But there was another comment last night that actually upset me. When people from the prosecution accuse me of being paid off, or I get some other gratuitous insult, at worst, I am amused, but when a "Brother in Christ" (the poster did not identify himself/herself) claims that my writings violate Jesus' command to "love our enemies" and quotes a passage in James to insist that I only should be speaking kind and loving words to the prosecutors and the judge, then I no longer am amused. I am disgusted.
However, as I thought about what the poster was saying, it dawned on me what the real problem has been with many Christians throughout this whole affair: they want to be "respectable," and this blog clearly is not that. I use harsh language and have given monikers (earned, of course) to the prosecutors and to some of the others who have given perjured testimony. (Yes, Joal Henke, Suzi Thorne and Tim Deal, you committed perjury and you know it.)
The person who made the comments also said I was engaging in "hate-filled language," and to that I will disagree. I am using harsh language, that is for sure, but nothing as harsh as what Tonya Craft has had said about her in local "respectable" churches and in public documents, not to mention from the witness stand. There is much more I could say on THAT topic, but I won't.
I'd like to return to "respectability." One of my strong research topics is the Progressive Era, which "officially" existed from the late 1800s to about 1920, with the implementation of Prohibition, which, besides America's entry into World War I, was the crown jewel of the Progressives. Economic Historian Robert Higgs once told me that the unifying force among the Progressives, who came from extremely varied backgrounds, was "respectability." They wanted all of the institutions, from business to government to religion, to be "respectable," and if you look at the various public comments from people in this umbrella, you can see that theme in spades.
Many churches and religious organizations seek "respectability" as much as many of them claim to be seeking the Gospel. They don't want their worship services to be "too" lively, or they want to make sure that their doctrines are not offensive to people on the outside, and in extreme situations, to blend into whatever cultural mores happen to rule.
Other evangelical churches also want to be "respectable." I'll not name any churches or institutions, but readers will understand what I mean. As I re-read the comments from my critic, I realized that while this person wrote that I needed to change the tone of my posts on this case to sound more gentle and less harsh, it was the lack of "respectability" that really was at issue.
I'll admit to writing hard-edged stuff. People in my old home area will tell you that there is a very unpleasant side to me that can get riled, and I can use my verbal and writing skills in a way that often steps over the line. I admit to such, and it is a personal weakness. Furthermore, there have been many times that I have had to apologize to someone precisely for stepping over the line, and I suspect that some readers of this blog who know me can name you chapter and verse.
However, I will defend what I have written on this blog, and will defend it strongly. The poster was more right that he or she could have imagined -- if the real message of the comment was that I was writing things that are not "respectful" of the people responsible for this travesty and sham of a criminal case.
That is correct. I have not pulled punches, nor will I do it. It is more than just what the principals of this case have done to Tonya Craft and her family, and it would take much more space than I will use here to give a full listing. But I will deal with the "respectability" issue because that is at the heart of this whole case.
Compared to the families that are trying to railroad her, not to mention the prosecutors and "Your Honor" himself, Brian House, Tonya Craft is not "respectable." She is on her third marriage, although after watching one of her ex-husbands testify and knowing about the various videos in which he plays a starring role, I hardly can blame her for divorcing a person like that.
Furthermore, she goes (Horrors!) to a Pentecostal church and the people of that church have embraced her and openly support her (making them even less-respectable, since they are supporting an accused child sexual abuser, and those people are the lowest of the low of our society). She is not a Baptist, an Episcopalian, a Roman Catholic, or a Methodist, or even (like me) a Presbyterian. Most of those denominations, including the theologically-conservative branches, are pretty respectable and they prize being seen that way.
People from those churches tend to be most supporting of our governmental institutions and approach them in a "respectable" way. My own experience as a newspaper reporter have taught me that above all, the "watchdog of government" must treat all people with government titles as though they were the soul of integrity. The institutions of "justice" especially are this way, and the notion that perhaps a judge could be engaging in courtroom behavior that violates his oath of office or that prosecutors knowingly are suborning perjury simply is not to be entertained at any time, unless some other official body says otherwise.
As I have said before, this blog is not "respectable." However, there is a huge divide between not being "respectable" via a mainstream definition to being an entity that simply engages in nastiness and name-calling. I hope that I don't go that far, although I am sure that supporters of the prosecution are convinced that I stepped over that line when I first wrote on this case.
While I hardly put myself in the same category as the Old Testament prophets, I would like to remind evangelicals who are "saddened" by the tone of my blog that the prophets were not "respectable," either. Amos called society ladies "cows," Elijah told Ahab that his wife, Jezebel, would be eaten by dogs, Hosea, by God's order, married a prostitute, and Ezekiel engaged in weird behavior when giving the messages from God to the Israelites in Babylonian exile.
David danced before the Ark of God in a way that disgusted his wife, Michal, and Jesus ate with sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers, and all of the other scum of the earth that, according to the religious traditions, were "unclean." The most respectable people of that society were the religious leaders, and Jesus called them "whitewashed tombs" and told them they were going to Hell, and that is about as unrespectable as one can get.
If there is any incident that demonstrated how the "respectable" crowd has worked in this case, I go back to that horrible Friday when Tonya had to be in a courtroom while the very daughter who the authorities took away from her claimed that her mother sexually molested her. There is much, much more that I could say about this particular situation, but let me note that it all was defined in Chris Arnt's "We're all adults here" statement to the judge.
As a father of four children, I cannot imagine a more horrible thing than what Tonya Craft experienced in court. I'm very familiar with the "interviewing" techniques that were used to get the "disclosures" out of her child, and to think that these people used the discredited "recovered memories" nonsense to do it makes it even worse, for they have violated that child, too.
Remember, when first questioned by the authorities, the child said something to the effect of:
"Mommy did terrible things to me. I don't remember what she did, but my daddy tells me that she did them."That the authorities would then use dishonest techniques to pry false accusations from the mouth of a child, just so they could "win at all costs" simply is not something that ever should happen in a civilized society -- or any society at that. Furthermore, when Arnt then told the judge that Ms. Craft should "get her act together" and do it in a taunting, "We're all adults here," voice, he stepped over all lines of decency.
Yes, he was demanding "respectable" behavior from Ms. Craft, who was sobbing as this spectacle unfolded. It is hard for me to imagine that this same person sits in a church singing hymns to a God that looks upon his behavior with utter disdain, for what he did in that courtroom that day was to look at God and give Him the middle finger.
So, I will end this post by saying that I pray I don't cross the line. However, I also will say that if what I am doing is not "respectable," then I don't want to be "respectable." If standing up for someone who is being crushed by the "respectable" people of North Georgia and the Chattanooga area is "unloving" behavior, then I have to ask what IS "loving" behavior.
I will stand up for Tonya Craft, whom a judge has teamed with prosecutors to attempt to deny her an effective defense, and if it means that I lose all of my friends who deem my actions "unloving" or "unrespectable," then so be it. I am proud to play the fool here if that is what it takes.