MY INTERNET STANDARDS
I do not engage in the shameful practice of personally and publicly, on the internet, attacking someone whom I do not like or with whom I disagree. I prefer to have private conversations and fulfill my obligation as a Christian to "As much as is possible be at peace with all men." If given an opportunity, I always invite those who negatively engage me to e-mail me and discuss their concerns. Should anyone say, "This is not true! I have read your articles where you attack people!", I would tell you, there is a difference between doctrinal debate, where heretical teachings and the teachers of heresies are pointed out, and vilifying one's honesty, integrity, with personal, slanderous or libelous remarks. In posting publicly, I also NEVER use the name and information of those involved in my personal accounts of my Journey To Orthodoxy. I attempt to be as cryptic as possible concerning identities, however, some will always deduce information and presume what I have not spoken. Where I have given too much information (and it has happened once of which I know) that allowed internet trolls to fish out the individuals involved, I personally contacted the individual who was fished, apologized, and edited the article. Also, when I am confronted in the JTO comment section by an abusive person, I always attempt to answer kindly and diplomatically. This is my standard. This is what I try to maintain in my internet discourse.
The term "intergnat" is urban-speak for an annoying person who hovers around you at an internet cafe, while they await their turn on the computer you are using. I think the term is also appropriate for annoying people on the internet who hover around your blog and the other blogs where they know you might go, in order to find reason to swoop down on you. I do not have conversations with intergnats. Why should I? They are intergnats. I have discovered that some intergnats thrive off of the hovering and swatting process. The more you swat, the more they move in. I might initially try to swipe them away with a gentle brush of an olive branch, but if they are persistent, I just move on. Intergnats are difficult to squash. It can be done, but, after all, they are just intergnats, so why try? I must be about my Father's business.
Years ago when I was earning my Bachelor of Arts in Religion/Pastoral Ministries, I would get out of the dorm and walk along the river that bordered the campus. Every time I would get to a certain point along the path, there would be a horsefly waiting for me. He would sit on the branch of a tree, and the moment I would walk by, he would swoop down trying to land and bite me. Now, horseflies are not just annoying, like gnats. The bite of a horsefly hurts. They are as large as a bumblebee, can do you harm, leave a sore, and cause an allergic reaction. The attack of a horsefly is also enough to get you to alter your path. They buzz loudly and circle around your head and do not kindly respond to the swipe of a hand. In fact, they get more aggressive. Such an encounter might even cause you to run away, swinging, wildly. My first encounter with the horsefly seemed an anomaly. My second encounter seemed a coincidence On my third encounter, I realized I had a problem. The horsefly was out to do me harm. I could either alter my path or convince him to give up his harmful intent toward me. On my fourth visit, I came armed with a can of fly spray. He swooped. I sprayed. I never heard his buzz again. Interflies are those on the internet who have, as their mission, to do you harm. They wait until they see you on the interent comment section, or any other profile on the internet, and swoop down. They attempt to bite you by posting libelous statements about you in a forum that your friends, associates and others will see. This has happened to me even recently. I have not swatted at the interflies for the previously stated reasons, however, some horseflies in particular, have been persistent to the point, that I have had to arm myself with a can of internet fly spray. I refuse to alter my path. I shouldn't have to, especially just for a bug with a bad disposition.
LIABLE AND A GOOD CAN OF SPRAY
The internet gives a person a false sense of anonymity and license. This seems particularly true in the realm of Orthodox debate concerning heresies, jurisdictions, and the like. I have a blog. I have two blogs. I am accustom to the intergnats hovering around me. I also expect some will follow me around to other blogs in which I might comment. These are the intergnats. However, recently, some interflies have swooped. They have put into writing, libelous statements intent to do me personal and financial harm. I have exhausted the appeal process, so now I am holding up my can of fly spray. My finger is on the button. Here are the ingredients:
libel 1) n. to publish in print (including pictures), writing or broadcast through radio, television or film, an untruth about another which will do harm to that person or his/her reputation, by tending to bring the target into ridicule, hatred, scorn or contempt of others. Libel is the written or broadcast form of defamation, distinguished from slander which is oral defamation. It is a tort (civil wrong) making the person or entity (like a newspaper, magazine or political organization) open to a lawsuit for damages by the person who can prove the statement about him/her was a lie. Publication need only be to one person, but it must be a statement which claims to be fact, and is not clearly identified as an opinion. While it is sometimes said that the person making the libelous statement must have been intentional and malicious, actually it need only be obvious that the statement would do harm and is untrue. Proof of malice, however, does allow a party defamed to sue for "general damages" for damage to reputation, while an inadvertent libel limits the damages to actual harm (such as loss of business) called "special damages." "Libel per se" involves statements so vicious that malice is assumed and does not require a proof of intent to get an award of general damages. Libel against the reputation of a person who has died will allow surviving members of the family to bring an action for damages. Most states provide for a party defamed by a periodical to demand a published retraction. If the correction is made, then there is no right to file a lawsuit. Governmental bodies are supposedly immune for actions for libel on the basis that there could be no intent by a non-personal entity, and further, public records are exempt from claims of libel. However, there is at least one known case in which there was a financial settlement as well as a published correction when a state government newsletter incorrectly stated that a dentist had been disciplined for illegal conduct. The rules covering libel against a "public figure" (particularly a political or governmental person) are special, based on U. S. Supreme Court decisions. The key is that to uphold the right to express opinions or fair comment on public figures, the libel must be malicious to constitute grounds for a lawsuit for damages. Minor errors in reporting are not libel, such as saying Mrs. Jones was 55 when she was only 48, or getting an address or title incorrect. 2) v. to broadcast or publish a written defamatory statement.
With the advancement of Cyberspace, Criminal Liable has an easy-access outlet, but, many law firms, devoted to internet liable cases, have also risen and are also easy to access. There is now legal recourse for victims. This is the fly spray. This post is just the shaking of the can, but unless these horseflies quit circling, I will push the button. You see, what the horsefly on the tree limb did not know was that I had done my research. The horsefly no longer had anonymity and I was no longer willing to endure his attacks. With this, his license to attack me, was revoked. I knew where his branch was. I knew where and when to point the can. When the button was pushed, the spray hit the target. I wish it was just as simple as saying, "Go away horsefly. Go live your life. Leave me, my family, and my business ventures unimpeded to journey on the path of our choosing. You might do better to love and pray for even your enemies, as Christ taught us to do." However, I have never known a horsefly with poor self esteem. In fact they are proud of what they are and what they do and act out their character with all vigilance. They seem born to bite. Interflies are the same way. Their sense of esteem is only maintained if they are attacking and biting. It seems only a good spray in the face will do.