FAIR One Ups The Tanners

June 5, 2008 | 129 comments
By

Score one for FAIR. Last week, in Utah Lighthouse Ministry v. Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit rejected an appeal by Sandra and Gerald Tanner’s anti-Mormon ministry over its claims of trademark infringement, cyber-squatting, and unfair competition that arose out of a parody website created by the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR). The Tanners had lost the original case in this suit last year after the U.S. District Court in Utah granted FAIR summary judgment on all of the Tanners’ claims, a decision unanimously affirmed by the 10th Circuit.

There’s a little history behind this litigation. Back in 1999, the Church actually sued the Tanners for providing links to sites which published the copyrighted Church Handbook of Instruction. The case blazed new trails in the area of online copyright law because it was the first time a court had found that mere links to another site containing infringing material could constitute copyright infringement.

This recent suit involving FAIR switched things up a bit.*** In 2003, [FAIR's Vice-President Allen Wyatt] registered a number of domain names that played off of the Tanners’ Lighthouse Ministry (i.e., utahlighthouse.com, sandratanner.com, etc.) and directed these URLs to lead to a parody which mimicked the Tanners’ ministry website, but relayed content rebutting their anti-Mormon message (including links to FAIR’s own website, FAIR articles critical of the Tanners, as well as various other Mormon-friendly resources).

After publicizing the site for a time, [Wyatt] eventually transferred all of the domain names back to the Tanners (presumably after legal threats over their use). The Tanners, however, decided to bring suit anyway alleging that the parody site had infringed the Utah Lighthouse Ministry website, that the registration of the various domain names constituted cybersquatting, and that the whole enterprise was a form of unfair competition. [The Tanner's action named FAIR as a defendant, arguing that Wyatt was acting on behalf of FAIR.] The District Court ruled against the Tanners, however, granting FAIR summary judgment on all counts.

In affirming this decision, the 10th Circuit:
(1) Pointed to the fact that the Tanners had only registered their Utah Lighthouse trademark after they commenced suit against FAIR, and, as a result, their mark didn’t meet the much higher bar for infringement that unregistered trademarks face.
(2) Rejected the Tanners’ arguments that the parody website constituted commercial use (even though it linked to FAIR’s own site with its online bookstore).
(3) Held that even if [Wyatt's] website were commercial in use, it created no likelihood of confusion and posed no real interference to those trying to reach the Utah Lighthouse website.

Certainly copyright and trademark claims involve different legal issues and standards, but I can’t help but think that the Tanners still probably feel like they got burned by both ends of the stick here. In 1999, they were found liable for copyright infringement on the basis of hyperlinks… but when they turn around and try to use that line of reasoning against a pro-Mormon organization they feel violated their trademark, the Court finds these links to be too “roundabout” and “attenuated” to constitute commercial use of a trademark and serve as the basis for an infringement claim. In the end, I think the 10th Circuit made the right decision, since a trademark’s real purpose is to prevent customer confusion and protect a right-holder’s investment in the mark, and the Tanners didn’t make a compelling case against FAIR on these grounds. Nonetheless, I think this decision probably made their blood boil.

*** NOTE: To add clarity, I’ve edited this post where brackets appear.

Tags:

129 Responses to FAIR One Ups The Tanners

  1. Jonathan Green on June 5, 2008 at 1:52 am

    If only the issue at stake wasn’t a juvenile bit of online oneupmanship. If somebody–a lot of people, actually–would have just stepped away from the keyboard earlier, none of this would have had to happen.

  2. queuno on June 5, 2008 at 2:07 am

    I’m not a big fan of squatting, even if the courts don’t rule against it.

  3. Ray on June 5, 2008 at 2:35 am

    #2 – Neither am I. It’s done too much to redirect honest attempts to find info about the Church for me to appreciate it.

    Having said that, anything that makes the Tanner’s blood boil can’t be a completely bad thing.

  4. Disappointed on June 5, 2008 at 2:57 am

    I think this stunt by FAIR is idiotic. That they would stoop to this kind of level says more about the mentality there than any affirmation to the contrary about using the best scholarship etc.

  5. Ardis Parshall on June 5, 2008 at 5:17 am

    Well, so far as I know, nobody says FAIR worked an acrostic into the parody website that said “Tanners are buttheads.” That end of the Mormon studies spectrum is learning something, after all.

    (And I want double brownie points for coming even this far in FAIR’s defense. They owe me.)

  6. Russell Arben Fox on June 5, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Well, so far as I know, nobody says FAIR worked an acrostic into the parody website that said “Tanners are buttheads.”

    Bless you, Ardis, for taking us back to the heady days of 1994. (Though I wonder what it says about us that we both clearly recall what this little anecdote is referring to.)

  7. Eric Boysen on June 5, 2008 at 8:52 am

    Well, you can’t tell half a story. . .

    What happened?

  8. Ardis Parshall on June 5, 2008 at 9:14 am

    Eric, google “Metcalfe is butthead” — if I could find a friendly site among the anti ones that pop up, I would link to it. Understandably, sympathetic sources prefer to pretend it never happened. Just try to ignore the nasty glee of the versions you find, allow for exaggeration, read for bare facts, and exercise what charity you can.

    Yes, RAF, it’s glorious to be growing elderly, isn’t it?

  9. Researcher on June 5, 2008 at 9:27 am

    I realize full well that you’re talking about Sandra and Jerald (who, by the way, is deceased), but I’m going to get a complex from this thread…

    “anything that makes the Tanner’s blood boil can’t be a completely bad thing”

    “Tanners are buttheads”

    I think I’ll go hide under a rock somewhere until this discussion is over. :-)

  10. Randy B. on June 5, 2008 at 9:45 am

    “Well, so far as I know, nobody says FAIR worked an acrostic into the parody website that said ‘Tanners are buttheads.’ ”

    Hillarious! Well done, Ardis.

  11. Justin on June 5, 2008 at 9:59 am

    In 2003, FAIR registered a number of domain names that played off of the Tanners’ Lighthouse Ministry….

    After publicizing the site for a time, FAIR eventually transferred all of the domain names back to the Tanners (presumably after legal threats over their use).

    I have no idea why I’m getting into this mess, but page four of the opinion suggests that Allen Wyatt registered the domain names and transferred the domain names. The court also consistently refers to the site as the “Wyatt website.”

  12. Seth R. on June 5, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Over at FAIR’s blog. Allen Wyatt said the website was his responsibility and wasn’t a “FAIR operation.” I couldn’t really tell from the court opinion whether the website was an official project of FAIR or just the actions of a mischievous rogue apologist.

    As if Sandra Tanner needed something else to play the martyr about…

  13. Marc Bohn on June 5, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Allen Wyatt is vice-president of FAIR and, for the purposes of this suit at this point, they were one and the same.

  14. Nick Literski on June 5, 2008 at 10:32 am

    While I’m no fan of FAIR, and I deplore the juvenile stunt that prompted this lawsuit, it should probably be noted that their chairman, Allen Wyatt, has consistantly stated that he registered the domain names and created the website independently, without the knowledge or cooperation of FAIR. The most one can say is that several FAIR members took what might be considered an inordinate glee, and delighted in behavior that would have enraged them, had the roles been reversed.

  15. Nate Oman on June 5, 2008 at 10:44 am

    I’ve not read the opinion, but from your recounting of it, it sounds as though the distinction between Wyatt and FAIR would be procedurally irrelevent at this point in the suit. If the initial claim was dismissed on a 12(b)(6) motion, then the court would never reach the issue of whether Wyatt was acting as an agent of FAIR or whether FAIR was liable under respondat superior.

  16. Paul Brown on June 5, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Is there any adult supervision at FAIR?

  17. Brett Williams on June 5, 2008 at 11:27 am

    The Tanners and the Church settled out of court with no admission of guilt on either side but the Tanners did take down the links after the matter was resolved in arbitration. I think it was a case of death by legal costs.

    As for the cybersquatting that really sucks but parody websites often have the unintended consequence of drawing people to the real thing,

  18. Christopher on June 5, 2008 at 11:53 am

    If only the issue at stake wasn’t a juvenile bit of online oneupmanship.

    I think this stunt by FAIR is idiotic.

    Well, so far as I know, nobody says FAIR worked an acrostic into the parody website that said “Tanners are buttheads.”

    As if Sandra Tanner needed something else to play the martyr about…

    Is there any adult supervision at FAIR?

    Amen. I’m relieved to hear others agree on the utter childishness of this whole affair. The comments over at FAIR blog have mostly been along the lines of “Congratulations! I love FAIR!” and “Score another one for the good guys!” (those are paraphrases of actual content). I was encouraged when Allen Wyatt admitted that he would not do it again, but then found myself disappointed when I read his reasoning:

    In hindsight I would not do it again. Not because I consider it wrong or somehow unethical; I don’t. I wouldn’t do it again because I would never want to put those I care about though the problems that the past three years have presented.

    He follows that by bragging that the court found his site to be a very successful parody. Maybe “that end of the Mormon studies spectrum” hasn’t grown up that much after all.

  19. Raymond Takashi Swenson on June 5, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    It bothers me when any web page name is misleading as to its content. It wastes the time of people searching for the original, so it is an imposition on them as well as on the owners of the “target” web site. It is possible to create a name and content that will relate to a position one opposes, so that it will be picked up by a search engine, but still maintain integrity by making it clear up front that the position of the site is opposed to the target site.

    I am particularly disappointed that FAIR was involved in what was essentially deception, even if the courts found it did not rise the level of being actionable. It casts a pall over what I have found to be good information on a variety of apologetic topics. The presentations at the annual FAIR conferences I have attended (some of them by guest bloggers like Dan Peterson and frequent commenters at T&S, as well as people most of us admire like Terryl Givens) have taken pains to be even handed, scholarly, and not overstate the case for Mormonism. I doubt that most of the speakers and people attending those meetings would have endorsed this abuse of the internet.

  20. Brian on June 5, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    FAIR was NOT involved, people. Deal with it.
    Sheesh!!!!!!

  21. Kevin Barney on June 5, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Regarding “adult supervision,” I’m on the board of directors of FAIR, so I guess that would be me. That parody website was absolutely not a FAIR project. Most volunteers who contribute to FAIR also have their own websites, projects and interests. We don’t control everything they do on their own time or motion. Volunteering for FAIR doesn’t keep me from blogging or publishing articles, for example. I didn’t even know about the Tanner parody site until it had been up for four months. I didn’t perceive it as having anything to do with FAIR. I agree it was juvenile and silly, and it’s not something I personally would have done, nor is it something I would have approved on FAIR’s behalf.

    The Tanners tried to drag FAIR into it because they needed to show some sort of economic motive for the site. Allen had put links to the Church’s official site, FARMS and FAIR, and if you click through the FAIR site enough times you’ll find a bookstore, which has an overlap of about 30 books with the Tanner bookstore. So that was part of their allegations of economic harm.

  22. Allen Wyatt on June 5, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Corrections to the original post from a first-hand participant:

    FAIR did not register any domain names that were at suit–I did. I registered them by my own hand, in my company\’s name (Discovery Computing, Inc.). That is why me, my wife, and my company were sued by the Tanners. FAIR was brought into the suit because the Tanners needed, in any trademark infringement action, to show a \”commercial component.\” There was no commercial component unless they could tie my personal action to an official corporate action by FAIR and show that FAIR profited by my action in their behalf.

    Was the registration of the domains names illegal? No, the courts have ruled on that, loud and clear. Was it unethical? I don\’t think so, else I wouldn\’t have done it. Was it juvenile? No, I don\’t think so. Would I do it again? Doubtful; the three years and thousands of dollars out of my pocket to defend against what I view as an unnecessary nuisance suit was no fun.

    Parody and satire have a long and illustrious history, and can be very effective. My site was not mocking the Tanners; it was criticizing them using a caricature of their own making. Turning the \”Shadow or Reality\” moniker back on their works was similar to what others had done by using the same literary devices that the Tanners do (ALL CAPS, italics, underlined, ellipses, etc.). In addition, there was nothing personal in the least in my website.

    The Tanners sued because they didn\’t like what they saw. They wanted to shut it down, particularly since it used domain names that they thought they had a right to, even though they never registered them.

    It has always been interesting to me that even though my site contained links to three places (the LDS Church, FAIR, and FARMS), only FAIR was named in the suit. Even though I am a member of all three organizations. Even though all three organizations sell things.

    As to whether there is adult supervision at FAIR, that really isn\’t germane, now is it? FAIR didn\’t even know that I didi this–again, I did it personally–until four months after it was already done.

    -Allen

  23. Marc Bohn on June 5, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    #16 – Don’t know much about the settlement you reference, but the Tanners clearly lost a copyright infringement case against the Church over the Handbook hyperlinks (it was actually a case of first impression that is studied by a lot of internet copyright courses). No admission of guilt needed when a court finds you guilty. See Church Handbook of Instruction. Intellectual Reserve Inc. v. Utah Lighthouse Ministry Inc., 75 F. Supp. 2d, 53 USPQ2d 1425 (D. Utah 1999).

  24. Mike Parker on June 5, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    A few comments from someone who is pretty close to the leadership of FAIR:

    Allen Wyatt created the web sites on his own initiative. He registered the domain names in the name of his own private company. He did not ask permission from FAIR, nor did he even announce the sites’ existence until they were up and running. The sites were not, in any way, creations of FAIR or representative of FAIR’s aims or goals.

    Some of the comments here are disdainful of FAIR for not being “grown up” or having “adult supervision.” There’s an old saying that there’s no accounting for taste. In this case Allen Wyatt thought the parodies he created were funny. That’s certainly not the feeling of every FAIR volunteer, but since he did the project of his own accord, other FAIR volunteers’ opinions don’t count.

    It’s unfortunate that the court did not agree that Allen created the sites outside of his position of VP of FAIR, but that’s the truth.

    This unfortunate incident shouldn’t in any way impact the good that FAIR is doing in the subject of scholarly defenses of the Church. There is a lot of good material on FAIR’s web site and the FAIR wiki. That’s what FAIR spends its time, energy, and money on — not on parody web sites.

  25. Greg Smith on June 5, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    The website was NOT sponsored by FAIR. FAIR was unaware of it until the lawsuit.

    FAIR is not responsible for the private actions–either advised or ill-advised–of its members.

    I\’m saddened (though not surprised) that the person engaging in parody–an honorable method of commentary and critique, clearly protected by the 1st amendment, with a long history in western discourse–is being criticized as childish or in need of adult supervision, while those who tried to use the courts to chill such criticism (and lost) are given a free pass.

    Anyone who thinks that parody reflects the mind of someone who needs to \”grow up\” ought to review the history of same. Don Quixote? Childish and jejune. Jonathan Swift? Immature and idiotic. Nothing but a stunt.

    If anyone on earth is ripe for parody, if only for their self-importance, it is GERALD and SANDRA…Tanner.

    That Sandra sued about it only enhances effect of same.

    As Mencken once said,

    \”A horse laugh is worse ten thousand syllogisms.\”

  26. Marc Bohn on June 5, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    #21 – Allen, I’ve gone back and tried to clarify the distinction in the original post.

  27. Adam Greenwood on June 5, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    This comments thread also needs adult supervision. Perhaps FAIR and the participants in this thread could split the costs for my extremely valuable services in that capacity.

  28. Pjj on June 5, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Allen, were you also the person who registered a bunch of domain names related to Grant Palmer a few years ago when his supporters were putting up a site for him? I had heard that was also FAIR.

  29. queuno on June 5, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Understandably, sympathetic sources prefer to pretend it never happened.

    What’s is it with Bloggernacle entities wanting to disavow parody sites that suck people in? (BofH, for instance)

    Parody is an American tradition, but so is getting sued for it. I can’t feel too sympathetic for thousands of dollars spent in what was basically a trollish action. It’s not like that first-amendment right was being used to whistleblow or something. It’s just stupid. Whether or not the Tanners were right or wrong isn’t a defense.

  30. Ardis Parshall on June 5, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Mention FAIR and a post becomes like chum to sharks — they can’t let anything with even the faintest whiff of criticism pass, can they?

    It *was* a juvenile thing to do.

    Nobody gives the Tanners a free pass — we all take it for granted that all participants here know exactly what the Tanners are, and apparently nobody thought it necessary or interesting to threadjack the post for FAIR’s comfort.

  31. Scott Gordon on June 5, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    To clear up the matter a bit, FAIR and FAIR leadership had no knowledge of Allen\’s Website. The relationship \”smoking gun\” that the Tanners brought to court was an email we gave to them of Allen telling us about the Website four months after he created it. You will find that many of the volunteers with FAIR have websites of their own, and some of them deal with apologetic issues. FAIR does not exercise any control over these personal Websites.

    This was an attempt by the Tanners to stomp on free speech rights. We were even contacted by a national free speech rights group that was concerned about this suit. Had the Tanners prevailed, it could have had a chilling effect on free speech on the Internet. One of their arguments was \”the overall commercial nature of the Internet renders the website itself a commercial use.\” Had that argument prevailed, it may have become risky to criticize any organization on the Internet. You should read the two rulings on this. Remember, this was dismissed in summary judgment at the federal court level, and then the appeals court affirmed that ruling.

    This lawsuit was used as a successful method to raise money for the Tanners. They raised more money in a month than we see in donations from several years combined. I see it also as an attempt to shut down FAIR. Even though they admitted in court that there were no damages, they refused to settle and refused to use the methods set up to settle Internet disputes.They continued to claim that Allen wouldn\’t give them the domain names even after he gave them to an escrow agent and gave clear instructions how to take possession of them. This claim was stated again in oral arguments before the court of appeals. There were other issues as well.

    I understand how fun it is for some to beat up on FAIR or to try to force FAIR to fit into their preconceived notions. My philosophy is to deal with the issues. I understand that their are some apologetic issues that are tightly wrapped around the personalities involved. I know we aren\’t perfect in this. But as an organization we are always encouraging people to deal with the issues and to not attack the people. But, bloggers everywhere should thank the court system for ruling the way they did.

    I hope this responds to several of your comments.

  32. Ardis Parshall on June 5, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    queuno, I wasn’t disavowing any parody site (or printed document, more relevant in this case) by the bit of my comment you quoted. I would have linked to a FARMS-friendly site that told the story from their point of view, if I could have found one; I just don’t want to publicize any particular anti site by linking to them and appearing to endorse what is probably not a fair version of events.

    So in that case, it wasn’t a Bloggernacle entity (me) wanting to disavow anything, it was a lack of anything decent to link to.

  33. JNR on June 5, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    Queuno, should Sandra be sued for cybersquatting with her Book Of Mormon domain name? As a blogger, is this how you want to resolve disputes over words?

  34. JNR on June 5, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    “Mention FAIR and a post becomes like chum to sharks — they can’t let anything with even the faintest whiff of criticism pass, can they?”

    Wow. I didn’t know this blog was so hostile to other Mormons.

    For the record, I think the problem was inaccurate statements not criticism.

  35. Ardis Parshall on June 5, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    But as an organization we are always encouraging people to deal with the issues and to not attack the people.

    Scott, as long as there is a link to the old discussion boards on virtually every page of FAIR’s website, your encouragement to deal with issues and not attack people is hollow. Anybody who wants to can go to FAIR, and through those links *still* find that year-old personal attack on me, to which many FAIR members contributed. Except for this comment, you won’t find a word of that here on T&S, because to honor your request I took down the post that so offended you.

    So — do you have any teeth behind that “encouragement”?

    [Edited a few minutes later: I just visited FAIR's website -- understandably, I don't hang out there much -- and discovered that you *have* at some point removed the links to the discussion boards that used to appear on the left-hand side of every page. You do still link to them through "FAIR links," though.]

  36. Ben on June 5, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    “Mention FAIR and a post becomes like chum to sharks — they can’t let anything with even the faintest whiff of criticism pass, can they?”

    Amen, Ardis.

    Scott, I dont think any of us are questioning the court ruling. It is fairly obvious that they probably ruled correctly. What some of us are questioning is the “maturity” of some specific actions. Personally, I hate the whole percieved “war” that goes on between the two sides; I think that either extreme can take things beyond the boundaries. I don’t agree at all with anything the Tanners do, but, like others on this thread, I don’t agree with some tactics taken to “attack,” “parody,” or whatever-you-wanna-call-it against them.

    “But as an organization we are always encouraging people to deal with the issues and to not attack the people.”

    I really hope this is true, because it often appears (again, this is on individuals and may not be the goal of the whole organization) not to be the case.

  37. Lance Starr on June 5, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Also, the opening post here makes the common mistake of conflating a copyright issue w/ a trademark issue. The two issues are not the same and the legalities involving them are totally different.

    BTW, I was lead counsel in this case and in the very first hearing we ever had with the Tanners, her attorney admitted quite blatantly that there goal was to bankrupt FAIR. I assume they thought that FAIR would have to spend thousands, if not hundreds of thounds, of dollars in legal fees. I do not think they expected Wyatt and FAIR to receive so much pro bono help (and in all there was easily over $100K in legal fees that were donated to this effort).

    And if you\’ll excuse me, Ardis, but you are hardly the person to be chastising others for \”childish\” acts after your rather juvenile behavior at the FAIR conference a few years back.

    Ciao.

    Lance.

  38. Allen Wyatt on June 5, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    #26 – Yes, that was me. I registered some domain names that were going to be used by those critical of the Stake President, in support of Grant Palmer.

    Two days later, I offered those domain names to the supporter/critic-in-question, free of charge. I offered them to him via e-mail and in a personal phone call. He declined my offer. In any accounts of the “incident,” I have yet to see a full account–only how mean and vile I am because I tried to place speedbumps in the path of those criticizing the church.

    -Allen

  39. JNR on June 5, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    There is a simple solution if you do not want anyone you assume to be part of “FAIR” posting here. Do not falsely accuse them. If you want to attack someone because of “immature acts” then please target the right person and don’t involve others. I know that FAIR would be grateful for that courtesy and I’m pretty sure T&S would appreciate it as well.

  40. Allen Wyatt on June 5, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Ben (#34),

    Do you really see parody, in all its forms, as “attack?”

    Wow. I never really thought of Weird Al as an “attack artist.” Guess I’ll have to change my definition.

    -Allen

  41. Ardis Parshall on June 5, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Lance, dear boy, your dating of events as “a few years back” proves that your awareness of events is hearsay and gossip. You’re hardly the person to be chastising me for chastising someone else, are you?

  42. Allen Wyatt on June 5, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    JNR (#36),

    Well said. If anyone wants to accuse someone of being “immature” for doing the parody/criticism site about the Tanners, then feel free to label me that way, and I will kindly disagree with you.

    But leave FAIR out of it. They didn’t do it. They didn’t sanction it. They didn’t know about it. And, yet, the Tanners sued them for reasons I already mentioned. To continue to castigate FAIR because of my personal actions is not only wrong, but if it continues after the problem has been pointed out, it borders on willful obfuscation.

    If someone thinks that Ardis or Marc do something wrong in their personal lives without the knowledge or sanction of T&S, can we take it out on T&S as a whole? Yet that is what the Tanners did and what people are doing here.

    -Allen

  43. Ardis Parshall on June 5, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Who do you suppose is laughing the loudest right now, assuming they are aware of this discussion? Mormon v. Mormon — that has to be tickling the funny bone of … well, nobody we ought to be pleasing.

  44. Lance Starr on June 5, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Ardis:

    Actually, I witnessed the events as the happened, so no, it was not “hearsay” or “gossip.” And how does my dating of the event in anyway belie the point I was making. Do you really think your snotty, self-righteousness is any less childish than what Allen did?

    Lance

  45. Flutterer on June 5, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Observation:
    Say whatever you want and then complain when others respond the way they want?

    Weird. Or hypocritical. Or something.
    Just sayin’

  46. Ardis Parshall on June 5, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Then your memory — as proven by your misdating of events of less than a year ago as being “a few years back” — is faulty, and does in fact belie your point.

    Your adjectives are out of line and far surpass anything I have said here. A modicum of the civility you demand for yourself, please.

  47. Kari on June 5, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Just when I thought it was safe to re-enter the bloggernacle. Boy-Howdy!

    I thought that I could avoid bile and meanness by avoiding the MA&D and RfM boards, but I gues I was wrong.

  48. Lance Starr on June 5, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    If you say so Ardis. I was hardly the only person to witness the events in question and my recollection is pretty much in line with theirs.

    As for civility, I never claimed I was civil. In fact, I’m often not. BTW, you tolerance of criticism seems to be about as thin as that which you attribute to FAIR.

    Lance

    [Ed.--be civil or bow out]

  49. Ardis Parshall on June 5, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    The one objective detail here that is not subject to spin or exaggeration or misunderstanding, Lance, is when “the events in question” occurred. You either remember that detail incorrectly, or you misstate it deliberately, or you weren’t there. Those are the only choices. In any of those cases, you demonstrate that your testimony in the matter is unreliable.

    If T&S doesn’t kick both of us out the door — what a treat! we’ll have that in common! — they should. I’m through with you, in every possible way. Blather on undisputed if you wish; you won’t be bothered further by my calling attention to your mental faculties or your behavior.

  50. Flutterer on June 5, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Just sayin’ again:

    Observation:
    Say whatever you want and then complain when others respond the way they want?

    Weird. Or hypocritical. Or something.

  51. Lance Starr on June 5, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Thank you., Ardis, for so comically illustrating my original point.

    Lance

  52. Kevin Barney on June 5, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Let me try to explain a little bit about FAIR. It originated as an organization in 1997, when a bunch of Mormons were getting hammered on the old AOL message boards and they decided to band together and do something about it. It was very much a child of the internet, and it remains an internet-based organization.

    In its early incarnation, FAIR was pretty much what the common stereotype of it is: sort of an attack dog, bashing, debating society. Its main manifestations were a website, message boards, and a newsletter entitled Apologia, which was a very in-your-face production. The annual conference also started under that regime.

    Over time, FAIR has attempted to change its focus. I personally have zero interest in chicken-fighting attack dog apologetcs; our focus as an organization today (and for a number of years) has been *educative* apologetics. We don’t do debates; we don’t engage directly with anti-Mormons at all. The focus of our efforts is not antagonists or critics, but rather those members and investigators who are adversely affected by critical argument.

    For a long time the message boards were a problem. Those of us really involved in FAIR didn’t think of the boards as a part of FAIR, and viewed them as being independent. But those outside the organization saw the boards pretty much *as* FAIR. And the boards were like pretty much any message boards, with lots of free-wheeling, sometimes even nasty debate. There was some reticence to cut the boards loose because of the effect their presence had on our search rankings. But finally we did cut the boards loose. For a long time now they have been completely independent of FAIR (I think now they’re called the Mormon Apolgetic Discussion Board).

    The current manifestations of FAIR are: the website (which includes its “ask the apologist” feature), the Topical Guide (which is sort of a first generation attempt to catalog responses to anti criticisms), the Wiki (which is the state of the art attempt to do the same thing), the FAIR Journal (a monthly e-journal), and an annual conference.

    It’s easy for denizens of the Bloggernacle to look down their noses at apologetics. After all, as a group they are well informed and not likely to personally be thrown off by critical arguments, so they don’t see the need for it. But the vast majority of members of the Church aren’t in that boat. They have very little background knowledge about the church, and it is very easy for them to find critical argument on the internet and to be thrown by it (“What do you mean JS translated the BoM by looking at a stone in a hat?!”). Our mission is to be a lifeline to that member who has discovered something like that and is struggling.

  53. Adam Greenwood on June 5, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    I support apologetics and I have no beef with FAIR. Thanks to Kevin Barney for his apologia for that organization. It gives a good impression, and would given an even better impression if it weren’t having to share a thread with FAIR supporters shrilly vituperating Ardis Parshall and others.

  54. Hunter on June 5, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Thank you for that, Kevin Barney. It’s nice to have that little history, straight from the horse’s mouth.

  55. clark on June 5, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Well said Kevin. I’ve not had time to contribute to FAIR for about two years now. But I think the primary focus was always answering questions coming in. Then there was the wiki (which sadly I’ve not had time to contribute to). The forum was always, for me, an embarrassment despite a few interesting discussions there. (Some of the BoM geography posts were very good)

  56. clark on June 5, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Well said Kevin. I’ve not had time to contribute to FAIR for about two years now. But I think the primary focus was always answering questions coming in. Then there was the wiki (which sadly I’ve not had time to contribute to). The forum was always, for me, an embarrassment despite a few interesting discussions there. (Some of the BoM geography posts were very good)

  57. Ardis Parshall on June 5, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Kevin is the best possible representative of any apologetics organization, and I hope he knows both of my respect for him and my willingness to help at any time with his work.

  58. Kaimi Wenger on June 5, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    A few quick points:

    1. As a legal matter, this decision is largely based on the fact that the Tanners failed to register their trademark, thus putting themselves in a less favorable position in a trademark enforcement action.

    2. I do wonder whether the parody champions here (Allen, Greg) would be as favorably inclined towards parody if, say, the Tanners had been able to register Mormon.org as a parody site and direct all traffic there over to RfM.

    3. FAIR is not Allen Wyatt. (Though he is part of the community.)

    4. It was pretty juvenile, as actions go.

    5. The Tanners are pretty juvenile, themselves. Or perhaps I should say, THE TANNERS are PRETTY JUVENILE themselves. (You’ll have to imagine the boldface-underlining. It doesn’t show up in comments.)

    6. I’m not convinced that responding to sophomorics with counter-sophomorics is generally productive. However, I do realize that opinions differ on this point.

    7. Some commenters here need to calm down, chill out, and read our comment policy. (http://www.timesandseasons.org/misc.php#policies) Don’t make me get out the admin stick.

    Thanks, everyone.

  59. Ardis Parshall on June 5, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    I will also say that Mike Parker has been civil to me, always (although he has my blessing to deny that if it damages his reputation).

  60. Kaimi Wenger on June 5, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    8.

    “Kevin is the best possible representative of any apologetics organization, and I hope he knows both of my respect for him and my willingness to help at any time with his work.”

    Agreed on that point, completely.

    :)

  61. TrevorM on June 5, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Can’t we just be friends?!

    Here are the facts:

    Most of us aren’t too high on the Tanners.
    Some of us aren’t too high on Allen Parodying UTLM.
    Some of us are.

    Whether or not it was wrong is a matter of opinion that won’t be settled here.

    I for one, am grateful for FAIR’s advocacy or Mormonism and for the info they provide. Sure none of the contributors are anywhere close to perfect, but neither am I. Occasionally I am a little uneasy about the posture that Fair writers take with critics. It is unfortunate that we are not always particularly charitable towards them.

    Lance thank you (and anyone else involved) for doing Pro Bono work.

    Let’s not fight… I can’t handle the conflict ;)

  62. Mike Parker on June 5, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    FAIR is not a monolithic, Borg-like “hive mind” by any stretch of the imagination. It is made up of about 100 volunteers, about 20 of whom could be considered active participants. We frequently disagree amongst ourselves about how to respond to criticisms, as well as over the finer points of Mormon doctrine. (You should see some of the endless conversations we’ve had about the extent of God’s foreknowledge.)

    Likewise there are some volunteers who are more pugilistic, while others are more inclined toward honey-rather-than-flypaper behavior. The comments you’ve seen from various FAIR volunteers on this post are reflective of that.

    Thanks for the kind words, Ardis. I truly feel sorry for what happened at last summer’s conference, and hope that you would see fit to join us again some time. I’d even set up a special table just for you. [g]

  63. cinepro on June 5, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Wait. Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by looking at a stone in a hat?

  64. Ardis Parshall on June 5, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    You are a brave, brave man, Mike. I like that!

  65. Greg Smith on June 5, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    2. I do wonder whether the parody champions here (Allen, Greg) would be as favorably inclined towards parody if, say, the Tanners had been able to register Mormon.org as a parody site and direct all traffic there over to RfM.

    Depends. Is “Mormon” a defensible trademark? Would there be financial gain? Would it be clearly a parody? (Allen’s site, IIRC, had spooky Halloween letters, which would be a tip off to anyone with half a brain–which, granted, might rule out some of the Tanner’s intended audience.)

    I would object, however, to suing the SBC if a Baptist happened to make such a parody. Or, in trying to bankrupt the SBC because one didn’t like what some Baptist said.

    No one _likes_ being the victim of parody (if done well) because it is an effective form of criticism. But, I wouldn’t regard such parody as illegitimate or a sign of being juvenille, stupid, or unChristian. (Critics on this point ought to read Parley P. Pratt’s pamphlet about “Priestcraft in Danger!”…)

    NIbley’s “How To Write an Anti-Mormon Book” also springs to mind, and made his point more brilliantly.

    And, Ardis, for the record, I _was_ there, and I _did_ see your behavior–it was almost a year ago. :-)

    I would think that experience (and we have all doubtless had them) might make you realize that we can all do things that seem, in retrospect, ill-advised. A smidge of charity would not go amiss.

    But, even if Allen did (which I’m not convinced he did), that has no more to do with FAIR than your behavior has to do with Times and Seasons. Which was why I bothered to say something at all. I wasn’t even a MEMBER of FAIR when it happened, and yet this thread saw fit to tar me with the same brush.

    I’m surprised, too, that people think that small things like this don’t really “matter” and aren’t worth it. Are freedoms lost all at once, in the big things? Is the 1st amendment really only of value when earth-shaking issues are at stake?

    Personally, I would not want to live in a world where Sandra Tanner can use donations to shut me up about any matter about which I wished to pontificate–be it as juvenille as I wanted to be. It seems to me that we have the right to be as silly and trivial about whatever we want, however we want, barring defamation or fraud.

    Surely the internet is proof of that if nothing else. ;-)

  66. Allen Wyatt on June 5, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Kaimi (#56),

    What, exactly, made my actions juvenile in your mind? Was it putting up a website critical of the Tanners? Was it using domain names that they had not registered? Was it positioning the front page of the website as a parody? Was it something else I’m missing?

    Have you even ever seen the site? The website consisted wholely and entirely of three pages–the home page, a page that provided links to reviews of the Tanners’ works, and a page that provided links to articles about the Tanners and their ministry. I created the website because there was no other singular source to address what the Tanners–and there still isn’t. There are pieces and parts all over the Internet, but there is no “central location” where they are referenced.

    I guess I fail to see how trying to put together that central location is juvenile. I fail to see how parody (playing off of their magnum opus, “Shadow or Reality”) is juvenile. I fail to see how legally purchasing and using domain names that the Tanners didn’t use to direct people to non-commercial information about the Tanners is juvenile.

    I’m not looking for an argument here; I just want to understand what, specifically, you view as juvenile.

    -Allen

  67. Louis Midgley on June 5, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Kevin Barney has just accurately described Fair as I know it. I have attended various Fair conferences. I even sort of witnessed the very strange Table incident. For perhaps six months I have been subscribed to some list Fair operates in which, as Kevin has described, answers are given to questions. I have witnessed at least and perhaps many more that a hundred people offer their thanks for the assistance provided by that service. I have also witnessed the skillful and competent efforts to fashion responses to various attacks on the Church. The old FARMS, before it was brought into BYU by Elder Eyring and President Hinckley, answered questions that were sent through the mail. But FARMS never got into doing this on the internet. Fair has been much more successful than the old FARMS ever was in providing accurate information by those in need of it.

    In addition, those who are familiar with and who hence who will value the FARMS Review, will be aware that many of the essays published in recent issues of the review were done by those also associated with Fair. Under Scott Gordon, with the help of others, Fair has become significant defender of the faith. And, if you are a believer, then it is your faith that they are busy defending–that is, the faith you may have once represented and presented as missionaries.

    None of this has a thing to do with some indicent at a Fair conference over a table. And I wish that Ardis had not brought that up. It has exactly nothing to do with the efforts of the Tanners (and their allies)to put Fair out of business.

    Since some of us faced a similar situation beginning in 1998 and ending in 2001, I have a bit of an idea about the costs of defending oneself from this kind of legal action. Dan Peterson and I and the others had the advantage of having the legal assistance of BYU and Church attorneys and two very expensive law firms in California defending us. Our attorneys could never figure out what we had done that had gotten us in that mess. And that thing went well into discovery before the Reverend gent finally caved in. That that fellow, always heavily involved with the legal disputes over the Plaza in Salt Lake, even threatened legal action against anti-Mormon Richard Abanes, who ended up seeking help from Dan Peterson and me. That fellow and the Tanners are linked both personally and ideologically. If you have not faced this kind of situation, it is easy to have quick,cute opinions.

  68. Kaimi Wenger on June 5, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    I should note that it is deeply ironic that Sandra Tanner is suddenly a proponent of intellectual property law. This has not been the case, historically.

    In addition to the copyright case Marc notes in the opening post, the Tanners were also involved in a very questionable publication of Andrew Ehat’s private notes. They took the line then that copyright laws did not restrain that publication (and they won at the circuit level).

    Given that history, the recent case looks like a very opportunistic switch towards respect for intellectual property.

    (On the other hand, the same might be said for critics of the Tanners, to the extent they suggest that (1) Ehat’s notes should have been protected, and (2) the CHI should not be linkable, but (3) Allen Wyatt’s parody should be allowed.)

  69. Lance Starr on June 5, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    [QUOTE]1. As a legal matter, this decision is largely based on the fact that the Tanners failed to register their trademark, thus putting themselves in a less favorable position in a trademark enforcement action.[QUOTE/]

    I respectfully disagree. That was on element of it, but that is not what it was “largely based on.” The fact is that even if the Tanner’s had registered the mark prior to filing suit, they would have still lost for two very large reasons: (1) There was no “commercial use” in Wyatt’s use of the domain names. That was our primary counter argument from the very beginning and it was the crux of our arguments. (2) There was no “likelihood of confusion” between the two sites, and you can thank Sandra and her team of crack attorneys for handing this issue to us on a silver platter. In her initial complaint they provided something like seven emails from various people who had typed in one of the disputed URLs and gotten Wyatt’s site instead of UTLM. In every single case, those emailers noted that they readily, and immediately, understood that this was not Sandra’s website. One of them called it a “parody” (though he mispelled it), and another one called it a “hack site”, etc. Reading those emails it was readily apparent that people visiting the Wyatt site were note being confused as to the site’s sponsorship. Thus, the Tanners lost on the Unfair Competition claim.

    Of course, we could have lost any two of these three issues and the case would still be over since they had to prevail on all three to win.

    On the Cybersquatting claim, it was even more clearcut. Wyatt never made any attempt to extort money for the sale of the URLs, they were used for legitmate criticism, and his use fell squarely withing the “safe harbor” provisions of the anti-cybersquatting statute.

    We have maintained from an early stage that Sandra was getting some very poor legal advice in regards to her pursuit of this case. I make no claim to being a fabulous Intellectual Property attorney (in fact, my practice focuses on Immigration and criminal matters), but it was noted on several occassions when we went before the court that her attorney seemed ill-prepared to present her side of the case. His performance in front of the 10th Circuit was, in my view, particularly disasterous for her side. The really sad thing is that had Sandra simply called Wyatt and asked him to give up the URLs, he’d have done so in a heart beat and we’d all have been spared these histrionics.

    Lance

  70. Adam Greenwood on June 5, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    FAIR is not a monolithic, Borg-like “hive mind” by any stretch of the imagination.

    I withdraw my endorsement of FAIR.

  71. Jacob F on June 5, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Re: the 1994 Hamblin/Metcalfe incident:

    I read up on this and was disappointed in Hamblin’s judgment error, but equally disappointed in Metcalfe’s classless response. It appears the personal acrimony went both ways and that neither was above the fray. Unfortunate.

  72. clark on June 5, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    Lance did you win legal fees?

  73. Adam Greenwood on June 5, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    What, exactly, made my actions juvenile in your mind?

    The fact that you were 13 years old at the time?

    At least that’s what this birth certificate of yours I forged says. And forged birth certificates don’t lie.

  74. stevie on June 5, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    What happened to High Standards LDS are supposed to reflect in their action and behavior? Parodies at the other end of phony mirror sites? The poor behavior should be restricted to \”gentile bashing\” at MormonApologetics….I am disappointed that FAIR would stoop this low.

  75. Adam Greenwood on June 5, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Good point, Stevie-wevie. In Allen Wyatt’s defense, at the time parodies had not yet been made an express part of the temple recommend interview.

  76. Mike Parker on June 5, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Jacob F #70:

    I know Bill Hamblin and Dan Peterson, and I can truthfully say that neither of them have any “personal acrimony” for Brent Metcalfe. They both have a singular wit and are known to poke fun at those with whom they disagree. The “Metcalf is Butthead” incident was meant to be humorous, not mean.

    Sense of humor is one of those things that doesn’t translate well. What is funny to one person is stupid, juvenile, or mean to another. It’s okay if you don’t have the same funny bone as Hamblin and Peterson, but please don’t accuse them of something they didn’t do, namely pull their little joke because of “personal acrimony.”

  77. Jonathan Green on June 5, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    I probably should point out that I like juvenile parodies. The more juvenile, the better–but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re still juvenile. Own your juvenility.

    Of course the Tanners should have come up with some useful contribution to society long ago. But anyone who spends time bickering with the Tanners will unavoidably end up looking somewhat like their Mormon mirror image.

  78. Lance Starr on June 5, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Clark, at first we weren’t even going to ask for fees and we would not have except that the Tanners then went and appealed the District Court decision, so we filed for them. I think the $$$ figure was something like $90K. The judge denied us and we simply decided that we’d just defend the suit and not worry about fees. So we never appealed the judge’s ruling.

    Also, Metcalfe is no Butthead . . . he’s much more like Beavis.

    Lance

  79. Ardis Parshall on June 5, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Because some here have carried the discussion to the message boards, maligning T&S because of their hatred for me, and because their system has apparently blocked me from signing in, I have to post this here and hope one of you has the decency to carry the word over:

    I am no longer a T&S perma, having gone emeritus several weeks ago. The other T&S bloggers are no more responsible for my opinions and words than they are for any random commenter. Your animus toward me should not be misapplied to T&S.

    And to the two of you who are participating in that other discussion who only this morning requested my FREE help with research matters and are now slamming me so dishonestly, just what in the heck is wrong with you?

  80. Greg Smith on June 5, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    #73: I am disappointed that FAIR would stoop this low.

    Sigh. It had nothing to do with FAIR. Please read the thread. Allen Wyatt does not equal FAIR. Allen registered the domain under his own company. No one at FAIR knew about it for months.

    Rumor has it Allen also picked his nose. For shame, FAIR!!

  81. George Smith on June 5, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    I haven’t had much love for FAIR since Lou rudely interrupted my fondue night with Sandra and Gerald.

  82. seabass on June 5, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    #66 “…the faith you may have once represented and presented as missionaries.”
    “If you have not faced this kind of situation, it is easy to have quick,cute opinions.”

    While I appreciate putting those forgetful RMs in their place–who come home, read some philosophies of men, and think that maybe they didn’t have the full story while on their missions, where would the bloggernacle (or even the larger blogosphere) be without quick, cute opinions?

  83. TrevorM on June 5, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    #80

    That is really funny. I like the comment!

  84. TrevorM on June 5, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Also

    Adam I am really getting a kick out of your replies.

  85. Jacob F on June 5, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    Mike Parker #75

    I don’t know them so all I have to go on are the accounts that I can find. I guess I can cut them some slack based on what you said (although doesn’t it seem slightly unprofessional to poke fun at those with whom you disagree?), but the main point I was trying to make was that Metcalfe’s response, at least as portrayed by the Tanners, seemed classless and hardly forgiving, like he was trying to score points on the gaffe. That’s what was disappointing, because if it was all in good fun, Metcalfe should be able to take a joke and not let it get personal. Oh well.

  86. KW on June 5, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    FYI, the current message board discussion, previously referenced, is at:

    http://www.mormonapologetics.org/index.php?showtopic=36007

  87. Allen Wyatt on June 5, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Ardis (#78), you said:

    “I am no longer a T&S perma, having gone emeritus several weeks ago. The other T&S bloggers are no more responsible for my opinions and words than they are for any random commenter. Your animus toward me should not be misapplied to T&S.”

    Welcome to the club. That is exactly what some on this thread have done–use their animus towards my actions as a broad brush to paint FAIR.

    No fun, is it?

    -Allen

  88. Ardis Parshall on June 5, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    Allen, you’ve been trying to make that point all day. It seems your friends haven’t understood you, or are so careless of the truth that they don’t care.

  89. JNR on June 5, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    Ardis, I started the thread on T&S. I stand corrected about your status and will carry the word over although I am willing to bet my first born that your posting privileges are intact. Perhaps the many board upgrades have interferred and you need to reregister. AIthough I don’t think you meant to call yourself chum, you did make it clear that those asking for accuracy were sharks. I do not understand why you are always so angry and accusatory and how long FAIR is to suffer for it. I don’t know why FAIR bothers you so very, very much but forgiveness for offences large or small and some tolerance can go a long way.

    The point I think needs to be made is that if this kind of dialogue continues on the Bloggernacle you run the same risk that FAIR did in hosting a message board. Blogs carry their own baggage of being considered elitist but the perception I now have is that threads like this are what I can expect to find here because this has not been the first. Like it or not, FAIR is valued by many, many Mormons. I don’t know what there is to gain by reviling and denigrating those who support the church unless that is the reputation one seeks after.

  90. Louis Midgley on June 5, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    From my perspective, Seabass has earned an upgrade to Hapuka (aka Groper), which is, I think, a serious move up.

    And the fact is, Fondue aside, that Bevis thing was merely a private joke. But jokes are no fun unless someone hears about them. And Metcalfe was angry and held a press conference. One a tiny few would have ever known of the acrostic, if there was such a thing, since it was never published. But it seems that someone talked and Metcalfe heard about it and tried to score points by announcing that he was none other than some cartoon figure. If he had not announced it, who would have guessed? Ok, it should not have gotten out. So can we now move on? Or is that the template for bad taste from here on out? I don’t think so. Why? I have noticed a few rather angry remarks on this very thread. And they were not, at least for me, all that insightful, informative, funny.

  91. Mark B. on June 5, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    I just wonder where the syllable break is on “Seabass” and what is “Groper” groping?

  92. JNR on June 5, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    “Allen, you’ve been trying to make that point all day. It seems your friends haven’t understood you, or are so careless of the truth that they don’t care. ”

    Again, this is spiteful. Allen’s friends do understand and we are not careless of the truth.

  93. John Lynch on June 5, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    As a fellow board member with Kevin Barney and one who is intimately involved with things going on at FAIR, I can categorically state that FAIR as an organization has zero interest in personality apologetics (ie. defending the church through ad homin) or in engaging in debate. We seek to be a provider of information only. FAIR did not and does not endorse the actions that led to the lawsuit, and was in fact unaware of them at the time of events that led to the lawsuit. I personally did not see any representation of the site until long after the Tanners had filed against FAIR.

    Allen Wyatt is a highly valued contributor to FAIR. His laps in judgment is his own. If there is any out there who is free from sin, let them cast the first stone. Otherwise, I recommend that we recognize that he regrets his actions and accept him at his word.

    I do not endorse personal attacks. I personally argued directly with those who control the message board to have the Ardis incident removed from posts at MADB (the then fully independent former FAIR message boards) but as they are independent, I could not be persuasive. Those in control felt for whatever reason that they should remain. I commend Ardis for removing the posts from T&S. She is welcome to attend the FAIR conference at any time, as is any supporter or critic. We do not close our doors to anyone who is respectful.

    As for the future, I categorically state that FAIR has no intention of condoning contentious or deceitful behavior. If you are supporters of FAIR, we ask that you comport yourselves kindly, that you treat others respectfully, that you hold yourself to a higher standard than others hold you, and that you defend the church using truth, reason, and personal generosity. If you are a critic, we ask that you hold yourselves to the standards you hold us to, and that you allow our very human contributors to be human. After all, when you attack the church you are attacking what is deeply personal to each of us. The mountain we sometimes must climb to set aside our personal tendencies to reply in kind to unkindness, deceit etc. is often difficult because what you attack we hold so very dear. If you can understand that, you may be better able to overlook our occassional weakness and understand the reasoning we hope to convey.

    FAIR is not above reproach. If we err, we want to improve. Many have written respectful corrections, and we take such input to heart. Indeed, we are grateful to have our weaknesses revealed so that we can overcome them. In the instance of the Tanner lawsuite, the accusations were simply false, and were proven so on many occassions. I can only conclude that the reason for continued persistence despite rulings against the Tanners had more to do with the private objectives of the Tanners than any motivation based on merits.

    John Lynch

  94. seabass on June 5, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    “Hapuka could be described as a large mouthed, rather heavy-bodied stocky solid fish.”

    Ha ha. Thanks for the upgrade Louis. I grabbed the moniker “Seabass” from a character in that mezmerizing, tour-de-force of artistic excellence: Dumb and Dumber; not from the ever-so-tastey fish.

  95. Adam Greenwood on June 5, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    In a timely effort to save time and effort, we will be instituting a “hot key” feature that will let you generate a comment with a mere key stroke or click of the mouse.

    Please indicate whether you prefer “tu quoque” or “so are you!”

  96. seabass on June 5, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    On a more serious note, I this has been an angry thread. I can’t help but wonder why a discussion of FAIR would be so acrimonious, while we can have chat after chat about SSM and be so peaceful. Is it because people have it out for FAIR? Is it because FAIR thinks people have it out for FAIR and are a little jumpy?

  97. Ardis Parshall on June 5, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    Juliann, I’m not angry all the time. I’m very seldom angry. I do not understand why you interpret me as being angry, whether the fault is my writing or your reading. I am not angry now. Perhaps I misinterpret you and yours the same way, because I wonder why you are always so filled with hate. If that is an unfair assessment, then either your writing or my reading is faulty.

    Another inaccuracy you might consider correcting is the charge that I am somehow always bashing FAIR and FARMS. Evidence of your misreading is found in this very thread, when I was protective enough of FARMS that I would not link to an anti version of the Butthead matter, nor attempt to summarize it myself; I also cautioned the commenter I was responding to that he should recognize the negative spin the anti sites would place on the story, and exercise charity in his interpretation of the whole affair.

    Kevin’s cool and professional way of offering apologetics as educational, together with his recognition of me for what I am — a believing, practicing, knowledgeable Latter-day Saint — makes him a wonderful representative of FAIR. Mike’s courtesy, especially when it is offered by one who knows what really did happen last year, unlike most of those who claim to be in the know, is another welcome oasis of rationality in the universe of FAIR. Contrast their behavior and tone with other public expressions of FAIRness, and if you are honest, you’ll understand why I am bothered by FAIR, on those rare occasions when I happen to think of you at all.

  98. Allen Wyatt on June 5, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    Adam,

    I’m sort of partial to that old favorite, “You’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny.” It allows one to safely ignore whatever the other says, without fear of reprisal.

    Let us know when the hot-key feature is available.

    -Allen

  99. Kaimi Wenger on June 5, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    John,

    Thanks for weighing in with a very thoughtful comment.

    As for the future, I categorically state that FAIR has no intention of condoning contentious or deceitful behavior. If you are supporters of FAIR, we ask that you comport yourselves kindly, that you treat others respectfully, that you hold yourself to a higher standard than others hold you, and that you defend the church using truth, reason, and personal generosity. If you are a critic, we ask that you hold yourselves to the standards you hold us to, and that you allow our very human contributors to be human. After all, when you attack the church you are attacking what is deeply personal to each of us. The mountain we sometimes must climb to set aside our personal tendencies to reply in kind to unkindness, deceit etc. is often difficult because what you attack we hold so very dear. If you can understand that, you may be better able to overlook our occassional weakness and understand the reasoning we hope to convey.

    I can agree with this, 100%. Thanks.

  100. Mike Parker on June 5, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    Jacob F #85:

    (although doesn’t it seem slightly unprofessional to poke fun at those with whom you disagree?)

    Have you spent much time in the academic world? Seriously? It’s vicious.

  101. Spencer Macdonald on June 5, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    A few comments from one of the lawyers who assisted with the lawsuit:

    >> “After publicizing the site for a time, [Wyatt] eventually transferred all of the domain names back to the Tanners (presumably after legal threats over their use).”

    Actually, no. The Tanners never requested the domains, nor did they request that Wyatt cease using them. They just filed suit. Wyatt then offered to transfer to domains to the Tanners to resolve the matter, but the Tanners refused to take them (or, rather, their lawyers did). Wyatt gave them the domains anyway by transferring them into an escrow account, with instructions that the domains could only be released to the Tanners. My understanding is that the Tanners eventually took over the domains.

    >> “The Tanners, however, decided to bring suit anyway alleging that the parody site had infringed the Utah Lighthouse Ministry website,”

    No. The Tanners sued without making any preliminary demands about Wyatt’s ownership or use of the domains.

    >> (Comment by Disappointed) I think this stunt by FAIR is idiotic. That they would stoop to this kind of level says more about the mentality there than any affirmation to the contrary about using the best scholarship etc.

    The “stunt” had nothing to do with FAIR. Allen Wyatt did it on his own time, on his own dime. He neither sought nor received permission from FAIR to set up the hyperlinks.

    >> (Comment by Marc Bohn) Allen Wyatt is vice-president of FAIR and, for the purposes of this suit at this point, they were one and the same.

    No, they weren’t. FAIR was named as a party because Allen’s hyperlinks sent folks over the FAIR website, not because Allen was FAIR’s VP.

    >> (Comment by Paul Brown) Is there any adult supervision at FAIR?

    Whenever someone says something silly here, do you ask “Is there any adult supervision at T&S?”

    >> (Comment by Raymond Takashi Swenson) I am particularly disappointed that FAIR was involved in what was essentially deception

    FAIR was not “involved” in any coherent sense of the term. FAIR did not ask or authorize Wyatt to do what he did. Its “involvement” was limited to being named as a party to the suit by the Tanners. It’s rather unreasonable to characterize being sued as “[being] involved in what was essentially deception.”

    In any event, the parody was not deceptive.

    >> (Comment by Raymond Takashi Swenson) It casts a pall over what I have found to be good information on a variety of apologetic topics.

    So if you are named as a party in a frivolous lawsuit, and eventually prevail in getting that lawsuit tossed out on its ear, is your credibility nevertheless tainted?

    >> (Comment by Raymond Takashi Swenson) I doubt that most of the speakers and people attending those meetings would have endorsed this abuse of the internet.

    I doubt they would have characterized a legal parody as “abuse,” nor would they fault FAIR when FAIR has done nothing wrong.

    >> (Comment by Ardis Parshall) Mention FAIR and a post becomes like chum to sharks — they can’t let anything with even the faintest whiff of criticism pass, can they?

    IOW, FAIR should shut its yap and not defend itself against false charges and incorrect information.

    I trow now.

    >> (Comment by Scott Gordon) This lawsuit was used as a successful method to raise money for the Tanners. They raised more money in a month than we see in donations from several years combined. I see it also as an attempt to shut down FAIR. Even though they admitted in court that there were no damages, they refused to settle and refused to use the methods set up to settle Internet disputes.

    I suppose I could post the text of the demand letter I received from the Tanners’ attorney just after the lawsuit was filed. The amount of money they were demanding was outrageous. It was a shakedown, pure and simple.

    >> (Comment by Ben) What some of us are questioning is the “maturity” of some specific actions.

    What some of you are doing is attributing Allen Wyatt’s private (and lawful) conduct to FAIR, and then ripping FAIR for stuff it didn’t do (and which was lawful anyway). In toto. That’s not right. At all.

    >> (Comment by Ben) I don’t agree at all with anything the Tanners do, but, like others on this thread, I don’t agree with some tactics taken to “attack,” “parody,” or whatever-you-wanna-call-it against them. “But as an organization we are always encouraging people to deal with the issues and to not attack the people.” I really hope this is true, because it often appears (again, this is on individuals and may not be the goal of the whole organization) not to be the case.

    Again, FAIR had nothing to do with the parody websites. They have no responsibility whatsoever for them. Not legally, ethically, or morally. FAIR did nothing wrong.

    >. (Comment by stevie) What happened to High Standards LDS are supposed to reflect in their action and behavior? Parodies at the other end of phony mirror sites? The poor behavior should be restricted to \”gentile bashing\” at MormonApologetics….I am disappointed that FAIR would stoop this low.

    Again, FAIR had nothing to do with the parody websites. They have no responsibility whatsoever for them. Not legally, ethically, or morally. FAIR did nothing wrong.

  102. CD on June 5, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    I appreciate John Lynch\’s comments about FAIR\’s intents. However, there have been institutional lapses in judgment as well (not just individual ones). Recently a rather inflammatory article was posted on the FAIR wiki attacking a critic, to the point of having an unnamed medical professional pronounce the critic a wife abuser without having met the individual in question. Following a flurry of discussion on various venues, the article was pulled.

    Aside from this one egregious example, there are personality apologetics on FAIR. Articles contain non-factual commentary (i.e., stating that Grant Palmer waited until his CES pension was secure before he expressed any alleged doubts about the church, with no cited support) meant to color perception. The FAIR blog has had several posts that attack individuals not just for what they may have said, but who they are perceived to be. Arguments abound on those blog entries.

    At any rate, I don\’t think FAIR is responsible for Wyatt\’s actions (which I do see as juvenile and petty), but they are responsible for what is done in their name on their own site. I do think that it\’s unfortunate that JNR has brought the matter over to the former FAIR board in order to ridicule individuals (with eager participation of some there), and that it serves only to further taint FAIR since she has tied the activities here to FAIR (rightly or wrongly).

  103. Adam Greenwood on June 5, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    I’m sort of partial to that old favorite, “You’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny.”

    This reprehensible independence of thought shall be punished. You SHALL use only the T&S-approved mindless insults.

  104. Ardis Parshall on June 5, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    Thank you, John. I’ll try to live up to your expectations, and I’ll continue in my respect for those at FAIR who do the same.

  105. JNR on June 5, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Ardis, I am very curious. What response are you going for when you continue to accuse people who have merely disagreed with your characterizations of “being full of hate”. That is an angry and over the top ad hominem…not to mention unkind and hurtful. Why are you persisting with this? Is there anyway to mollify you?

  106. Adam Greenwood on June 5, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Cash, probably.

  107. stevie on June 5, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    Well said John..

    Too bad MADB refuses to adopt the same philosophy. I agree with you 100%.

  108. Brett Williams on June 5, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    @23

    I’m a Librarian, not a Lawyer, but the words ‘Preliminary Injunction’ pop out pretty early on in that particular case. Correct me if I’m wrong, but a preliminary injunction does not a civil case make. The case was handled following this injunction through arbitration.

    Second, the shaky ground for me in that case (and the wikileaks case) is that part of the complaint centers around the copyrighting of links to an infringing text, not only the actual text. This is more of a matter for international law, I know a series of Belgian newspapers are suing Google for linking to their stories without permission.

    Personally, the darn thing is badly handled on all sides. FAIR had a penchant for being rude, as did FARMS during the 1990′s, both of which have clearly cleaned up their act. The Tanners clearly went beyond ‘Fair Use’, but the portion of the complaint relating to the hyperlinks is my real sticking point.

    Are hyperlinks to infringing material contributory infringement, copyright/trademark infringement, or not? And how are you going to get nerds to stop making those links? Slashdot had a real roaring discussion of the Wikileaks issue…

  109. Marc Bohn on June 5, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Spencer – Thanks for the collection of responses. They were informative.

  110. Mike Parker on June 5, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    CD #102:

    As has been stated several times here, FAIR is a group of individual volunteers. There is no “hive mind.” We each have a slightly different approach and talents, and we try to collaborate to make the whole more than the sum of the parts.

    The article on the FAIR wiki was debated internally before and after it went up. I was one of those who voted against it. There were others who were concerned. Eventually the page was removed.

    Unlike a corporate organization like Coca-Cola or Bank of America (or the LDS Church), we don’t have a public relations division or a marketing department. Sometimes, in their zeal, individual FAIR volunteers do things that, in retrospect, are not wise. For those lapses of judgment all I can say is we’re human, we trying to do better, and I think we’re maturing (in every sense of that word).

  111. CD on June 5, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    #110

    Good to know. I would like to think that there is enough to work with to fulfill FAIR’s mission without having to resort to personalizing commentary.

    BTW – Lance Starr may be surprised to hear that there is no public relations division or marketing department, since he is listed as the Media Relations Director for FAIR in various places.

    At any rate, I appreciate the attempts to distinguish FAIR from actions committed by individuals closely affiliated with FAIR. It’s often difficult to make that distinction when some individuals are so readily identified as representative of FAIR in most other activities. I would hope that individuals that might fit that description would be mindful of how their actions reflect upon the organization.

  112. Jacob F on June 5, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Mike Parker #100:

    I do have experience with archival accounting research (sounds exciting I know), but I only got one paper published before selling out for a corner of the business world that has an expectation of über-professionalism. I guess my view might be tainted by that. For some reason I have this image of Mormon apologists as being clean-cut general authorities-in-waiting and Evangelical critics (not the antis but rather the honest critics) as being respectful on a personal level while still disagreeing on the issues, but maybe I should be more realistic!

  113. Kaimi Wenger on June 5, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Thanks for your comments so far, all.

    I think it’s a sad thing that our interactions with FAIR have tended to be contentious. Two groups of latter-day saints should not have this contentious of a history.

    I think it’s sad that very smart FAIR writers only show up when they perceive their institution as under attack. This perpetuates mutual negative perceptions. FAIR regulars only see T&S bloggers when they perceive a criticism; we only see them when they’re firing back. And that’s not a good recipe for neighborly relations.

    In order to try to short-circuit this feedback cycle, I have a proposal of sorts — a request, actually:

    John Lynch, Mike Parker, Scott Gordon, and Juliann Reynolds,

    If it’s not too much trouble, could you each please send us one or two guest posts? I’d like to have a chance to bring you into discussions, in a more neighborly, non-threatening way. I’d like the chance to, to quote Juliann, make you “feel comfortable and welcome. That is when the magic happens and we can see one another as individuals with important things to say. That is when we open our eyes and ears.” (See http://www.fairblog.org/2008/03/17/what-women-know/#more-66 ). I want to hear from you, and discuss your thoughts and ideas, outside of the contentious back-and-forths we’ve seen of late.

    You’re all experienced bloggers, message boarders, or both, and I believe your guest posts will be excellent contributions to the community. Please send your guest posts to kaimipono (at) gmail.

    I’d ask for one limitation on them. Please, let’s not talk about inter- or intra-site politics, in any of its iterations — whether this post or that thread was unfair or unFAIR, whether apologetics sites are better than blogs or whether any blogger does or does not get along with any particular apologist, or any of that whole cluster of internecine-political-navel-gazing topics.

    I’m sorry to impose that kind of restriction, but I really don’t want to continue with any sort of internecine squabbling.

    What I do want is to hear from each of you about other, more interesting, more important things. Things like:

    Your favorite moments in church history. Favorite hymns. Personal observations about church, about Mormon studies, about feminism or politics or architecture or Santa Claus. Book reviews, or discussions of Mormon art, or literature, or even favorite fondue recipes.

    The floor is yours. Surprise us. We’d really like to hear from you. (And it should be good exposure for you, as well. We get 2000 visitors a day, here, and the overlap with FAIR readers, while significant, is certainly less than 100%.)

    Let’s stop fighting about past conflicts and comments, and focus our energy on being better neighbors.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

  114. Mike Parker on June 5, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    #111:

    Well, you can see for yourself on this very page how good Lance is at public relations. [g] (Don\’t hurt me, Lance!)

    I think some of the gaffes that FAIR has experienced have been the organizational equivalent of \”growing pains.\” Transitioning from an ad hoc group of AOL message boarders to a serious, scholarly organization isn\’t easy, and we\’re still trying to get it down right. We\’re getting better, I think.

  115. Louis Midgley on June 5, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    It seems that the Tanners have made a career out of dishing out venom, but when Allen Wyatt teased them, they went ballistic. They filed a law suit against Allen in an effort to get at Fair. That seems obvious, does it not? So I am at a loss to see what an unsupported opinion about FARMS and Fair being rude during the 1990s, as if there even was a Fair back then, has to do with the Tanners bringing a law suit in an effort to shut down Fair. Be that as it may, what started as a discussion of this matter has given some people, who seem not to have solid information on the legal issues, an opportunity to blast away at Fair, even though Fair had nothing to do with the parody. And some have even opined about how FARMS in their unsupported opinion was once rude.

    And I have not been able to figure out what hurt feelings over the Table Incident last year in Sandy has to do with the law suit brought by the Tanners. Well, topic drift probably explains all of this.

  116. CD on June 5, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Topic drift indeed! And board drift, as well. JNR has pulled one of my comments from here to post over on the other board, rather than respond to it here. Seems an odd choice of method of response, topic drift or not. (No doubt she’ll find a way to snark about this comment, as well). I see no reason for there to be any animosity between readers of this blog or posters on that board. I think Kaimi’s idea (#113) is a good one.

  117. Ardis Parshall on June 5, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    Juliann, I invite you to browse the posts under my name here at T&S (see “Blogger Bios and Posts by Author” near the top of the sidebar), or to browse the posts on my new solo blog, Keepapitchinin.org, or to browse my columns in the SLTribune archives. If you find any post anywhere that is the slightest bit angry or unsupportive of the Church and its mission, let’s talk about it. I’ll bring the table, tablecloth, and Godiva chocolates.

    Until you’ve done that, though, you don’t know anything at all about me or what I believe or what my character is.

  118. JNR on June 5, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    Ardis, excuse me for persisting but I am not discussing your character nor saying you are not supportive of the church yet you repeatedly call me “hateful” for objecting to your numerous unkind and uncharitable statements. Again, what will mollify you?

  119. Ray on June 5, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    This has been sad. Just saying.

  120. JNR on June 5, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    And thank you for the kind offer, Kaimi. :-)

  121. KerBearRN on June 5, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Kaimi,

    I agree completely. It is time to heal.

  122. Louis Midgley on June 5, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    Ardis:

    I am confident that you agree with me that some who have done what everyone, with whatever gifts they have, should be doing what they can to defend and explain their faith. Now I will grant that some have failed to do that well. Perhaps none of us who have tried have done as well as we should have done, given the importance of the task. This includes, of course, those involved with Fair, including me, to the extent that I am sort of involved with Fair. Mistakes have perhaps been made in the way we have tried to support and defend the Kingdom or explain the faith of the Saints. But this is not a reason to dismis the effort or to, as some have done, to move to the sidelines and assume a superior attitude.

    In addition, I do not doubt that you are supportive of the Church and its mission and so forth. I really like that sort of thing. What I cannot quite figure out is why the Table Incident has to be discussed, when it has nothing to do with the Tanner’s efforts to shut Fair down. And there have been quite a few harsh things said on this thread that have little or nothing to do with the topic.

    Looking back, I am confident that Allen wishes he had not teased the Tanners. We all, I am sure, live and learn. But not when a blog is used to ventilate hostilies that should be forgotten or what we take as insults that should be forgiven. Are we not on the same team? Should we not overlook things and forget all the little things that may have annoyed or troubled us? I think that the answers to these kinds of questions is obvious. So can we now move on. So I am hoping to see you at the nest Fair conference. I would enjoy breaking bread with you and getting to know you and your world better. And if I had any idea who CD and a few others were, I would invite him to join with us.

    Since Seabass knows what a Hapuka is, we already are friends. And I invited the Groper remark, since I could have just used the name Hapuka. But the other one surprised me. Not bad. Why did’t I think of that one? That playful banter seemed to me to be harmless. Some of the remarks on this thread have, however, been unfortunate.

  123. Ardis Parshall on June 5, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    Without drawing specific attention to certain of your statements which are simply not true, JNR, I repeat my request that you read some of my posts. If you then want to continue the conversation, we’ll have something to talk about. I would also be willing to read anything substantive you have to offer, if you’ll point to something representative. Until then, please don’t expect me to furnish you further excuses to make negative remarks about me in the guise of seeking to “mollify” me.

  124. clark on June 5, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    I think it’s sad that very smart FAIR writers only show up when they perceive their institution as under attack. This perpetuates mutual negative perceptions.

    Kaimi, I don’t think that a fair characterization. (No pun intended) I was for several years quite active with FAIR and I like to think I’ve been active since the earliest days of the LDS blog scene including being a blogger at the precursor to T&S. (Even though, perhaps a bit like Allen, I embarrassed myself a bit there) Likewise Kevin has been a quite active commenter at many blogs. I’d also note that Mike has participated in a large number of blogs. I’m sure there are others who simply are escaping my memory right now.

    The perception that FAIR folks only come out when FAIR (or FARMS) is attacked is quite unfortunate. It is, I think, an example of confirmation bias where we only notice what confirms our already held stereotypes.

    It’s always unfortunate when something happens that in retrospect we wish didn’t happen. Whether Allen thinks he did anything wrong or not I’m sure he wishes he hadn’t set events into motion. However at the same time I can think of quite similar events with yourself or others (including me) that fit the same criteria.

    I think the valid concern FAIR folks have is how to counteract the unfair stereotype of apologists. I have to agree that there are way too many snide asides made at it. (I’m not saying you are doing this – just that it is something I notice) If one says anything then folks accuse them of only coming out when criticized and being insecure. If they say nothing then the stereotype is simply reinforced. I’m quite open (and I’m sure Mike is as well) to your ideas of what one should do in this situation.

  125. Seth R. on June 5, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Is there a feud between the bloggernacle and the apologetics community?

    How come no one told me?

  126. JNR on June 5, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    Ardis, your previous posts have no more to do with what has been said here than the other past events that can’t seem to be put aside. But I join Lou in his hope to see you at a FAIR conference in the hopes that I could also get to know you better.

  127. Ardis Parshall on June 5, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    Okay, JNR. I know the sincerity of your expressed hopes.

  128. JNR on June 5, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    “Is there a feud between the bloggernacle and the apologetics community?”

    I know this was said in humor but there will never be any feud. Anyone who has endured a frivolous lawsuit knows the emotional costs and the timing of a blog that inadvertantly promoted false information was not good so soon after the ruling. As a board member of FAIR, I will make the confession that I have tired of the hypocritical demands on FAIR members to be perfect in every respect. If we need to make no mistakes and be endlessly charitable while turning every cheek we possess then so does every blogger who feels entitled to criticize us.

  129. Marc Bohn on June 5, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    This seems like a good point to close up shop on comments for this thread. John, Mike, Scott, and Juliann, if you’re open to it, we look forward to the guest posts .