This past Saturday I endorsed a candidate for president of the U.S. on The Burning Taper.
Immediately, Theron Dunn objected, decrying the use of a "Masonic blog" to endorse a political candidate.
You can read that article plus the follow-ups "'Every generation needs a new revolution,'" "Of Masonic political correctness and hissy fits," and the most recent one, Theron Dunn 'outs' The Widow's Son". Blah, blah, blah.
I realize this story is rapidly becoming a cheezy B-grade movie , but it's the holidays and there's a writers' strike on, so it's either this or reruns of Frosty the Snowman for you on the boob tube.
If you want to hit fast forward, I understand. You can just mouse down in this article to the text highlighted in yellow. (The highlight is for your benefit; it didn't exist in the original text I'm about to share.)
What? Still here?
Okay... here we go. I was working the daywatch out of homicide....
While I have and do freely re-post public comments made about me or this blog, as I did when there was a long list of quotes over in the sidebar, I hold private emails to be private and confidential, and ordinarily would never share their contents with anyone without permission.
However, I have made an accusation against Theron Dunn for breaking his obligation to keep private something that a brother asked him to keep private. He's denied I ever mentioned it. And others have asked for "proof" he knew I wanted my name kept out of the limelight.
So I'm submitting a couple of emails as evidence to you as judges, jurors and executioners in this chattering court of public opinion.
Some may quibble with words, saying I didn't specifically utter (or write) the phrase "Please don't reveal my name online." Already, we've seen in Theron's comments to the previous article his proclivity to stretch the definition of words, saying he wasn't "GIVEN" my name, but discovered it on his own. Whatever. He knew before he outed me the first time on the forum Novus Ordo Saeclorum (NOS) last July that I didn't want my name publicized, and after our exchange then, he damn well knew it before he did it again earlier today.
In July, 2007 someone told me via email that Theron, whom I knew little of but had seen around, mostly on the old Collegium Fabrorum forum years ago, had launched a diatribe against me and The Burning Taper in a series of posts on NOS.
On July 18, I wrote an article for the Taper about this, titled "Masons gone wild!"
You might remember those posts of his from the old sidebar. For a while, I featured this compilation of Theronisms in the quotations section:
The 'Smoldering Stub' has published half truths and innuendos against the fraternity. The Burning Taper offers NOTHING useful or constructive.... I am not sure if the guy running the blog is even really a Mason, or just an agitator poking Masons in the eye.... He is worse than FreemasonryWatch.org. At least they are honest in their hatred of Freemasonry. His hatred is a lie, because he pretends what he is doing is FOR Masonry, when it's actually for HIM... revenge against Masonry for his own personal failings.... He posts like an anti-masonic nutter.... Negative, useless, self-aggrandizing, a carper, whiner, moaner, accuser, not only unjustifiable, but unmasonic and unworthy.... As for 14,000 unique [readers per month], congratulations. You are doing more damage to Freemasonry than even I thought. — Bro. Theron Dunn, co-publisher of Lodgeroom International Magazine, on Novus Ordo SaeculorumThese are quotes I found in various posts by Theron on the NOS forum.
Before I reposted those comments here, I had ventured into NOS and posted a few responses, assuring them I was in fact a Master Mason.
Theron wrote to me privately on July 20 with a long email telling me I needed to be "cured." I'm not going to reprint all of that one, as this post is going to be way too long already.
He began that email with:
I am not sure who you really are, and I feel strange addressing a stranger as a brother. However, Chris [Hodapp] and Jeff [Peace], and for what its worth, 'Grand Leveler' [?] have all vouched that you are a regular Mason, so I will address you thus.He closed that email with:
Now, you do what you want, I have no intention of pursuing you or your blog, that's not who or what I am about. The only thing that I ask is that you remove my comments from your home page. I did not post them on your forum, and the way you post makes it look as if I did, which is untrue. I stand by my words 110%. I have never considered your forum to be anything but an oubliette for complainers, and I have no use for men who do nothing but complain.Theron didn't like that I posted them here for everyone to see, or that I'd writen the "Masons gone wild!" article, and in retaliation, he wrote a post on NOS revealing my name.
So please, take my comments off your page, or at the least post a note that it was taken from NOS, and NOT posted on your forum.
Best wishes, and sorry to hear YOUR freemasonry is so bad. Mine is just freaking awesome.
On July 23, on NOS I posted a response to a comment Bro. Bill McElligott had made against the Taper. I began my comment with "Bro. Bill bellyached..." and then repeated what he had said. I like alliteration. "Bellyached" just sounded better than "said." And he was bellyaching, something about writing an anti-Taper piece for the "Masonic" online magazine he and Theron publish.
Almost immediately I received one of those moderator "warnings," which said:
Dear Widow's Son,Theron was a moderator there. So, I think, was Bill. As they seem to be on several Masonic forums.
You have received a warning at Novus Ordo Saeculorum - for masons, by masons.
Threats and Insults
This is the first of many to be handed out. You will cease and desist with the threats.
Was "bellyached" a threat or an insult? I never did figure out which.
I publicly replied to Theron's posting of my name on NOS this:
I'm holding out an olive branch of peace here, Bro. Theron. I hope you accept it, and drop your moral vendetta against me and The Burning Taper. I'll say no more about it, and let bygones be bygones.As you can see (if you're bothering to read this at all), we simply postponed the inevitable from July until now.
The other option is my pen, which is, as they say, mightier than the sword. For some reason, thousands of readers across the globe care what I write, whether they agree or disagree with me. You really don't want your childish attacks on me to be the subject of another article, next time there's a slow news day. It wouldn't be good for the Masonry that you love and cherish for such a display of un-brotherly love to play out across the world, would it?
Here's his July 27 private response to me:
You say you hold out an olive branch while threatening to do a hit piece on me in your blog...I'm not sure how, but I remained calm, and sent Bro. Dunn this private reply:
so lets see, I can shut up about how unmasonic I think your actions are in attacking freemasonry, or you will attack me on your blog? So, where is the masonry in that?
I am not afraid of your blog. I have an attorney that will gladly go after you if you libel or defame me on your forum. I have zero interest in shutting you down, you have a right to free speech, but you do not have a right to shut ME up either.
Can't take the criticism you are handing out??? Self righteous hypocrite is what you are, not an advocate for anything good or right.
Bill is also about to undertake a criticism of your forum, and if you pursue me as you threaten, I can categorically assure you, my first phone call will be to my lawyer, and my second to the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Georgia to get the phone number for the Junior Warden of your lodge to prefer masonic charges.
I have zero interest in your little "I hate Masonry" blog. But if you want to go to war, my brother, bring it on.
Or, take a break for a week, give it some thought. You seem very interested in shutting me up... how would you feel if someone tried to shut you up?
Here is an olive branch. Stay out of my face, take my comments off your blog, ignore me, and I will ignore you... entirely. Or pursue the course of action you have threatened, and have the weight of the legal system and the grand lodge of Georgia come down on you.
Ask Jeff about how it feels NOT to be a mason before you go chasing after a mason for a while for simply expressing my opinions, JUST AS YOU DO.
How is that for fair?
Brother,Ten hours later, I was shocked to receive Theron's reply:
This is what I wrote:
"I'm holding out an olive branch of peace here, Bro. Theron. I hope you accept it, and drop your moral vendetta against me and The Burning Taper. I'll say no more about it, and let bygones be bygones.
The other option is my pen, which is, as they say, mightier than the sword. For some reason, thousands of readers across the globe care what I write, whether they agree or disagree with me. You really don't want your childish attacks on me to be the subject of another article, next time there's a slow news day. It wouldn't be good for the Masonry that you love and cherish for such a display of un-brotherly love to play out across the world, would it?"
Bro. Theron, there is no threat there, nor do I have a desire to "libel or defame" you. Anything I would write would simply be about what you've said of me. It wouldn't be a "hit piece," as you said.
If I published something, how would that be any different from what you now say Bro. Bill is planning to write about me, or from all the nasty things you've written about me and the Taper?
I hold no hostility towards you. I have simply tried to respond to your postings on NOS. Had you simply written your opinions of me and the blog once or twice, I wouldn't have said a word. But you seemed to relish slamming me, over and over, and I had to speak up.
I'm unafraid of your threats of lawyers and Junior Wardens, but I see no reason we should escalate things. I have lawyers, too, and could easily get your lodge's JW's phone number. I don't think it would be wise for either of us to go down that road.
By posting my name, you've lost any defense you may have had where you could say you were just posting your opinions about an anonymous online writer. You've also skated arguably close to violating the obligation to keep the secrets of a brother Master Mason, since you knew full well I didn't want my name publicized.
You and I, between the reach of the Taper and your online newsletter, could make what is in reality simply a petty online squabble between us that no one really cares about into something ugly for the fraternity and grist for the gossip mill, and would serve no good purpose.
You and I should just agree that we hold vastly different opinions of Masonry, and let it go at that.
The offer of an olive branch was sincere. In hindsight, perhaps I should have not posted the final paragraph, but I did. As I said, I didn't and don't see it as a threat, just merely the pointing out of what could be, if we don't stop this disagreement between us now.
You and I both have a lot of supporters AND detractors. Neither of us is universally loved. Neither of us would "win" if we keep this up.
We both have different paths to walk in Freemasonry, and while you don't agree with my path, continually belittling it won't make me go away. It will only strengthen my resolve, and further prove to me that too many Masons talk the talk much more often than we walk the walk.
I know you don't think so, but you banging away at me as you have done lately is just as unmasonic as anything you accuse me of doing.
If you'll stop talking about me or the blog on NOS and elsewhere, including stopping Bro. Bill's planned expose' in your newsletter or otherwise, then I'll cease responding or posting about you, him and NOS.
Do we have a deal?
Yes.I was shocked. I later found out that he and Bro. Jeff Peace had a long phone discussion about this at some point during those ten hours. Thank to Bro. Jeff, war was averted. Or, rather, delayed. In hindsight, I'm glad I didn't give Theron my cellphone number, or it would probably be plastered all over the Internet by now.
I owe you an apology. I read your blog, and was very offended by what seemed your casual slamming of freemasonry. Jeff tells me you do it because you feel it will help.
I can accept that is what you think, and my comments were based on not knowing who you were. It SEEMED just another antimasonic site, and i have dealt with those folks for six years now, even had a stalker (connie berry of Durham North Carolina) as a result of defending masonry against those... folks.
I am sorry I offended you. I am sorry I mischaracterized you. I apologize for my unkind and short sighted comments.
I still think what you are doing is wrong and does NO service to freemasonry, but as I have noted elsewhere, it is your right, and I in no way am trying to force you to do or not do anything.
Please forgive me for my ill considered comments.
P.S.: If its not too much to ask, and since the comments are gone from NOS, and your name will be removed from the damn post sometime today (it was locked before I could remove it), would you remove MY comments from your sidebar?
In the spirit of moving on?
I immediately put up the asked-for "as posted on Novus Ordo Saeclorum" addendum to his comment, and then a day or so later, I just deleted his comment altogether from the list of quotes.
Though we were warily accepting each other as brothers or at least fellow homo sapiens from early August until last week, we didn't go skipping hand-in-hand down Tra-La-Lane. But I did give him a bit of of help and advice on layout and design and techno-tricks for his newfound passion, his blog, not that he implemented very many of the suggestions. If you saw his blog in its first few months, you'll recall it had his pointing-away-from-the-page face covering two thirds of the page, a huge bannerhead twice the size it is currently, and lots of gaudy multi-colored lettering. I never mentioned to him his silly parody of my yellow banner. Mine says, "Warning: This blog contains heretical tendencies," which is a reference to what some librarian wrote back in the 1920s on the inside cover of my copy of Morals and Dogma. Theron's banner, you may have noticed, proudly boasts that his blog DOES NOT contain heretical tendencies. I figured parody was a form of flattery, if not exactly sincere. Or maybe it was just mockery.
Anyway, I was happy to help him with a few technical aspects of blogging.
More or less, I ignored most of his articles on his blog, figuring they'd just annoy me.
But one October morning, I arose very early, and found myself inspired by Theron's "Who is the Widow?" article to write what I consider one of the most enlightening (to me) articles I've ever written, which I called "Then more light you shall receive!"
Well, that gets us pretty much up to Saturday, and you've seen the carnage since.
Do I think Bro. Theron Dunn sometimes comes across as a total jerk?
Is he sometimes pompous, annoying, arrogant, egotistical, self-righteous, off-center, passionate, overzealous?
And so am I.
And sometimes, so are you.
It's called being human. Or maybe we're those damn bloody apes.
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