Showing posts with label active shooters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label active shooters. Show all posts

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Grace Church’s Rhetoric Disrespects Victims of Violence, Promotes Divisive Conduct



Yesterday’s horrific news of active shooters in two American cities underscores both the prevalence of violence in our society, and the trends that encourage borderline or anti-social personalities to engage in acts of bigotry, violence and oppression. And while no one suggests that Bob Malm or Grace church overtly support violence, the rhetoric the church engages in does, I think, contribute in a small way to these larger issues.

Specifically, in recent years we have seen an increase in hate-filled, disrespectful rhetoric across all levels of society. In many instances, this rhetoric is justified based on the desired outcome—an approach that, until now, was considered unacceptable in mainstream society. So whether it’s winning an election, or barring asylum-seekers, or simply getting the upper hand in a dispute, many forms of rhetoric previously off limits are now fair game.

The sad reality, too, is that words matter. Words hurt. Words can cause violence and hatred. Borderline personalities by definition need little to set them off, and the disaffected and marginalized in our society may already feel anger and resentment.

In the case of Grace Church, the rhetoric coming from Bob Malm and Jeff Chiow, with its references to “domestic terrorism” and other inflammatory language, is highly inappropriate. Using language of this sort tells people that this sort of conduct is okay, both within church and within society at large, as it demonstrates disrespect for others. After all, if a priest can try to go after perceived enemies by referring to those individuals as “dysfunctional” and “terrorists,” and “starved for attention,” including in discussions with the church vestry and diocesan staff, then some inevitably will conclude that this sort of rhetoric is an acceptable way to solve problems.

At the same time, using these buzzwords to describe online criticism, and taking words out of context, is disrespectful to the very real human tragedy confronting many Americans. For Bob Malm and Grace Church to claim that they are victims of “domestic terrorism” is a grave injustice to all who have lost loved ones or otherwise been traumatized by violence. The reality is the Bob has lived a privileged life of very little work, and a whole lot of leisure, while those affected by the violence of El Paso and Dayton now face lives of enduring sorrow and pain.

Inflammatory rhetoric of the sort deployed by Grace Church, Bob Malm and Jeff Chiow also demonstrates profound disrespect for the first responders involved in these and other tragedies. When the risk and sacrifice these women and men make is trivialized into nothing more than the rhetoric for a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) case, as here, society looks past the very real courage, commitment and bravery that is called upon in situations such as this.

Of course, this sort of conduct also makes a mockery of the baptismal covenant. That said, I long ago realized that the latter means nothing to Bob Malm and Jeff Chiow—it’s just a bunch of empty words that get said on Sundays, with no larger meaning for day-to-day life. Like the Nicene Creed, pretty, quaint words, but nothing more.

Meanwhile, as one of our Supreme Court justices noted, the best defense against misuse of the free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment is more free speech. I therefore will continue to spread word far and wide of the toxic mess that is Grace Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. In doing so, people can form their own opinions. And ironically enough, Bob’s choice of rhetoric is a lose-lose situation for the church: If true, people will stay away. If false, people will stay away. 

At this point, nothing Bob Malm or Grace Church can do is likely to repair any time soon the harm Bob Malm has inflicted upon this particular faith community. Bob’s rhetoric is hateful and ugly, as are his lies, and there’s simply no avoiding those issues.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Bob Malm’s Claims That Grace is Threatened by Domestic Terrorism: Harmful to Children?

The Washington Post recently ran an article that was syndicated nationwide, “How many American children have hidden from gun violence?” The article examined the prevalence of lockdown drills, used to prepare students and staff for a possible active shooter, and the pyschological effect these drills have on children. The conclusion: Such drills, while perhaps necessary, can be profoundly traumatic to children.




That begs the question: As Grace church, aka St. Dysfunction, transitions to Fortress Grace, replete with “single-button emergency transmitters at the ready” during divine worship, rekeyed locks on exterior doors, additional outdoor floodlights and interior security measures, and new fencing, what is the effect on children, especially at Grace Episcopal School? Given Bob Malm’s efforts to stoke fears and manipulate perceptions, this is a legitimate question. My belief is that Bob Malm has deliberately caused stress and anxiety to staff, students, and parents as part of his efforts to get the upper hand in our dispute. If accurate, that conclusion reinforces the notion that Bob is a priest in name only, and has lost all sense of ethical boundaries.

Lest anyone minimize the potential effect on students at Grace Episcopal School, one need only look to Lisa Medley’s claims, posted on The Wartburg Watch, in which she claimed that parents have requested armed guards at the school. Leaving aside the fact that very few armed guards have training adequate to deal with an active shooter, and the fact that the last thing first responders need when confronted with an active shooter is to deal with multiple armed individuals, Lisa’s claim illustrates the damage caused by Dysfunctional Bob’s manipulative behavior.


Of course, I’m not a psychologist, nor do I have any way to assess the damage that may be caused by Bob’s fictional claims. But my gut instinct tells me that the harm is not inconsequential. If nothing else, Bob’s manipulation and dishonesty, and lack of ethics in this matter, sets a poor example for children who may be inclined to look up to a member of the clergy, no matter how unjustified it may be to regard Dysfunctional Bob in any sort of positive light.

There’s another wrinkle in all of this, which is the lack of common sense evinced by Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow. By virtue of his inflammatory rhetoric, now part of the public record, Jeff improperly sought to influence the judicial process, without any regard for the effect his dialogue would have when it inevitably went public. And even if his efforts to obtain a settlement that included a confidentiality clause had succeeded, this was a half-baked, foolish approach at best, for court pleadings are a matter of public record unless sealed; the latter is quite difficult to obtain. Thus, Sugarland’s references to “online rantings and ravings,” “domestic terrorism,” and more are all now in the public domain. As a result, generations from now people will be able to see these documents, and marvel that a member of the clergy thought that this sort of dialogue was appropriate.

But then, we’re talking about Dysfunctional Bob and a diocese that to this day declines to provide Bob with adult supervision, so no surprises there.