The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience


From: K. Paul Johnson <>
Subject: Re: Censorship at alt.religion.bahai
Date: Tuesday, September 15, 1998 9:43 AM

Richard Schaut ( wrote:
: I am not, however, accusing you of any nefarious activity.  You, on the
: other hand, are.

Au contraire.  I didn't accuse you, or any specific person, of
anything.  Just speculated about the likely cause of phenomena
observed.  Too strongly worded, but still not personally accusing
anyone.  Whereas, it seems to me that you are accusing me
personally of something pretty nefarious: libel.  Who, exactly,
was libeled?
: Just so there's no misunderstanding as to the principle: one doesn't go
: around accusing, or even suggesting, nefarious conduct without sufficient
: evidence.

Tell that to the Baha'is who feel it perfectly justifiable to
start throwing around "disloyal to the covenant" and "enemy of
the faith" on the flimsiest of pretexts, about specific persons. 
: Dr. Cole's rhetoric is, indeed, quite eloquent.  It is, nonetheless,
: rhetoric, and rhetoric which is substantially devoid of sufficient facts to
: support his rhetoric.  Then, again, I shouldn't be surprised to see that you
: would be persuaded by such rhetoric.

What are you insinuating here?  Why?
It's not his rhetoric that persuades me, but the observation of
Baha'is in action over the last few years.
: We can discuss Dr. Cole's credibility in these matters, but I'm quite sure
: you don't want to.

What are you insinuating here? Why?

I have substantive proof.

: span a number of different issues is of no importance here?  Why would a
: cancellation of their posts be suspect, but not one of mine?

Large number and simultaneity.
: Not a particularly bad assumption.  You post a message.  You don't see it.
: You start wondering what happened to it.

Or perhaps you do see it, and when it disappears you assume that
it expired.
: >Certainly not in the sense I was using it.
: Then you're not using it, you're abusing it.  In logic, that's called
: "equivocation".

That's your insistence on a possible *implication* of a term.  I
repeat the question: IF a Baha'i, inspired by what the writings
and institutions say about covenant-breakers not deserving a
hearing (which is putting it mildly), decided to cancel
Marangella's posts, that person would be a self-appointed
WHAT?  Prankster, or censor?
: No, Mr. Johnson, I'm being perfectly candid.  `Abdul-Baha's and Shoghi
: Effendi's instructions regarding Covenant-breakers is abundantly clear: we
: avoid them.  We don't ban their books.

That's a very confused picture.  In my observation, in real life
and on the Net, a large number of Baha'is think that reading CB
literature is forbidden.  When I tried to post otherwise on srb,
with the eminent Dr. Robert Stockman as my authority, I was
shouted down.

 We don't deny them their civil
: rights.

You are not in a position to.  If your imagined Baha'i-governed
world were a reality, I wonder what would happen.
: No.  What it comes down to, Mr. Johnson, is that those who have accused
: Baha'i institutions and their supports of wrong-doing have not presented
: sufficient evidence to support their accusations.

I gather that you are sincere in your use of the word
"sufficient."  But sufficiency of evidence is, alas, usually a
subjective realm.  I find it almost as hard to imagine what you
would consider "sufficient" evidence of wrong-doing by the House--
something you presumably regard as impossible by definition-- as
to think of what would be "sufficient" evidence to prove to a
Mormon that the BOM is not historically accurate.

  Indeed, many such
: accusations are libelous, and warrant at least an apology.

To whom, by whom, for what exactly?  I will admit that in the
Mulligan case at least my speculation was premature and should
not have been expressed before checking with him first.  But you
seem to identify with the Baha'i community, speak for it, etc.
And therefore seem to feel that you are personally owed an
apology by me and anyone else who expresses a negative view of
Baha'i institutions and culture.  Considering the thousands upon
thousands of negative judgments of Christianity expressed by Baha'is
in my hearing or on the Net, with very little evidence, and the
extreme implausibility of apologies from any of these Baha'is, I
think your expectation/demand/whatever is excessive, unrealistic,
and extremely partisan.
: Yes, I've seen the extent to which you are persuaded by accusations that are
: not adequately supported by the evidence.

THERE YOU GO AGAIN!!  "Not adequately supported by the evidence"
IN YOUR OPINION.  Don't imagine that your opinion is God's
: There's a rather clear principle of justice, Mr. Johnson, a principle that I
: think you may well have forgotten in your fervor and your desire to be
: considered "liberal" and "free-minded".  That principle is: people are
: innocent until proven guilty.

If that principle were followed by Baha'i administration and
individuals in their condemnations of their fellow believers, I
would have very little to complain about regarding Baha'i
affairs.  But character assassination by innuendo is the
preferred way of dealing with anything remotely resembling
dissidence.  Seems like that's exactly what you're doing to Juan
Cole in your message.  Saying I don't want to know what you've
"got" on him, thus attacking me but insinuating you have some
awful proof of unspecified guilt on his part.  If that's not
character assassination by innuendo, what is?