long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Clown world: the M2C citation cartel and Peter Pan

Like most readers of this blog, I fully endorse the "no more contention" theme of the April 2023 General Conference. My presentation at the recent Book of Mormon Evidence conference focused on that topic. I've discussed it many times on this blog, such as here:
Soon I'll announce a new initiative on this topic.

With that in mind, let's look at the latest news from the citation cartel. Which, by the way, is not a contentious term. It's merely descriptive, holding out hope for improvement among LDS authors, educators, historians, and everyone else.

Recently I watched a youtube video produced by Bill Reel titled "LDS Apologists & The Invention And Coverup Of Richard Nygren." 

The video is an exposé of the clown world of LDS apologists which I sometimes refer to as the M2C citation cartel or the Potemkin village. This includes people who work for Book of Mormon Central and contribute to FAIRLDS, the Interpreter, and even BYU Studies. They're all interrelated behind the scenes despite the various fronts they have constructed (the Potemkin village).

Obviously, not everyone affiliated with these organizations is involved. In fact, there are just a few bad apples that spoil the barrel. By far, most LDS scholars are awesome, productive, charitable, open to a variety of faithful narratives and interpretations, etc. 

The problem originates with certain gatekeepers, as we'll discuss in a separate post.

Here's the summary of the video from youtube:

5,802 views  Premiered Apr 14, 2023  Mormon Discussion Podcast
LDS Apologists & The Invention And Coverup Of Richard Nygren: a fictional black apologist in Birmingham, Alabama

Join us as we expose the shocking story of how a group of 5 white LDS apologists fabricated and perpetuated a fictional black apologist, Richard Nygren, to provide cover for one of their own.

Through detailed investigation and interviews with key players, we reveal the disturbing truth behind this deceitful act and its coverup as well as the impact it has on those involved and on the Mormon apologetic community. 

Basically, prominent members of the citation cartel concocted, promoted and perpetuated a fake blogger persona named "Peter Pan" to attack me on an ad hominem blog that ridicules my family name. Which is not surprising, given the long rhetorical pattern of these LDS apologists. 

A few years ago someone sent me a link to this blog and I read a post. It was so ridiculous and juvenile that I never read the blog again. I chalked it up to a group of internet trolls having some fun. Harmless and ignorant. Maybe high school kids.

But then Dan Peterson repeatedly promoted that blog, rescuing it from obscurity and irrelevance.

For me, this whole episode is just the latest example of the inept buffoonery of the M2C apologists and their mentors (which, as I said, I'll discuss in an upcoming post). 

On the one hand, I'd just as soon ignore the whole thing. As difficult as it may be to believe, I assume those involved are all good, sincere people doing what they thought was right at some level. It is evident that they have been taught and encouraged to conduct themselves this way. 

IOW, we can't blame them for their behavior. Their mentors have led the way.

On the other hand, if I don't discuss it, they will undoubtedly seek to dismiss and ignore this video, chalking it up (as they usually do) to yet another misleading attack from the "anti-Mormons." 

In fact, "Mike Parker" (or whoever is sending me emails in his name) has already started. He emailed me, saying that "Bill Reel is a liar and a narcissist. He will say anything to harm The Church of Jesus Christ and those who advocate for the restored gospel. He is not interested in “open dialog”; he is interested in furthering his own agenda."

I watched the video. Bill documents everything. He shows the M2C apologists on video, speaking in their own words, trying to justify all of their shenanigans.

The M2C apologists have a long history of employing ad hominem attacks the way "Mike Parker" does here, and for the sake of the historical record, I don't want them to get away with their typical tactics this time.

Hence, this blog post.

BTW, I'm not about to "jump ship" like so many other LDS apologists have. I strongly disagree with many of their criticisms, but I agree with them that the M2C citation cartel has done, and continues to do, immeasurable damage to the cause of the Restoration for all the reasons I've been writing about.

I'm fine with people believing whatever they want, but the M2C citation cartel violates the basic values of scholarship and Christianity in the way they conduct themselves, as this latest episode demonstrates.  

Also, this is not making a mountain out of a mole hill. For years, these guys have been falsely accusing Heartlanders of racist motives when it is they themselves who used a phony and racist persona to mislead their own readers and followers (and donors, in the case of Dan Peterson).

I don't know Bill Reel, either, but in this video he comes across as reasonable and fair. Apparently he is another former LDS apologist who has turned critical. When you see the nonsense these M2C apologists have been engaging in, it's easy to understand why Bill Reel and other former apologists left that group. 

What's not easy to understand is why any legitimate scholars continue to affiliate with the Interpreter and the rest of the citation cartel that promotes these clowns fine young scholars.

To be clear, I don't recommend or endorse Bill's channel generally--people can make their own decisions on that--but this video is definitely worth watching for several reasons. You can see it here:

The video features the usual suspects from the citation cartel, including Stephen O. Smoot, Dan Peterson, and Spencer Kraus, plus a couple of new characters:

Prominent LDS apologists in the citation cartel
who promoted the "Peter Pan" charade
(click to enlarge)

The new characters include the fictional "Peter Pan" whom Dan Peterson has been promoting for years, Richard Nygren, another fictional character who was supposedly the real "Peter Pan," Mike Parker, an apparently real person who now claims to be the "real" Peter Pan, and Robert Boylen, who now claims he invented Richard Nygren as a joke.

Let's spend a moment on these characters.

Mike Parker. For all I know, "Mike Parker" is yet another pseudonym. Although we have exchanged a few emails, anyone can claim to be anyone in an email. "Mike Parker" has declined to meet me in person or over zoom. 

To be sure, Bill Reel played clips of a person identified as "Mike Parker," and as you'll see in the video, Bill says Mike is a real person. 

After all, "Mike Parker" entered Bill's workplace to threaten him with litigation, according to the recording on the video, so I'll assume Mike actually exists. 

But of course, that says nothing about whether he is/was the infamous "Peter Pan" he now claims to be. There's good reason to infer that "Peter Pan" is not Mike Parker, such as the credits in Kraus' articles published by the Interpreter and Book of Mormon Central as discussed in the video. More likely, "Peter Pan" is the pen name of these clowns fine young scholars working as collaborators.

Maybe we could get Matt Roper to bring out his black box and perform some more mysterious "stylometry" magic to determine who the real authors are...

Actually, it doesn't matter who the real "Peter Pan" is/was. The pseudonym "Peter Pan" was a Freudian slip by the boy(s) who created it. Like them, Peter Pan never grows up. They couldn't have adopted a more apt identity.

Next, Robert Boylen. All I know about him is what is in this video, where he accuses "Heartlanders" of racism (a common theme promoted by the M2C citation cartel members). Naturally, he also virtue signals by proclaiming he is "against" racism. 

But when he allegedly invents an identify behind "Peter Pan," what is the first thing he thinks of?

A Black LDS apologist living in Alabama!

His choice reveals his mindset and his obsession with race, despite his virtue signaling. 

Plus, he and Parker characterize it as a "joke."

Think: the supposedly "non-racist" Boylen invents a Black American persona as a joke. But only he and his apologist collaborators think his despicable racist "joke" is funny

In the video, Boylen and Parker cite as justification a post Rian Nelson supposedly made about the open borders issue (the Biden administration not enforcing the law). Even assuming they accurately relate what Rian wrote, the border question involves a public policy issue of enforcing the law and has nothing to do with race. People of many races and national origins cross the open border. 

But let's say, arguendo, that Boylen and Parker are correct that the border is a racial issue. Even in that case, the open border has nothing to do with Black Americans generally, and definitely not the Black American that Boylen invented as the identity of "Peter Pan." 

According to the video, Richard Nygren is purely the racist invention of Boylen and his collaborators.

We have a cascading series of clownness here.

First, it is astonishing that Boylen lacks such self-awareness of his own racism. 

Second, it's even more astonishing that Parker didn't point this out to Boylen when this all started and put an end to it, either immediately or later. Instead, Parker played along with it.

Third, it's yet more astonishing that Dan Peterson, Steven O. Smoot, and Spencer Kraus didn't object to Boylen's racism and subterfuge. Instead, they played along with and amplified it.

Fourth, the apex of astonishment is that the editorial boards of the Interpreter and Book of Mormon Central promulgated this racist fraud by publishing Kraus' two articles that cited "Peter Pan" and Mike Parker as separate contributors.

Everyone can all see the evidence on display as Bill Reel has pointed out.

BTW, another fun aspect of Boylen is his complaint about "microaggression" in the mispronunciation of his name. Even in this video, he refuses to pronounce his name so others will know how to pronounce it clearly. It's like the snowflakes who don't tell you their pronoun but erupt in rage if you don't guess the correct one.

Based on what he says in the video, Boylen is a poster child for a subset of the rising generation who are obsessed with race and taking offense. They are the primary audience for the grievance grifters who use them as tools for their own profit and power.

Moving on...

I won't take the time to explain the entire video, which summarizes the evidence by listing the contradictions in the story these clowns fine young scholars have given.

People really need to watch the video, especially the clips from "Mike Parker" and the rest of the M2C clowns, to understand how juvenile and inept they are.

Here are two screen shots to give you an idea.

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)


Next steps.

What I hope to see as a result of this clown fiasco is a change among the M2C citation cartel specifically and LDS scholarship generally.

First, Dan Peterson should own up to his own complicity in accommodating and promoting the entire charade.

Second, any legitimate scholars associated with the Interpreter, Book of Mormon Central, BYU Studies, or any other publication/organization that employs, publishes, or works with this crew should seriously reconsider.

Third, LDS scholars should embrace in practice, and not just give lip service to, the basic principle set forth in the recent issue of BYU Studies, along with the "no more contention" theme of the recent General Conference.

Although it should be evident that we tend to favor certain theories over others when it comes to explaining the nature and translation of the Book of Abraham [and the Book of Mormon], we do not presume to impose our understanding on others as an article of faith. We are happy to acknowledge that Latter-day Saints can in good faith come to different conclusions about the nature of this book of scripture and “pursue a faithful study of the Book of Abraham [and the Book of Mormon] from different backgrounds and approaches.1 In fact, we welcome these different approaches and encourage a multitude of voices to contribute to the conversation.


Can we expect any of this to happen?


Definitely not from the clowns fine young scholars discussed in this video. 

These guys have a narrow pattern of thinking and behavior that constrains them and prevents them from even allowing, let along accommodating, let alone rationally engaging with, alternative faithful perspectives.

But there are still many honorable, intelligent, thoughtful, and Christian LDS scholars who do not condone and promote these guys and their behavior.

It is incumbent upon such scholars to finally take action and set an example that will move the work of the Restoration forward.

We will all watch and see whether they will take up the challenge.

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