Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Yeah, I know, this is like shouting theatre in a crowded fire, as Abbie Hoffman said.

I was thinking about a post on Kos by Kos about why some folks were not using pseudonyms anymore, and was thinking that there is especially today, a good case for pseudonyms, or usage of names like my Buddhist name. Sometimes, it's better for folks on line not to know what's written on your driver's license. Moreover, this Dogo Barry Graham thing (first brought to my attention by a comment by "zenwatch" on one of Brad Warner's recent posts here) is worth a blog post at least, as to the hazards of what can happen to your reputation on line, rightly or wrongly.

This is case in point as to why sometimes, though people get in trouble as a result of lawyers every day, sometimes, it's better to listen to them. Now I'm not a lawyer, and don't play one on TV, but having been subpoenaed to give testimony at a patent infringement litigation in the past year, it seems to me that this dispute is not going in a good direction, and I would strongly suggest that the principals involved tone it down, cool it, and if they don't believe me they should actually talk to a lawyer, preferably in meat-space.

It seems that the blogosphere is erupting in charges and counter charges regarding Dogo Barry Graham and Kobutsu Shindo ("Old Buddha New Way") Malone (see here, and here for example).

Given that Kobutsu Shindo Malone ("Old Buddha New Way") and Dogo Barry Graham both seem to derive some source of income it would seem they would be somewhat prudent in hurling this type of stuff across the internet because words like "libel" and "defamation" and "subpoena" might be hurled back at them.

It's not fun to be subpoenaed, even if you didn't do anything wrong, and even if you didn't commit any crimes. If subpoenaed, you will be put in a position where one of two people (at least!) is trying to get you to either conform to a narrative which may or may not conform to reality or get you to make it look like you're perjuring yourself in order to avoid admitting to their false narrative. And (the really frustrating thing!) there's an ethical background to all of this.

So my advice to these gentlemen is to cool it (and it appears that this is what Graham intends to do, to his credit). It is one thing to say, as Brad Warner does, that what Genpo Merzel does is nonsense, because that concerns largely matters of religious belief, and since it's all "he said she said" nobody's going to get sued over it. But when you're talking about faked credentials, you'd better have evidence that stands up in court. I don't know how much these guys make, but it'd be worth it for them to pay a lawyer for 1 hour's worth of time, reviewing a "cease and desist" letter that anyone could write. It's probably worth it even though undoubtedly the Zen master business pays far less than what I'm doing at the moment.

Full disclosure: I have no knowledge of any facts of this other than what I've seen referenced above. However, given that the situation appears to be a zero-sum game (either Malone's right or Graham's right in at least some of the scurrilous facts) I really don't like to see this, I know that it is troubling and stressing out the principals, but unfortunately all I can do is blog in response.

And I'd also recommend folks to read the Stuart Lachs stuff on the 'net about teachers and credentials, and check your teacher (or any professional for that matter!) if what he or she starts saying or doing is widely at variance with what you know of as the morals and ethics or basic facts of a situation.

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