End of the line

This blog and my online life has reached the end of the line.

I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me with their comments over the life of the blog.

I’ve realised that attempting to be a voice in the public square takes too much emotional energy and I can no longer cope with fall-out.

I am not a professional, I’ve never done this for money, I didn’t join Catholic Voices for the money or for any personal reasons, other than I thought I’d be good at it; on paper it should work, I’m articulate, reasonable and presentable.

In the last few months, I’ve been criticised from every side. From orthodox Catholics for being too liberal and from atheists or members of the LGBT lobby for being too hate-filled.

I’ve had an online stalker, pursing my every move, contacting other Catholic bloggers to dig dirt on me, blogging nasty unpleasant and untrue fantasies, (apparently I always wanted to be a model – anyone) which most people thought seemed the work of a deranged lunatic and who, on being asked to stop, besieged Neil Addison, who was advising me in a private capacity, with 16 unsolicited emails regarding the state of my mental health. When Neil formally wrote to her to tell her actions could be construed as harassment, she publically blogged his letter, went off on several prolonged rants about me and then incited her 4,000 followers to have a go at my feed. All the while, I have had to stay totally silent so as not to incite the situation further. She sporadically threatens me with the police for some imagined offence or other. She claims that the police are on the verge of arresting me and protecting her from me. As many know, the truth is somewhat different. But being under constant threat of being reported to the police for something you haven’t done, and wondering what is going to trigger another outburst, naming me and ranting away, resulting in tweets asking me to leave her alone, when I’ve done absolutely nothing, takes its toll. Particularly on someone who is in the early stages of a difficult pregnancy with all the hormones involved. Obviously some people forget what it is like to feel pregnant and vulnerable.

Her narrative, “Caroline plays the victim and has a track record for mental health problems” has fed into today’s attack. This is not my being paranoid. When attempting to discredit me earlier for being a hardline unreasonable fundamental zealot, this tweeter noted “she is a nutter with a proven track record of mental health problems”. I have no such history and I object to being smeared in the same manner and with the same malevolence as the targets of Johann Hari.

A comment today tells me that I am a poor representative for Catholic Voices, I should not spend time on Twitter. Apparently I am a hypocrite for trying to unite all sides, for “cosying up to James Preece, Laurence England and Paul Priest”.

I spend time on Twitter for the same reason many do. A bit of interaction with the real world, interspersed with looking after my children who aren’t always capable of giving great feedback. I spend most of the day with a baby and a toddler, my mobile phone is the odd distraction – I don’t buy papers.

Even at time of typing this, I can see someone on Twitter is inciting more trolling, saying “she is blondpidge, have fun”.  After two whole months of what feels like unprecedented abuse, I’ve had enough, I’ve reached saturation point.

It just seems wholly pointless. Traditional Catholics think I’m too liberal, everyone else thinks its fine to shout abuse and call names, without ever engaging in the points I have to make. Apparently I am a bigot who hides behind my faith, but no-one can actually tell me where I have shown any hatred or intolerance for other people.

None of the Catholics who attacked me for being too liberal have stood up for me today. The Catholic blogosphere seems to be for Catholics only, whereas what I have tried and failed to do is to take the debate into the public square.

Over the last 18 months I have been called every name under the sun and just expected to take it, that’s the price for putting your views out there. I never expected validation, but I never expected the unprecedented amounts of hatred and abuse either.

So trolls and bullies you’ve won. I can’t take it any more. You have to be made of hardier stuff than me if you want to be a Catholic on the internet. Or, you have to keep your mouth shut and your head down. Woe betide you if you actually dare to defend any of the stuff that you might believe in with people who aren’t Catholic. Other Catholics get by, simply by not engaging in the neuralgic issues. They talk about Catholic social teaching with each other, but don’t bother with the world at large. Perhaps if Catholics want to take a look at my timeline and those of the others involved, they will see what actually happens if you dare to use the theological language of the Catechism, even if it is in public conversation with another Catholic.

When I’m at the stage, where my head is literally banging from spending hours crying, when a false accusation “you LIE, apologise now”, repeated more than once, not followed up by anything resembling an apology, only a “oh sorry, I was mistaken”, after attempting to prove otherwise see there I go again, victim mode again, but as I said, this stuff hurts, when my husband is in tears at how his “lovely, gentle wife, who would do anything for anyone, is beside herself” when I literally don’t know what to do with myself, when I think I’ve failed, failed God, failed Christ, because all people can do is scream and shout hatred in my ears and tell me that I am insane I’ve had enough.  When people watch me cry and laugh at my distress, “lol, I saw her posts, 18 paragraphs of victimhood lol” then I’ve had enough. When a prominent Christian blogger seems to have bought into this narrative, despite being assured by those in the know that I am not guilty of whatever it is he seems to be accusing me of and spends 48 hours publically accusing me, despite others telling him to stop, I’ve had enough.  When my anger at the sheer injustice of this and my upset prevents me from sleeping and starts to affect my prayer life, I’ve had enough. When someone says, “I won’t allow her to affect my view of dozens of loving Christians”, despite the fact that at least one shares identical views to me, then clearly I’ve failed as I’ve not communicated myself as being decent, loving or Christian. That is perhaps what upsets me the most.

I’d still be honoured to write the odd feature for the Catholic Herald or other publications as and when the opportunities present themselves. That seems to be the one arena where I have been well-received perhaps because the readership doesn’t automatically view me through the lens of antipathy.

This is how battles are won by activists. By wearing the opponents down. By bullying, berating and discrediting. Someone stronger can do it. I don’t actually have the strength any more. Thanks for listening.

35 thoughts on “End of the line

  1. Caroline.

    Don’t make any irrevocable decisions, please. Get rest, take as much time as you need, then see?

    I’m not a Catholic, I’m not even a theist, but I truly value your writing.

    Often, they who shout loudest, should be heeded least.

    Take care

    Anna x

  2. Really sorry to hear about your decision. It sounds final but who knows what may come. You did your best and made an impact. This isn’t the end of your voice.

    Best of luck with the babies, from Canada.

  3. my thoughts and prayers will be with you

    pls let us know how your pregnancy is going

    When one is looking for good Catholic Example one looks to the person who is hated like Jesus was.

    You are articulate, reasonable and presentable.

    Shake the dust off your sandals and consider where things are coming from.

    Once again, hugs and prayers you will be missed.

  4. It’s awful. And having seen what’s been aimed at you, I couldn’t blame you in the slightest for walking away from it all. Do take care.

  5. I’m really sorry it’s come to this. People who disagree should be able to attack your arguments without attacking YOU. I’d like to stay in contact with you – I’d be honoured if you sent me an e-mail (wordpress lets you see commenter’s emails, I think.) I hope you’re ok, that your pregnancy goes well and that the people who bullied you will come to be sorry for what they did. I really value your writing as well as the personal support you’ve given me via twitter. Take care. x

  6. We do live in very, and increasingly illiberal, superficially sentimental, narcissistic, anti-intellectual times.

    Excuse my language, but I think what you’ve been put through by these vicious ignorant hordes, who would have been at home in 1920s Russia, or 1930s Spain or Mexico, is absolutely fucking outrageous: I’m not surprised at your decision. I think it:s a great pity, but fully understandable. As for the uber-trads, hmmm…all I would say in their defence is that on today of all days they may not have been anywhere near twitter

  7. Caroline, You have done a brilliant job of meeting the culture and taking the faith boldly into the public square.
    I am appalled and depressed by how horribly you have been treated, both by the opposition, and your own team.
    What a sorry exposition of the problematic mess which confront us.

    I hope this is a temporary strength gathering hiatus. But on the other hand I don’t think I could cope with half of what’s been thrown at you and I can’t blame you at all for walking away.
    You have been a class act and I can’t help feeling that you were intentionally taken out of action.
    The internet is going to be a way more boring place without you.

  8. You’re one of the kindest people I’ve met on line and threw me a lifeline in my “hour of need” a year or so ago. Always kind, reasoned and intelligent argument on your blog and on Twitter whether we have agreed on issues or not. A brilliant and wonderful witness to our faith. What happened today was nothing but sheer on-line bullying. The personal abuse was disgusting. You are indeed a class act and shall be missed.

  9. Will miss you. I thought you stuck to the via media admirably. You are a consistent defender of orthodox Catholicism. You are sensitive and have shown admirable courage in trying to be a voice of reason in the public square. Unfortunately we are being driven underground by a “dictatorship of relativism”. I truly hate what has become of England and I pray every day “Maranatha”. This is truly our Calvary. Victim hood? Actually, yes. In imitation of the Paschal Victim. May the Lord have mercy on us all

  10. Caroline, I am so sorry you bore the brunt of some really vicious anti Catholic and misogynist prejudice. It is quite disturbing when the ugliness of some people’s minds is exposed to the light.I think you have made the right decision in withdrawing from Twitter. Twitter is not a good vehicle for debate – IMO it is really best for disseminating info rather than debating it. Also- this does not mean the bullies have won. They have only won if people are impressed by their arguments or their behviour; I am sure on that basis you will have won far more hearts and minds than they. I agree that your time will be much better spent and your skills properly appreciated if you focus on articles for Herald etc and on lectures or talks. Take some time out to enjoy your beautiful children. I am sure they will raise you above all this nonsense with their joy and gift for living in the moment. With all best wishes.

  11. Given what you’ve been through, I think you’ve made the right decision. Speaking your mind on the areas you cover, it’s not surprising you’ve faced such opposition and there is only so much that anyone can deal with. You are not a failure for doing your best to follow what you believe God has called you to do. Move on to a new season of life knowing that God is still with you and greatly loves you. Maybe when the time is right you can come back again, but whatever you do don’t feel that you have failed. Continue to seek God and he will bless you.

    “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

  12. It made me feel sick and I was only on the periphery of the exchange. I agree with Teresa that Twitter is not a good vehicle for debate, it seems to draw anonymous abusers to any discussion that dissents from their own perspective. I have to say, as someone involved in the discussion to some degree, I thought you were amazing. Calm, polite and reasonable throughout. I was impressed by how measured your responses remained, even when you were being called names. After a meeting this morning, I have logged on to find that I seem to have missed the worst of whatever went on. I am sorry I wasn’t there to offer support, even if I’m not terribly good at the debating!

    Since I have known of you, I have been consistently impressed by your prose and what I have always evaluated as an aptitude for stating the Catholic position with charity, a quality so often absent from these discussions.

    Personally, I think you’ve probably made the right decision for yourself, your husband and your family. Girl, you don’t need the abuse! As I said yesterday, Mark 6:11.

    CCC 25

    Above all – Charity

    The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love.

    If there’s anything I can do, please do not hesitate to contact me.

  13. Caroline,

    First I want to apologise for any extent to which I have been one of the “Catholics who attacked [you] for being too liberal” who failed to stand up for you today. One of the problems with Twitter is the immediacy of it all – I was busy yesterday and didn’t have time to get involved. I wish I had.

    Then I want to thank you for “cosying up to James Preece, Laurence England and Paul Priest”. I know we’ve had disagreements, but you’ve remained civil when many other’s would have shouted about the Taliban. Thanks for that.

    I hope you will stick around in some capacity, I appreciate your contributions even when I don’t like them (and sometimes.. I even like them!)

    James

  14. Caroline

    I am so sorry it has come to this – and in particular that you were subjected to such vile abuse yesterday (and not just yesterday).

    I think you are wise to withdraw from that fray, at least for the moment.

    I suspect you have touched many more hearts and minds than you will ever know.

    Be assured of my continued prayers and best wishes, through Lent and beyond.

    BT

  15. Caroline, I’ve read your blog for a while although I’ve never commented. I just wanted to say that you have my admiration for being brave enough to put yourself out there and debate some really difficult concepts – concepts which are often not talked about by Christians for fear of seeming unsympathetic or out of touch with modern opinion. And you have my sympathy for the awful comments you’ve had to put up with along the way.

    I would agree with Teresa that twitter is a bad medium for debate – it lends itself to soundbites rather than arguments. Often the opposing side of the argument can produce simplistic soundbites which convince those who don’t understand the argument, whilst you, who are trying to explain Catholic teaching, are dealing with more complex issues which can’t easily be squashed into 140 characters. This makes an equal debate almost impossible. Your blog, on the other hand, gives you the opportunity to tackle these arguments in a measured and thoughtful way, and I for one hope that you find the strength some day to come back to this and continue putting the message out there.

    At the moment, though, it seems as if you just need to take a break from it all and recover your own happiness with the support of your loving family and friends. That is the most important thing – far more important than poisonous comments by people who think they can write what they like on the internet because they don’t actually know you. Be assured that for every person who has abused or insulted you there are many more who have found your writing interesting, sympathetic and informative, whether they agree with you or not.

    All the best for the future,

    L

  16. Caroline, sorry to hear about all this, although I can understand why you’re upset. There are, frankly, a lot of idiots on Twitter – and besides it’s probably not a great forum to ‘debate’ anything. Slinging insults is much easier, particularly for the feeble-minded, and that’s clearly what you got a lot of yesterday. For the record, I don’t agree with some of what you say either. But the hunting and victimisation that went on yesterday, supposedly in the name of ‘gay rights’, was despicable and cowardly. I hope you come back to Twitter, and you certainly shouldn’t stop blogging. Anyway, relax and have a good Lent, all the best, Nick

  17. So sorry you’ve been subjected to such horrid bullying. Please remember those “many” are actually a minority, and if the general public were aware of what had transpired, I’m sure they would be a disgusted as I am.

    Everyone has a right to speak their mind, and your voice, from what I have read here, is truly valued. Have faith, and accept the love and sincere wishes from us all who wish you the very best. x

  18. I am very upset that there are so many who persecute those who exercise free speech. Your twitter correspondence was never attacking or nasty. Unlike some of those who tweeted against you. Keep the faith and blessings to you and your familyx

  19. Carline, I’m sorry you have gone through even more abuse and perfectly understand your need for respite.

    My suggestion for the future: don;tbother with Twitter. I get by just fine without it! I have it but I just leave it off…

    Bet wishes

    Ruari

  20. I too was off Twitter yesterday untill very late and I can only piece together what sounds like an awful time for you!
    I am really sorry you were subjected to what sounds like vile abuse.

    You will remain much in my prayers over Lent & I hope you can put this trauma firmly behind you and concerntrate on nurturing yourself and your lovely family.

    Do keep in touch and please do keep blogging, you are much valued and appreciated!!

    Xxx

  21. I’m so sorry this has all happened to you! {{{HUGS}}} and I’ll be praying for you, and really: if you want an on-line place where you can safely talk to other Catholic mothers and never,ever get bullied (I’ve been a member since 2003!), let me know, you have my e-mail! I think you’re a wonderful person and I wish I could help…life just isn’t fair sometimes and what’s happened to you is beyond nasty.

  22. I have enjoyed reading your blog. It has helped me in so many different ways. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again now. My faith has been enriched by your writing. I am very grateful for the day I found this.

    Taking a decision like this because the situation is effecting your family and your prayer life is a good decision. I will miss your blog but it is more important that your spiritual and family life is protected.

    Here is a modern version of the Anima Christi. I find it helpful and when I pray it tonight, I will pray it for you, Robin and your girls.
    Jesus, may all that is in you flow into me.
    May your body and blood be my food and drink.
    May your passion and death be my strength and life.
    Jesus, with you by my side enough has been given.
    May the shelter I seek be the shadow of your cross.
    Let me not run from the love which you offer.
    But hold me safe from the forces of evil.
    On each of my dyings shed your light and your love.
    Keep calling to me until that day comes.
    When with our saints, I may praise you forever.
    Amen

  23. Caroline
    I popped in to see if you had any new comments and am greatly cheered to see that you have. I hope you are also, and that you can see how much appreciated you, and your online contributions, have been.
    I hope that your talk at Oxford went well today and that you can enjoy some peace in the days ahead.
    My prayers are with you.

  24. So sorry that it’s come to this – probably inevitable given the harrassment you’ve been under. Re-charge your batteries, concentrate on your family and don’t forget that the nastiness that has come your way will reduce Purgatory time 🙂 !

    I’ll miss your presence on your blog and on Twitter. Hope we can meet sometime. My best wishes and of course prayers. L.

  25. Having seen all the abuse you are taking and have taken, I can fully understand your decision -but it’s a loss for both me personally (yours has always been one of the blogs I turned to first -I still love the old title ‘A snail in my pocket’!) and for the blogosphere.

    I hope that eventually you will once again be able to use your talents without prompting these tsunamis of sheer nastiness.

  26. Not sure how to phrase this, but I’ve told you for sometime to take a step back an ignore. But you become like a dog with a bone once you’ve started. I’ll miss your updates and would love to know how you are doing, but I do think you are doing the right thing. I admire you for your beliefs and the way you stand up for them, but it was all too out of control. Take care and I hope you will keep in touch Lx

    1. Thank you. I understand what you are saying. Yes it was out of control, but I really don’t think it was my doing on this occasion. I really think another party was spoiling for a fight.

      The bitching behind my back was still continuing at 5pm last night 20 hours after I’d deleted. How do I know? I had to delete the app on my phone which was still showing my timeline. Reading toxic stuff behind your back was appalling.

      Having followed me I hope you can confirm that much of these rumours are untrue. I have chased no-one off the net. I think you may also have seen what I have been subjected to over the past few weeks. x

  27. In my own life recently, it has become clear to me just how many nasty, unfriendly people there are out there – people who really do not care if others are upset and hurt. It seems to me that there are more such people around now than when I was young.

    I am very sorry you have been through such a bad time. At such times, it is so comforting to have a loving, supportive family to turn to – and I am glad that you at least have that. Just enjoy them – and forget about these other idiots!

    Like others who have posted here, I will miss your blog and wish you all the best for the future.

  28. Hello Caroline,

    You don’t know me, so I hope this doesn’t come across as strange, but it’s really sad to see that you won’t be blogging or twittering anymore.

    I’m not Catholic or religious(yet, it’ll probably happen though) but your blog and your twitter feed really helped me out through a crisis of faith that I had last year. To see how people who supposedly value ‘equality’ spoke of you was obviously really upsetting, and I hope that you are able to realise that they mean nothing. In the long run, these people mean nothing, nada, zilch. In their quest for progress they have forgotten about eternity.

    So all that can really be said is thank you for speaking out against a seemingly impenetrable ‘culture of death’ in an age where to deviate from the status quo can lead to such horrific personal abuse. I’m sure there are many other young people out there who also never took time out to contact you, but have been edified by your writing.

    I hope your pregnancy is a safe and happy one.

    xx

  29. The job that you have done was aided by the Holy Angels.

    Catch a breather and see what Divine Providence has in store for you next.

    May God our Lord in His infinite and supreme goodness be pleased to give us His abundant grace, that we may know His most holy will, and entirely fulfill it.

    *

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