This is kind of a dual subject post, so bear with me. We sometimes place a lot of importance on names. For example, the Mormon Church places a lot of importance on the name of the Church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
But more recently, with the advent of the internet, “handles” or short screen names have almost become essential with people using sites like Twitter, where short, brief micro messages are the new vogue. According to wiki,
In some countries, Mormon and some phrases including the term are registered trademarks owned by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. (a holding company for the LDS Church’s intellectual property). In the United States, the LDS Church has applied for a trademark on “Mormon” as applied to religious services; however, the United States Patent and Trademark Office rejected the application, stating that the term “Mormon” was too generic, and is popularly understood as referring to a particular kind of church, similar to “Presbyterian” or “Methodist”, rather than a service mark. The application was abandoned as of August 22, 2007. In all, the Intellectual Reserve, Inc. owns more than 60 trademarks related to the term Mormon. [For more info on the Mormon service mark issue see “Mormon” History.]
But it appears that the Church hasn’t abandoned its desire to control the word “Mormon” in the United States after all, for recently they have sought to have a Mormon Dating site shut down for calling itself “Mormon Match.” According to the Daily News,
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is crying foul at Mormon Match’s decision to use [an image of] the Salt Lake Temple and the word “Mormon” on their site, claiming the church has total ownership over those things.
Reportedly, the use of the word Mormon “is the central issue of this case.” The Church’s Intellectual Reserve, Inc. “questioned [Mormon Match’s] right to use the word Mormon anywhere” on the site. To protect the Mormon name, the Church has engaged in what the Daily News calls “backhanded” and “clandestine” tactics. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Stay tuned.
The second part of this post has to do with an issue closer to home, (here at Mormon Coffee). Recently, we had to ban one of our more prolific Mormon participants here, who went by the handle, faithoffathers (FOF). This was done because FOF had become so trollish that he was not adding anything of value to the discussions he participated in. For examples of his derogatory rhetoric, please read my comments here.
When someone is banned from Mormon Coffee (see the Mormon Coffee comment policy), Sharon puts them on a list that she keeps for quick reference. This gives us some behind-the-scenes information that allows us to identify the IP Addresses of those who contribute here. Why is this relevant? Because some who get banned simply make up another profile so they can continue to post and disrupt discussions. One might say they engage in backhanded and clandestine tactics.
When Sharon added FOF’s name to that list, she noticed something interesting. FOF had numerous Sockpuppets that he had been posting with, at least one of which had been previously banned.
This wasn’t noticed by Sharon earlier, because let’s face it, who has time to do that kind of thing unless it becomes an issue; and there have been so few people banned (under 10 over the entire life of Mormon Coffee) that it wasn’t really any kind of a priority. Finding FOF’s Sockpuppets led us to analyze the profiles of some of the others that had been banned in the past.
For those who post here regularly, this might come as a surprise, but FOF can be linked to 8 different Sockpuppets, among them David Brown, DJ Brown, D Brown, Brown, Brownie, Observer, Jim Olsen, and Olsen Jim.
Another prolific troll here was HankSaint, who had 6 different Sockpuppets, including Hank, Henry, Janet, Solid LDS, and Helen Louis Smith.
We also found that Fred Park joined the Mormon Coffee community as fproy222 and, after he was banned from further commenting, returned as Parkman.
As there were only a handful of such deceivers in the over 2000 User Profiles registered here at Mormon Coffee, this is not a common behavior, it seems, and many of those that were banned were Sockpuppets of those mentioned above.
David J. Brown (FOF) claimed to be a surgeon and a faithful Mormon whose goal, he said, was to defend the Church. But he also claimed that he was a “lurker” named Jim Olsen and deceived us with several Sockpuppet profiles.
HankSaint, who is really Richard Johnson as revealed by himself here (after I called him out about it), also claimed to be defending the Church, but used deceptive Sockpuppets to do so, claiming to be someone that he was not, even his own wife.
One method that Sockpuppets use is to refer to their alternate identities in conversations. I found a few examples of comments made by David Brown, for example, did this. Here is one of his FOF comments from 2008:
I must disagree with you. I have outlined several lines of evidence supporting the Book of Mormon on this site. There have been no responses to the specific evidences. DJBrown also listed quite a long list of prophecies in the Book of Mormon that have been fulfilled. I am happy to once again list these evidences, but my guess is the response will be no different- change the subject or fall back on a more general and global dismissal of the church.
Notice how FOF drops the name of DJBrown, who of course is himself. Here is David Brown as “Observer” also referencing himself in another conversation,
I ran across a post from DJBrown a while back that I thought explained this topic well…
And then we have the Sockpuppet Jim Olsen (David Brown) telling Aaron Shafovaloff that he was,
Just a lurker for a long time. But the degree to which you take pleasure in the misfortunes of others is stunning. Lightning strikes a church or temple- and you find enormous meaning in that? You even seem to revel in it. Seems so contrary to what the Bible teaches.
Of course, he wasn’t “just a lurker for a long time,” he was Doctor David J. Brown, who had already been posting under various Sockpuppet identities to try and bolster his own arguments — which itself seems contrary to what the Bible teaches.
There are many more examples, but those should suffice to show the Sockpuppet’s pattern of deception here at Mormon Coffee. Richard Johnson, or HankSaint/Janet – after I had outed him on another forum – actually told someone there,
You can call me HankPriest, Janet, Richard, HankSaint, Jared, etc. It does not bother me since those were the handles I often used.
The fact that he had to deceive people in order to use some of those “handles” didn’t seem to bother him at all, claiming censorship as his reason for doing so. Like many others, he seems oblivious to the behavior that got him (and his Sockpuppets) banned.
The “backhanded and clandestine” behavior employed by both the Mormon Church (as alleged in the Mormon Match conflict), and its overzealous members in their attempts to protect and defend the Mormon name, seems to fall into the category of the-end-justifies-the-means. While claiming allegiance to the Mormon creed that says “We believe in being honest, true…virtuous, and good to all men,” (Articles of Faith 1:13), they find themselves stooping to conduct antithetical to these very principles.
Do you consider someone who would use this kind of tactic to be honest? Is this kind of deception acceptable as an Ambassador of Jesus Christ? (2 Corinthians 5:11-21)
Is this behavior part of the Mormon pattern of “lying for the Lord,” wherein anything goes as long as you are defending the Church?
Would you trust someone who uses deception to reveal what they claim is the truth to you about God and their Church?
What’s in a name? What do you think?