I Blocked Someone Today

I Blocked Someone Today October 7, 2009

This morning was the first time that I have ever blocked someone making comments. I had previously warned her three times publicly, and many other commenters have done the same. I have warned her about her comment length, the aggressiveness in which she comments and the blatant scape-goating that is always present. Here are a few examples I wrote to her in warnings:

1. I will make these two things very clear: 1. Stop swearing. Stop ripping on gay men. Stop ripping on conservative Christians. We’re here to learn from, and listen to each other. You do neither as it seems as though you think you have all the answers to everything.  2. I have been getting emails and messages from people who are giving up trying to comment because of the novels you are writing here. This is NOT A BATTLE OF ATTRITION! Keep it to one direct point, short and sweet. You can create your own blog to elaborate on lesbian and feminist theology. I don’t mind you inserting your life experiences, your opinions, thoughts or whatever else. That is what this blog is here for. As you told Darren earlier, if people don’t hear it from your perspective, where will they hear it from? Great point. But your current format has to change quickly otherwise you will be blocked. This is a dialogue, but it has turned into your monologue that people are not willing to (nor should they have to) sift through.

2. KKK? Nazis? No way. You’re way off base. Others have hit the target about your comments in his last comment. This is now the third time I’m publicly warning you. This blog is not about pointing the finger, something you have done consistently since you started commenting. I have noticed very clearly that over the last few weeks since you started commenting, general comments have gotten a lot less constructive and a lot more back-and-forth fault blaming. My words and message haven’t changed, the commenter’s haven’t really changed, and the only new variable is your comments. As Jack said, you do communicate unique experiences, which we all appreciate very much. But the rest of it is too much. Lesbian voices do need to be heard, but not in a way that name-calls, points fingers and blames everyone else. This is THE LAST time you will be asked to change your style and length, there will be no ‘heads up’ next time.

3. _____ is officially blocked. She is the first one ever. I just deleted her last post. I warned her three times publicly, and I can’t take any more of her forcefulness against gay men, ex-gays, any form of Christians, the Bible, straight woman who don’t hate men, the church, etc. It’s over. So _____, if you would like to comment again, email me at andrew@themarinfoundation.org and we will talk.

As will be my policy from here on out, when someone is blocked they can email me and we can discuss the situation. I don’t want to block anyone, and I have given her more chances and warnings than many other bloggers I know. But for the greater good of peaceful and productive dialogue (and that does mean people can disagree!) surrounding this very heated topic, I will not have constant finger pointing, blaming, bullying, name calling, etc. And she did all of those.

I’m not going to set up rules for comments because I want this blog to be free-flowing and a place to honestly and genuinely explore with each other. But none of her comments explored anything except her agenda. I look forward to continuing the dialogue.

Much love.


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  • A good book that may shed some light on people like this woman you blocked: Antagonist in the Church by Kenneth Hauqk. We are going to read it as a church staff just to remind ourselves how to deal with folks like this.

  • Barb, it is very unfortunate. I had multiple 'length' and 'topic succinctness' conversations with her. Multiple! And she still decided to continue writing without length change. Don't neglect that I gave my email and the door is still open for her return, as I do value her thoughts and experiences, just not in a way that dominates a conversation so heavily that others feel they can't even get involved. Sometimes adults can act just like children – age doesn't matter to me. Content does.

  • Jeff

    Maybe the passage in Matthew 18 as interpreted by Tony Jones is relevant here? When someone has resisted advice, treat them "as a Gentile or a tax collector" (NRSV), which means, not shun them forever but think of them as someone outside that you still might be able to reach. Does this apply at all?

  • Barb

    Andrew, I think it’s unfortunate that you felt the need to censor and censure Audrey. We’re all adults here. A better solution may have been to suggest a length limit for comments. I, for one, want to hear everyone’s opinion–from the bashers to the middle-of-the roaders to the lesbian radical feminists. Even though the jalapeno burns, it’s a lot more interesting than pabulum.

  • Andy

    I think it was a good decision soley on length of comments. About 2 weeks ago I stopped even trying to read the comments because the length of comments were so hard to get through. It really did affect conversation.

  • Seth

    It’s a shame to have to block a participant, but I agree with your reasons. Her long posts made it difficult for me to participate and (in my opinion) compromised the purpose of your blog. Thanks for doing so–perhaps she’ll return and better conduct herself.

  • Br. Michael

    You put yourself in the line of fire… That is what a true monastic does.

    Without question, you are now more than ever, Br. Andrew. Amen to that!

  • Frank B

    Wow, what a difficult decision. Whether we all agree or not is irrelevant at this point; I'm proud that you chose to make the decision public. It's too difficult to make a hard-and-fast rule based on Matthew 18 in an online forum since it's not one-to-one, but I think you followed it as well as you could given the format.

    Audrey, if you're reading, I have very much valued your opinion and experiences which are so very opposite my own. I hope and pray you will consider the way you approach us and come back to join us.

  • We can’t know who the prodigals are, can we? That’s why we hope and pray and love, even if the other person doesn’t know it.

  • I am very humbled by the grace that you all are showing to Audrey, and myself. I do hope she can reconnect. Much love.

  • Barb

    Hmmm. How did Jesus treat the dreaded tax collector? (See Luke 19:1-10). Did He shun him and wait for him to come around to Jesus' way of thinking? No, Jesus treated him with dignity, went to his house, and stayed with him. One could even say that this guy, Zacchaeus, the one that most people refused to associate with, got special treatment from Jesus. The result? Zacchaeus was transformed. So what's the lesson in all of this? Maybe we are to love our enemies–not just tolerate them–but really take the time to understand them, show them respect, and love them.

  • Frank B

    Barb- I think you that's a misapplication of the Scripture you cited. (Especially since any scripture regarding how to treat people is tough to apply directly to internet discussion boards!) The tax collectors mentioned in Scripture, though shunned by Jewish society, are displayed as receptive to Jesus' message (not that receptivity is a qualifier for a Christian to pursue a person). They were not maligning Jesus or his followers, but were eager to hear the message of the kingdom. We do not know how Jesus would have responded to angry and abrasive tax collectors. Matt. 10:14 and 18:15-17 fit this situation better.

    "If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town" (Matt. 10:14). Now, I quote this verse with severe hesitation. When it comes to an online discussion board it would obviously be wrong to remove someone because they won't believe our message; but there comes a point when we can cease to pursue them if they are hostile and completely unreceptive. Then…

    "If a brother or sister sins, go and point out the fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector" (Matt. 18:15-17). This resembles the situation at hand a little more closely. Someone who was freely allowed into our discussion was overly abrasive and offensive and showed no sign of letting up. After multiple public warnings, disciplinary action was taken.

    The purpose of this place is to allow all of us to come together in open, honest, and loving discussion. She maintained the first two (which I appreciated so much), but the love was often absent, and the things Andrew listed above were often in love's place.

    Barb, I hope you don't think Andrew did not want to "really take the time to understand" her. We all did. I could never emphasize enough how much I appreciated reading her posts, because it was of a view I have never thought to stop and listen to before. The problem was not her message, but the mode in which she chose to convey that message. And that is why we pray she would modify her mode and return.

    Andrew- I hope I'm not overstepping my bounds by speaking for you here. If I've said anything inaccurate about the situation, please correct me.

  • Frank B – You haven’t overstepped anything. I couldn’t agree more.

    Barb – I am not trying to sound like a jerk, but I treated Audrey with extreme dignity, showed a ton of respect to her, her thoughts and her experiences! Maybe if Audrey and I were able to hang out in person over a long period of time, talking face to face, things would be different. Blogs however, do not lend themselves to such a thing.

    And I just want to point out, that over a week later, Audrey still has not emailed me. I reached out to her with the option of removing the “Ban” with only a little change in her length of posts and that she no longer name call. Not too much to ask. But I am yet to hear anything from her. Please keep that in mind Barb.