Tonight the Christian apologetic and social commentary Facebook page Wintery Knight banned me from commenting on its threads due to the slightest notion of dissent from my part. This isn’t the first time WK has resulted to childish tactics after clashing with an apologist of the same faith, as he did with philosopher Randal Rauser over the rebellion thesis which proposes that all atheists in all instances actively suppress knowledge of God. Rauser explains that his experience with WK is someone who is “less like a bold knight fighting for truth than an insecure lord defending his petty fiefdom.” I found Rauser’s whimsical summation quite humorous given than WK literally postures himself as a brave knight via imagery incorporated on his online mediums. Nonetheless, WK shared this following quote on his Facebook page from a person named Allie:
Now, I’ve never attempted to be a routine commentator on feminism and matters of sex and gender. However, in this instance I felt I had something to contribute to the discussion (which I seldom decide to do on social media nowadays, for obvious reasons) after completing my senior project paper just three weeks ago on a very similar topic. In my paper I compiled three months of peer academic journal research into a literature review prior to engaging in my research methodology. I scored a high 88% for the total paper, and enjoyed nearly every moment of researching and writing it. So, naturally, I thought the above quote had a particular relevance to my research, and so I commented. The disagreement resulting in my ultimate ban from WK’s page was relatively trivial, as I merely stated that the person in question, Allie, seemed to give the impression that toxic masculinity has nothing to do with masculinity (this was just my take away from the quote and I could fully be wrong). Unfortunately, a great deal of sociological research over the years has shown that toxic masculinity and harmful elements of hegemonic masculinity really do exist and exert an incredible influence on boys and men, and the women with whom they interact. It seemed to me that Allie’s quote somehow misses this, or is unaware of it.
Naturally, a handful of FB users commented on my post, with one individual caricaturing my view as a result of gender studies brainwashing. WK’s behaviour and this individual’s comment reminded me of a finding included in my research which demonstrated that men would generally respond in one of three ways to attempts to transition male attitudes away from harmful hegemonic masculine traits: defensive, accommodating, or responsive. Not to get too deep into the theory but males who are defensive do not welcome change, and often reassert their traditional power and allegiance to hegemonic masculine traits. This response is visible in how activist efforts for gender equality result in fear and insecurity in many men who perceive these changes to be an attack and/or challenge to their masculine identity. Moreover, men who are accommodating passively accept changes in masculinities and gender relations, and do not attempt to counter them. Responsive men actively support changes in masculinities, especially where harmful and oppressive traits of masculinities exist, and do not oppose these transitions. The ideal attitude is the third one although clearly WK and some of his followers ascribe to the defensive notion, and feel that positive efforts to transition men away from harmful masculine traits is an attack on their male identities.
But rather than WK attempt to have a substantive discussion I was banned due to this disagreement. I found this particularly odd behaviour given that as motivated apologists we ought to be open to dialogue, and especially so within reason. Of course if we come across an internet troll who is merely derisive and vitriolic the he or she deserves a ban. I know this well for on my Facebook pages and on this blog I have welcomed thousands of comments of disagreement and criticism of my own theological and philosophical views. However, I can count probably less than 10 people I’ve banned collectively from my online mediums over the last five years, and those I did ban really asked for it. My disagreement with WK and the quote in question was well within reason, and it should have been engaged. After all, he did read it.
The lesson in this is that I really think we need to urge apologists and Christian case makers to be open to disagreement and discussion, and especially with their ideological opponents. This is, after all, a biblical imperative (1 Peter 3:15). We are witnesses for our faith, and it should never be in our interests to merely banish those from our threads, pages, and blogs who possess different views to our own. We should actively debate, discuss, and even openly correct our own views should we become convinced of their errors. But perhaps that’s asking to much from some of us in our faith camp.
Come on Wintery Knight, you’re bigger than that.