Blog posts are opinion pieces. In the old days, before blogs became more mainstream, you could express your opinions freely. If I thought a rabbi wrote an article demonstrating ignorance and dishonesty with sources, I showed that it was the case (albeit with nicer words). I can’t do that anymore. The old blog crowd had thick skins. The new blog crowd includes people who are highly sensitive and will complain.
Instead of criticizing ill-conceived articles, I usually just ignore them because otherwise I will get an angry e-mail from the author or one of his students. Then I will get an e-mail from one of his colleagues asking me to reconsider his arguments with a more open mind. Who has time for those discussions? Even if I am wrong, people are allowed to be incorrect every once in a while.
While I could ignore the e-mails, sometimes they come from people who are too important to ignore — people I respect highly for one reason or another. And some people even call me at home or at work, trying to make me squirm until I change my post. Who wants that? (For the record, I find those calls so off-putting that I usually become entrenched and refuse to budge. A phone call is the best way to get me to refuse your blog-related request.)
I have not noticed a change. When you write something that affects people, you will get feedback and pressure in direct relationship to the importance of what you write. I started getting death threats in 1997.
I found that over the years, people got smarter in how they reacted to me. It became more and more rare for people to call me up to yell at me. People probed for my weaknesses and when they found them, they used them to get back at me.
It’s been many years since people bothered me about my blog. I find that few people are willing to confront me directly. They either reason with me very nicely or they leave me alone.
I’m not married. I don’t have kids. I don’t have one shul that I hold sacred. I don’t have one source of income. I’ve created a life where I can pretty much say what I want on my blog.
Here’s an amusing excerpt from my Jewish Journal profile in 2007: “Multiple rabbis contacted by The Journal declined to comment; not only that, they didn