Permanently banned from the Biblical Criticism & History Forum – earlywritings.com

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by Neil Godfrey

I returned to the forum to follow up a question I had with a scholar on the earlywritings forum and wanted to reply to his answer but discovered when I tried to log in that I am met with a message:

It seems my attempts to engage critically with the moderator of the forum, Peter Kirby, was simply too much for him. Or was it my attempts to protest the trolling insults leveled against others — including ad hominem by Peter Kirby himself — that he interpreted as personal criticisms of his moderation practices? I’d like to point you to my protests and how they were responded to but the moderator has placed them in a section that only members can access.

The irony is that other members would sometimes speak up for me and compliment me on my refusal to engage in the personal attacks and other trolling that is so rife there.

The further irony is that he has publicly praised the forum contributions of the two worst trolling offenders of all. Not that he praised them for their trolling, of course. But trolls are trolls, I think, because they have little of substance to contribute and are at a loss in serious debate. Perhaps some responses that I would see as fatuous disunderstanding of the issues were interpreted as weighty contributions by the moderator — so I wondered privately.

I did point out that Peter Kirby has regularly been critiqued by significant others for raising critiques that are grounded in misunderstanding or failure to read and synthesize the details of works he is attempting to engage with. I did so because of a post of his in which he personally attacked the characters of some others while simultaneously expressing longing for the days of a certain scholar who did not think of his contributions as highly as he seemed to remember. Maybe that was the last straw. Or was it because of my rejoinder to him when he insisted that he had said nothing wrong — indicating that his personal insults are justified? (Ah yes — when he insisted he had said nothing wrong I do recall now that I “let fly” and reminded him of his record of insult and character denigration of others under the guise of “being helpful”. — I guess then I did indeed attack the moderator for his own misdemeanours.) [[NOTE to Neil: Do Not Tick Off a Moderator of a forum by confronting him with his faults if you would like to post from time to time!]]

Or was it my attempt to try to explain that the approach of many biblical scholars was not in accord with the methods of historians in other fields of inquiry?

Whatever the reason he did not seem to think it appropriate to inform me of any reason. As a rule I was always trying to be careful to stay on topic and avoid any insult or denigration of others. Unless some ham-fisted attempts at humour were misunderstood, but I’d normally have a chance to explain if I saw that happening. And standing up for others against insults was certainly not a personal attack on the moderator: it was pleading the moderator, not attacking him.

But Peter has for some reason long been reading my comments and responses with personal hostility, seeing in them personal attacks where there are none, and gratuitously judging my character and mentality in the most outlandish ways. I never could understand why. When I asked at one point he simply indicated that I must be blind not to see how abusive or insulting I was being. I had long thought I got along well with all members except for two well-known trolls and the moderator himself. Sometimes others complimented me in public or in personal messages at my forbearance.

I left the forum as a regular contributor a few weeks back simply because I could no longer handle the personal abuse I received from two trolls and the moderator himself. The pressure to leave had been mounting after Peter set up a trolling and ad hominem free zone for certain “Academic” discussions — only for me to find myself being targeted by trolling responses and very, very lengthy ad hominem posts by Peter himself in which he presented lengthy “arguments” (pop-psychoanalysis) about my psychological disposition and telling me I should never fault an argument for being circular! (seriously)

Well, I guess I am not welcome on a forum in which the moderator breaks his own rules prohibiting ad hominem posts in his “Academic” forum and in which he praises the contributions of two of the most shallow, dogmatic, anti-intellectual and ignorant trolls I have ever encountered. I am certainly not weeping.


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Neil Godfrey

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11 thoughts on “Permanently banned from the Biblical Criticism & History Forum – earlywritings.com”

  1. That is very disappointing news, and while I don’t know Peter Kirby personally, I’m very disappointed in him. earlywritings.com is such a great resource – and they should count themselves lucky to be able to have someone of your caliber engage with the site.

  2. Someone from the forum has sent me the stated reason I was banned. I was not personally informed about this by the moderator, nor was I ever given a warning:

    Re: Posters banned from the forum Unread post by Peter Kirby » June 13th, 2024, 11:24 pm neilgodfrey is banned for bullying. A pattern of harassment of any specific user can lead to a suspension or ban.

    I have to laugh. That is cuckoo land. I was the one protesting the harassment and bullying of other members — including the moderator’s personal denigration of Russell Gmirkin. I was the one who was the target of harassment and bullying by a handful of trolls — the trolls whom the moderator even commended for their contributions to the forum. Those trolls regularly and pervasively harass and bully others on that forum.

    My pleas to the moderator for him to abide by the rules he himself set down were presumably interpreted as harassment/bullying of the moderator. I can think of no other sin. But I am in the dark because at no time did the moderator give me any warning or examples of my supposedly bullying and harassing behaviour.

    1. What exactly are Peter Kirby’s views concerning Christianity and history? I recall that in the past he took down his excellent resource sites, early writings. But later restored them online.

      1. I don’t know what his views are, really. I can only surmise but that would not be fair. The differences between PK and me are personal and not really to do with any beliefs, even though he ridiculed (while admitting he knew very little about the research) the idea of a late origin for the Pentateuch. (As for Christianity, I thought it interesting that in a criticism of something I wrote he quoted approvingly both James McGrath and Maurice Casey, two of the lightest weights ever to fly over academia and who had the meanest of bees in their bonnets against me.)

        But it was his denigration of other persons that riled me and provoked me into attempting to call him to account as a moderator. Someone has told me that Peter normally cites examples of the bad behaviour of those he bans but he has not done so in my case. I suspect that is because it would be exposing to others his own hypocrisy. I also call him a coward for not having the wherewithal to give me a warning or even notify me with reasons for his permanently banning me.

        I just recalled that I have copies of all my exchanges with Peter Kirby. I might dig them out and make them available somewhere, but it’s not a priority at the moment.

  3. I will wear the ban as a badge of honour. I spoke up for others there who were being insulted and bullied (and only in the end added rebuke for how my words were subject to hostile readings) and if my appeals were interpreted as a bullying of the moderator then so be it.

    1. And as per other recent discussions here, it must be well-known to anyone who followed those that I cannot abide any leader who cannot accept the idea of being held accountable to justify his position — mostly by abiding by the standards he sets for others. In the past I can manage it diplomatically and cement trust between us, but on the internet we know there are different rules.

  4. I honestly barely comment there much anymore just because Peter allows so much bullying and just gross behavior, as well as spam. Giuseppe’s nonstop posts and refusal to be criticized on anything get old real fast. Then there is Stephan Huller (SecretAlias) who nonstop belittles, bullies, and goes on rampages against anyone and everyone. Martijn Linssen was another one.

    There is just so much dogmatism on there, and the minute a number of those people step into the fray things immediately devolve. Perhaps I will take this as my own warning to bow out of there. The fact that you got a permanent ban over this, but Stephan Huller (who has been verbally abusing people, and also being a general bigot at points) hasn’t been is simply beyond my ability to comprehend.

    1. I don’t mind some of the persons you mentioned. They are zealous and I on occasion find something to contribute if only for innocent bystanders to benefit perhaps. They can be bypassed — but one thing about them is that they never, from my experience, resort to invective or insult despite all the denigration that they too often get from others. And sometimes they do make a contribution that makes me think. It is too easy to take some conventional wisdom as a given.

      But by geez, the abuse, the insults, the outrageous accusations I so often got from Huller and Goranson were just beyond the pale. I tried several times to ask the moderator to take action but he said the forum “permits behaviour”.

      Kirby also has from the get-go simply misread so many of my comments with a hostility I have never been able to fathom. If I appealed to him on behalf of someone I thought was being gratuitously insulted he rejected my complaint and even protested that I was attacking him as a moderator! Far from it. But he said I was blind if I couldn’t see what a foul and accusing attitude I had!!!

      Well, one day I snapped. Kirby made a backhanded put-down of certain contributors, among them Giuseppe, who has never put down anyone — and so I reminded Kirby that he had not come up to scratch by the standards of one particular past scholar he was expressing nostalgia for. Kirby replied that he had said nothing wrong. So I reminded him of everything wrong he had done – all the ad hominems when he had made it a rule on a particular academic forum that there be no ad hominem, all the put-downs of others, his ridicule and denigration of others even though he admitted he did not know the background reading to what they were addressing …..

      Well, two or three weeks later I return to see that on that day he permanently banned me.

      I understand that he normally gives examples of wrong behaviour of those he bans but he has not done so in my case. I guess it would be too incriminating of him.

      What I dished out to Kirby was nothing compared with the hostile abuse, even sexual (even telling me to buy my mother a card for a whore) and resorting to hitlerisms — and he says that’s allowed. But criticize him for his inconsistencies and hypocrisy as a moderator and you’re banned for life.

      He’s also a coward — could not bring himself to warn me or explain his action.

    2. Oh yeh — and I think the moment I could not avoid thinking Peter was a lightweight was when he recently actually thanked, praised, both Stefan Huller and Stephen Goranson for their contributions to the forum! Huller has professed himself a proud anti-intellectual and cannot bring himself to read books he criticises, and clearly Kirby cannot distinguish between serious contributions and ignorant trolling in Goranson’s case.

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