaged in a conspiracy to illegitimately affect the conduct and thus to tamper with the outcome of a very high-profile federal criminal trial, crosses a line, and I’m disinclined to let it pass.

          “The charge is both deeply serious and absolutely false. I had nothing to do with the shutting down of MADB. I don’t know what occasioned it, and have had no input on it nor (until just this evening, and that on a peripheral matter) any
          communication regarding it. I haven’t even posted there in two or three weeks (or something on that order, perhaps more), and I was scrupulously careful to say nothing substantial there or anywhere else about my involvement in the Brian David Mitchell case or about the government’s case against Mr. Mitchell.
          (That he had been found competent to stand trial was a matter of public record;
          the competency hearing, including my involvement in it, was covered in the news
          media when it occurred late last year.)

          “I’m not a
          lawyer, but I suspect that some of your people are accusing me (falsely) of
          having committed a crime. If that is so — I will check early next week, unless
          this ends, to see whether it is — their accusations are slanderous and legally
          actionable.

          “Be warned.
          This is not one that I will let go of if it continues. I will go after the
          board, and I will go after each and every one of those who have publicly
          slandered me in this matter to the extent that the law allows. Enough is
          enough.

          “As I wrote
          to another participant on your board just tonight — one who is not on my
          “team,” but who is reasonable and fair-minded — charges such as this
          live forever on the Web, and are accessible from every place on the surface of
          the planet. And I have literally no idea how many people are or will be reading
          them.

          Shakespeare’s
          point, in “Othello,” seems to me sound:

          Good name
          in man and woman, dear my lord,

          Is the
          immediate jewel of their souls.

          Who steals
          my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;

          ‘Twas mine,
          ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;

          But he that
          filches from me my good name

          Robs me of
          that which not enriches him,

          And makes
          me poor indeed.

          “My name
          has been dragged through the mud virtually every week on your board for years
          now. But when your board becomes a vehicle for casually and falsely accusing me
          of serious crimes, that’s beyond toleration. I’ve copied this note to a few
          others who participated on your board and who, for one reason or another,
          should probably know about it.

          “Very
          sincerely yours,

          “Dan
          Peterson

          “P.S. This
          is absolutely not personal. I have no wish to do you any harm. I trust that you
          know that. And, of course, I still recall that I need to get your book back to
          you, which I will do very soon. I’ve been too preoccupied with the Mitchell
          matter to be able to surface for air over the past several weeks.””

          “Basically,
          he threatened to sue as a means of silencing talk about his history of bullying
          others. In other words, he bullied peoople to get people to stop publicly
          talking about his bullying behavior.”

          Not
          true. I warned “Dr. Shades,” who has
          been in my home more than once, and with whom I have cordial relations, that I
          would not stand idly by while your sources carried their personal attacks on me
          from their board – the board to which you’ve now emigrated and which you seem
          to regard as a pristine source of Truth – into an ongoing federal criminal
          trial for which I was a crucial prosecution witness. (And, by the way, you’ve still offered no
          actual evidence of my hateful bullying.)

          Mr. Fred W.
          Anson: “8) This link to an email
          exchange (archived on the SHIELDS website) between DCP and Alpha and Omega
          Minstries is rife with DCP ad-hominems and personal attacks. Here’s an example:
          “I’m sorry you broke your arrogance meter. Was it a gift from your
          mother?””

          Yup. When people are aggressively insulting to me,
          I sometimes remove the kid gloves.

          I wonder
          how much you’ve thanked your new friends at Personal Attack Central for
          granting you such helpful access to their archives. It’s obvious that you haven’t done this
          research on your own, any more than you had actually read Greg Smith’s articles
          or personally read my publications.

          Mr. Fred W.
          Anson: “9) A favorite target for DCP
          attacks has been Egyptology professor Robert Ritner. DCP has been hinting for
          years that Ritner acted unscrupulously and was thrown off the dissertation
          committee of LDS apologist John Gee.”

          Actually,
          notwithstanding the accusations of your new friends and allies – I notice that
          your source is, yet again, a thread at the very same message board — I’ve had
          relatively little to say over the years about Robert Ritner.

          It’s true,
          though, that, when my former student John Gee was studying for his doctorate at
          Yale, we were in relatively frequent contact by both email and telephone, and I
          knew a lot about what was going on there.
          I don’t deny that, and I don’t deny that it clashes with the narrative
          that your friends at Personal Attack Central have put out since then in their
          quest to discredit Dr. Gee.

          Mr. Fred W.
          Anson: “And, trust me, there’s more – a
          LOT more – where all this came from!”

          But, Mr.
          Fred Anson, the crucial question is, Is any of the REST of it any good? Because what you’ve given thus far is pretty
          pathetic.

          One would
          have thought, since nasty personal attacks are supposed to be, as you put it,
          the basis of my entire “career,” that you would easily have been able to find
          some juicy and undeniable examples of such attacks from the hundreds and
          hundreds of pages that I’ve published.

      • kiwi57

        “Therefore, YES, these articles – though done by others – are in reality nothing more than an extension of DCP himself. He commissioned them, he edited them, and (had he not been caught) he was prepared to release them for publication.”

        There you are, Dan. Everything you touch becomes part of the Peterson “hive mind.”

        Did you “commission” them? That’s the first I’d heard.

        “Therefore, they are as legitimate as evidence as if DCP had written them himself.

        Period.”

        What a remarkably pontifical pronouncement! No discussion; simply dismiss any alternative view of the matter with a magisterial wave of the hand. Fred is judge and jury.

        What a humble fellow.

        • DanielPeterson

          Actually, I commissioned neither of them. But why let a “fact” get in the way of a pronouncement?

      • DanielPeterson

        One wonders, if my personal viciousness is of such ancient date and such remarkable consistency, why Mr. Fred Anson feels the need to offer up debatable examples of supposed personal viciousness from other people. Why cloud the issue with matters of dubious relevancy? There should be lots and lots and lots of blood-curdling viciousness directly from ME.

      • Ray Agostini

        Fred, how many issues of The Review have *you* actually read? What was the original name of The Review, and in what year did it begin? No cheating (which means don’t ask informants for help).

    • DanielPeterson

      Without specific provocation from me, in response to an article in which I wasn’t named, following numerous comments that had nothing to do with me, you criticize me harshly and by name on a blog site where I’ve never posted, and then you call it “bullying” and profess to marvel when I defend myself.

    • kiwi57

      Dan is a “famous public and influential figure?” That’s even more credential-inflating than claiming a Ward Executive Secretary is someone with a “high calling.” He’s well known in certain rather limited circles of interest, and that’s about it.

      And calling yourself “some unknown plain vanilla Evangelical guy” is altogether too modest. You are an internet anti-Mormon who is doing his level best to inject himself into a public controversy. You are every bit as much a “public figure” as Dan is; the only difference is that he is more successful than you are.

      Perhaps that explains something.

      “He, this famous public and influential figure, named names – mine.”

      Only after you named names: his.

      You threw the first punch, and now you are crying that you are being “bullied” because he defended himself.

      “He, this famous public and influential figure, selectively used quotes – choosing to gloss over the most notorious example of his behavior: The ‘Metcalfe is Butthead’ article that he edited and approve for publication in the FARMS Review of Books.”
      An article you have clearly never read. I say “clearly” because in fact there is no “Metcalfe is Butthead” article. There never was. The article contained a hidden acrostic. And, in case you weren’t aware, when the article was published, the acrostic was no longer there.
      Thank you for admitting that an article written by someone else and published only after the acrostic was removed is “the most notorious example of his behavior” you could find.

      Since Dan does not enjoy any of the trappings of “fame,” I fail entirely to see why he should simply accept being gratuitously lied about as part of the “price” thereof.

  • Scott_Lloyd

    So I got curious about Fred W. Anson and went to his blog, “Beggarsbread” to learn more about him. A couple of initial observations:
    Early on, I was amazed to notice an uncredited photo of BYU professor Robert MIllet which I shot a couple of years ago at a BYU symposium on the King James Bible. The photo was attached to a post in which Fred W. Anson disparaged the distinguished evangelical scholar Richard Mouw of Fuller Thological Seminary and, by extension, his colleague, Dr. Millet, for their work in Standing Together Miinistries, which seeks to build bridges of understanding and goodwill between evangelicals and Mormons.
    As I said, the photo was uncredited. I shot it under the auspices of my employer, the Deseret News, and I wondered when or if Fred W. Anson obtained permission to use it. I’m quite certain I was never approached by him for permission, and, as the photo is uncredited, I doubt he obtained it from the Deseret News. Is Fred W. Anson of the all-too-common mindset that prevalis these days that if something appears somewhere on the Internet, it’s OK to grab it for one’s own use, copyright and intellectual property be damned?
    Last I checked, the commandment “Thou shalt not steal” was still a fundamental principle in the Judeo-Christian ethic. Is it the current trend to disregard it?
    Secondly, the blog seems aimed at spreading common, garden-variety anti-Mormon polemic. There’s a post there about “mind-control cults” with the clear implication the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fits in that category. There’s a post by Fred W. Anson himself propounding the rather arrogant notion that the Church needs to “reform” and giving a lengthy laundry list of ways in which it is to accomplish that reformation, all of which boil down to eliminating everything that makes the Church unique among religious faiths, and thus calling for the effective destruction of Mormonism as we know it, much as The Worldwide Church of God (one of the so-called “mind-control cults”) was hijacked several years ago by a power grabber who eventually branded WWCG founder Herbert W. Armstrong as a “false prophet.”
    So as Fred W. Anson pays lip service to the field of “Mormon Studies,” I get the distinct impression it is for him a platform to promulgate his attacks.

    • Scott_Lloyd

      So, whatever else may be said about Fred W. Anson, he appears to be sensitive to charges of misappropriation of intellectual property. I just rechecked his blog and found that my picture of Robert Millet has been taken down and replaced with another uncredited photo of Dr. Millet obtained from who-knows-where. So as it pertains to the photo I shot, any evidence of wrongdoing has been removed.

  • quickmere graham

    More than ad hominem attacks and whatnot, I think Daniel’s chief problem may be the simple fact that he talks about himself and his enemies so frequently. He talks about himself so often, it’s basically his number one theme.

    • DanielPeterson

      Bravo! Mr. Fred W. Anson’s personal attack hasn’t worked particularly well, so it’s time to introduce a new angle of assault.

      Now, I candidly admit that blogging tends to be a somewhat egocentric kind of thing: my travels, my reactions to plays, my opinions on politics, my feelings about personal attacks, and so forth.

      But I’m not sure that you’ll see much of me in most of my columns for the Deseret News, or in my biography of Muhammad, or in my book for Latter-day Saints about the Middle East, or in my articles on Asherah, the Weeping God, Psalm 82, the Gadianton robbers, or in the books of the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative (which I founded), and so forth.

      But don’t let that stop you! If you put enough energy into this one, Quickmere Graham, you can probably get a run of at least a couple of days out of it.

    • Scott_Lloyd

      His problem, if it can be called that, is that the Church’s enemies hate being contradicted and rebutted, and he does it so effectively that they lash out at him with character assassination. That he elects to defend himself rather than knuckling under and taking their assaults is admirable, I say.

    • DanielPeterson

      Bravo! Mr. Fred W. Anson’s personal attack hasn’t worked particularly well, so it’s time to introduce a new angle of assault.

      Now, I candidly admit that blogging tends to be a somewhat egocentric kind of thing: my travels, my reactions to plays, my opinions on politics, my feelings about personal attacks, and so forth.

      But I’m not sure that you’ll see much of me in most of my columns for the Deseret News, or in my biography of Muhammad, or in my book for Latter-day Saints about the Middle East, or in my articles on Asherah, the Weeping God, Psalm 82, the Gadianton robbers, or in the books of the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative (which I founded), and so forth.

      But don’t let that stop you! If you put enough energy into this one, Quickmere Graham, you can probably get a run of at least a couple of days out of it.

  • S B

    Thanks for this discussion. I saw the comment on the Jana Reiss blog weeks after her original post, and wondered what terrible Dan Peterson attacks I’d missed. If this is the best evidence Mr. Anson can come up with, I’m not going to worry about the “attacks.”

    • DanielPeterson

      Ah, but I’m guilty of many SECRET acts of cruel villainy, of crimes that don’t actually reveal themselves to conventional scrutiny but that are, nonetheless, out there. Somewhere.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X