Intolerance Intervention?

Can I tell you how much I love getting email with the subject line “Re: Intolerance Intervention”? Very much do I love it and I’ve been getting a lot of it lately.

I’m really excited to be speaking on a panel at BlogHer next week and I’d like your help preparing. The topic is Intolerance and here’s the official synopsis:

Does the Blogosphere Need an Intolerance Intervention?
What are the benefits and drawbacks of speaking across divides, and trying to be a “bridge”? What do we gain and lose when we assume we’re blogging to people a lot like ourselves? Let’s talk about insularity, authenticity, intolerance, and diplomacy. At times, bloggers can be like indie bands, risking having their original fans stop liking them the minute they start being appreciated by a more diverse audience, outside the original “club”. There’s bloggers who cross all sorts of potential barriers…and bloggers who like it in their own neck of the woods just fine, thank you very much, go away if you disagree. Do Birds of a Feather groups encourage intolerance? Or are diplomats “sellouts”? Decide where you stand. Liz Henry moderates this discussion around a topic a lot of us observe, but few of us say anything about. Bloggers like Laina Dawes, Tish Grier and Kathryn Thompson have a few stories to tell!

I was included in this session largely because of formative experiences I had a few months after I started my blog. They really shaped the way I feel about tolerance and ethics online and helped me take what I was doing much more seriously. I came to think about blogging as a community-building experience and not simply an outlet to dump my thoughts into each day.

When I was fairly new to blogging, some good online friends nominated me for a small award. The stated purpose of the awards was to recognize blogs that brought beauty into the blogosphere and the woman running the contest was Christian. She wrote an obviously religious blog and it was understood that the awards were meant to recognize Christian bloggers.

I found out about the awards after I became a finalist and was so excited not only to be nominated for humor but by a group of women who had included me in their religious community even though I don’t often blog openly about my faith. As a Mormon, I was pleased to feel accepted by a circle of mainstream Christians, a group that doesn’t often recognize my religion’s central belief in Jesus Christ as Christianity.

The day after I won the award however, a prominent blogger in the community publicly outed me as a Mormon (something I thought everyone knew if they’d ever read my blog), and wrote a scathing post about my participation in the contest and the lack of discernment shown by my readers.

Needless conflict and drama ensued, during which I formed some of my strongest blogging relationships to date, several with women who had much more in common theologically with my critic than they did with me, several who have no religious leanings but simply rock solid morals and character, and some who were just so flippin’ hilarious that they helped me get through the pettiness of it all.

Without sharing my specific thoughts on the subject of online intolerance (I’ll blog more about that after the conference.), I’d love to hear what you have to say. What questions would you ask me as part of that panel? What thoughts would you share if you were on it?

This entry was posted in Blogging, blogher, faith, get serious. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Intolerance Intervention?

  1. Eve says:

    I can’t wait to read the comments you get on this one! I’m proud of you for being open about your mormon-ness.
    I never understood why people preach “tolerance” for sexual orientation and for skin color, but when it comes to religion or politics people become downright hateful.
    While I don’t have a question for you I will be there watching, palms sweating, but knowing you are going to do an amazing job representing the people! Peace out!

  2. Yes Eve, I’m a true hero for my people. 🙂

  3. Jeana says:

    Let’s talk about your floating headedness. As a blogger, are you ever shunned or criticized for having a floating head? Are others jealous of your floating head? Have you fully explored the decision to live the lifestyle of the head floater, or was it a somewhat spur of the moment decision you made while home on leave? Do you ever contemplate returning to life as a non-floating head citizen?

    More importantly, is the possession of a floating head the right moral choice to make? Is it what Jesus would do?

    Do you get special treatment for your floating head? Scholarships, breakfast specials and such? Do businesses make proper accommodation for your floating head, with high ceilings and no ceiling fans? Do you think this is fair to the non-head floaters?

    The people want to know.

  4. Mir says:

    Yet another reason I’m sorry I won’t be at BlogHer this year. Rock out with your bad Mormon self on that panel, Kathryn. Also be sure to mention that you and I had an in-depth Mormon underwear discussion last year, without anyone getting their panties (Mormon or otherwise!) in a wad.

  5. Oh, I got all twitchy just reading about that whole episode.

    Here are my two cents.

    As I recall, that whole hoopla was raised because someone was trying to protect “doctrinal purity”, right? My thought at the time (and now) is that it’s up to the Church, NOT A BLOG, to maintain doctrinal purity. The blogosphere is not a church. It is much too fluid, too immediate, too ripe for misinterpration to be operated like a church. The very nature of the blogosphere is to be interact with others, even (and especially!) those who think differently from you. Anyone who doesn’t this is missing out on a very rich experience.

  6. Mark says:

    I was raised in a religion that just issued the Ten commandments of driving, I am sure that the Vatican is formulating 10 more on the subject of Blogging & the Internet. As you can see, by responding to your blog I’m potentially putting myself on the opposite side of church doctrine. Well enough with waiting with anticipation for the Papal communication. Remember, To avoid critcism all you have to do is do nothing, say nothing, try nothing and be nothing.

  7. Beth says:

    I remember that entire thing with a BAD taste in my mouth. What an ugly period of time. You’re gonna do great on this panel Kathryn. I have nothing to add to what you probably are going to say. I just found the whole thing tasteless, wrong, disgusting and completely against the ENTIRE character of Christ….no matter what one believes about him.

    I thought you were da bomb then, and I STILL think you are da bomb now! (That’s my attempt at sounding hip and cool.) And if memory serves, that woman shut her blog down soon after and looks who’s still running and as popular as ever!!!! 🙂

  8. boomama says:

    First of all, Jeana’s comment cracks me up.

    And I agree with Shannon. I wasn’t around for that Unseemly Bloggy Episode, but I think it’s interesting how some people want to treat blogland like a church – even if they have to appoint themselves as “elders” in charge of doctrine and accountability in order to do that.

    I’ll email you with the rest of my thoughts on this – I don’t want to hijack your comments – but I think this is SUCH an interesting topic…and it’s been on my mind a lot in the last five or six months.

  9. Karen says:

    Meeeeehm-REEES! From the corners of my miiiiiind . . .

    (sigh) The Marla Trauma Drama. Those were the good ‘ole days, weren’t they?

    As I recall you handled the situation with maturity, grace, and love. I still admire you for it today. One of the many reasons that I am proud to call you friend. You’ll do great at BlogHer. Wish I could be there to hear it.

  10. Lesley says:

    I just started reading your blog, so I know nothing of the events. However, I do know that I read your blog because you are funny!! I am not into PC or “tolerance”, so I can’t help you there. Keep up the great blogging!! :0)

  11. Lisa says:

    Wow. I read through the drama-what I could take, anyway. I am not one to debate. I truly feel that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, religious, political, etc. Anyone engaged in a debate over religion is not going to convince the other in some magical head smacking, light bulb flickering way, that the other is actually right. Somewhere along the way, DYM, you said that you can choose to read a blog or not. I choose to read yours because it is funny-you are funny. If someone didn’t like your humor, I don’t think they would comment on that. So why is it that when someone doesn’t like your religion that it is up for debate? I say to them-go read another blog and worship as you may and stop worrying about other people-people.

  12. MamaToo says:

    this has been on my mind lately, so I’m excited to hear more of your thoughts.
    I initially started my blog for my friends & family to keep up on our family when we moved. I didn’t really expect other people to read it, but now many of them are. It’s prompted me to change the photos & names I use for my family, and I’m wondering how (and if) I should change some of those conversational-type posts that are pretty specific to my faith. Do I keep writing for my friends, or recognize my audience is much wider now?

    Great insight, and thanks for keeping on with your blog. It’s very refreshing.

  13. Heidi says:

    Wait. You’re just now telling me you’re [sputter] a… a… MORMON? Heh! Just kidding.

    I think people who choose to be insular (be it by faith, or what have you) certainly have that right. But for them to assume they’re right and everyone else is wrong? Hee hee! (Can you say Ego? Say it with me. I know you can.) In the process of insulating themselve with “their kind”, I think they lose out in a big way. Just think of what can be gained by opening up conversations with people who have been exposed to different envirionments and different experiences; people who have (gasp!) different opinions. [Now bursting into a rousing chorus of “We Are Fam-i-lee”…]

  14. Kimberly says:

    Oh my…Jeana is hilarious!

    What a fascinating topic! When I encounter intolerance, online or otherwise, I respond with sympathy. I think of all that person is missing out on, by being such a narrowminded moron. =P It amazes me that people will take time out of their lives to criticize virtual strangers. I can’t understand it, and I’m glad I can’t. If I did, I might feel obligated to do something about it.

  15. margalit says:

    I’ll email you with my comments. But I just wanted to say that I didn’t know about the whole “YOU’RE A MORMON?” escapade, but if you think being a mormon is out of the ordinary, try being a Jewish blogger that tries to stay in the mainstream and not just in the Jewish corner of the blogosphere. It’s not pretty.

  16. Amanda says:

    Thank you for advocating religious tolerance in a such a positive and educated way.

  17. Amanda Regan says:

    I read your blog, every post, it is one of the first I check to see if there’s any updates. I’m not a mormon I’m what is commonly classed as a quaker or Friend but I enjoy your blog & the fact that we have a different religion has never intruded on that. It is a good thing to be able to learn a little about different ways of life & if anyone does not want to read those bits they can always scroll down to another topic.

  18. Cheryl says:

    I actually remember that the post you wrote about that incident was the first post I read of yours. Okay, golly, that sentence sucked. Let me try again: The post where you mention that you need to have Mormon stamped to your forehead was the first post on your blog that I read. Wait, was that better? Anyways, I remember thinking, as I read it, “Wow! She’s hilarious!” and “Why do people care about religious differences if we’re all just doing the same thing (i.e. moms raising our kids in a crappy

    I just don’t get it. I don’t understand why people are so offended by other beliefs. Okay, yes, I don’t want to read a blog full of filthy language and/or p*rn. But when it comes to good, moral mommies out there just sharin’ their lives, I don’t see why it matter what religion we come from, whether it be Judaism, Christianity, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. and so forth (and I probably spelled those religions wrong…~sigh~).

    Hooray for friendship regardless of ethnicity or religion!

  19. mother of the wild boys says:

    Why is it that people that want to tell others what to blog about? I thought the blog world was about sharing our lives and thoughts in any way that makes us happy. We get to satisfy our human curiousity by reading about other bloggers’ feelings and experiences. And we get to meet people we never would’ve met otherwise! Maybe I’m just naiive, but I don’t remember signing any kind of contract which told me what religion I had to be to blog. Why would we want to turn it in to that?

    Anyway, those people who judged you harshly are just jealous because you ROCK! You are the funniest blogger I’ve read, and I love that your posts are real, authentic, and HUMAN…not watered-down for political-correctness. You keep on rockin’…and we’ll keep on reading!

    PS-Good luck at the BlogHer convention, I know you’ll do great. I wish I could be there, it sounds like fun. Can’t wait to hear the details!

  20. KYouell says:

    1) I followed almost all the links (Why did DYD stop writing? How am I supposed to know what bugs Blogger has now???) and I think I got caught up — in more ways than one. I know that many of the blogs I read are written by LDS women. (Writing that sentence made me realize that my Google Reader only has one blog authored by a man. Hmm. I didn’t know I was doing that.) Anyway, I have recently been examining my own outsider’s view of LDS. I had some very good friends in high school who were loving and helpful to me when others weren’t, and then I witnessed one of them being extremely racist. It really messed with my head. Only now, almost 25 years later, do I realize that I had no business assuming that what that girl said was something preached by her religion. How could I spend 25 years with that assumption in my head? Ack! I feel like I have been as bad as that woman who stirred up all the trouble and stopped blogging, whoever she was. I feel that women like you and Jessica (Kerflop), among others, have helped me to begin this examination: How can I like reading these womens’ writing so much, wish that I knew them or people like them IRL, and still feel that this church that they believe in is bad? Gee, maybe I should check *myself*. So, your inclusiveness has certainly benefited me in more than just the “I spit my morning beverage on my screen because Kathryn was funny again” way; you’ve made me a better person, I believe. At least I trying.

    2) There is no need for interventions! The whole title of the panel seems to beg the question: do all blogs need to be “Birds of a Feather” or diplomats? Why can’t there be both without a need to intervene and show these bloggers the right way to blog? Ack!

    3) Like my television has not only buttons that allow me to change the channel when I don’t like something, it also has a power switch that lets me turn it off. If I run across a blog that I don’t like I don’t have to read it. I don’t have to read any blogs at all. Sometimes I want to read about women who have children with Down syndrome and are going through issues that I have to deal with too. And sometimes I want to read about anything but that. And sometimes I need to get my butt in bed. 😀

    Have fun at Blogher!

  21. KYouell says:

    After getting some sleep I promise to write “At least *I’m* trying” 50 times. And to not comment when I’m so tired that I make stupid typos. So, don’t look for any comments from me until The Cupcake weans herself. (As if I can keep my thoughts to myself for that long!)

  22. Jenn says:

    I think it is so sad that you were judged by someone who, in reality, is not the judger (or shouldn’t be). Christianity is about grace and mercy at the core. The rake someone over the coals for their beliefs (whether Mormon, Jew, etc.) is wrong and in my mind says that Christianity is a farse. It is sad that people would rather seperate everyone into categories. Christianity is about love…and I sure hope that will always show when I write, not judgement on other people. Thanks for sharing all of the back sotries too.

  23. Poppa2b says:

    I don’t really care if people like what I write, but I cover a lot of different topics, except religion. I think I’m mostly writing for my soon to be child so when she/he can read they’ll know what life was like for my wife and I from the time we knew he/she existed.
    I read blogs because they are fun, funny, interesting, educational that’s why I read DYM. It’s your blog and you can write if you want too, write if you want too… lalalala… you’d write too if it happened too you…

  24. Bonnie says:

    As a “mainstream Christian” mom, and “blogger in training” I would like to say as I’m sure many other’s do, that I love your blog. I am fairly new to this game, but your love for your family, your inspiration to me as a mom, your witty style of writing and your values are obvious to me. I may not agree with your religous beliefs, nor you with mine, and we can discuss them or not. Nevertheless no matter what the outcome of this hypothetical conversation – I would like to say that I think what you are doing is fantastic and I relish reading every new post! I have your link proudly posted on my blog WITHOUT the preface “WARNING — MORMON MOM!” –Not necessary, what kind of a Christ follower would I be if I were to shut someone out because of what they believe????? That kind of intolerance is based on ignorance and fear, as most are. I would relish my other “mainstream Christian mom-friends” (how’s that for a title:-)) reading your blog, you are fun, creative and inpiring.

Comments are closed.