A leading FAIR apologist strikes back

After my last post, some feedback was sent to me by a certain apologist.  I will be reviewing his feedback to illustrate the problems with a lifetime of mental gymnastics.

Complaint the first

 I love the idea that I made “personal attacks on Jeremy Runnells at the recent FAIR [sic] conference.” I never so much as mentioned his name — not a single time –

The idea that one is a bully can be refuted by simply never using the individual’s name.  So if I were to say that the man who produced BYU Studies for years is an ignoramous on social matters, that’s not bad at all.  For me to say that the speaker about the CES Letter at the 2014 FAIR Conference has very little social grace absolves me from all responsibilities simply because I don’t name him.  Clearly the idea that one never mentions a name, but simply identifies them by what they did, could never lead to bullying behavior.

But I never doubted for a moment that, whatever I said or did, I would be accused of attacking him personally and of being a bully. In fact, I predicted it to several people well in advance of the conference.

If you go around calling all the girls on the playground weaklings, and they call you a bully, it takes no predictive power to guess that if you go back on the playground and call another girl a weakling, that you will be called a bully.  If you do the behavior, then you earn the label, Mr. Peterson.

As a service, I will rewrite the intro to your talk, how a non-bully might say it.  There are hundreds of ways to say the same thing without the bully-speak, and it is possible that you’ve been a bully for so long that you don’t know how, so I will help you.

[Voice of Daniel Peterson]:

Many people have asked me to speak about this “Letter to a CES director” so I am.  I have not had time to review the document in its entirety.  However, what I notice is that it contains many of the same questions that most of us at FAIR have had to answer at one time or another.

The typical CES system doesn’t address a lot of these issues.  I don’t think most members are aware, and they can feel blindsided when they read some of these.

That is why FAIR exists.  That is why we have conferences.  We gather to answer the hard questions.  I feel that the author could have worked with FAIR had he reached different conclusions, but we shouldn’t mock, or feel threatened by this letter; because out of good questions, are forged scientists, and sociologists and great men who do good research.

See? The same ideas, the same discussion of lots of questions and feeling that one doesn’t need to read the letter, but without the bully-speak.  It’s easy, you just have to attack the argument and not the man.  Got that?

Complaint the second

Incidentally, I don’t think your friend supplied a link to the transcription of my remarks that’s now up on the FairMormon site. It has some minor mechanical inaccuracies, but I haven’t yet had time to read through it:

Guilty as charged.  Normally I include the link at the top and I forgot on this one.  Good eagle-eye there, Dan.  I have updated the original with the link.  In addition, I have included a novel concept.  It is a datestamp and the symbol “[Update]” to illustrate that there was a modification from the original.  This way, if someone were to read your words, and then check my website, it wouldn’t look like you were a liar, but it illustrates that you were correct, and I responded.

Your friends at FAIR who maintain the CES Letter rebuttal could use this concept. That way they wouldn’t accidentally (I’m sure they’d never intentionally deceive people) implicate that Jeremy was lying by changing issues he cites on the FAIR website without any kind of update.  It’s misleading and could hurt Jeremy’s credibility.  For a list of times they have done this, you can review this page.

Complaint the third

 But cherry-picking and spinning what I said can distort what I said even if what I said is accurately quoted.

It could, but he would have to actually re-read what he said and what I wrote to tell, and he admits:

I haven’t yet had time to read through it.

Bully behavior.  I don’t have time to read my own talk, nor the rebuttal… but I have the ability to cast doubt on the author that he/she is cherry-picking.

I’m sure he’ll insinuate that I’m cherry-picking here, despite actually knowing (and being able to review it at any time) that I have pretty much quoted the entire conversation.  Why defend your own words when you can always create doubt around them?

Complaint the fourth

And I don’t need to read somebody’s web article about whether or not I’m paid for apologetics in order to know what the truth is. However, if you prefer to regard me as a liar, that’s your prerogative. Have a good night!

Let’s discuss whether or not Mr. Peterson was paid, but to do that we need to think like an apologist a bit.

First, notice he says “I’m paid,” present tense.  I said “paid” in the past-tense.  It is true that Mr. Peterson is not currently paid, as he was fired.  So yes, what he is saying is technically true, but what I said is also technically true.

Now as to paid,  Mr. Daniel C. Peterson, did you:

1) Receive any currency for services or goods by the Corporation of the President, the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop  or any of the subsidiaries?

For example, when you were professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic in the Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages at Brigham Young University, were you paid any form of currency for your work?

2) Receive any special status, bonus amounts, front-row tickets to conference seats, enhanced opportunities within your job to speak to the Board of Directors of BYU, or any other favor?

For example, when you were  the former editor of the FARMS Review (now the Mormon Studies Review), a periodical produced by the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, did you do it solely out of the goodness of your heart, or did you get any business favors out of this effort?

What happened to the funds in excess of the cost of printing for the magazines?

3) Receive funding for special projects in which either travel, equipment, learning materials, etc. were paid for in advance or reimbursed?

When the church says that General Authorities, such as mission presidents, are not paid, it means that they are reimbursed  for all their expenses.

So what Mr. Peterson might mean when he says he is “not paid” is that individuals donate to FAIR when he and others speak, and then those dollars fund trips to South America that allow them to do things they would not otherwise be allowed to do.  This removes the definition of “paid” that the IRS has, but not how we common-folk think of being paid.  For instance, if you allow individuals to use your boat, but do not “pay” them, it can still land one in hot water if they are government officials.

So in Peterson’s mind I’m sure he feels he is not “paid,” but in our minds, I think it is clear that he received dollars from the organization as well as likely special favors.

[update] Regardless of pay, if one receives special favors for the work one does, that should be considered as to the bias it can create.  This is why people are concerned by campaign contributions, for example.

For full disclosure, my total in favors for doing this website is around $37.52.

Free website (thanks nocoolnametom) and webhosting efforts about $7.99.

Two meals at speaking engagements.

One case of beer.

One “Scooby snack” drink at a gathering.

One book trying to convince me that there was a literal Jesus.

Indirect contributions:

I have had lunch with a number of exmos and almost been sued by Will Bagley.  I was invited to a Facebook group of historians for my work, and have an offer to co-author a paper with my research.

[Update]:  Someone else did some additional research on FAIR/FARMS/MAXWELL INSTITUTE special favors and such a long time ago.  

This entry was posted in Apologetics. Bookmark the permalink.
Last edited by EmmaHS on August 26, 2014 at 12:01 am

1 Response to A leading FAIR apologist strikes back

  1. B0yd says:

    Wow. If even the Mormons fire you, you must be a_really_ low rent apologist.

    And that is all I need to know.

    The fact he rolls with a middle initial answers any other lingering questions I may have had

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