Tuesday, September 2, 2008

RESEARCH THE CONTROVERSY






Submitted for publication by Linda.




There is a print media journalist by the name of Rod Dreher. He is with the Dallas Morning News as an editor and columnist on the issues of religion and spirituality. He is politically and religiously conservative. By the way, I am neither.

He wrote a book published in about 2006 entitled "Crunchy Conservative" which explains how his conservative religious views have shaped his views on preserving the environment, eating locally grown produce, etc. Click here to view Wikipedia article.

There was a group of people who didn't like the ideas that Dreher discussed and they started a blog. They blogged for almost 2 years and made it a point to dissect word for word his columns in the Dallas Morning News and his entries and comments on his blog . Not only did they post on their blog, but they also flooded his blog almost continually with disruptive comments.

Disagreeing with Dreher isn't a big deal. As a newspaper journalist and author, he is used to people disagreeing with him. But a few of the commenters grew more intense. They became familiar with his whereabouts, his home address, and more vociferous in their criticisms of him.

Some of the commenters repeatedly called his employer demanding that he be removed from his position. Some sent creepy emails and left nasty phone messages about his opinions. He started to feel uneasy and probably a little threatened. Keep in mind, Dreher was not a man who had been convicted of or even accused of a crime. He simply had ideas that were different from the persons that blogged against him.

One of the more fervent individuals was repeatedly banned from his website, but came back somehow through other IP addresses. He did this over and over and over and over again.

That same man, who did not even personally know Dreher, wrote to Dreher's catholic parish priest to inquire about his religious affiliation. HUH? A perfect stranger wrote to this man's parish priest to find if he was still a catholic in good standing.

Why? This cyber-citizen claimed that because Dreher was a public figure, the public deserved to know. He made it his mission to get the information and disseminate it to his gossip hungry fellow bloggers.

The public deserved to know about this newspaper journalist's church membership and possible conversion? Says who?

Dreher wrote in his web column about his conversion to the orthodox religion and he explained that he was doing this earlier than he had intended: "But now I am forced to reveal all early. Why? Because a certain malicious reader, a perfect stranger and petty little Catholic Prufrock named Jonathan Carpenter, who is unhealthily preoccupied with me nearly to the point of cyberstalking, troubled himself to write a letter to a priest at my parish asking about my ecclesial affiliation -- and when he received his answer, undertook to publicize it. " Click here to view
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I became familiar with the matter because I googled Dreher's name to find out more information about his book. I happened upon his blog and the comment boxes were filled with people dissecting his every word looking for any and all inconsistencies with what he had written or spoken previously.

I couldn't believe it. I don't share this man's political or religious persuasions, but this kind of obsession was almost unbelievable to me. So I researched the controversy. I did not research Dreher's whereabouts, his wife's family, his church address, the number of times he had attended services, etc. I researched the controversy.
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By the way, I also did not research the address, employer, family members of the blogger obsessed with Rod Dreher. Truthfully, I couldn't believe the stalker like behavior that these people displayed and how they justified it. And then as inexplicably as they started ... they stopped.

The situation with the Gs is eerily similar. You've got a few people who are OBSESSED with the Gs. They dissect every move they make and every word they say. Perfect strangers assign motive and intent to everything G. And some of these perfect strangers go further. They research personal information about the Gs such as their church, their previous employers, their future activities, etc. They take pictures of the front of their home and they post them like trophies on the internet.

Why? Maybe it is as simple as ... because they can. The internet and public records laws have made a lot of information that had previously been unavailable suddenly available. Screen names and pseudo-names provide the cloak of anonymity and embolden some bloggers in their quest for personal information about public figures. Acquiring this information makes some people feel powerful and important even if only for a moment.

Undoubtedly, this group's obsession with the Gs will cease. Either the show will end or the interest that these bloggers have in the Gs will simply wane. But one has to wonder when? And of course, who will be next.

19 comments:

jdmac said...

I agree that a line was crossed long ago with people just disagreeing with the Gosselins. The lengths that some people have gone to in order to get information is just crazy, and I can't believe that it is legal. Prior to finding this blog, I would read GWoP in awe, and wonder how they got ahold of that neighbor, coworker, or favorite aunt's sister...

I also wonder about their obsession waning until the show is over. Some of the leader/members seem pretty set on "destruction" of some sort to the Gosselins and/or the show, and their pride alone may drive them even further into this mess.

Anonymous said...

It's just sad that people would invest so much of their time and effort on continually thinking and writing about the Gs with such negativity. Couldn't their energy be used in much more constructive tasks? Less time researching & hating and more time living & enjoying their lives? I don't understand why they live to hate (and spread their hate) towards others that they don't even know. [sigh] It's kind of like what I say to my own kids..."If you don't have anything nice to say than don't say anything at all."

Mom said...

Linda - very interesting article. Thank you.

I would love to read the letter from the church (please fix link).

My opinion is it is already gone too far. The name calling, the sarcasm, the diagnosing, etc.

Where in the world has constructive critism go? (BTW, I find it here). It's easy to hide behind a screen name, analyze every move and write about it.

It's pretty sad. I feel bad for anyone who is constantly being trailblazed.

Guinevere said...

Very interesting article, Linda! Yeah, as much as I say that I don't "get" the vociferousness of the GWoPpers, I'm aware that this sort of obsessive behavior isn't new. Even on the Princess Marie Chantal board, where the posters seem eminently sane in regards to J&K+8, there is a thread devoted to the comic strip "For Better or For Worse", and it's pretty much about how much everyone hates it. Now, don't get me wrong, the posters do not seem stalkerish or unhealthily obsessed. But they do seem to be really focused on reading, and talking about, a comic strip they dislike. They throw in stuff that they've learned about the personal life of the woman who writes and draws the strip, and they talk about the characters as if they are real people.

Now, again, I don't mean to say that these women are anywhere near as "invested" as the GWoPpers are in J&K+8. But at the same time, when I look at the thread, there's a part of me that goes, "Why do you care? If you don't like the strip, don't read it." That goes x1000 for the J&K haters, but of course they have come up with their convenient "advocacy" excuse to deflect criticism of their obsession. It really is very clever, in its way. It justifies them watching and talking about the show (at least in their own minds; I don't know how it justifies discussing the size of Kate's ass).

People are weird.

anya said...

Linda, thank you for the compelling read. I know nothing about this guy other than what you have posted, but I find myself feeling for him the same way I do the Gosselins. I'm a bit angry too. I know some of the folks who take up these "causes" have a few screws loose, but some of them are perfectly sane and yet they choose to engage in a campaign of hate against a person or people they don't know. In the case of Dreher, it's because he DARES to have an opinion different from their own. How pathetic. In the case of the Gosselins, I think we have a mixture of motives, but it is similarly sick.
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Guinevere said... That goes x1000 for the J&K haters, but of course they have come up with their convenient "advocacy" excuse to deflect criticism of their obsession. It really is very clever, in its way. It justifies them watching and talking about the show (at least in their own minds; I don't know how it justifies discussing the size of Kate's ass).

My thoughts exactly, Guinevere.

Nina Bell said...

The link will be "fixed" later on today. Sorry.

MCB said...

Amen to you guys. And Linda, it is amazing how some fandoms (or anti-fandoms) go over the deep end. Scary stuff.

The American Idol fandoms are pretty intense and the rivalries that go on between the fans of one idol contestant, vs. the fans of another, are simply astounding. There are lines crossed by online fans on a regular basis. I think that in those cases it all boils down to the fact that we are picking up the phone and voting for these people. You become so overly-invested in the one person, and the other contestants are seen as the enemy. It's just sad. I've heard of fanbases that will purposely go and plant false information at tabloids like the National Enquirer, trying to ruin the career of a particular contestant. Also, fans that get just a little too close for comfort, which happens to a lot of celebs, actually. Plus, all of this is exacerbated by the Internet, where nothing is ever really private and the information superhighway just gets bigger and more powerful. There's that idea that you can say anything and you'll always be anonymous, which is not really true.

Nina Bell said...

The link is working now.

Anonymous said...

The problem is we're starting to see more posts and blogs with people who CLAIM to be former close frends of Jon and Kate,etc. with nothing buy horror stories of Kate's 'issues',etc.

This is the latest that has turned up -

http://pennmommyfortruth.blogspot.com/

Truth or Not (Can't believe everything you read on the net - even "thse other blog" Sightings),these just sadly fuel the fires.

People forget that Kate is ONLY HUMAN - not perfect,not supermom,not "Donna Reed" - Nobody is perfect except God!

People also lose sight of what a blessing it was that all 6 'tups were healthy!

Until you walk a mile in someone elses shoes,you will not know what it's like.

Anonymous said...

Linda,

Very interesting information. It is unbelievable what people will do when they hide behind fake names.

Linda said...

It is so sad to me that this kind of aggressiveness is played out on the internet. On both sides.

I corresponded once or twice with Dreher who told me that even he was at first shocked by the level of viciousness that was displayed. I still visit his blog and notice that occasionally Jon Carpenter will post a sarcastic or derogatory comment but since the blog was closed the "gang mentality" has diminished considerably.

Tyra said...

Thanks for a very interesting subject and article. I'm not surprised that the columnist in the article was a writer on religion and spirituality. That subject seems to bring out the worst in some people. It's a prominent peripheral subject in the matter of the Gosselins, too.

I think the discussion long ago stopped being about opinions, and became some kind of morality test. That's what I felt I always came up against when I discussed JK8 with some of the posters I disagreed with. In their view, not only was I mistaken to not share the same opinion on the show and on Jon and Kate, but I held a morally 'wrong' point of view.

To me that means that somehow, to some posters who hold an extreme negative opinion of the Gosselins aren't content to just hold an opinion that can easily be disagreed with, they have to have the right opinion, the truth. And of course, you have to produce 'proof' that your opinion is the 'truth', incontrovertible, the 'moral' opinion, unable to be disagreed with.

I think that some of the posters I've encountered in many other places are truly uncomfortable with opinions.

Linda said...

tyra,

You are so right. This has become a moral argument for people who think that they have a corner on the "truth."

Religious discussions do bring out the extremists.

As far as the Gs, I also think that the fact that abortion v. selective reduction is an element of this drama as well as the family's firmly held religious convictions make them prime targets.

nomoredrama said...

Linda,
I agree. What happened to a woman's right to choose? If she CHOSE not to selectively reduce, where do some people get off acting like she shouldn't get a thing because she could have aborted some of her children.

I can even describe my distaste for this argument. The article was VERY interesting. Thanks for sharing.

anya said...

nomoredrama said...
"What happened to a woman's right to choose? If she CHOSE not to selectively reduce, where do some people get off acting like she shouldn't get a thing because she could have aborted some of her children."


Yes! I believe it is very damaging to the pro-choice side when complete strangers come out of the woodwork and start trying to impose their idea of what is "right" on another.

You are right. It is about CHOICE. And if I was inclined to give charity to a family of multiples - whether they had declined the option of reducing or not would play NO ROLE in my decision to contribute.

Daisy said...

Linda, you hit the nail on the head. This is about abortion and religion. There are some that are experts at twisting everything the G's do into making them and people that support them into hypocrites in their eyes.

The Gosselin's aren't allowed to be human beings or American Citizens. They've lost all freedoms in these people's eyes.

Linda said...

Actually I read the wikipedia article on the McCaughey family and even though these people have stayed out of the spotlight other than yearly updates, they've had their share of people who spontaneously tell them that they were selfish for having all those kids. Furthermore, they've had people write them letters that say that this many children are a drain on resources of the planet.

The absolute nerve of people. Seriously, how do you end a letter like that?

Anonymous said...

FYI...Wikipedia is not the Encylopedia Britannica..it is easily acessed by hackers and should never be trusted as a source of reliable info. In many, many cases, it's articles have been breached and altered. Most high schools don't allow students to quote anything they have read on wiki to be included in papers, articles etc.

Anonymous said...

Anon

We are quite aware of that.

Thanks