Tony Jones' and company's continued attempts to silence people and control the narrative

Tony Jones' and company's continued attempts to silence people and control the narrative

"Bully" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward “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.” (Slavoj Žižek) This is my response to a post on the WhyTony board on Scribd. Just in case the post gets removed, as per their tactics, I have copied the whole thing here:
”We have come to understand that Julie filed a court motion at Hennepin County Family Court on Monday, January 26th. Since then, there have been two subsequent conferences between the court and Tony and Julie's attorneys on Feb 3 and Feb 11. At the Feb 11 conference, Tony and Julie were urged by the court to remove all their posts and comments related to their marital issues and children. They were also urged to have their supporters and proxies remove posts and comments related to these topics as well. “Tony chose to honor the court's request by removing his document the same day. At his request and to comply with the request of the court, the statements posted to storify and Scribd are being taken down as well.”
Never in a million years did I imagine the fight that would ensue from what I thought was a harmless post critiquing a theologian's ideas. If you want to read the relevant post I drew and wrote back in September of 2014, click on this ‚Äî> Tony Jones on Mark Driscoll: What Came First, the Thug or the Theology. The number of calls, emails, and messages I have received directly has been incredible and exhausting. Many of them have been clearly adversarial. Many of them have been encouraging. But many of them have been passive-aggressive and confusing. It's taken a lot of work on my part to unravel what's really been communicated to me. Believe it or not, I hate conflict. I am terrified of anger. I avoid these things at all costs. I'm also very principled when it comes to revealing information in my possession. For example, I do not share private conversations or correspondences publicly, even under enormous pressure from without and from within, unless I have expressed permission to do so. However, I decided that when I get pressured to be silent, I will do the opposite. I will not be bullied into silence! When someone directly or indirectly, aggressively or passive-aggressively, tries to shut me down or silence me, or shut others down and silence them, I am going to broadcast it. Why? Because this is what it is all about: silencing victims, survivors, and their supporters. The same bullying tactics used on victims is used to silence their supporters or even to silence freedom of speech. I won't have it! So when I saw this post yesterday¬†on Tony Jones' support page on Scribd, I immediately received it as a passive-aggressive attempt to silence people‚ Julie, me, and all other bloggers and commenters who have spoken or written in a way that raises questions about those in power. I reiterate, as I have over and over again, that it is not about the details of a difficult divorce, but how questionable actions and statements were lied about, covered up, and used to develop a smear campaign about victims, all to protect important people. As anyone should, I deconstructed the statement so I could comprehend what was being said to me and to others. I'm not a lawyer, nor am I very informed about what lawyers or the courts do. But I do know when I'm being intimidated to shut up. My radar is very sensitive when it comes to this. I'm not going to talk about the marriage, the divorce, or the children. I'm going to focus on what this statement is saying to me and to you.
  1. First of all, I thought the real reason why Jones' post on Scribd was taken down was because it was shown to be full of holes... half-truths and outright lies. Any lawyer in his or her right mind would urge their client to remove self-damaging statements from public view. Then, I thought other supporters started taking down their posts because, of course, they wouldn't want to be implicated in supporting a public lie. Maybe I'm wrong.
  2. As far as I understand it, lawyers do not represent the court. In this case, they represent people. My guess is that Jones' lawyers would like to see all damning posts and comments about him and favorable ones about Julie disappear. They would like to scrub the internet of all references to him and to her. This has been Jones' and his supporters' desire from day one. From the very beginning, they have asked, begged, urged, and threatened me to take down that post and remove or edit comments. This is just more of the same. I imagine Jones' lawyers might have said that it would be great if the internet was scrubbed of all references to him and these topics, and someone could bend that enough to say that the court requested it.
  3. Lawyers can ask, demand, or threaten, but I don't think they can order. I don't think courts make requests. They make orders. Lawyers can issue a cease and desist, but they can't make me do anything. The court can, but lawyers can't. They would have to take me to court to accomplish that. Wouldn't they?
  4. I have received no legal documents "urging" or "requesting" me to take down posts or comments. No court and no lawyer has approached me with any such request or demand. The only way I heard about this was that I stumbled upon this announcement yesterday just after it was posted. If a court is “urging” and “requesting” I do a certain action, don't you think it would be a little more obvious? Don't you think I would have been contacted directly, instead of hopefully informed through an obscure online post?
  5. I know for a fact that no such thing was requested from any court. No court required Julie to remove her posts or comments. She has received advice on how to behave on the internet. But she has received no “urging” from any court that she should remove all her words from the internet.
  6. Neither has Julie received any “urging” from the court or her lawyers that she contact all her “supporters and proxies to remove their posts and comments related to these topics as well”. We understand Jones and his lawyers would be delighted if this would happen, but it is not a court injunction. Actually, the fact that "Tony chose to honor the court's request" says that we have a choice. He made a choice to scrub the internet where he could. Apparently, Julie can make that choice too. So can I. So can you.
  7. When it is said, twice, that ‚ÄúTony chose to honor the court's request‚Äù, and ‚Äúto comply with the request of the court‚Äù, and then saying that he did it ‚Äúthe same day‚Äù‚ it is a cleverly worded sentence to put Jones in the driver's seat and in a more favorable light than Julie. It implies that he is being thoughtful, lawful, protective of his children, and compliant by doing everything the court and lawyers request. It suggests that all his supporters and proxies are going to obey his requests or demands to take down their posts and comments concerning these topics. It also implies that Julie is disobeying the court, not following the advice of her lawyers, being unlawful, non-compliant, and destructive to her children. In a word, it says that Tony is ethical while Julie is unethical.
  8. This is a trap baited with fear. In other words, it is a passive-aggressive but bullying threat that if I do not take down posts and comments, and if all Julie's supporters and proxies do not take down their posts and comments, I am disobeying the court, breaking the law, and damaging the children. I, by implication, am unethical. His public statement that he is being ethical is meant to prove to his supporters that I am not if I don't bow to his demands.
  9. I want to reiterate that this whole thing began not because I was supporting a person, but a value. That is, I'm not taking personal sides in a divorce, but am upholding and defending the value of free speech. I want to provide safe spaces for people to share their experiences without censure or censor. This “explanation for why these posts have been taken down” would like people to believe that sides are being taken for a person, when in fact my posts and comments are about not silencing people. It implies that Tony can control his team's narrative while Julie should control hers but cannot. Julie does not control me any more than Tony does, as he would like to imagine. Are Jones and company continuing their tactics of lies, half-truths, intimidation, bullying, silencing, and putting Julie in a bad light? This is what it feels like to me.
  10. Finally, this isn't, as Zizek suggests above, about the individual Tony Jones. This is about what he stands for. And we won't stand for it!
So I'm sending out an alert: even though this seems difficult for some people to understand, when space is given for a person to share their experiences and be heard and even believed, this does not necessarily mean I am taking sides. It does mean I protect their right to tell their story though. When others despise, defy, or destroy this right and bully those who protect it, it betrays their desire to control the narrative, and this, in my opinion, betrays their desire to protect their own privileges of power. I've always been discreet about the personal lives of both Tony and Julie. But I will not be discreet when it comes to bullying or attempts to silence. It is asserted that Tony Jones is not in charge of the Scribd board. But they have not revealed who is. However, whoever it is, and this is for all those protecting Jones... please put an end to these bullying tactics. It is shameful and it isn't working! Try to shut us up, we'll just speak up! The more you try to turn out the light, the more will come into it! We're going to "kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight!" (Bruce Cockburn)

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