New Comment Policy (Or, Where Is Frank?)

RHE Comment Policy

Rachel Held Evans‘s comment policy.

I haven’t banned Frank. Not yet. But after all that’s gone down over the last couple weeks, it’s time to revisit the commenting and moderating policies here at Theoblogy.

Back in 2008, I posted my “Blogging Rules“:

1) I do not edit my posts, ex post facto, but allow my mistakes, misjudgments, and misstatements to stand as a record of my idiocy.

2) I do not get involved in the comment section.  I read all the comments, but I don’t respond; I let the post do the talking.

3) I occasionally break rules 1 and 2.

First, some hard numbers. This is the 2,248th post at Theoblogy, and those posts have generated 35,234 comments. That’s a lot of water over the dam. In 2008 I read every comment. I cannot say that I do so today. On days that I’m working, I do. But if I take a day or two off from the Internet, I simply cannot read all of the comments. I don’t read the entire newspaper every day, even though it arrives on my doorstep without fail. So, I hope that readers will afford me some grace in this regard.

Second, I do engage in the comment section. Not as much as some would like, but as much as I am able. When someone asks me a direct question, I answer as time allows. But I’m also attempting to post once or twice per day, so the bulk of my energy goes into producing that content.

Third, I rarely ban commenters. According to my dashboard, I have banned six commenters since 2004. Three I banned for repeated slander against me. One I banned for repeated lying. I personally corresponded with four of the six persons I banned, giving them several opportunities to amend their ways. They refused, and I banned them.

The most public if these was the curious case of Darius – I even know of one college course that uses those posts as an example of blogging ethics (I don’t know if it’s a positive or negative example). If you’re a relatively new reader here, I recommend those posts to see how I treat a relatively recalcitrant commenter.

Which brings us to Frank. Frank left his first comment on September 28, 2011. In the 447 days since, he has left 920 comments. That’s a lot. And all that time, he’s left a false email address. Even the domain with the email is fabricated. Since I couldn’t email him, I reached out to him in the comments. Frank emailed me though my website; he offered his last name, but entered the same false email address.

People leave fake email addresses on occasion: abc@123.com or jesus@nazareth.org. I let it slide, since those commenters usually doesn’t come back. But Frank has been the most prolific commenter by far over the last year. Also, other commenters complained about him publicly and emailed me about him privately. One reader even set up a Twitter account that sent out Frank’s comments as tweets.

When Frank’s comments got out of control, I publicly chastised him (remember, I couldn’t privately email him). I’d remind him not to hijack every conversational thread. I’d delete a post of his and tell him that he can’t simply copy-and-paste content from other websites into my comment section.

An interesting turn-of-events happened during the Where Are the Women? post. Frank broke from his trolling behavior and showed me some compassion. It was really quite breathtaking for me and the most committed readers of this blog. But alas, Frank returned to form within the next couple of days. After I tried to reach him by email, he stopped commenting.

Over the course of Where Are the Women? and the subsequent posts that addressed that issue and the blow-up that ensued, there seem to be two major themes from women readers (there were many themes, but two that I can directly control):

1) Tony is an ass who writes with a belligerent and subtly misogynic style.

2) The Theoblogy comment section is overly belligerent toward women.

I can’t do a lot about being an ass. But I have tried to moderate my tone over the last couple of weeks. I am and have been a vocal supporter of women in the leadership of church and society. I have written posts proclaiming that all pastors should be women, and the like. But it seems that newer readers were unfamiliar with these positions, and that something about my writing turned them off. I am attempting to ameliorate that.

Regarding the comment section, I am watching it more closely. There was a commenter (who happened to be female) who repeatedly insulted a gay male commenter. I deleted a couple of her posts and wrote her privately, telling her to stop immediately. She did, but it was too late. The man she insulted resigned from reading and commenting her. That was one of the sadder days of my blogging life. Maybe I should have stepped in sooner, but I’ve always hoped that the comment section would be a relatively self-policing space.

The traffic on this blog is growing, and that means more comments. I’m asking for your help in alerting me if someone is insulting someone else. Also, don’t feed the trolls. Also, treat one another with respect and, when necessary, tell one another when you’ve stepped over the line.

I’ll do my best to do better. I hope you’ll both challenge me and have grace with me.

And from the bottom of my heart, thanks for reading.

  • sofia

    Thanks for your post, Tony. Here’s my humble opinion:
    1. Block the trolls–don’t give them free press. (it’s exactly what they want and isn’t productive)
    2. You’re not belligerent towards women. (As a woman, I roll my eyes at this.) You’re a strongly-opinionated human, and I appreciate you. I don’t always agree with you, but this is YOUR blog, and I’m glad it’s here sparking conversations.

  • Melinda

    Hey Tony?

    Hell yeah.

  • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

    For real.

    I, for one, want to apologize for feeding the trolls. Sometimes, it’s just so much fun!

  • Ayin

    Tony, you’re not an ass. And, I like your blog.

    I agree with Sofia. I cannot imagine why anyone would think that you’re belligerent toward women. I feel as welcome here as anywhere else on the ‘Net.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Yes, that was another theme: that many women are, indeed, comfortable here.

  • http://markcaudill.me/blog Mark

    I like this blog, but you totally edited Why I Won’t Be Endorsing Your Book the other day.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Yes, and I reserve the right to edit or delete posts. The point of that post was that I think the former-fundamentalist memoir is a tired genre. I’m sick of it. I wrote a post attempting to make that point in a snarky, funny way, but it was immediately perceived as mean-spirited. Some also thought that I was reprinting an email that I’d actually sent, which I wasn’t. Things around this blog were very touchy at the time, and I didn’t feel that I’d be able to explain my snark in a way that would satisfy people. So I deleted the post and put up something else in its place.

      • http://www.mamabean.ca Mama Bean

        Hey, thanks for explaining this! I kept reading stuff on here through the lens of that post appearing and then disappearing, because it really bothered me. Your explanation makes sense; I’m happy to hear it :)

        I haven’t read here for very long, and I never even looked at the comments until the Where are the Women post, which is weird. Why didn’t I read the comments? I am too intimidated to comment here very often. And I may not always * love * what you say, or how you say it. But overall? This is a blog I’m happy to keep on my RSS. I really enjoy how you write out the process that we are all still learning to navigate, this bloggy blog world. So there. That’s my two cents for today :)

  • http://jpserrano.com Jpserrano

    Sounds totally reasonable.

  • Tom

    Tony,
    I read your blog daily and the pot shots that people take at you and others in here are not honoring of the community you are trying to create. It would be like someone standing up screaming during a sermon/conversation and yelling above everyone else so that no communication could take place. For me, its about whats behind their words. Are they attempting to add to the richness of the conversation (even if they disagree with it) or are they simply attempting to have a “Versation” instead of a “Conversation.” A Versation is simply someone talking AT someone. The root word of “con” means basically “with or together.” I’m hoping for more CONversations in here and for the chance to learn and grow. The minute I come to attacking words from someone who won’t listen to others in here, I check out.

    Appreciate you. You are blunt and straightforward in your communication which is rare today. But all of us who know you know that behind those words is a great heart who authentically wants great conversation and community. Finally, I appreciate how you are always open to feedback and growth. Says a ton about you!

    Merry Christmas!
    Tom

  • http://winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

    True story, in fourth grade, I had to write “I will not carry a joke too far” 500 times. Learning to communicate with writing is a lifetime endeavor. I support your work Tony and will moderate myself and pay attention to feedback. My earliest Internet comments are tucked away in an archive, thankfully.

  • Ric Booth

    Honestly, whenever I see Frank or a Frank-er, I do not become engaged in the discussion. His identity and another Frank-like identity were confused by discus software on another blog (RLC) and now that you’ve revealed that he uses random emails that helps explain that a bit.

    At any rate, the Franks are exhausting. So I usually read the content in google reader, often enjoy them and learn from them (love the previous post on Herod and the biblical stories of atrocities), and rarely, if ever, click-thru to discuss them in the comment section (on any blog where I see a “Frank” identity frequents).

  • Kenton

    Tony-

    The thought of using a false email address here would never occur to me. I’m slow to call people out as like this, but if Frank or anybody else can’t own their comments with a valid email address they’re cowards.

  • http://www.onpoptheology.com Benjamin Howard

    Damn, I’d just worked myself into a virulent, frothing rage and then you bring in this “reasonable” garbage. Eh, I guess it’s cool.

  • Evelyn

    Uh, Tony, regarding your female commenter that “repeatedly insulted” a gay male, I kind of feel like you are referring to me. You didn’t contact me directly (I mean by email) so I’m wondering if you are referring to me but I’ll give you an explanation of my behavior if you think it was “repeatedly” insulting.

    The “insults” started during your blog post about Feminists not liking your vagina limericks. Throughout the comments section, a specific gay male (who will remain nameless) insulted the feminists, tried to turn a feminist issue into a gay issue, and then insulted me by calling me something like a “sick twisted hateful bigot” and an “ignorant fool” when I tried to show him real-world examples of the behavior he was suggesting women follow – something akin to basically considering ourselves whores (and being happy with that) rather than respecting ourselves. He proceeded to infer that gay men treat themselves like this all the time so women should too. Then, in your subsequent posts about women, he found it necessary to be snarky, insulting, and denigrating towards women as if this was the general tone of your blog and that was ok.

    The way I saw it, the gay man was not only insulting women but was also insulting my friends given that I have several gay friends, gay neighbors, and I patronize as many gay businesses as I can including my gay dermatologist and his entire gay staff, my gay hairdresser, and my gay barista at Starbucks. None of those gays treat women with that kind of disrespect and none of them have ever suggested that I treat myself like a whore. The way I see it, the gay man was disrespecting himself and, shall I say, is a self-hater and I was calling him out on it. Perhaps I just shouldn’t care about him and let his comments slide but we’d had what I thought were meaningful conversations in the past and I’d grown to like him and I think you can understand the feeling of loss when someone you like changes face like he did.

    I’m not sure how you can call someone who asks someone to respect themselves “insulting”. One of the issues that you are vocal about is gay marriage – how do you think you are ever going to get acceptance of gay marriage if you accept generalized bad behavior and disrespect by gays when society’s view of marriage is one of a respectful and society-upholding institution? The way I see it, if liberals found my comments “insulting” they are in the business of infantilizing gays and acting like it is the worst thing in the world to be gay so gays should be able to do whatever they want and insult whatever group that they want and then act like it was all just a flamboyant joke. I’m not going to stand for another liberal who puts a gay in front of themselves and then when I constructively criticize either one of them acts like I am a gay-hater because I don’t go along with whatever the liberal is trying to get away with. I’ve dealt with the ploy before and I think self-respect and maturity are more important for every human being than playing gay politic games. They’re here, they’re queer, I was over it 20 years ago and I think it’s time for liberals to get over it too.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Evelyn, if you want to out yourself here, that’s fine. I did email you, at least twice. Whether you received those or not, I have no way of knowing. Immediately after emailing you, you began posting with a different name (but the same email), and now you’re back to “Evelyn.” I assumed that you changed names because you received my emails.

      Yes, R. Jay said pointed things that could definitely be taken as insulting to feminists. He did not, however, call you names, at least not that I saw. You did call him names, referring to him as “R. Gay.” Am I protecting a gay man while not protecting a woman? I don’t think so. I think that your rhetoric was personally insulting, while his was not.

      Of course, making judgments like this is an art, not a science. It matters not of iota to me how you feel about gays or women or anyone else. It matters to me that you not personally insult another reader. If he did, indeed, call you a “sick, twisted, hateful bigot,” then I missed that comment, and I apologize. He should not have been allowed to refer to you in that way.

      If that happens again, please email me to alert me.

      • Evelyn

        1) Tony, I don’t particularly care about “outing” myself. I said what I said and I stand by it 100%. I didn’t receive any emails from you in the account that I use when I comment on your blog so I don’t know where they went. I began posting with a different name because I had something to say but I felt that I didn’t want to identify as a “woman” within the atmosphere that had been created on your blog or I didn’t want to use my own name because of the baggage that became associated with it. I used “anonymous” in response to R. Jay in your post about Nancey Murphy because I wanted him to LISTEN to what I had to say without assuming that I had some personal vindictive motive for what I was saying. (The fact is that men nitpick at women’s vocabulary in professional situations and use that ploy to demean women while men don’t normally nitpick at another man’s vocabulary like that. They probably think it’s funny because a significant number of men think that women are perfectionist nitpickers but I don’t think we need their personal gripes taken out on us in professional situations.)

        2) If you’re going to dismiss female responses to your question of “Where are the Women” as “insulting”, why did you bother asking? If you don’t care about people’s motives, why did you propose the Christian virtue of giving “Benefit of the Doubt”?

        3) I’m not asking you to protect me. I don’t need your protection. You are infantilizing a gay man, leading him into bad behavior, and breeding hate rather than love through your actions and you are doing it at the expense of women in general and anyone who might feel unsure of their feelings about gays in particular.

        4) In the spirit of being “flamboyantly defiant” calling someone R. Gay is acceptable and identifying the way that someone is acting within context is also acceptable. E.G. I can sit at the dinner table and say the word “poop” and that is considered rude but if someone asks me what I’m doing in the bathroom and I say “pooping” then I think that is acceptable. When someone has taken on a “flamboyantly defiant” gay persona and then is using that to insult people, I think it is acceptable to call them R. Gay but I wouldn’t call him R. Gay within the context of a theological discussion when he is not expressing that persona.

        5) He used the words sick, twisted, and bigot in this comment: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tonyjones/2012/11/03/feminist-theologians-dont-like-our-vagina-limericks/#comment-47896

        I asked you to take that comment down after you took down one of mine that you considered too inflammatory but you answered to me that you “respectfully” thought that it should stand.

        It’s not that he just referred to me that way once, he persistently and repeatedly made offensive comments about women in subsequent posts after that instance and I persistently tried to point out how offensive he was being by reflecting the insult sometimes with snarkiness and sometimes with respectfully trying to make a point. I am sorry that you don’t take women’s issues seriously enough to realize the offense. The fact that you thought “Frank” was being compassionate towards you while he was just commiserating in misogyny proves my point – telling women to “look in the mirror” after a discussion like that it kind of like watching a quadriplegic on a skateboard get kicked and maligned and then telling them that nothing is wrong, just look in the mirror – that’s not compassion, it is blindness.

        • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

          Evelyn, I appreciate your comments and your passion about it. I’ve gone back and read the comment thread that you linked to. But before deciding to take any action (of redacting or editing), I’m hoping that some other readers will check it out and let you and me know what they think.

          When it comes to R. Jay, you were the only person who ever accused him of inappropriate comments. In the case of Frank (and, quite honestly, in the case of you), I hade several people complain. That’s not to say that your complaint isn’t valid. It’s just that I may have mistakenly overlooked your concerns and a conflict just between the two of you rather than a breech of blog ethics. That’s why I’m asking others to weigh in.

          I sent you and email at 3:06pm on Saturday, December 1. You might look for it in your spam folder.

          • ME

            I don’t think I have a dog in the fight and just read the noted comments for the first time.

            My opinion is it was obvious Evelyn was very passionate about the subject before RJ got involved. Then, Evelyn made a comment that was a little over the top, a little bit personal, but not it was not meant to be a personal attack at RJ but more an attack at RJ’s stance. RJ then made it outright personal and clearly crossed the line. If this was football, Evelyn shoved RJ, RJ slapped her back in the helmet and RJ would have got the personal foul.

          • Evelyn

            I found the email in my Jones New York outlet subfolder – it must have gotten filed there because of the name “Jones”.

            Quite frankly, after the discussion on Nov. 3 about the feminists not liking your vagina limericks, your continued posts about women, and the responses in the comments section, I pretty much lost all respect for your blog. I insulted you personally only once and I was trying to tell you that the “flamboyant defiance” angle on how women should view themselves, especially in a professional context, will NEVER BE OK with me and I find it extremely offensive. You and R. Jay just kept up with it and it irritated me beyond words. RHE wrote a book. This is a professional piece of work and you chose to focus on her vagina in regards to it. It was funny for a while but you really pushed it too far with the whole flamboyant defiance thing especially in relation to sexuality. Women are treated differently and abusively in our culture simply because they are women (not the male sex) and their professional contributions are shoved under the rug because of their femaleness, they are ignored as valid contributors to theological discussions, and told what to think all the time as if they don’t have minds of their own.

            At this point, I don’t care whether you take R. Jay’s comment down or not so do what you will. I think it reflects poorly on R. Jay, not me.

            Some of my comments about R. Jay were definitely offensive so I hope people did complain. Unfortunately, offensive comments about women aren’t so clear to most people – women tend to ignore them because they either don’t register (because they aren’t thinking in a feminist context) or women are afraid of losing their jobs and/or relationships. I don’t think any other women have had the extent of interaction with R. Jay that I’ve had or been called sick and twisted bigots by him so I don’t see how they could work themselves up into a tizzy about it. The problem was that his chronically offensive comments about women betrayed an attitude that I found extremely offensive especially in the feminist context that became set up on your blog. One comment out of context wouldn’t have been considered offensive in and of itself but it just went on and on.

            I’m so sorry Tony. I guess I was actually under the erroneous impression that I could be heard on your blog and that my opinions would be valued. Whatever.

  • Stephen Hood

    Tony,

    Thanks for your blog. It is one of the few I read regularly. Usually the posts are insightful and help lead me off into various rabbit trails. As a pastor that doesn’t have a lot of time, your blog is a shortcut to the issues facing those of us struggling to follow Jesus in an evermore complicated and confusing world. I appreciate your work and perspective and gifts for communication. I am not a woman so I can’t speak to the issues that were expressed by your female readers but I can encourage you to keep showing up. Often people think I’m an ass when they meet me, and some will always think I’m an ass. But, every now and again, people are able to wade through the bullshit and discover that I’m a lovable ass. Maybe you do need to moderate your tone to reach a wider audience, but, speaking for me, your style often cuts through the b.s and gets to the heart of the matter.

    Thanks again for your work.

    Stephen Hood (my real name)

  • Keith Rowley

    Tony,
    Thank you for this post. The humility and openness you demonstrated here is amazing.
    I hope more leaders will learn from your example and talk publically about hard decisions like this. Too often decisions like you just made are done in secret and never talked about.
    You have earned even more of my respect with this post.
    Keith

    • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

      Keith, there is a ridiculous amount of importance in this…

  • http://www.lansingspiritualcenter.org Jenn Tafel

    Your blog gets me thinking…I like that. I don’t mix well with conservative Christians. At all. You are an example of hope…because I sometimes lose hope regarding the people who say they follow Jesus. And yes, I am a Christian minister, I could be talking about myself. Your style of communicating works for challenging the system. I get that…so I am not usually offended by how you state things. I also know that you stood up for a group of women…(Impact 365) who need a ray of hope…given their current situation. That was an awesome experience for me to witness. You say what needs to be said. I don’t think you mix words when you point that out as part of your introduction. Maybe I missed something–which is entirely possible.

  • Todd

    Tony,
    I have followed your blog sporadically for maybe a couple of years. You seem to be an interesting, intelligent, and engaging person. I can’t figure out why I enjoy your point of view and presentation when I adamantly and wholeheartedly disagree with just about everything you post on spiritual matters. The bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God and I pray that you and your fellow bloggers come to understand that one day. I hope my posts don’t stand in the way of that end.

    • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

      Todd, you’re definitely fighting a losing battle. I don’t know anyone who has gone from inerrantist to something less conservative, and then back. I would guess that most of the people reading Tony’s blog were pretty conservative and then became more progressive. I don’t see the day when we go running backwards.

  • http://scottpaeth.typepad.com Scott Paeth

    Many days I think I’m fortunate that almost nobody comments on my blog.

  • Todd

    Rob, with God all things are possible. Jesus has already won the battle so all I need to do is sit back, be faithful to what I’m called to do, and try to fight my belligerent, sarcastic, sinful self in the process.

  • Jeremy K

    “…the former-fundamentalist memoir is a tired genre.”
    So true. Probably very gratifying for the writer. Really boring for the rest of us.

  • EricG

    Tony,

    I remember the Evelyn – R. Jay exchange, and just re-read it. My reaction was that Evelyn started off with one of the most bizarre and offensive comments I’ve read on this blog (which I’ve followed for years), and she was also very insulting. R.Jay called her a bigot, which seemed accurate and descriptive. I am conflicted about this, because such charged language on both sides harms the conversation, and makes others uncomfortable to comment. But in the end where I come out us that we shouldn’t prohibit calling someone out as a bigot – sometimes identifying conduct for what it is is necessary.

    • Evelyn

      Merriam-Webster definition of Bigot: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

      I am obstinately and intolerantly devoted to not being called a whore in a professional or any other context. I am also obstinately and intolerantly devoted to allowing people, like feminists, to speak without being called names or being the subjects of put-downs like “buzz kill”.

      I don’t treat gays with hatred or intolerance. I can understand that R. Jay may have thought he had a solution for us with his “flamboyantly defiant” stance on how a woman should deal with disempowerment but he was told that it wouldn’t work for us multiple times but he just kept pushing it. Who is the bigot again? I’m really confused now …

  • Jubal DiGriz

    One of the more thoughtful commentaries on web moderation I’ve seen. Tony seems to be taking the best approach… using the rules as a guideline and enabling himself to apply warning or bans as we feels necessary to generate the kind of discussions he prefers.

    I come here to learn about people’s opinions on progressive Christianity and Biblical interpretative methods. When commentary (or blog posts about that commentary) develop away from that I become less likely to read the comments or even keep up on blog posts. That’s just input, not criticism.

  • http://www.diannaeanderson.net Dianna

    “I can’t do a lot about being an ass.”

    Actually, yeah, you can. That is actually the one factor in this entire thing that you can control. You can’t control what people comment (you can moderate, but you can’t make them say stuff) and you can’t control who decides to come (though you can attempt to cultivate a safer space). The one thing you can control, though? Yourself. And you can work on NOT BEING AN ASS. I actually wrote a short series about this on my own blog (about how to stop being an asshole because everyone’s an asshole at points) and step #1 is listening to others. You seem belligerently opposed to any such input, ergo, you remain an ass. But don’t you dare claim that “asshole” is some static state of being on your part – being an ass is choice you make, not something outside of your control.

    • Tom

      I believe what Tony said was…

      I can’t do a lot about being an ass. But I have tried to moderate my tone over the last couple of weeks. I am and have been a vocal supporter of women in the leadership of church and society. I have written posts proclaiming that all pastors should be women, and the like. But it seems that newer readers were unfamiliar with these positions, and that something about my writing turned them off. I am attempting to ameliorate that.

      I heard action, effort and intention behind his words. Your lens was interesting. Somehow you decided to stop seeing anything after the word “ass”? Maybe to promote your own blog or maybe just to focus on a negative stance? I feel strongly that Tony is indeed listening and acting on the feedback as well. I’m sorry you didn’t see the same.

      • http://www.diannaeanderson.net Dianna

        Nope, try again. I was challenging the inherent fatalistic approach that leads someone to say “I can’t control [x part of my own personality].” That is an important thing that should not be glossed over or ignored, no matter what efforts come behind. Because if he truly believes he cannot stop being an ass, then I don’t believe that there’s any kind of real change behind his efforts besides an attempt to curry favor.

        I know because I’ve been in the exact same spot, and I know a defense without change when I see it.

        • Tom

          I appreciate you sharing your opinion on human behavior, behavior economics and positive psychology. I also understood that you were challenging Tonys view (that was clear). I just simply disagreed. I’m sure ok with that :) So in reality, no reason to “try again”

        • ME

          I dunno, maybe God made some people assholes and wants them to stay that way. Besides, it’s like cholesterol, he’s the good kind of ass.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      What I cannot do much about is being perceived as an ass by you and others.

      • Ratchet

        Not that I want to prolong this discussion, but I’m genuinely curious to see an example (from another blog or written conversation) of *listening,* *having my voice heard,* or being inclusive/not dismissive that isn’t what you generally do here, TJ, such as writing “good point,” “thanks for that,” “I hear you,” “good one!” or “I’ll take that into consideration.”
        Despite your strong point of view and assertive presentation of ideas, I can see that you do hear, listen, allow, and consider. But you don’t (often) change your mind or give up your point and you usually keep going after it with vigor.
        If listening and being inclusive means giving up or changing one’s opinion and one’s passion for that opinion, I’m afraid this is not a listening/inclusive space by that definition. I’m not sorry about that. I’m sorry that makes you an ass to some, though. It’s the strong opinions and passion that keep me reading.
        But I am still curious how the wanted listening and inclusiveness can show up (in writing and in the tone & topics of this blog) between the extremes I’m presenting. I’m not sure how else someone with a strong, opposing opinion can feel *heard.*

  • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

    tony, i’m with dianna. you can do everything about not being an ass. and in this context, when you talk about how you affirm women in church leadership, it kinda sounds like “i have a black friend!” or the fundies you were so hard on, whose affirmation of gay people is merely the “natural and logical evolution that any thinking person should make.”

    congrats on taking that first step. now recognize your privilege, make some space at the table, and don’t dismiss female critics as haters or intellectual inferiors who simply didn’t understand how much you support women. show us you do.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Suzannah and Dianna, this question is completely honest and sincere: Why do you come here? In other words, is there something about my writing or this blog that you find interesting or educational?

      • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

        i don’t want to stroke your ego, but i care about the Church. i have history in the postmodern/emergent church and have read several of your books.

        i also care a great deal about how women are (mis)treated in the Church. you asked a question as to why women don’t comment much, got a host of honest answers, and then appeared to dismiss and deride those who failed to tell you how fantastic you are–but you invited this feedback/criticism/accountability.

        i’m not here to hate-read. i’m here to see some good faith effort. and i want to see it–i’m not looking for you to trip. i don’t care a lot when driscoll and co. dish our their misogyny and paternalism, but i hold progressives to a higher standard.

        • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

          I have never confused you with someone who comes here to stroke my ego.

          Thanks for your response. Not all readers considered my responses to women as dismissive as you and the cohort on that Facebook page. Nevertheless, you’ve been heard loud and clear.

      • http://www.diannaeanderson.net Dianna

        I’m here because, like Suzanne, it bothers me intensely when supposedly progressive guys treat me the same way the old, traditional, evangelical church does. And I don’t believe you hear women or listen to them because the bare minimum that you have to in order to be considered “progressive,” thus my hostility.

        And to answer your above comment: perception is not what you said.

  • Kelly

    Tony, I found your responses to women to be very dismissive. So I suppose I should be counted as part of the Suzannah/”the cohort on that Facebook page” group (whom you seem to be dismissing here, since “not all readers” share their opinion…for the record, this one does).

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Nope. You’re not reading me very closely. I’m saying that there is a cohort who has perceived my responses as dismissive. You are obviously among that cohort. That perception of me is important and has been heard, but is not unanimous. It is not even the consensus. That’s not to say it is unimportant feedback — it is. But it is among the responses that I am sorting out.

      Again, why do you come here if I am so offensive?

  • Evelyn

    Although I should probably totally give up on you, here is a blog post that relates the nuances of racism as experienced by a black female student at Baylor in 2012:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/blackwhiteandgray/2012/11/racial-exclusion-and-selective-inclusion-one-students-observations/

    Many of the same feelings, experiences, motivations, and reactions occur among women as well. It is written by an Asian man and reading it might give you some insights into where we are coming from. We are not unjustified in coming to your blog.

  • Kelly

    Tony, I’m not sure I should even respond. You seem to be telling me to go away–but just a few days ago you were asking why women weren’t commenting. I’m confused. I think you might be completely lost.

    I suppose I am “obviously among that cohort” because that is what I just told you… If the feedback you received from this “Facebook cohort” is not unimportant, then why point out that it is neither unanimous or the consensus? What does it matter how many people share an opinion if you’re actually still considering it as valid? Why mention that at all? You just seem really defensive and inflexible and completely unwilling to look at the feedback you receive from people who are really trying to speak to you as sisters in Christ, and it’s just maddening. It’s because of men with this kind of attitude that I decided to leave the church.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      If asking you an honest question is insulting, then I am indeed lost.

      • Kelly

        If an honest response is confused as an insult, indeed you are.

        • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

          I don’t believe I ever accused you of insulting me.

      • Brantley

        As a reader who has been dispassionately following many of these exchanges between (mostly female) critics and Tony, I can’t help but keep thinking of “Cool Hand Luke”:

        “What we’ve got here…is failure to communicate. Some [men or women] you just can’t reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way [he or she] wants it… well, [she or he] gets it. I don’t like it any more than you [men or women].”

        Each side fills in own their own gendered pronoun–and feels equally justified.

  • http://www.stupidchurchpeople.com Steve Chastain

    Is now a bad time to share a bible verse?

    “It is better to live in a corner of the roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” – Proverbs 25:24 NAS

    Geesh Tony… what have you done?? What have you done? :-)

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Steve, if you’re quoting bible verses, then I’m doing one thing: WINNING!

      Tiger blood!


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