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Apr 30

An Overdue Apology

As stated in an earlier post, I owe some people an apology. Before I make good on my promise, I must apologize for taking so long. I probably could have whipped up something quick, but I thought it better to put time and consideration into my words. It would have been a shame if in my haste I inadvertently offended again.

I think the easiest way for me to do this is to step through comments that I worded poorly and say what I should have said.

Me: "I fail to see how conjecture based on incomplete and poor researched media reports enlightens anyone or shows them the love and saving power of Jesus Christ."
Eric: "And an avid ‘listener’ of the show can assume to know more than local reporters?"

You’ve begun to contradict yourself. I’m pulling the plug on this one.

My intention was to call into question the investigative thoroughness of the local media and stop people from jumping to premature conclusions. The AP article was very short and was an abridged version of the Tribune-Review story. The latter provided more contextual quotes, but is rather presumption in its title and tone. Minto said in an interview that a TR reporter had called him after receiving a tip by phone. After speaking to Marty, the reporter contacted Chuck Gratner, general manager of WORD-FM and sought a comment. What Mr. Gratner said shed little light on the situation. An email I received in response to an enquiry I made indicated that the station had not planned on giving an official press release. There is no evidence to suggest that Tony LaRussa actually listened to the show aon any regular basis, if at all. Thus, the article is rather biased to Mr. Minto’s position. I don’t say that to insult or call into question Marty’s version of the story, but to merely point out that the picture is incomplete.

As the news of Marty’s firing spread, I saw a lot of accusations made by those who only had access to the AP article. Many of these accusations were very harsh in tone. Some verged on anti-Catholic conspiracy theories. When I read Eric Ragle’s post, I feared that, as a prominent blogger, he might add fuel to the flame. I did not intend to label Eric as a bigot and I apologize if I have. Unfortunately, I got up on my soapbox and ranted about what I perceived as unfair treatment.

"Eric Ragle at Evangelical Underground seems to be convinced that some sort of conspiracy to placate Catholic listeners was responsible for Marty’s firing. He also seems to think local reporters are infallible and assumes that they actually listened to the show prior to reporting the story."

"That comment thread is now closed. I find it ironic that someone claiming that Marty was censored by Catholic discrimination was so quick to pull the plug on me."

The way I worded things made things personal. I had intended to prevent Marty’s firing from precipitating needless conflict in the Christian blogosphere. Instead I created conflict of my own by publically airing my grievance with Eric. Had I been practicing what I’ve often preached, I would have privately contacted Eric. Had I done so, none of the ensuing mess might have occurred. I am sorry for making what should have been a private disagreement public.

Understandably, Eric was offended by what I wrote and responded in post on his blog. The gist of his accusations is that as Catholic who was often annoyed and/or offended by Marty’s comments, I am too biased to objectively report on his firing. I can certainly understand why he would say that. Admittedly, I focused quite a bit on Marty’s bias against Catholicism. As a Catholic, they are what most often offended me. My point is, and has always been, that Catholics aren’t the only people Marty offended with his remarks. However, not being a member of those groups, I was not personally offended by the remarks against them. I was trying to stick the rule of writing about only what I know. I am sorry if I presented myself in such a way as to suggest hypocrisy. I apologize if Mr. Ragle felt that he was being chastized by someone with ulterior motives. As a side note, I would like to state that while I’m friendly with Marty’s former producer, a fellow Catholic, I had no intention of gaining favor with him. I was merely looking out for his reputation and good name as a friend, a Christian, and a responsible netizen.

Eric pointed to some particular comments I made in my mega Marty Minto post that I should apologoze for.

What I said:

"It’s nice to see that clown colleges are still producing fine graduates [like Eric Svendsen]."

What I should have said:

"Mr. Svendsen’s accusations are based on heresay and assumptions. They are unfounded and unresearched. As such, they lie somewhere between detraction and calumny. They can certainly be construed as ad hominem attacks that lack apparent substance or merit. They are ridiculous on their face and Mr. Svendsen should be ashamed of them. They are inappropriate for anyone to make but are especially eggregiously offensive coming from a professed Christian. One should not impune another’s reputation without evidence and sufficient reason."

I apologize for insinuating that Eric Svendsen is a clown. In doing so, I was no better behaved than I thought he was. I don’t know if E.S. reads my blog, but if he does, I invite him to provide proof for his allegations. I am more than willing to hear other points of view and I sincerely hope we could have a polite and fruitful dialog

What I said:

"On a side note, I hate to kick a man when he’s down, but would have hurt for him to use a spelling/grammar checker? It’s one thing to butcher English on the air when you don’t have a grammar or pronunciation aid handy. It just looks sloppy when it’s typed up as his ‘official’ rebuttal for the world to see."

What I should have said:

*sound of wind blowing across a prairie*

I should have kept my opinion to myself. Better yet, I should have emailed Marty and pointed out the mistakes to him so that he’d the opportunity to fix them. I may yet do that. I am sorry for any and all of the pot shots that I have made about Marty Minto. I was a loyal listener to his show, and despite our differences, I respect and like him. Perhaps others have less trouble with this sin, but I’m often rather critical of others, including my friends. In fact, sometimes I’m crueler to my friends and loved ones than I am to complete strangers. I guess on some level, taking others down a peg makes me feel better about myself. I’m sorry for hurting others in the process of massaging my fragile ego.

Sadly, my dispute with Eric didn’t remain merely between us. Due to a rather unfortunate case of mistaken identity, Mike Russell of Eternal Perspectives was dragged into the conflict. He called me a toddler and I accused him of character assassination. It wasn’t pretty. Via comments and private email, though, we seem to have buried the hatchet. I am sorry that in my zeal to defend my reputation I offended you, Mike. I honestly do find your blog interesting and insightful. I will endeavor to read it more frequently. I hope you enjoy mine as well.

To conclude my apology, I’d like to quote a comment I left at EU.

"I’m sorry that this has become such a big thing and I apologize if any of my comments offended you. I will be taking your suggestions and criticisms to heart…I don’t want to be at odds with another Godblogger. Bickering helps neither of us nor our readers. However, this has been a humbling experience and I will certainly attempt to learn its lessons. I will also be open about this on my blog so that others might learn before making the same mistakes."

"It is my sincere hope that we can put this matter behind us and find ways to interact fruitfully to spread the Gospel and witness to each other and the world. "

I mean that bit about openness sincerely. I am leaving my inflamatory comments as a testament to my flaws. I will also soon add a link to this apology in the offending post.

Mike summed things up pretty nicely in one of his comments. I’ll close with his wise words.

"[A]ll of us say stupid things and wrestle against sin. In doing so, we often hurt one another. We all need to extend generous portions of grace to others while gulping down huge helpings of humility ourselves. There are no innocent parties in this exchange: Mr Dung, Eric, and certainly I could have handled the situation much better, I think, but we didn’t. Why not? Because we’re all in the process of maturing and God still has much to do in our lives."

Amen.

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