sharing your experiences in the face of threats

sharing your experiences in the face of threats

"Sharing Your Experiences" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward Like this cartoon? Buy a print HERE. Ever since my post, Tony Jones on Mark Driscoll: What Came First, the Thug or the Theology?, there has been an onslaught of opposition from all kinds of corners, but especially from Christian leaders. I keep trying to explain to people who just don't seem to get it that I try to provide safe spaces for people to share their experiences. Leaders have the luxury of publishing wide their version of events. Most people don't. I want to make places where marginalized people can tell their stories. The problem is when marginalized versions of events conflict with the official, authoritative, popular versions published by those with power. All of a sudden, leaders reveal that they have unlimited resources at their disposal to silence the unofficial, unauthorized, and isolated versions of the marginalized. Friends of Tony Jones are coming out in full support of him and bringing with them threats of legal action. It is very organized, thorough, and unified. Which makes it suspicious to me. A friend of mine who does management training wrote me yesterday and told me this is what he teaches his students:
"When many people say the same thing in the same way it is usually PR or propaganda - when many people say the same thing in different ways it usually contains some truth."
I've been warned to prepare. I didn't even say anything! I'm interested in allowing people to share their version of events without censor or censure, more than deciding who is guilty or innocent. I only allowed others to tell their stories. Many people don't understand this. In fact, I told someone the other day that even if Tony comes out squeaky clean and Julie is thrown into a psychiatric ward, my conscience would be clear because I served my purpose, and that was to allow her to give her version of events that had been silenced for so many years. I am constantly under a great deal of pressure to remove that post, or some comments, or edit some comments. So, not only are the ones who told their stories under threat, but also those who gave them a platform from which they could share them. It is not only risky to share your experiences, but it is dangerous to listen to them and even worse to believe them. I know! Many people have contacted me about Anti-SLAPP. SLAPP is "strategic lawsuit against public participation". SLAPP is basically "a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition." They seldom win by the lawsuit itself, but by slowly and patiently wearing out the defendant financially, physically, emotionally, socially, etcetera. Anti-SLAPP is really about protecting freedom of speech. That is, it's about allowing people to tell their stories, to voice their version of events, and to share their experiences. I'm not a lawyer and I don't pretend to be, but I'm told that the problem with defamation lawsuits is that the plaintiff must prove that:
  1. the defendant intentionally lied; and
  2. the defendant did this with malicious intent to destroy the plaintiff.
Apparently these are almost impossible to prove. But it's not impossible to destroy the defendant by other means. Many people feel this is a personal vendetta against a certain person. I disagree. This is a grassroots rebellion against the abuses and privileges of power. The philosopher Slavoj Žižek helps put into perspective what I and so many others are doing. This elucidates the massive blind spot those in authority are subject to:
“Our struggle is not against actual corrupt individuals, but against those in power in general, against their authority, against the global order and the ideological mystification which sustains it.”
So I continue to not only be in support of the marginalized and silenced, but intend to continue to provide places where they can find their voice and use it to share their experiences with all who will listen. I applaud the courage it takes the marginalized to raise their voices to be heard. This blog, nakedpastor, and especially The Lasting Supper are two such places, and I thank you for your support!

Leave a comment