Monday, April 26, 2010

On Being "Respectable"

As we move into week three of the trial of Tonya Craft, the "discussion" in the comments section has become more animated (at best) and virulent (at worst). I have been accused of being in the pay of the defense (no, I have no contact with the defense) to being someone who "smears" Paul Krugman, apparently because I strongly and publicly disagree with his view that all the government has to do to end this economic downturn is to print more money.

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.


Walter Abbott said...

To continue the parallels with Martin Luther we find this:

Exsurge Domine

Exsurge Domine is a papal bull issued on 15 June 1520 by Pope Leo X in response to the teachings of Martin Luther in his 95 theses and subsequent writings which opposed the views of the papacy. The Latin title Exsurge Domine is translated into English as Arise, O Lord.

While the bull did not directly condemn all the points of Luther's doctrines, it did specifically demand that Luther retract 41 errors (some drawn from his 95 theses, some from other writings or sayings attributed to him) within sixty days of its publication in neighboring regions to Saxony. This time expired on 10 December 1520, which was the day on which Luther burned his copy of the bull along with volumes of Canon law by the Elster Gate in Wittenberg. This book burning was in reaction to Johann Eck's procedure of burning Luther's books after he had published the bull in various places in Germany. As he burned his copy of the bull, Luther is reported to have said, "Because you have confounded the truth [or, the saints] of God, today the Lord confounds you. Into the fire with you!" reminiscent of Psalm 21:9.[1][2]

Because Luther refused to comply, the pope issued the bull Decet Romanum Pontificem on 3 January 1521, excommunicating him.

The Vatican's copy of Exsurge Domine is still extant in the Vatican Library.

I shouldn't worry too much about anonymous posters suggesting you become more "respectable." What Martin Luther did has stood the test of time.

Pope Leo X, not so much.

Rob said...

Frankly, I admire you Mr. Anderson, and I have a great deal of respect for you, unlike what I feel for many people passing themselves off as "Christian" these days. You have been far more restrained in your comments than House, Arnt, Gregor, Deal, et al, deserve. Good Christians should be condemning what they have been doing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Anderson, for your wonderful writing, and calling out what needs to be called out.

To quote my teen age kids, You Rock!


Anonymous said...

Who called a certain group of powerful lawyers and teachers "white washed tombs" and "a brood of vipers", and told them their father was Satan?

There's a time and a place for such language and it's usually reserved for those in power, abusing power.

tandt said...

Mr. Anderson,

I thank you for your postings. One thing I have always strived to be in my life, is being respectable. The difference between what you are doing and what the prosecution is doing, is I believe you are doing work for the Lord. As I think about everything you have written, I think about the untruths you have brought to light, the disgusting, sometimes immoral behavior presented by "the Home Team" and how you are not only helping Tonya Craft, but you are also helping others in this community and this Nation understand how our justice system is supposed to work. For this, I, my husband & my teenage daughter, believe you are doing the Lord's work. As you said in this post, that doesn't always mean to make nice & one of my favorites of people who have never actually studied the Bible, the old "love thy neighbor". People like to pick and choose the parts of Bible that suit their situation, when in fact, there was a great deal of ugliness that took place & it took people of faith to show others the light. I firmly believe that is what you are doing. I do not look at these posts and think, "oh my, this man is causing hatred". I look and see one who is doing what we are told to do, not only in the Bible, but by our justice system.

Keep up the excellent work & thank you for doing this for our community. The truth must be told and that is all you have done. You have not fabricated anything & that is what is hurting "the Home Team".

On a side note: don't be surprised if Holly Kittle takes the stand today. I didn't have specific confirmation, but it is very likely.

Anonymous said...

Even Jesus, if you believe in Him, turned the moneychangers tables over when they violated God's temple. When you step away from being an honest human being, then you get what you get. Don't like it, then change yourself, don't ask others to change to what you want them to be. If no one stands up for Tonya Craft then no one will stand up for you someday.

I'm reminded of the story about a war many years ago. Seems someone came for the Jews but it didn't affect them so they said nothing. Then someone came for the gypsies but it didn't affect them so they said nothing. And to make a story I'm quoting badly, someone came for them and there was no one left to say anything for them.

Where you see wrong, you must speak up. Where you see evil, you must stomp it out. I hope some one will speak for some of you someday when you have the world against you and there's no one standing with you.

You go William L. Anderson, speak out, speak loudly and speak often.

Anonymous said...

Well said and writing well done. Keep it up.

William L. Anderson said...

to the 8:51

The person who wrote that was Pastor Martin Niemoller, who lived during the Third Reich and beyond. And you got the gist of his statement quite well, I believe.

Anonymous said...

Mr Anderson, I am sooooo thankful for you and what your are doing for Ms. Craft. Fighting with intelligence and facts goes a lot further than fighting with slander and lies. Thank you for fighting the good fight and you are a great man for standing up for what you believe in.

Kerwyn said...

Bill and Anon!
In Germany, they first came for the communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the homosexuals, and I didn't speak up
because I wasn't a homosexual.
Then they came for the catholics, and I didn't speak up
because I was a protestant.
Then they came for me --
but by that time there was no one left to speak up.

Pastor Martin Neimoller. Attributed to him in Milton Mayer's book, They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45

Fabulous quote and as true today as it was then. The only hope we have as a people is to stand up when we see or perceive injustice. If we sit quietly and hope "I am not next".. You will be next. It is only when we speak out, we shout out our disgust, anger and shame at injustice can we call ourselves "civilized".

Keep speaking out folks!

tl said...

Well, Well, Well Mr. Anderson... Let me just say that I don't think that you have come any where close to the prosecution when it comes to behavior! Have you gotten riled, well, yes, but so has everyone following this blog! I have a feeling that that the only reason those following the prosecution feel that your blog is insulting is that they to feel there is nothing wrong with getting on the stand, taking an oath and not telling the truth, after all its just acting... right?!?! And I will NEVER refer to Brian House a honorable, because his behavior has been nothing short of dishonorable! I was so pleased to hear that "someone" had taken actions to launch a formal complaint against the prosecution, that is simply amazing. Also I am catholic, and was raised to tell the truth regardless to where I am court or not... Clearly these folks were not

Anonymous said...

Bill, As someone who's family has been a victim of this "justice" system in Catoosa County, I applaud all that you are doing and if that makes me not respectable, then so be it. I know who I am and who's I am and I will not apologize to anyone for my faith. I don't believe for one moment that being a Christian means we are to roll over and play dead when we see injustice. I think it is disgusting that those posters on here have tried to use the "Christian" card in order to shut you up. Those who do that need to take a good looks at themselves.

Beth said...

I found your blog yesterday and spend a lot of time reading your posts. Your blog is very well written. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how much good it will do but I emailed Nancy Grace. As well as suggesting this trial as a newsworthy topic for CNN. You can contact Nancy Grace via email by going to her CNN site. Also, you can suggest this topic as newsworthy by going to, under the 'contact us' section. Maybe if we all email and urge for someone to blow the lid on this corruption someone will take a serious look at it.

Stephanie Y.
Dayton, TN

*FYI- I don't know a soul involved. I'm a citizen who votes, keeps up on current events and has been angered and heartbroken over what is happening to Tonya. I've followed it since she aired her story on Channel 3 WRCBTV- Chattanooga in March.

Anonymous said...

The thing that cracks me up is the person who asked why we "cronies" hate church or Christians so much (it was laughable so I forget the exact wording...) If we hate it, why was the first benefit for Tonya at a church? Why was a prayer walk at the courthouse organized? Why did they sell "Truth crosses" for supporters to wear? In all of my years (and they are a few) I have NEVER seen so many MOTHERS in particular, but supporters in general for someone accused of such a heinous crime. Usually you see their mugshot on the news and never hear from them again (I guess because they are innocent and freed because only guilty people go on the new professing their innocence right Facebook?) I wonder what the number of Rx's for ulcer meds will be for all of us before this is over. Tonya is so strong, but on Friday looked so tired. I really worry about her. To hear these lies you knew they'd tell compounded by the BS they "remember" on the stand has to be just unbelievable. I think that she should be declared a saint when this is over...short of Jesus, I've never seen anyone so falsely condemned in my life.

Mr. Anderson - what you said about "let them talk about me, at least they are leaving her alone" (paraphrased) gained SO MUCH respect from me. Not that I didn't already think you were wonderful, but that spoke volumes. You are willing to share her burden and that goes a step beyond. The truth will prevail...God has this under control.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone noticed how there are NO negative comments during the day when court is in session?

Anonymous said...

Of course not...Gregor, Arnt, and the states witnesses are all at court.

William L. Anderson said...

My one fear is that Nancy Grace, who in my view is a psychopath, has never seen an innocent defendant. Remember, she was the loudest and most arrogant accuser in the Duke case, and she often had the other psychopath-in-residence, Wendy Murphy.

If they get ahold of this case, Tonya Craft will be portrayed as a mass murderer. Nancy Grace is the nastiest and most arrogant liar I ever have seen on a TV show.

John Proctor said...

When President Truman was told to “Give’em Hell, Harry” he replied “I tell the truth and they think it’s hell.” You tell the truth, Brother Anderson, and those engaged in the witch hunt think it is hell.

I cannot argue “respectability” as it has no meaning given the actions of the 3 Stooges that masquerade as the prosecution team and judge in Catoosa County. I do know that you are telling the truth and shaming the devil.

Anonymous said...

I really hope CNN does not pick this up. Their information is just as biased as the prosecution. I agree NG is def. not one that needs to leach on to this case. Think people think.

Anonymous said...

WHO do we send concerns to???

Anonymous said...

Agree with 8:51 - Jesus was so angry that he turned over the moneychanger tables. Just because we are Christians doesn't mean we lay down and die and let someone run over us. God is a God of justice!

As far as the penecoastal church - maybe Tonya feels like she needs to hear a word directly from God. In the Bible, it speaks of gifts of the spirit including messages in tonuges and prophecy. In a penecostal church, those gifts flow freely and God is allowed to move in ways that he desires to move. This is directly from the Bible in the New Testament. The Bible doesn't mention anything about denominations - only the Truth in God's Word. A true orderly penecostal church is based on the Word and everything is done in an orderly fashion. That doesn't mean someone is speaking in toungues or there is a message in tongues every time you go to church but that the church is willing to let God do what His word says.

I'm just saying that Tonya needs to be in the Presence of the Almighty God or as close as she can possibly get in order to get through this nightmare....and maybe she fulfills this need by attending that kind of church. Maybe it would help her accusers and the children to be in the presence of God as well and be touched by the awesome mighty power of God.

kbp said...

Nancy Grace has a history, on the record in hearings for disciplinary action she faced, that was about as bad as "Facebook" and "The Man" combined.

tl said...

Mr. Anderson, In response to your Nancy Grace comment... AMEN!!!!
I am in currently in nursing school and spent 6 weeks worth of clinicals at at Moccasin Bendd (psych hospital) for anyone not from this area, and I swear I met at least 50 people who share personality traits with her!!! The woman is CRAZY!!!

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me how this lady is going to defend herself with the Judge,and Prosecution against her, The Judge is helping the prosecution, Why is that. They do not want the TRUTH they want a CONVICTION...

Ron R said...

While I know no one in this case , I have become very interested in the past few weeks. This trial is a farce. How can House not expect to be investigated after this for Judicial Misconduct? And Arnt, ? Are these people really this stupid? Arrogant? The sad part is, if she was guilty,and I don't believe she is, wouldn't you want a sound trial so you would have a vertidct that would stand? IF she was guilty, they are turning her loose via stupidity with an appeal. House should be disrobbed and Arnt disbarred.

On respectibility, Thank you for fighting this fight, "Evil wins when good men do nothing".

Cyril Lucar said...

If Tonya is innocent, and if the forces of the State are arrayed against her, and if false charges are being made, I don't see any injunction from Scripture to be "nice" or "respectable." Nice and respectable are handmaidens of injustice.

The ruling of Judge House that prosecution witnesses can besmirch Ms. Craft's character, but defense witnesses cannot testify to her character sickens me. Your observation, Bill, that Mr. Henke must not be a reliable witness because he had an affair is also apt.

I don't know "the truth" here, but I sure can say this is not a just way of arriving at it.