Yesterday, I had a comment on a blog post I wrote a week ago in response to Tony Jones’ declaration that he’s tired of being called a racist. The whole point of my post (which now seems to have been lost) was that we shouldn’t defend public figures without examining whether there’s any truth to claims that they’ve made exclusionary statements. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the take-away, at least for some.
Apparently, having nothing better to do with his time, Pete Rollins wrote a whole post about it because I named him when I gave an example of a person who, like Jones, shouldn’t be followed uncritically. I admit to having gone by my recollection of our exchange, as I didn’t have screen shots of my tweets. (I am tech illiterate and wouldn’t even know how to acquire them.) He did have them, and he posted some of them. So I acknowledge that I was guilty of a small degree of exaggeration, but not much, and I stand by what I said–he should be aware of the way in which he engaged with women during that 4-day period in January. I also admit that I was incorrect and I did, in fact, instruct him to read Christian feminists, but not to start–I only threw that in after he complained about sexism.
What got left out of the conversation was what preceded my tweets. I joined the conversation hesitantly, and I kept my tone light, because I saw that shortly before that, he determined that writer Sarah Moon was a troll. Sarah is a respected writer with a following significantly larger than mine. She is just about the last person to troll people on Twitter. Not only did Rollins call her a troll, he condescendingly referred to her as cute. I suppose he was trying to be funny, but it actually wasn’t. When he tweeted about where he got his information on women from, he was supposedly also joking. Yet when I responded, instead of indicating that I’d misunderstood his humor, he threw in the sexism of women at Mars Hill Church (and all of that you can read on his blog post; I’m not linking it, so you can Google it yourselves). At each point of my redirection, he derailed. It wasn’t a real conversation. I finally gave up, though my name still appears in some of the later tweets because I didn’t ask to @ myself out.
I would indeed have engaged with him further if I were better educated in theology, sociology, or philosophy. I’m not; my degrees are both in health-related fields. I didn’t want to get in over my head, especially after seeing this kind of thing for the previous 3 days. I’m not exaggerating that part–the whole thing started on January 15; my tweets were on January 18. You can search for them if you like–there’s lots of interesting things in there about rigorous thinking, diversity, identity politics, and the like. Many people tried to engage with him, and he simply didn’t listen.
I’m particularly angry that he dragged other people into his beef with me. There was no need for that. He has now manipulated the situation to make it look like I was just misinterpreting the data by dragging in peripheral tweets and blog comments irrelevant to our brief exchange. With the exception of that 4-day window, I have little interest in the vast majority of what he says. I have no use for people who believe rigorous thinking and emphasis on diversity are somehow at odds with each other. (I also have no use for people who decide whether someone is a troll based on the degree to which their feelings are hurt.)
Anyway, I have no idea why he thinks I’m any kind of threat. I have 153 followers on this blog, 102 followers on Facebook, and 476 followers on Twitter–and a lot of those are the exact same people, many of whom I know offline. I average 10 comments a week if I’m lucky. I’m a tiny spec on the Internet. This is like an elephant trying to smoosh an ant–it’s entirely ridiculous. He’s the one with all the clout here; I’m just a random blogger doing my thing. Guess what, though? Ants can take it–we just slip into crevices in the ground and wait for the stomping to end. I’m just going to ride this out and return to my anthill, content to ignore the elephant once more.
The best part is that I don’t feel much of anything about this. There was a time when I would have; I’d have been upset and angry and probably would have turned that inward and believed I was some kind of failure. I’m over that, though. I’m only responding here because this is exactly the problem I described in my Superstars post–defenders finding me and lecturing me on how I shouldn’t have been so mean to the poor well-known writer. It’s kind of funny, actually, seeing my point proven in black-and-white. I don’t have anything else to say about it. I don’t feel the need to spend the rest of my week answering emails or tweets or PMs. Instead, maybe I’ll read a book or write a story or play a board game with my kids. And hey, now that the drama’s over, I might find some time to respond to some of the other stuff happening around the Internet.
I’m going to close with a link to David Hayward (Naked Pastor)’s cartoon from yesterday. It’s just one example of the outpouring of love and care I received. I had emails, messages, and even phone calls from people who know me offline. Nice to know my friends have my back on this one.