Virtually subscribed by a quorum of the editors
Composed by Merovech
Pseudepigraphus admitted that he was wrong for using obscene language in what he wrote to Todd Whitworth. He did so because at that point he needed to clear suspicion of other Lutheran curmudgeons who also domicile in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and, as he admitted, what he said was wrong: he addressed someone whom he did not know in an obscene way, in anger. But I would like to note that this Todd Whitworth character—just a moment, please:
I would like to note that this Todd Whitworth character who is now “watching” The Cellar Door with a blog called—wait for it—”The Cellar Door WATCH” is a little bit less than honest. Pseudepigraphus repaid reviling for reviling, and that was indeed wrong, per 1 Peter 3:9 and other scriptures. But the reviling that he repaid was also wrong. Needless to say, Whitworth did not publicize what he himself (she? ze?) wrote in his two attempts to finger an IP address, because he thinks the ends justify the means. In his mind, the noble end of “exposing” The Cellar Door justified his own scurrility and vulgarity. True, Pseudepigraphus’s slam in response was nuclear by comparison: he implied that Whitworth was a homosexual. Although it looks like that might actually be the case, Pseudepigraphus didn’t know that, and if he had known it, he certainly wouldn’t have said it.
My own take is that the purpose of the first post over at “The Cellar Door WATCH” blog was just to mention that “lawyers” are involved. Yet I highly doubt that this is true. You don’t need a lawyer to set up an IP address trap. This isn’t HBO’s The Wire. If you want to trap someone’s IP address you can do it without an attorney, for free. I know of only one person who is so pretentious that he laces his communications with veiled threats to the effect that he’s going to lawyer up and drag other Christians into court. And that person is Bill Smith. Mr. Whitworth must be in contact with Bill. Bill, buddy, you need to stop doing this. I know that you hear decked-out power-brokers say things like “you’ll be hearing from my attorneys” and “the attorney I keep on retainer” right before they get into their Porsches and peel out, but for many reasons which we both know, that’s just not you. Knowing a guy in Chicago who used to practice law doesn’t mean that you now “have an attorney.” If so, I have like eight attorneys. Chicago is just that close to hell.
Pseudepigraphus still shouldn’t have said what he said, and he admitted that. Since that appears to have been dealt with, let’s proceed to “the bigger picture and problem” which Mr. Whitworth wishes to take up with The Cellar Door.
Assertion is not the same as argument. It is concerned with truth or falsehood, whereas argument, strictly speaking, concerns only validity. Assertions may stand alone, or they may serve as the premises of arguments. Assertions are substantially founded or unfounded depending upon evidence. Sometimes an assertion is made for which evidence is substantially, though not verbally, present. Sometimes evidence for an assertion is present, but not formally clear (q.v. Beaumains’ posts on LSB’s inferior hymnody—until you look at them side by side…). Sometimes everyone knows the evidence, but no one wants to make the assertion because they have become unable to distinguish politeness from cowardice, or a best construction from a fanciful reconstruction.
The montage of screencaps of Cellar Door tweets which Mr. Whitworth featured in his recent post is quite the cutely-arranged piece of work and a nice little bit of gaslighting—several of them are mine, by the way, and I make no apologies. “Look at all of these blunt words! All of these things break the eighth commandment!” What a load of womanish keening. Blunt assertion does not necessarily break the eighth commandment; humorous roasting does not necessarily break the eighth commandment; commenting on public sins, false doctrine, outrageous practice, and other things which are often ignored, papered-over, and synod-splained does not necessarily break the eighth commandment. Even insults do not necessarily break the eighth commandment. Sometimes ad hominem and invective are legitimate, constituting true and salient assertion, valid argument, or both.
There are two things from Martin Luther which I personally have never felt the need to walk back: the first is On the Jews and Their Lies, which is great—the charge of “anti-Semitism” is most often made by people who haven’t read it. The second is Luther’s propensity for invective. Our Lord calls the Pharisees a “brood of vipers”; St. Paul says that he wishes the Judaizers would cut their penises off; various of the Church Fathers have some doozies that I can’t seem to recall right now; Luther says that Duke Henry of Brunswick is like Satan’s bedpan-filth flung into Germany, and that he hopes that Priapus—this guy—will break wind in the face of the Zwickau Prophets. Some language is appropriate in one context but inappropriate in another. Some language is always inappropriate for complex but ultimately valid reasons. Some language, such as blasphemy, is always inappropriate (to understate the matter), and the reasons are quite simple. Jesus is God, St. Paul wrote what he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and neither of those things are true of Luther: no one would admit more readily than he of being guilty of sinning in his words. But I stand by what I said above: there is nothing inherently wrong with invective.
The analogy made between words and salt in Scriptures is apt. Everyone knows that salt is good on your eggs, bad on your cupcake, and worse in Carthaginian fields. Invective and insult can in fact be the needful salt with which a man savors his speech. It can be that which is useful for breaking a man down—another property of salt—in order that he may be built up square and straight and not perverted (Ephesians 4:29). It can also flag a degenerate and deceptive man as someone to be avoided. It all depends. Sometimes, of course, invective and insult do constitute a breach of the eighth commandment—for instance, if the implied or stated assertion which is bound up in the insult is demonstrably false. But The Cellar Door has published no lie, so you’d have to make your case on some other ground, if your heart were set on such a thing.
Most of the tweets featured in Mr. Whitworth’s latest post are blunt assertions, some of them are just the titles of our articles trotted out with grave unctuousness—quelle horreur! Yes, some of them are a bit bawdy—the reference to testicles, for instance. (Even there: why do pastors think they can publicly be jackasses to other men online, and then act shocked—just shocked—when they get a salty jest right back?) No doubt, the effect of Mr. Whitworth’s posting of all of these tweets in sequence is quite arresting, quite affecting. However, as averred once already, it is also a rather womanish tirade—not that it was composed by a woman, no; then it might be womanly, but that doesn’t say the same thing. “Womanish” describes a man acting contrary to his nature somehow. The difference between the sexes is manifest even in their vices. Men tend to aggress physically, but nowadays their nature is constrained by the fact that most of their interactions transpire online (this is by no means an unmixed good). Women, on the other hand, tend to aggress through attempts at shaming and ostracization, a tendency which is amplified in online interactions. I’m not saying that all women do this, but I am saying that when such things are done, they are typically done by women. For a man to do this is, as the Brits say, “bad form.” Whitworth’s display is womanish inasmuch as it evinces the manner in which women attempt to exert dominance and exact compliance. Whatever case Whitworth thinks he is making is obscured by effeminate pettiness. If you do poke through that layer of masque, there is nothing beneath it but fumes.
Our Twitter account is public. Our Facebook page is public. You can read all of Whitworth’s selection of greatest hits and more, as well as all of our boring Facebook posts—for a few more hours. Get your screencaps while you can, because we’re scuttling The Cellar Door social media. Too many irons in the fire, frankly, and none of us is very good at the short form, anyway. It might just be that the short form itself isn’t very good, that no digital form is very good, and that The Cellar Door has thus always been and cannot help but be a sound and fury, signifying nothing. If that’s the case, we are in good company.
This decision to pull the plug on Twitter and Facebook certainly is made in reaction to Mr. Whitworth’s recent virtue-signalling post, at least partially. However, it would be a mistake to think that this post is a reply, because this is not a conversation. We are talking to you, not to him. And to you we say this: don’t you think that his hyperventilating thus far is a bit strange? Do you wonder, “What is the meaning of this weird white-knighting from a high horse”? It just makes you think. More likely than not, this is all just a tempest in a teapot which no one is paying any attention to. But one wonders if he is bound and determined to keep up his “watching” for some other reason. Does he think that we at The Cellar Door sit athwart a pile of dirty laundry which he fears we will someday air? Heaven knows. Ordinarily I’d expect that a pearl-clutching scold like him would get exhausted, or at least bored, “watching” a blog and posting incredulous rejoinders every time its authors publish something, but perhaps Mr. Whitworth is fired with a tireless zeal, straight like an arrow to his purpose, and will prove steadfast. I don’t know. Of course he’s free to do as he wishes. Every man needs a hobby. I myself collect coins.
In closing, I want to acknowledge that The Cellar Door has received contact requesting that we adjust the tone of some of our commentary, as well as some contact from men whose office gives them the right to counsel, rather than merely request, the same (men who have not disgraced or abused the office in question and who do not occupy this office illegitimately). These requests, this counsel, etc., are well-taken. That is, we earnestly intend to take all of it well, and seriously, going forward.