The Christian Examiner ran a story today by Joni Hannigan about a recent article by Seth Dunn and hosted at his personal blog, A Christian Worldview. Sadly, Hannigan's article missed the point of his post entirely, is riddled with errors, and is no closer a display of journalistic integrity that what we might see in the Georgia Baptist Index or the Louisiana Baptist Message.
Hannigan's article begins with a description of [one of the trustees that hired Ergun Caner at Bretwon-Parker College "because of the relentless pagan attacks against him"] Bucky Kennedy's Braxton's List as "an attempt to raise awareness against cyber-bullying and suicide." As the Pulpit & Pen has pointed out in an article entitled "Tragedy and a Human Shield: The Saga of Ergun Caner," Bucky, Ergun and company are doing no such thing. Within hours of Braxton's death, the story had been fed to Todd Starnes that Braxton's act of self-murder was the result of "cyber-bullying." Presumably, this was a reference to four terse but cordial tweets from myself concerning the immorality on Braxton Caner's public Twitter page (seen after it was referenced by his father, Ergun), the fourth tweet of which was to discontinue the conversation because of Braxton's age. I apologized for the communication a few days after the exchange and more than three weeks before Braxton took his own life.
Of course, there's no legal definition that would label my interraction with Braxton as "bullying, harassment, etc..." and there's no indication that this exchange had anything but a minimal and marginal impact on Braxton - which seems to have amused him, there's no reason to believe it had a negative impact on Braxton, and yet the man who has ran from his deceit for over four years has contrived yet another level of insulation against calls for his repentance.
Ergun said several times in the days (on video/audio) following Braxton's suicide that he did not know why his son committed suicide, and yet a fund has been set up to raise the awareness of "cyber bullying" because Bucky Kennedy says there's "enough reason to believe" that it played a part in Braxton's self-murder, without giving any indication as to what those reasons are.
The point of Seth's post is that speculation is a futile endeavor. If we are going to speculate, there are a lot of deep, dark aspects to this story that, unfortunately, include the pressure created by having a man like Ergun Caner as your father. Instead, rather, we should not be in the business of speculation. Long before a few tweets followed by an apology are considered the cause for Braxton's suicide, more likely an influence in this tragedy would be the shame of having a father of ill-repute, who was living in a different state to pursue a quickly-diminishing career, who acknowledged not answering Braxton's phone call moments before the suicide. But that speculation would be futile and unhelpful. If Joni Hannigan could grasp the basic tenets of Seth's post, she could have spared the tiny readership of the Christian Examiner the faux-outrage.
Attempting to characterize the matter as a Calvinist and nonCalvinist issue, Hannigan calls me a "self-described Reformed pastor" and Caner as "a known non-Calvinist."
Hannigan makes absolutely no mention of Caner's dismissal from Liberty for his countless untruths, the upcoming Caner Project documentary about his recorded lies, failed lawsuits against fellow Christians claiming copyrights he didn't own in order to conceal his lies, or what the basic issue between Pulpit & Pen and Caner has always been; not Calvinism, but Caner's lack of repentance regarding a career of lies about his Islamic upbringing (including his birthplace, languages spoken, when he came to the U.S., debates he had, etc). Woudn't a journalist take the opportunity to understand the basic background of this sordid affair?
Our only conclusion is that Hannigan is no journalist - at least not if this article is indicative of her full body of work.*
Hannigan quotes Kathleen Shannon, a "mental health therapist" living in North Carolina as saying "J.D. Hall tagging [tweets] with #BraxtonsList is making a mockery of a tragedy in which he took part."
First, we would like to remind Kathleen Shannon of what libel is, concerning the last five words of that sentence. Again, as such is an assumption simply not based in reality but still stated as fact - and therefore is libelous without a disclaimer of personal opinion. That Shannon, Hannigan, Kennedy and a few others can't see that as unhealthy, unproductive and wrong speaks of an innate hypocrisy.
Secondly,those giving pushback to #BraxtonsList are not making a mockery of this tragedy. They are pointing out the mockery that is #BraxtonsList. Although Bucky Kennedy is quoted as saying that #BraxtonList provides "practical, biblical ways for how believers ought to treat one another," it is instead an absurd attempt to redefine terms and phrases that stand in contrast to those who are actually trying to battle real cyber-bullying; not the type of criticism that Peter Lumpkins has called "cyber-bullying" in defense of Ergun Caner for years now. Defining "multiple posts about a person" as "harassment" and claiming that fair criticism should "stop before they drop" are hardly Biblical ideas. As the Pulpit and Pen has laid out in Tragedy and a Human Shield, #BraxtonsList is a wishlist of requirements to make criticism go away; at the end of the day it's no different than Caner's failed attempt to sue bloggers in court - only in this case, people are afraid to comment because they'll receive the treatment that Hannigan has given Seth Dunn. We will not let politically-correct and politically-driven hysteria and the shameless capitalization on tragedy prohibit us from speaking truth on this matter.
I would humbly request Hannigan to start over, do some research, rewrite the article without the propagandic bent, and wear her title of "journalist" with honor rather than with reproach.
*One individual close to Hannigan called me, and they believe this article is not indicative of her entire body of work. Being unfamiliar with Hannigan, I'll take their word for it.