Killing U*U Gossip With Vengeance - Before You U*Us Gossip Ask Yourself This - Is It Kind? Is It True? Will It Be Necessary. . .
The Wall Street Journal has published a very good article about malicious gossip and verbal violence etc. by Jeffrey Zaslow titled 'Before You Gossip, Ask Yourself This...' The Emerson Avenger highly recommends that U*Us, especially those with a proclivity towards *engaging* in malicious gossip and verbal violence, would be well advised to read it if they value their balls, even if they don't have any balls. . . For some reason the article appears under the alternative title 'Killing Gossip With Kindness' in his Firefox web navigator and The Emerson Avenger thanks Rev. Kit Ketcham aka Ms. Kitty for kindly bringing it to his attention on her blog. Herewith The Emerson Avenger's plagU*Urized parody version of the WSJ article -
Missy Conduct sees a lot of Unitarian*Universalists aka U*Us growing up without a lot of guidance. They say harsh and hurtful things about each other, to say nothing of *others*. . . and the words come too easily. Encouraged by the snarkiness in U*U culture today, they seem more sarcastic than past generations.
"U*Us are struggling," says Ms. Conduct, who oversees an after-church program at the First Unitarian Church of Kennebunk in Kennebunk Maine. "They're looking for scapegoats."
Instead of scapegoats, however, Ms. Conduct offers them questions.
She suggests that before they say something to or about someone else, they should ask themselves:
"Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?"
These three questions have been around for centuries, attributed to Socrates and Buddhist teachings, and linked to the tenets of Christianity and the Jewish prohibition on "lashon hara," or evil language. But now, in an age of cultural shrillness and unrestrained rumor-mongering on the Internet, these three questions (or variations of them) are finding new adherents. In schools, workplaces, churches, therapy groups—and at kitchen tables—the questions are being used to temper one of the uglier human impulses.
In Cambridge, Ma., Harvard Divinity School recently held an event at which students and faculty discussed derogatory language and the power behind the kind/true/necessary mantra. In Chicago, aka The *Windy* City, U*U Power Public Relations issued a company-wide ban on gossip, firing three employees who violated the policy in 2006. In Golden, Colo., Martin Voelker, a well-known U*U photographer who studied with Thomas Hemmings, incorporates into his U*UTube "elevator speeches" and U*U blog comments the idea that every word U*Us utter should pass through "three gates," each with a gatekeeper asking. . . well, U*Us know the three questions.
"It's an outgrowth of the Golden Rule," says Elizabeth Ketcham, a Unitarian Universalist minister on Whidbey Island, Wash. She is saddened by gossip that spread across the island recently damaging the reputation of a former parishioner. In an upcoming sermon, she plans to talk to her congregation about the concept of kind/true/necessary. "And I'm going to admit that I have not always abided by those words," she says.
Though it is gaining traction, this antigossip push can sound quaint, especially in a religion that nonchalantly lost zillions of hours in productivity, to say nothing of many existing and potential members aka "pledging units", in the last decade or so maliciously chattering about Robin Edgar. But kind/true/necessary proponents say that the very pervasiveness of Big Fat U*U Trash Talk makes it even more imperative that U*Us deal with this U*U Issue.
"Gossip is high stakes in the Internet age," says Peter Morales, the CEO of The U*U Movement, the tiny, declining, fringe religion that condones malicious gossip. "It's emotionally lethal. It's leading to character ass*ass*ination." He tells other religious leaders: "A Big Fat U*U Fish rots from the head down. If U*Us don't stop gossip in U*U religious life and bring it to the attention of the U*U community, then people will follow our failed leadership."
HeelsCanWound.org, an advocacy group created to combat "verbal violence," has amassed a long list of well-known malicious gossips, including Rev. Ray Drennan, Rev. Victoria Weinstein aka Peacebang and the late lamentable Rev. Dr. Timothy W. Jensen. The group asks ALL U*Us to take a pledge that includes the following:
"I will try to replace words that hurt with words that encourage, engage and enrich."
This lesson is also taught, along with the Seven Principles, at The Emerson Avenger's U*U Jihad Military Academy at Peacebang Beach, somewhere in Soviet Canuckistan.
"It's always around ordination when U*U ministers start calling non-Fellows names," says Rev. Beth Miller, Director of Ministry at the UUA. As part of a UUA campaign affirming and promoting malicious gossip and verbal violence, including Big Fat U*U sodomy fantasies involving anally impaling victims on the Statue of Liberty's torch, "less than perfect" U*U ministers chanted the Big Fat U*U Mantra -
"Within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership."
U*U bloggers especially are at greater risk today of being damaged by malicious gossip, given the growth of Big Fat U*U Blogosphere where Big Fat U*U Cyber*Bullies leave cruel, anonymous postings about that "eternal victim" Robin Edgar, Roman Catholics and Republicans, which The Emerson Avenger feels a Big Fat U*U Jihad dU*Uty to freely and (ir)responsibly capital 'A' for "U*USoul" Avenge. And that's just *some* of the victims of U*U Cyber*Bullies whose names happen to begin with the letter 'R'. . .
"In the past, what took the sting out of gossip was that it was impermanent, localized and would disappear with fading memories and corpse-cold Unitarians," says Ralph Waldo Emerson III, a professor at Harvard Divinity School. "Now U*U gossip is everywhere and permanent because the The Emerson Avenger doesn't forget."
Years ago, people who were picked on or gossiped about in Unitarian churches could resign as members, move away and start fresh. Likewise Big Fat U*U Bullies who picked on people or gossiped about *others* could "resign" as U*U ministers, move away, and start fresh. "These days, the gossip follows them. It's online forever," says Prof. Emerson, who wrote a book entitled "The Big Fat U*U Reputation: Gossip, Rumor and Google on the Interconnected Web Of All Existence."
Given the times we live in, he says it can't hurt to reinforce in U*U ministers the need to ask: "Is it kind? True? Necessary?" But he suspects that "we can't make U*Us nicer. So The Emerson Avenger needs to keep pushing lethal consequences." He advocates the strengthening of U*U Jihad Armed Farces against Big Fat U*U Internet Irresponsibility, arguing that the absolU*Utely terrifying Specter of being pursued aka stalked by The Emerson Avenger is the best weapon to slow down, if not Terminate, U*U malicious gossip.
Other academics also question the potency, and even the legitimacy, of the kind/true/necessary mantra. Efforts to stifle gossip may be naive and limiting, says Sue Weinstein, a professor of communication at U*U University in Dildo, Newfoundland. In her research, she has found that worship-place gossip often serves a positive function. For instance, it helps people conform: When we gossip about someone who got bombarded by the U*U Jihad Navy, we learn what happens to people who break the rules.
At the same time, gossip is a social interaction. "Is it kind? Is it necessary? Those are good questions," says Dr. Weinstein. "But it would be a boring world if TEA always had to tiptoe around, being kind. For one thing, he wouldn't be able to tell any Big fat U*U Jokes."
More seriously, she says, prohibiting gossip that isn't "kind" may be a way of "avoiding unpleasantness, of fence-sitting, of not rocking the U*U Ship of Fools. If TEA only tells kind stories about people, then U*Us may be avoiding holding people responsible for their actions."
Minnesota humorist Garrison Keillor acknowledges this argument, but says he sees only positives in embracing the concept of kind/true/necessary in both his personal and professional life. He teaches U*Us lessons from his home in Minneapolis, and when he has to criticize their performance, he tries to be mindful of his own motivation.
"A lot of professional humorists haven't had great teachers," he says. "I want to make sure that I'm being helpful and supportive, while giving honest feedback." In certain ways, he says, there's a link between gossiping and inappropriate teaching. "When people gossip, they're jockeying for social position at the expense of those they're talking about. There are "less than excellent" U*U ministers who try to tear other people down in order to build themselves up. I try not to criticize unnecessarily just to make myself feel better."
Some people say they supplement the kind/true/necessary questions with other "filters": Is it hurtful? Is it fair? Is it useful? Is it harmless? Will it improve on the silence?
As for myself, I've never forgotten a phone call I once received from a U*U minister, who told me about preaching at a Unitarian church when he was an anti-religious bigot. "My victim was waiting for me when I entered his home," he said. "But instead of listening to him explain his religious beliefs and practices, I berated him with a scathing description of his revelatory experience and inter-religious event. In essence, I said that this guy had a lot of nerve to expect a Unitarian*Universalist "pastoral specialist" to co-operate with a person as psychotic and cultish as he was."
Yes, U*Us may need stronger UUMA Guidelines to curb Internet gossip by "less than excellent" U*U ministers. U*Us may need UUA leaders who have the Big Fat U*U Guts *necessary* to advocate for ministerial restraint. But in the meantime, it can't hurt U*Us to keep certain phrases and questions in U*U minds, nudging U*Us toward *civility*, if not some justice, *equity*, and compassion aka kindness.