ChristianForums: Stray bullet, round 1


Categories: Religion

Okay, so, in a previous episode, I mentioned how Stray Bullet got suspended from CF for claiming to be Christian.

Now, it’s time to get into the question of what he did while he was suspended. Most of this was in mid-2004, for those who care; I’m sorta jumping around a little chronologically.

What he did was create a sock. His sock, under the name “David Waffen”, was a borderline over-the-top parody of conservative Christianity. A sample quote:

Please, creationism the only way to be Christian.

What he found was this: No harassment, no warnings. He occasionally got told to edit posts. (The above sample was not the subject of moderator action, even though it unambiguously violates the forum’s rule against implying that other members aren’t Christian.)

In short, he could get away with anything. Now, this may seem surprising, but it’s not really; the majority of staff have usually been fairly conservative (enough so that a Catholic who holds to Church teachings is likely to be labeled a “liberal”), and have been the sorts of people who feel that the solution to accusations of bias is to treat them as personal attacks and deny everything. That is to say, people who are not only biased, but firmly convinced that they are perfectly objective, and thus totally unable to compensate for their own biases.

This came to the attention of staff after Stray posted about it on another forum, that being Internet Infidels (IIDB). The IIDB forum has been host to a lot of chatter about CF, because CF won’t let people discuss or criticize staff behaviors. Thus, a number of people who have been poorly treated have gathered there to chat about their experiences. (In fact, a number of people have reconciled there; more on that when I get to the story of sweetkitty.)

Interestingly, some of the staff were stunned enough by the fairly egregious nonsense that “David Waffen” got away with to actually suggest that other staff do something about it. Of course, not much ever came of it; the people who were biased were not about to accept merely empirical evidence.

Stray eventually managed to get his record cleared up, and applied for a role as a moderator on CF staff. He got it.

That’s when things get interesting. Unspecified anonymous people complained about stray, and demanded that he be removed from staff. He was told to step down from staff, and he was told that, if he said it was for personal reasons, he could come back later. Of course, neither part of this was true; it wasn’t for his own personal reasons, and they didn’t let him back until after the Great Reform of 2006.

There’s more to it; for instance, after stray “stepped down”, staff started gossipping about him, now that they had a safe forum to do so in. The nominal reason for kicking him off staff was that he was “anti-Protestant”, and senior staff began telling more junior staff that this was the case, despite the incredibly weak substantiation. Of course, this happened after he was gone, so he couldn’t defend himself.

The practice of faking up a story to avoid the appearance of anything being wrong in staff land continues to this day, although it’s sometimes more overt and sometimes more subtle.