Recently Anglican Watch received a take-down request from Tommy Allen, a former Episcopal priest who faced criminal charges after allegedly physically assaulting two family members. We have declined this attempt at censorship for two reasons:
1) When someone mentions legal counsel, it is our policy to deal only with legal counsel.
2) The allegations referenced in the story are matters of public record.
We further note that Allen’s claims suggest he may have participated in a diversionary program, in which charges are dropped if someone participates in court-ordered counseling or other non-punitive initiatives. That would not mean, however, that the underlying conduct did not occur, and we find references to Allen’s alleged drinking on the day of the incident, as well as his tone and tenor, troubling, particularly for someone in his position. Moreover, Allen’s apparent participation in supporting gun rights legislation, including bringing weapons into houses of worship, is worthy of public scrutiny.
Thus, while Allen may threaten, and he may have induced other publications to remove content about him, we refuse to be censored. Just as Allen appears to be an advocate of the Second Amendment, so does Anglican Watch believe in the importance of First Amendment rights, including that of a free press. That is particularly the case when, as here, someone attempts to bully and threaten others over free speech rights.
Finally, Allen’s conduct illustrates the continuing need for a free and independent press. Assuming his claims are true that the Baltimore Sun and Patch succumbed to his threats, there is all the more need for independent journalists whose coverage cannot be manipulated by clergy. Far too often clergy of every ilk enjoy an entirely unwarranted level of deference as they threaten and bully others in an effort to manipulate their public image — an image that typically does not align with their behind-the-scenes behavior.