Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Jesus denial is not a hate crime

I'm finding out that on the web, your writings will be misrepresented and misused by others. Occasionally I google my full name to see if my blog is still coming up. Perhaps because of my recent lack of posts, it stopped coming up on its own sometime in the last month. But at the same time, my blog writings have started to appear, on other websites. This past weekend I found that if you google my name, this is some of what you get:

Jesus Denial Is Hate Crime - My Christian Network's christian forum
has found inexpressible joys as an adult by practicing these things, often onunexpected paths. Peace, Kevin posted by Kevin Rosero at 8:41 PM
...www.mychristiannetwork.com/forum/ showthread.php?t= 84044 - 131k - Cached - Similar pages

Jesus Denial Is Hate Crime
posted by Kevin Rosero at 8:41 PM http://roseandrock.blogspot.com/2005/04/jesus-denial.html. Back to top. All times are GMT - 5 Hours. Page 1 of 1 ...www.newsbackup.com/about815122.html - 110k - Cached - Similar pages

What's happened here is that my blog's opening post, "Jesus Denial", has been cut and pasted into discussion boards at both of the above sites ("catapulted" is possibly the term for this). Whoever did so named their own post, "Jesus Denial Is Hate Crime," without their own personal comment, and then quoted my post in its entirety, with my blog address included. So you might think, what's the big deal, if I was cited properly? Well, a few things here are not right -- and unfortunately I'm not just speaking of the one person who threw my writing around.

First, no one at these discussion boards has any way of knowing that I'm being quoted by someone else and not merely pushing my own writings; many people have replied (nastily) to my blog writings as if I was the one who put them there; some have told me to keep my writings on my blog instead of bringing them elsewhere.

Second there is the matter of the subject. I have not and would never have said that denying the existence of Christ is a hate crime, or even akin to a hate crime. I think of hate crimes as physical attacks. The Holocaust was a hate crime in that sense. But Holocaust denial is not a crime in my book (although I'm aware that it's illegal in Germany). Mere words and arguments can never constitute a crime, much less a hate crime. Words can express hate, but that's not a crime. Someone saw my post and felt that it expressed what was probably his/her personal view about Jesus denial being a hate crime. Yet my post says nothing about the law or about crimes; it says that Holocaust denial is more extreme than Jesus denial, and that the person who first argued with me about the existence of Christ was clearly not an anti-Semite or anything like it. My post laid out the reasons that Jesus denial failed as an academic theory, without going into the subject of law or crime. Later writings on my blog explored the problems with the Holocaust analogy, and I included explicit statements about Jesus deniers (or Jesus mythicists) not being motivated by the kind of prejudice that motivates Holocaust deniers. All these writings were posted before "Jesus denial" was catapulted into these other websites on July 14. I'm fairly certain that the person who used my first post did not see anything I wrote on my site afterwards. I know because I make small edits to my posts until someone comments on them, and the version of my "Jesus denial" post that was used, is an early version that was up only for a few days around April 28. So they missed my later writings, but of course they also misused the original post.

I clicked on the second of the two Google hits displayed above and went to www.newsbackup.com. My writing got posted there without anyone responding to it, and I managed to delete it. Originally this Google hit had an indented sub-hit underneath, with my "Jesus denial" writing appearing under the title, "Muslim Monsters blow up more children" -- the title of another thread at this site. My writing got thrown into that thread on July 14, twice, without comment, again under the post-heading of "Jesus denial is hate crime." There was no logical link to the subject matter about suicide bombers. That thread no longer displays under a search for my name; I've lost the link and cannot find the thread. The thread in which my writing appears as the first and only post, without responses, is nonexistent now that I deleted it, but it still comes up on Google exactly as you see above, when I search for my name. Google's software can take weeks to detect specific changes on the web, which is also the reason I'm only discovering now that my writing was thrown out there on July 14.

(And I now know why "Mythicist" left comments on my blog on July 15; he must have been at a site where my writing got thrown into the discussion. If not for that I don't know when he would have stumbled across my blog. I do wish, though, that "Mythicist" had identified himself).

Then I went to the hit for My Christian Network and found that my writing had started a largely pointless but heated debate that went on for 53 web-pages. At Newsbackup, my writing had been posted by "Guest." Here it was posted by someone called wordsoftruth114@email.com. I tried that link and found it to be a nonexistent address. I tried posting to My Christian Network to explain all this, and my profile there says that I can post, but my posts appear for only a second before disappearing. I've tried posting on innocuous matters, and still no luck. Several emails to the administrators, and no response. I get no answer whether I ask about the flap over my writing or about my inability to post. I've even tried contacting members of the forum, and just my luck, no responses. I know my computer is okay because I just started posting to the Internet Infidels about Jesus mythicism, so I don't know what the problem could be. But obviously I do suspect that my questions are not welcome at the forum (although my blog writings seem to be perfectly welcome, under headings that are not my own). At a Christian forum -- that would be hurtful to me, if it were true.

The fact is that my experience at Internet Infidels has been better -- there they require you, before joining, to accept Terms and Agreements mandating civil and respectful discourse. (And the moderators enforce it). My first post there met with two courteous welcomes from other members. At My Christian Forum, which says that its purpose is "Bringing Christians Together" (though this Christian can't join the discussion), the debates I saw were heated and too often nasty. And I've had no response, of course, from anyone there.

I do not know who threw my writing around. At My Christian Network, one atheist who got involved in the 53-page debate complained on another thread about Christians barging into atheist discussion boards and calling people bigots for even questioning the existence of Jesus. This is what my writing seems to be used for. And I never intended it. My blog entry was deeply personal, and though I did speak in general terms of bigots, I never felt it would be right to do so when actually dialoguing with people. (See the link to the thread I started at Infidels). Someone out there thinks it's okay to do this, and to use someone else's words rather than their own, under a mispresentative title, without permission, and under an untraceable alias. That is cowardly.

There is still more to tell. By googling the phrase "jesus denial", you mostly get links to Jesus' denial of his body for our sake, wonderful things like that from normal sites. But you also get the phrase as a reference to Jesus mythicism. You get a few hits for my writings, but there are a few other interesting hits. One is about the controversy stirred up when a Holocaust denial organization, the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), had an advertisement of theirs accepted and then pulled from The Nation magazine. The head of the IHR, Mark Weber, wrote a letter in protest to The Nation, and one of his arguments was this one:

As I’ve mentioned to you and others, in the very same May 3 issue of The Nation in which our ad appears, readers can find a classified ad (on page 61) offering a “scholarly booklet” that claims to provide “incontrovertible proof” that Jesus is fictional and never existed. Your policy of accepting “Jesus denial” advertising while rejecting “Holocaust denial” ads manifests a clear double standard that highlights the real icons and taboos in our society. This double standard also affirms the validity of what the author of The Founding Myths, and others, say about the clout and character of Jewish-Zionist power in America.

The report of this letter was posted to the web in April, 2004 -- many months before I started using the phrase, "Jesus denial." I thought once that the term was original to me, but obviously it isn't. I don't know who invented the term; but I can plainly see that at least one Holocaust denier likes using it. From my perspective it seems that he wishes to paint an equivalence between two denials: he wishes to say that denying the Holocaust is no worse, or no different, than denying the existence of Jesus. I know that's what he wishes to say because obviously Holocaust deniers always try to minimize what they're denying.

So I have come to regret using the term, and I will not be using it again. I might speak of someone plainly denying that Jesus existed, but I won't be using the phrase "Jesus denial". I don't want to be associated with a term that can give Holocaust deniers any support to their arguments. And the phrase, I have discovered, is too incendiary, despite my never having made an equivalence: whenever I have spoken briefly of the analogy, I have said that Holocaust denial is more extreme than Jesus denial and that the former stems from virulent, sickening ethnic prejudice; whenever I have spoken at length about the analogy, I've listed in detail what I thought the differences and similarities were between the two phenomena. But it can be counted on that some people will not use the analogy so carefully. And I myself failed to highlight one difference that was more crucial than any other: whatever close-mindedness may exist within Jesus mythicism, those who promote it are not trying to fight off the accusation that their people have murdered 6 million human beings. Holocaust deniers, indeed all who deny genocide, are desperate not to be tainted with monstrosity or demonstrable criminality, and their close-mindedness reflects that desperation. Much as I disagree with Jesus mythicists, that kind of close-mindedness does not exist among them.

A basic lesson here is that you can get the less extreme of two evils to look worse by associating them with each other, and perhaps that way you draw more attention to the thing you're attacking. Maybe that's fine as far as it goes. But of course, even if it works, you've just made the more extreme evil look like the lesser. I should have seen that, especially since I have always said that the two phenomena are unequal. Regardless, I want nothing to do with this.

And I have much to learn about blogging.

Edit (Aug. 23): I was able to bring up on google the hit, under a search for my name, for "Muslim monsters."

Muslim monsters blow up more Children
posted by Kevin Rosero at 8:41 PM http://roseandrock.blogspot.com/2005/04/jesus-denial.html ... posted by Kevin Rosero at 8:41 PM ...www.newsbackup.com/about815068.html - 182k - Cached - Similar pages

(Not that it's been an issue, but in the future I will also not be using "Muhammed denial", a phrase I probably did coin. Just seems the best way to avoid misunderstanding).

Edit (Aug. 24): On Google, the same way that you can look up web sites, you can look for discussion forums, under Google Groups. (I'm completely new to all this). My Christian Network's 53-page debate, "Jesus Denial is hate crime," comes up on Google, although there it is several pages longer, and the first seven pages or so are given over to rancorous fighting and charges of anti-Semitism. Only around page 8 do you get to some direct responses to my writing -- responses which appear immediately at My Christian Network. This suggests to me that My Christian Network deleted the nasty posts and kept the ones (some still quite nasty) dealing directly with my writing. Indeed in Google's version of the debate I've found some really disgusting insults directed at me, far from the ordinary variety.

That's my best guess so far, and I'm still guessing because I've had very little help with this (not to mention that my personal experience with these problems is negligible). No answer from My Christian Network, and few from anywhere else. Maybe the problem of cross-posting is just too common to get worked up about. Maybe this is seen as my personal problem, having chiefly to do with my image on Google and the wider web. Well, it's a certainty that I take myself too seriously; but I share that trait with many people and it says nothing about this problem. The fact is there are many serious issues here: how to use other people's writings; the responsibilities of any forum, including the obligation to respond to honest queries; the specific issues over the Holocaust and Jesus mythicism. You would think Christians and atheists alike could work up some concern.

I'll keep trying to find answers.

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