In Reply to: Ricky posted by remembrance on February 26, 2005 at 10:16:49:
Thanks for your post, as it opens a way to talk about more issues and a more extended view of the recent tragedies.
These are my thoughts, and though some stuff may be hard to talk about, in a sense I think it is important to get into details, at least as a start. I welcome the fact that there is an ongoing conversation in a public place.
First of all, I would like to remember the people who have come before, and who have fought when there was no Internet, no boards, no way of organizing communication, no way of obtaining widespread solidarity because there was very little interconnectedness in ex members, because the ex members were fewer, because a lot of the SGA's who are active now were too young (and still in TF) to start a movement that would reach critical mass.
I would like to start with the publicity wave in 1993. On that occasion, Rick Dupuy, Ed Priebe, Abigail Berry, and Miriam Padilla spent several weeks in Argentina in a very difficult situation, doing their best to expose TF and grappling with difficult choices and moral issues. The extent of what they faced then has not been published or come to light in its details, but those were difficult times I am sure. So much of what we know NOW was not known then.
I would like to commend all the people who went on the record for the truth in the British Court Case. They did that then at their own expense "and risk." (as I think John Jr put it in more recent words)
I would like to commend the people who went on the record in Japan, at the time. Do we have files of any videos, interviews, given back then?
I would like to commend Daniel Welsh and Ed Priebe for taking the time and the effort to fly to the Philippines and infiltrate a home in Manila, and for having the vision and the courage to retrieve trunks of videotapes and material that was consequently used to expose TF.
Without those images, TF could have kept saying it never happened. They suffered threats, attacks, legal and moral accusations, and their lives were greatly affected by their courageous stand. I think they did more than many ever did, and that should be recognized. Can we have that publication where the whole story is told for the ones who have never read it? *Now* is the time to revisit history and to highlight the effort of some who came before.
I would like to commend Sam Ajemian for starting this fight when many did not see the importance of it, and for keeping it alive when most thought he was a fanatical person and just "too extreme."
I may not agree with him on many things, but regardless of differences we may share I think he showed resolve and guts when many did not, and he kept the fight alive at the time. He took a LOT of flak and hits for that.
Rick Dupuy was on the record in Australia, Argentina, England, Japan, and in the US. He knew the cost of what he was undertaking. He knew the price may be just too great. Still he thought there was a moral imperative in doing what he did. His suicide elicited a lot of different reactions, some problematic to say the least. I think very little was understood then of what exactly took place, and of the issue of suicide of ex members.
In the past there were comments about some of these people who fought during times that were in a way harder than the ones we face now, and with a lot less weapons. They were dubbed 'the lunatic fringe.' Their chances and odds were smaller, but their resolve and courage was great.
I for one think there was nothing lunatic about the way these people tried to expose TF and think that expression could be revisited today. It was fair, it was right to demand a change and to demand it in a strong, determined way. Rick Rodriguez's final act shows how logical (not lunatic) certain acts can seem in specific contexts where justice is looming way too far, out of sight, and unreachable. I have not heard anybody call his actions 'lunatic' and I suspect there is a reason why.
James Penn did what he did when he could do it. We do not have a way to dictate or demand people wake up or act at specific times. Still, each individual person is responsible for the extent to which they have contributed to making the monster what it is today. It is a very personal issue but it can be commented on publicly in the ex member community as it helps to discuss these things. I commend James Penn for his actions today.
Still, I wonder how come he is praised for using a pseudonym and not showing his face, while Rick Dupuy was instead called a lunatic for showing his face, his name, and saying Peter A. and co. set him up in a sexual act with a child. Whatever you may want to think of his story, the fact remains that he is the only person to date who has gone on the record, publicly, as a 'perpetrator.' His disclosure was used to perpetually paint him as a perpetrator in the book Sex, Slander, and Salvation. The lesson in all of this may be that it is much better to not tell the truth? Or not? May he rest in peace.
Ed Priebe is being questioned in your post, and yet he is one of the people who went on the record in the 90's campaign at great personal price. Before throwing accusations or asking questions that still have value for a discussion, it would be helpful to commend his efforts as well.
These people did not sit on their asses not contributing. Quite the contrary.
I would like to know where Isaac Numbers is, where Apollos is, where other people are? While nobody can demand other ex members do or not do something, (given the complexity of many situations) the great absence of some of these people is noted. James Penn atoned for that absence by writing the most comprehensive and detailed 'j'accuse' in the history of ex-members, (kudos to him for that) but others ex top leaders are still "missing in action."
For my part, and after years of involvement in exposing TF in various ways, let me state the following:
1) I do not believe in "reconciliation." Reconciliation is a euphemistic term used by TF to make people waste time and to confuse issues. Reconciliation for me comes AFTER accountability, responsibility, and justice.
2) This is a "fight." Framing the issue with the proper words helps understand the cost of it, and what it takes to succeed. We should not let TF frame the issue with their own words, thereby succumbing once more to their propaganda machine. We should use our own words, and we should not flinch and feel the need to justify ourselves every time they throw out loaded words and grenades trigger such as "bitter" "unforgiving" "apostate." If they desire to end this fight and come out of the binary 'us vs. them' (that they have imposed, not the ex members) they are the ones who have to make the steps, and they know which steps.
3) This is no Gandhi vs. the British Empire. The measure of success of a person involved in Gandhi type actions depends very much on the moral fiber of the opponent. If anyone has doubts about Smith and Smith's "moral fiber and caliber" it means they have not been around in the last several years and are not informed.
4) For the ones who want to be involved in the diplomatic corps of ex members I want to remind diplomats that they can only do their jobs because OTHERS are involved in other functions, i.e, and not limited to, secret services, special forces, military interventions, communications, and yes, caring for the wounded and burying the dead. Take your pick. I am not very attracted by the diplomatic side but I understand the use and importance of it. Still, there is much more to a well put together successful strategic operation than diplomacy and "talks" of reconciliation.
5) In the ex member community there is a certain pacifistic bias due to the widespread perceptions of Christian ideology and past indoctrination toward passivity in the face of injustice and abuse. I would like to state that, instead, there is also a very martial, action oriented aspect to Christianity (for the ones who are Christians and tend to believe Christianity implies passive behavior), and that the human right to self-defense and the need for justice are critical elements to maintaining sanity.
I wish this could be much more articulate and comprehensive, but I've got a life and have no more time now. I welcome comments.