On Being Mean

I honestly thought I’d earn some points with people coming to the defense of Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Justin Bieber and all of motherhood. Well, I knew I was pushing the envelop with the Biebs, but even so, I didn’t expect the accusation of being mean.


Somehow, my attempt to defend people makes me a bad guy.

Quick summaries:

I think I did a pretty good job of exposing myths, respecting history, giving the benefit of doubt, and addressing flawed ideologies — rather than personalities. I find all these subjects a bit fascinating, and the discussion that ensued were engaging and enlightening. It was above board and fair, right?

Some didn’t think so. They accused me of being mean.

To them, my blogging was strong and unloving, I should consider my audience and how they may respond, I should be gentler and kinder, more like Christ. Are you one who thinks I’m being mean? Help me reason through this, please.

I’m not being facetious. I don’t want to be mean to people. I love people, even when they disagree with me. I like to think that’s a peaceful and loving way to live.

I’m not perfect, and I never claimed to be. I got hot under the collar at some of the exchanges, especially the ones attacking dead people like Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King Junior. I confess, I edited out the “mean” parts in my first drafts. So I’m scratching my head thinking how am I wrong here?

For a moment, weigh this criticism with my post on Mother Teresa. I come to the defense of a deceased nun who dedicated her life to feed the world’s most destitute poor, whose order of nuns are still at work wasting much of their time debunking the myths rather than continuing the work of their founder, and I’m the bad guy for it?

And these guys weren’t very nice about telling me I wasn’t being nice. Here’s a sampling of the responses I received:

I think there is a need for a more loving approach towards Christians who you believe are in the wrong.

You made judgements on motive, heart, and intent based on FB posts. This isn’t only wrong, it’s hypocrisy.

Your behavior throughout this entire fiasco profoundly saddens me.

In my humble opinion, your treatment of this lady and her husband [the original posters who claimed Mother Teresa was a heretic] has been far worse than their treatment of Mother Teresa.

Honestly, how should I respond? Should I stop writing altogether, maybe spend the time personally responding to each of these people in more loving, personal, Christlike ways (because Jesus never challenged people publicly)? Never mind that these quotes were posted on this site or my Facebook wall for all my friends to see. I should just shut up and admit that I’m a big fat meanie.

Sorry. Now I am being facetious.

This “you’re being mean” argument should stop. I’m not being mean. I hold no ill will whatsoever toward people who disagree with things I write. I actually enjoy the challenge. In fact, I read virtually all of the feedback I get, and I seriously grapple with intelligent and thought-provoking responses. Isn’t debate and discourse part of a healthy, peaceful world? I think so.

I’m a wordsmith and a thinker, someone who goes through great pains to choose just the right wording — not to be mean, but to make sure I hit the truth as accurately and persuasively as possible.

There is a lot of crap out there claiming outlandish things, and I enjoy working through thoughts and ideas to sometimes come out with persuasive rebuttals. I hope people walk away from my blog posts challenged and thoughtful of others. Public arguments can be wholesome and enlightening, but only if we let go of this idea that we’re being mean for disagreeing.

Logicians call the “you’re being mean” stance ad hominem. I was challenging conspiracy theories, media hype and ideologies. I wasn’t attacking personalities of the people making the arguments. They had every opportunity to challenge and engage, which I actually love to do, but some can’t get past the ad hominem.

Actually, it avoids the discussion at hand. It’s beside the point.

This is what “ad hominem” means: to the man. It avoids the real argument being considered and turns the attack on the person making it.

I invite you to stick with me and be my friend, but stop telling me that I’m being mean when I write something challenging thoughts or ideas. This response, I believe, is a veiled attempt to avoid the more difficult challenge to think, and is — very arguably — mean.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Tenner Tandika

    *Silent laughter* Well put, Mr. Jeub.

  • Doug Tjaden

    Chris, I’m not really sure about how to approach this. But you’ve doubled down on this I guess and I care enough about you and your ministry to wade into difficult waters publicly, since you do not seem to have an issue with that. It isn’t my choice of how to approach this, but you didn’t respond privately to my email.

    You said you pride yourself on being a word smith. OK. Let’s look at one claim in your post.

    “Never mind that these quotes were posted on this site or my Facebook wall for all my friends to see.”

    This is a false statement. I know because the following quote is from me.

    “You made judgements on motive, heart, and intent based on FB posts. This isn’t only wrong, it’s hypocrisy.”

    Problem is, this was in a private email I sent to you. What is more problematic is that it was not given in context. The full quote was this:

    “Did you contact this woman or her husband privately to ask them to clarify their positions? If not, then you made judgements on motive, heart, and intent based on FB posts. This isn’t only wrong, it’s hypocrisy for a ministry that holds out not being judgmental as ideals.”

    Two things.

    1) My statement included a very important qualifier. “If”, which is the same qualifier used by the person who responded to Wendy’s Mother Teresa quote. It too dramatically changes the context of what written, and I believe, without clarification, may have invalidated your original proposition – that the woman was a Mother Teresa hater.

    2) You didn’t finish the last sentence. Isn’t it important to include the context I gave, that judging motive, heart, and intent without getting personal clarification is hypocritical for “someone who holds out being judgmental as ideals?” It may not be at all for someone who throws around judgment willy nilly, but that isn’t what you claim to do.

    So. You used my quote to support your proposition that people are saying you are being “not nice” or “mean.” Brother, nothing could be further from the truth. Saying you are “mistaken” is not saying you are “mean” or “not nice.” Saying that one who promotes “love” should attempt to be more loving, is not calling you mean – any more than questioning a Mother Teresa quote (even if mistakenly) makes that person a “hater.”

    I see a problem here Chris. As I said in my email to you, and in a previous post (I think)… I care about you, your family, and your ministry. I won’t sit by and let my comments be misrepresented out of context, whether you intended to or not.

    I assume that there is a debate term for using out of context quotes and assigning labels (mean and hater) to people who did not use them. I will simply call it wrong, and I won’t sit by and let my comments be taken out of context and misrepresented, whether you intended to or not.

    • You’re right, Doug. I got mixed up between your FB post (https://chrisjeub.com/even-mother-teresa-has-haters/#comment-1201856212) and your personal email to me. I shouldn’t have done that, I’m sorry. You spent a considerable amount of time trying to engage in the discussion as well as help steer me in a direction you thought I should go, and I should have been more considerate of that.

      • Doug Tjaden

        I understand that you are dealing with several sources of electronic postings and could have gotten mixed up. Apology accepted.

        However, you haven’t addressed the more important issue of clipping a portion of my quote and using it out of context to make the point that people (including me since you used my words as an example) are calling you “mean.” That clearly wasn’t at all what I said.

        • Doug Tjaden

          Not sure if you are planning to address this or not? In your post you said: “Help me reason through this, please.”

          I am more than willing to help you reason through your proposition that a) I accused you of being “mean”, and b) “Somehow, my attempt to defend people makes me a bad guy.”

          But first the foundation of the discussion needs to be accurate.

  • Melody Ray

    I like this term, ad hominem. I think commenters should use their energy to post on a deeper level, and about things they are educated about, as opposed to superficial comments, ” Your mean! How rude”. Those types of comments accomplish nothing and waste everyone’s time, and are equivalent to a juvenile’s, ” nanny nanny boo boo I’m better than you. I got your back against these haters, Mr. Jeub.