Online Discussion
Same Playing Field
Censorship vs. Orwellian "Steptalk"

     The names of the participants have been altered (except those of Cliff Walker and his friends), and the name of the online service has been kept hidden.
     Online jargon and abbreviations have been translated to regular idiom. All emphasis has been standardized by using italics for emphasis. Names of written works are also italicized.
     Spelling has been corrected, as well as some punctuation -- which would otherwise make a few of these tirades unintelligible to all but the most seasoned grade-school English teachers. This was done to keep lousy writing skills from detracting from the point being made by the writer.
     The practice of quoting previous posts in order to comment on them has been retained; the symbol (>>) followed by the name of the person being quoted preceeds any material quoted from a previous posting. 
Dear Cliff Walker,

Since so many people seem to "misunderstand" what you are saying and disagree with what you seem to be saying, could you please help put us all on the same playing field by giving your definition of the following terms: Thanks for your help. Perhaps this will let us have a calm discussion. My main complaint is that people misrepresent and suppress what I say. I don't care if certain individuals understand what I say because I intend only to communicate with those individuals who are capable of understanding what I say. To the others, there is always the "Next Message" button.

No one on this board has bothered to argue against my ideas, they simply pronounce them as false and leave it at that. As for individuals "misunderstanding" my ideas, Bertrand Russell said it best: "A stupid man's report of what a clever man says is never accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand." Like I said, it is not my intention to communicate with people who do not or cannot or will not understand what I say.

Here are my definitions: (I see no difference between religion and spirituality. To me, they are one in the same. -- Cliff) (Here, you present a false premise -- a "straw man," of sorts -- because you have already defined the word as having a meaning different from that of "abstinence." Therefore, you are not truthfully asking me for my opinion. I will define both words, then compare. -- Cliff) (Again, I see no difference: abstinent means sober means dry. There is no such thing as a "dry drunk"; the term dry drunk is an oxymoron [look it up]. -- Cliff) Please note the following differentiations that Rational Recovery makes between the terms chemical dependence; addiction; substance abuse. Perhaps. But I doubt it.

Cliff Walker Cliff: Very nice and neat. Wraps up the human condition in a neat box tied with Webster's ribbon. I don't believe it's that simple. I do believe you will stay sober, grow and live happy joyous and free. I believe you have a higher power that you ask help from. I believe it is the principles of RR. You might see it differently. I never said you couldn't and I know you never said I couldn't have my views. I hope you don't get caught promoting RR in a commercial way on [the online service] anymore. You give me the chance to think instead of just react to my environment. Yup! It is a lot simpler to use the commonly accepted definitions of words than to develop our own exclusive definitions and expect everyone else to catch on. This is why you will not find me using oxymoronic expressions such as "dry drunk," "abstinent, but not sober," or "spiritual, but not religious." I am sorry if my use of the correct and accepted definitions of words offends those who think they can change our language. I didn't get caught doing anything, because I have done nothing wrong -- except to take on the dominant paradigm without regrets. What I do is no more of a commercial venture than your local AA group with its Seventh Tradition. What I do is much more benign than what AA has done: allowed the courts to use it's name in order to force people to undergo religious instruction against their will and to be "treated" for a "disease" that probably does not exist. I believe the AA Big Book and the Twelve Steps encourage this arrogant mentality which knows what's best for the rest of us, and I believe that same mentality is influencing some of the [online service personnel] who are deleting peoples' posts.

When I finally called [the online services] headquarters long distance, they put a manager on my case. I was told several reasons why my posts were deleted. In each case, I found posts that remain to this day, which violated the same rules I am supposed to have violated (e.g., quoting from a deleted post; giving out WEB-Page addresses; etc.)

Their final response: "I'm sorry I cannot say anything you want to hear ... "

Excuse me! All I want to hear is the truth. No one has explained why my posts keep being deleted and why other posts which do the same thing remain. It's not only me, but [a certain herbalist doctor] had three great posts deleted. I disagree entirely with his views, but I've never heard such an eloquent presentation of those views. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to pick his brain in a lively discussion, but alas; the name of the game on this board is serenity and we don't want to confuse those poor, misguided newcomers. [The herbalist's doctor's] views, like mine, challenge the dominant paradigm. But his posts are gone, and so is [the herbalist doctor]. And so is [a certain rather angry Al-Anon member] whose post was deleted along with one of mine. (I still have my copies, though.)

Cliff Walker Hello Cliff Walker, just want to let you know that the info you manage to disseminate without getting busted by the [online service] police does make a difference -- it gives some of us another opportunity to look at this struggle in a new light. So thanks. One of my regular AA meetings has begun (first time this week) to talk about whether the prayer at the end of the meeting is necessary or was ever intended. So, we'll see what happens. Please keep posting. Be careful. You may be "right" -- but if everybody picks up and starts going to a different meeting, you will wind up being alone. And alone is no way to do the Twelve Step programs.

(Been there. Done that.)

I am still being stigmatized because of an article I wrote called Whose Father? which was published in the local NA newsletter shortly before the World Convention of Narcotics Anonymous XX came to Portland, Oregon, in 1990.

I am not against prayer in the Twelve Step groups; I oppose enforced attendance, and the prayer is one element of the Twelve Step programs that almost anyone can identify with. By the way, I am opposed to enforced Rational Recovery attendance, too, and have a pamphlet called Substance Abusers Caught in the System that I hand to everyone who asks me to sign a slip. I'll sign the slip, of course, but then I ask them to agree to read the pamphlet and comment on it should they return for their second meeting. The System pamphlet outlines why RR believes that enforced attendance is wrong. Judges do this today in several states. (In some states, they are required to offer RR as a choice if they wish to continue mandating people to AA.) I sign about twelve slips a week. However, RR has gone on record as saying that it is wrong and illegal and unconstitutional for judges to do this.

And enforced attendance doesn't work, either. As the Narcotics Anonymous book says, I did not intend to sound like I was venting my spleen at you; it is the silence of the [online service officials] and their refusal to level with me which I had intended to comment on. Nothing personal. I have pointed out again and again that the rules are not being enforced fairly here [on the online service forums], and that the censors are being way too touchy when it comes to deleting posts which are somewhat embarrassing to the traditional, dominant point of view.

My whole point in posting messages here is to open various discussions; I like to do this by challenging claims which I think are false claims. I've met several people on these boards who have initially been taken aback by what I have to say, simply because they have not been exposed to ideas like mine. After several posts back and fourth, we usually step aside to the realm of e-mail dialogue.

I do this also to learn. I seek to learn what, if any, holes are in my beliefs. Here, I test my beliefs and my findings. I'm more interested in discovering truth than I am in pushing any agenda (believe it or not). I come closer to the truth by testing the waters and seeing what comes up. I also seek to learn what are the most effective ways to communicate my beliefs; I do this by seeing what kinds of misunderstandings result from what I say. Thanks for your comment.

Those of us who recover under our own power (without help) have had our form of recovery put down for so long and by so many, that the practice of discrediting our method (doing it yourself) has become institutionalized. By this I mean that the government sentences people to treatment without regard to whether treatment (or AA or whatever) is the most effective choice for that individual. Most people who get into trouble behind drinking or drugging are not allowed to engage in self-recovery, but are forced to get help. Self-recovery is no longer an option, even though it is at least as effective as any other method.

I think it is important to stop perpetuating the myth that any particular method has the answers for everybody, and to stop perpetuating the myth that anybody who has problems automatically, by definition, needs to get help in order to solve those problems.

It is difficult to get my point across without offending certain people, because part of my message is to dispute common myths about addiction and recovery. However, if I remain silent and pretend that there is nothing wrong -- when I know full well that something is very, very wrong -- certain people will continue to be wrongly imprisoned and will continue to be sent into treatment programs that do those individuals more harm than good. I am not saying that treatment or AA harms everyone, only that it hinders some people's chances for recovery.

For me, recovery is this: I have recovered from drug addiction. I did this through my decision to abstain from drugs and alcohol for the rest of my life. If I never take drugs again, I will never suffer from drug addiction again.

Now, free from addiction, I am free to move on to other things. One of those things is to offer to others the same hope that was never offered to me when I needed it. Most people who believe in self-sufficiency are true to their own philosophy (of being self-sufficient) and do not go around trying to help others, but rather, prefer to mind their own business. This probably has something to do with why most of those who are out there helping others believe that getting help is the only way anybody can change. Perhaps that's what I should be doing now: minding my own business and being true to my own philosophy. However, I choose not to do that -- for now.

Again, thanks for your comment.

Cliff Walker