Like many I’ve been recently drawn to the hard-to-look-away car crash that is the Tim Ballard/OUR saga. I am very disconnected from the conservative Utah zeitgeist that’s given rise to this debacle, and I haven’t done a deep dive into the particulars, but in a sense that makes my perspective not worthless on a meta-level in terms of messaging, since I think my experience mirrors that of most members on the street who only have a casual familiarity with what’s going on.
A few things can be true at once, as much as people try to pigeonhole these types of things into a grand confirmation of their ideological identities and repudiation of their enemies’.
There are a handful of people who are so patently scheisters in the Mormon space that you don’t have to have a lot of discernment to see them for what they are, but evidently a lot of people don’t pass even that minimal bar. On the right there are certain former Utah politicians, and on the left there are certain thought leader types in the current and former Mormon communities. From the little bit that I have seen and heard of Tim Ballard there’s something off about him personally.
However, there is some validity to complaints about the Church spokesperson vaguely alluding to some sin without due process or concrete specifics, and I wonder if some among the Church professionals feel like they can take the right flank of the Church for granted in this regard because the right has not traditionally been the bastion of pushback against the Church.
For those cheering this approach, imagine if tables were turned and this approach was used to somebody on your side of the aisle ideologically. If they have something (which I have little doubt that they do, there’s been an awful lot of smoke for there to be no fire), then bring it up. If for whatever reason it’s not wise to bring it up, then there are ways to distance an organization from a person without casting vague aspersions, especially when there was one concrete thing that they did feel comfortable sharing (Tim Ballard using President Ballard’s name).
(I get that the case of disciplinary proceedings is a more complicated one, and that the Church is in a bind in order to protect confidentiality, but even in these cases if somebody is misrepresenting what went down I’m fine with the Church publicly requesting permission to make the details available.)
Of course, I don’t mean to dogpile on the Church spokesperson. My armchair quarterbacking is easy, his job is not, and I’m sure he’s feeling a lot of unearned stress right now.
Finally, I’ve seen a lot of vague, ideologically charged criticisms against Ballard and OUR. Again, there’s been so much smoke that I doubt there isn’t some fire, but if you want to make a case against OUR and Ballard then some basic principles of communication might be nice. Make it brief, clear, to-the-point, maybe with some graphics. The “Letter to a CES Director” made a splash precisely because it was the first product in the apologetics/critics wars that understood basic graphic design.
People who think that simply appealing to experts disagreeing with his modus operandi is going to do anything don’t quite appreciate how much the concept of expertise, especially in the softer social sciences, has taken a beating in recent years. You can gnash your teeth about that, but that’s the world we live in, and there appears to be more than enough on Ballard that you can take him down without being a jerk to people who see things differently than you.