Possummomma

Update - 17 October

There is an update to this entry. You can find it here.

Update - 12 October


First, welcome to the Squid Hoard Horde and Reddit fans who have been peaking my site statistics!

Second, I've been asked to summarize for those readers with severe attention impairments. Here goes:
In the act of shunning one of their own members, the cult-like fan club of a trivial reality cable television show mistakes their heretic with a distant relative. That relative happens to be Possummomma, of the blog "Atheist in a Minivan" who is also a well known blogger in the Atheist online community.

Using cult tactics, the members of the GDNNOP cult stalk Possummomma online, and attempt to "out" her phone number, address and medical history, all while denying that they are doing anything wrong and while suppressing any contrary evidence.

Thanks! Carry on! Calladus

=================

One of my favorite blogs went dark this week. The following is my attempt to explain what happened, and it is also a rant about the cult-like rabid fan-club that is responsible.


Background:

The author of one of my favorite blogs was raised as a Roman Catholic and started her journey toward Atheism sometime before 2004. Before her de-conversion to Atheism she tried hard to be a "good Christian", and even wrote about it in an earlier online journal. But she came to a point where she couldn't stomach the hypocrisy, couldn't resolve biblical contradictions, and finally she came to doubt her religion.

She finally "came out" as an Atheist in 2005, and on Saturday, August 19, 2006 she started a brand new blog called, "Atheist in a Minivan". In this no-frills blog using a canned layout from Blogger she started writing about her life and the lives of her husband and four children under the pseudonym, "Possummomma".

Possummomma knows what it is like to be Catholic, and pointed out when and where Catholics were wrong. She also spoke out against "Quiverfull" families. She has always stuck up for children - I think that at least some of the attacks that P-momma has endured is due in part to her willingness to stick her neck out for the welfare and happiness of children.

On top of that, she isn't well. P-momma has a chronic autoimmune disease called SLE that was until recently a death sentence. Although there still is no cure for SLE its symptoms can be treated, and life can be extended. But the symtoms can be terrible and are triggered by environmental stresses like infection, hormones, stress, and sunlight. Even necessary medications may trigger an SLE outbreak.

Her disease traps her. Even the sunlight through the windows of her home caused SLE symptoms, so she was often imprisoned inside her darkened bedroom.

Writing, and making friends on the Internet became her escape.

And she's a good writer. She's passionate about her children and about the mistreatment of children. She's passionate about religious abuses. Her own experience with religion taught her that in following religious rules she acted in ways that hurt herself and her family. In a way, by teaching her children to think for themselves P-momma seemed to be atoning for the religious damage she did to herself and to others. And we were all lucky enough to read along as she did this.

Possummomma made a lot of friends through her writing. And we slowly found out that she was reluctant to talk about her disease and how she was forced to live. One of her online friends realized she was often trapped inside her bedroom cave and decided to do something about it. Berlzebub researched SLE and found out that it is UV radiation that aggravates the symptoms. He took the initiative to research UV blocking film for windows, and when he found out how much it cost he realized he couldn't afford to help - at least not by himself.

So he spread the word to P-momma's readers and they came through! But there was a small irony - Berlzebub collected too much money. It wasn't his fault, he knew that the price to professionally install film on all of P-momma's windows would be several thousand dollars. What he didn't realize was that 3M, the company that makes this film, would help with the effort. A gentleman from 3M also volunteered to install the film for free.

Finally the film was installed and the balance of the money collected was sent to P-momma as a gift. As one of the donators said,

Nobody donated money because P-Momma 'needed' it. Whether she needed the money was never in discussion. They all did it because they WANTED to help. How and how much is totally up to the people involved.
But Possummomma did us proud. She spent a small fraction of the money on UV blocking items that would be useful to her, and then sent the rest of the money on to a family that needed it more.


It's really no wonder why so many people care for her. What is amazing is how she attracted so many hateful and crazy people.


A taste of Crazy:

Her outspokenness toward Quiverfull families and her thoughts about raising freethinking children brought her to the attention of some real religious nuts. Possummomma and her family were attacked online via email, comments and in blogs, and they were stalked in real life.

When Possummomma posted an essay written by her oldest daughter, it attracted the attention of some very venomous Christians in the comments. One of the people who commented was a Baptist preacher named William. William later stalked P-momma's children and P-momma was forced to call the authorities.

And this wasn't the last time. There was an incident that shook the Possum parents badly. Possummomma almost went offline then. I know what happened, and I won't say anything more without Possummomma's permission.

The latest incident involved a preacher by the name of Tom and his wife Nancy. This couple had Quiverfull tendencies - they have six children and Nancy was pregnant with the seventh at the time. Tom created a website that used the "Atheist in a Minivan" blog as an example to his congregation.

It was obvious that Tom and Nancy were more than a little eccentric, and it very quickly became obvious that they justified some forms of child abuse through their religion. Nancy said that the whole family practiced "fasting" for their sins and in order to curry God's favor. Fasting, as an adult, is a mostly harmless practice if done in moderation. But Nancy said that fasting was required for all of her children, including her two youngest - aged 2 and 4 years old. This is obviously a dangerous practice.

Tom also made it clear that he would not "spare the rod" in disciplining his children. This, together with their comments about fasting, led Possummomma to voice her concerns to the authorities. We don't know exactly what happened after that, all the authorities have said is that they've placed some conditions on Tom and Nancy.


The Cult of the Gosselins:


But the incident that knocked "Atheist in a Minivan" offline, the incident that caused Possummomma to go dark, had nothing to do with anything that P-momma said or did. What put P-momma offline was the rabid fan club of a cable reality show on TLC.

The reality show is called "Jon & Kate plus 8", and it details the life of Jon and Kate Gosselin and their 8 children. The reason why the Gosselins are famous is due to Kate's infertility problems. Jon and Kate relied on fertility treatments in order to have children. Kate's first pregnancy resulted in twins. But Kate wanted another child, so the family again went back to fertility treatments. Her next pregnancy resulted in the birth of six more children!

There was really no way that Jon and Kate could afford to raise 8 children, so they've turned their life into a reality show by putting themselves and their children on display to make ends meet. The result is sort of like a mixture of "Big Brother" and the Jackson Five, except no one can sing or dance and nobody gets voted out of the house.

Reactions to the Gosselins are polarized. One blog, called "Gosselins without pity" took issue to the Gosselin philosophy that "God will provide". This conviction is based upon the prosperity gospel which encourages the faithful that they will be given the means to prosper if they - through faith - leap blindly toward their goals without consideration of possible consequences. Although that blog started out nobly it sometimes misses the mark and becomes a "things I don't like about the Gosselins" blog.

On the other side exists a blog called "Gosselins do not need our pity" (GDNNOP) which consists of the aforementioned rabid fan club of Jon and Kate and family. This blog tends to treat the Gosselin reality show like a religion, and anyone who doesn't show proper respect gets slammed - hard.

So how did Possummomma get involved with the GDNNOP fans?


Anti-Serendipity:


It was pure unlucky happenstance. A relative of P-momma is a fan of the Gosselins. She went by the name Penn-mommy. Why she chose that name, I don't know. She also may have exaggerated her relationship to the Gosselins - but that is hearsay to me and I don't know for sure.

What I do know is that Penn-mommy is a somewhat distant relation to Possummomma, and that Penn-mommy's son Jason came down with appendicitis in September. He didn't get treatment in time, and he died on October 2nd. Possummomma's extended family came together for a brief period in Bakersfield, and while there Jason's brother William borrowed Possummomma's wireless account to post online. In trying to deal with his grief, he posted his brother's photograph and a brief tribute site. In posting the photo, William used Possummomma's Picasa account.

But Possummomma was dealing with her own family's problems at the same time. In a terrible coincidence Possum #3 had also come down with appendicitis, and by September 24th, she had her appendix removed. (I've communicated with Possummomma, and P3 is doing well.)


So, here's where the weirdness happens. GDNNOP fans, who were already starting to be suspicious about Penn Mommy, started poking around to see what they could learn. William complained that some of their actions included calls to the hospital where his brother was being treated, and to the coroner to confirm Jason's death. He accused the GDNNOP fans of attempting to impersonate family in order to get information. (Note: I get this info from the GDNNOP blog, I've found an example of William's writing here.)

The crazed fans then added two plus two and got the USA National Debt as a result. Because they traced William to Possummomma's IP address, it was "obvious" that Possummomma faked everything, including Penn-mommy, William, and Jason.

Guinevere, from GDNNOP explained that it was obvious that Penn Mommy and Possummomma are the same person. In fact, she seems to think that Penn mommy and her family are fictional, and that Possummomma is sock puppeting the whole deal, and even suggests that P-momma is faking her own condition with SLE, and that P3's illness was faked. Why? Guinevere "would not guess" but then goes on to suggest that it is all some sort of money scam.

There are 35 comments to Guinevere's post, all thanking several people involved for their great "sleuthing", and condemning the "evil Possummomma / Penn-Mommy". Yet when Possummomma's friends tried to set the record straight they were blocked from commenting.


Supporters of GDNNOP started leaving nasty comments in the "Atheist in a Minivan" blog, and then started leaving nasty comments in Possummomma's Picasa photo album. P-momma set her blog to "private" but wasn't able to stop the nasty comments on Picasa without some drastic measures. Picasa and Blogger are both Google services, and one way to delete a Picasa account is by deleting your google account. When P-momma did that, she lost access to her own blog! (It's a good thing that her co-bloggers still have access.)

Venomous Christians, threats, and stalkers. Enough was enough. Possummomma has been libeled and attacked online, and stalked in real life. This isn't good for her family, or for herself. Stress aggravates the symptoms of SLE, and who needs that? This is one more drama, and P-momma just doesn't have the energy to deal with it. She's offline now, and the rabid Gosselin cult can high-five the fundamentalist preachers with a hearty, "Well Done!"


Evidence:

So what evidence does Guinevere talk about in her post? I'll go through the bits that she's numbered.

1. 5-year old daughter had an appendectomy. That would be P3. I saw the photographic evidence of P3 recovering in her hospital bed. I'm a big fan of P3 - she told me about her "Princess Piggy" when we were at the zoo.

Why didn't Possummomma talk about the death of William in her blog? I dunno. I expect it would be for the same reason why I haven't spoken of the recent death of my uncle-in-law, or the not so recent death of an aunt that I loved very much. I do so out of a respect for privacy, and because it really isn't central to my blog. We each share what we want on our blogs, and leave out the parts that we think are uninteresting, or none of someone else's business.

2. P-momma did call CPS on Tom and Nancy. She also corresponded to CPS via email afterward. She was nice enough to copy a few of us with the CPS response. None of us, including P-momma, knows what the final outcome was of that, we do know that there was something. There was at least enough to keep the investigation open.

3. The "Cease and Desist" spat. This one is really a stretch. Martin Wagner, of the Atheist Community of Austin, and blogger on The Atheist Experience website, wrote a post that totally demolished Yomin Postelnik's article entitled "Logical Proof of the Existence of God, Why Atheism is Not Logically Sound". Martin's post, "Yomin Postelnik, poster-boy for arrogant theistic fractal wrongness" made Yomin pretty upset. Yomin went through an amusing online meltdown and finally committed libel against Martin, and then had the temerity to send Martin a "Cease and Desist" letter! Martin created a blog to explain what was going on, and asked for some help. The online Atheist community was notified, and we passed it around among ourselves. Possummomma made a post about this too.

I wish Guinevere would explain why she thinks this means anything. Does she believe that Possummomma is sock puppeting Martin too? I'm interested because I've heard Martin speak on the Atheist Experience Podcast, and I've heard Possummomma speak too. Just how, exactly, does she get her voice to change?

Guinevere doesn't enumerate all of her evidence. One thing I object to is her implication that Possummomma is faking SLE. I doubt that she's faking because I recently had the chance to visit P-momma and her family as they toured the Fresno Zoo.

I'm not a doctor so I am not able to say if Possummomma does or does not have SLE. But I do know what it is like to live with someone who has a chronic illness. I know that there are good days and bad days, and that it is possible to "juggle" medication in order to have a good day. (But you pay for that, usually with a really bad day!)

I think P-momma may have done something like that, but she still spent the day in a wheelchair conserving her strength while her family enjoyed the zoo. She stayed out of the sun as much as she possibly could, and used UV blocking clothing and sunscreen. I can't diagnose SLE, but I'm curious and observant - and what the sun did to P-momma's skin that day scared me. I hate to think of the painful price she paid for that trip.


Guinevere also said:
Reading through this woman’s blog, she appears at times to be fairly normal. The subject of the blog, incidentally, is one that is certainly incongruous with the persona that Penn Mommy presented – this blogger is a fervent atheist (which made me a bit queasy, considering how many times PM and “William” entreated posters to pray for “Jason”). She appears to have issues with certain choices the Gosselins have made - possibly their religious devotion and the fact that they chose to have multiples. This may explain how she became involved in the Gosselin blogosphere and made the decision to create Penn Mommy.
Jon and Kate didn't "choose" to have multiples. According to their appearance on Oprah Winfrey, after their first two children Kate wanted one more. Six more children were a shock!

Possummomma has rightly pointed out the hypocrisy involved when Christian parents are willing to second guess "God's choice" for them and take fertility drugs when they are infertile. But when the mother is pregnant with too many children the same parents shudder at fetal reduction because it would be against "God's Will".

Possummomma's rant on this subject was about a healthy woman who after conceiving three children normally, persuaded her doctor to give her fertility treatments. The result was another seven babies!

And that post was the only post that I found on the Atheist in a Minivan blog that mentioned the Gosselins in any way. I've read where Possummomma took apart the Duggars, and where she pointed out the problems with other Quiverfull parents - but the Gosselins are not Quiverfull. They're merely some people who figured out a way to make a good living off of their situation by giving up some privacy. But for a Gosselin cultist, a passing "suck on that, Jon and Kate" is serious heresy.

Guinevere says:
Doubtlessly, we will be accused of being no better than those who have stalked and harassed the Gosselins.
No, you are worse. Because not only are you and your fellow fans guilty of stalking, but you are all guilty of gross negligence due to stupidity. The members of the GDNNOP cult have cloaked their crotchety pettiness behind a mangy merkin of supercilious righteousness, and when their wild accusations miss their mark and hit an innocent bystander no one feels anything but smug.

You think you feel "queasy" around "fervent atheists"? I assure you that regarding your cult, the feeling is mutual.


Postscript

No, I don't know if Possummomma will ever blog openly again. I'm a member of her private blog, but she hasn't updated that recently, probably because in deleting her Google account, she deleted her own access to it.

Yes, I do talk to her via email, and I keep promising to talk to her via phone, but my life is busy enough that I don't get much opportunity for either. (I seldom have time to talk to my own sister! - sigh -)

"Atheist in a Minivan" is set to private, and is currently controlled by her co-blogger Berlzebub. I don't have access to that blog except through Google's cache, which I used to create the hyperlinks above. Those links may disappear in the future, depending on whether her blog is retained or erased. I hope someone archives her blog, because there is a lot of good stuff in it!

I created a graphic to show my support for Possummomma. If you like the graphic, and want to use it to show your support you are welcome to copy it to your own blog. The image is of "Trichosurus vulpecula" also known as a "Brushtail Possum". The image is CC licensed, and you can find the the Creative Commons license for it in my Public Picasa album.

I used an Australian possum because in Australia their proper name is "possum", not "opossum" as it is here in America. And possum is closer to the wordplay on which Possummomma based her name. (Besides, the Aussie possums are cuter than ours!)


Lastly, if you're a Gosselin cultist, and you want to comment here - please read my comment moderation policy in the sidebar to the right. Failure to follow that policy will not result in a successful post.

60 comments:

Badger3k said...

I wondered what was going on, but...that's f'ed up. Fanatics are wonderful, aren't they? I'd like to know how p'momma and Martin could be the same, since Martin has appeared on the tv show and I've met him (long ago, when doing a comic signing). Neat trick if he and a woman were the same - polymorph?

Please convey at least my support to her and her family. Her posts were insightful and interesting, and as someone suffering from some chronic nerve disorder, I can relate a little. Hope everything gets better for them all. If I get my blog running, I'll add the pic.

GDad said...

I had recently added her RSS feed to my reader. I'm saddened and even sickened by the vile creatures who persecuted her. Thank you for shining light on their evil. I wish her the best.

Aerik said...

Thank you so much for explaining what was happening? I've twitted this blog post to a few atheist friends. I'll see if I can create a title enticing enough to attract the social bookmarking atheist community.

I've spoken on gTalk w/ pmomma before and I think I have her email address, and I wanted to email her, but damnit all if I've let gmail archive contacts on every single person I've ever emailed and I can't remember which is hers.

Calladus said...

Aerik - There's a difference between advertising and grandstanding. Please don't "create a title" that misrepresents my blog entry.

feministblogproject said...

I have been so bummed out ever since Pmomma's blog went private. I hope she returns to blogging again, even for an invite-only audience. I don't know her well enough to contact her, but I wish her well and I hope she and her family are safe.

Knitterman said...

Thank you for posting this information. I've been offline for a month due to outages from Hurricane Ike, and was unaware the issues had escalated. I am saddened by it all. I did comment on occasion on P'momma's blog, but didn't get invited to the locked blog and don't plan to request permission. I respect her privacy and with her and the family well. Please extend to her the thoughts and well-wishes from many of us in the atheist/agnostic community.

Anonymous said...

Calladus,

Many thanks for the explanation. I've been a longtime lurker on her blog and have been amazed at the depths of hypocrisy some so-called "Christians" have displayed there. P-momma really put herself out there. I respect and admire her for that. At the same time, enough was enough. No one should be asked to bear up under that level of torment.

All the best to P-momma and the clan.

Sigma147

Stargazer1323 said...

Calladus,
Thank you for posting this information about Possummomma. I will definitely be using your graphic on my own blog to show support for her. She took a risk by putting so much of her life onto her blog, but I for one am very glad she did, because she was the first person who has ever made me confident that I will be able to raise smart, kind, caring children in the absence of the religious indoctrination with which I was raised. Please pass on my thanks to her for having such a wonderful blog, and my sorrow that it has caused her so much pain and trouble to do so. Even though I never met her, I will miss her.

sammywol said...

Thankyou. As a intermittent lurker on p'momma's blog I was worried when it went dark. Knowing her health issues I was rather afraid to find out what the reason was. However while I am relieved to know that p'momma is still alive and kicking the fact that we who enjoyed her wonderful posts have had to lose her to this vile, useless idiocy is disgusting. If I believed in the 'forces of darkness' I would definitely count this as a victory for their team. If one more message of support counts please pass mine along. I guess we just have to hope the loonies will hare off after fresh meat soon and leave her be.

I'll try and use the art on my LJ as a show of support.

Anne said...

As many of the others, I'd like to thank you for posting this. I've been reading P-momma's posts for a while, and wondered what had happened.
My best wishes to P-momma and her family.

Helen said...

I'm Helen from Weedpatch, California. I came from Bohemian Moon Musings Blog. Google has most of Atheist-in-a-mini-van in cache.
I wrote pennmommy about her relatives in Bakersfield because I mean I live close to and I wanted to meet her if I could. I have two IPs for Pennmommy in e-mails.

[redacted - calladus]

Guin has a hate for Pennmommy that makes me not trust her about this. That story has changed with different details more than I am ok with. I sent Guin this about Martin Wagner http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Wagner_(artist) when I found it asking how this could be Pennmommy. I'm sorry about your friend being hurt. Guin should be ashamed.

[Helen, I've moved your comment here from the zoo entry. This is a better location for it. I've also removed the IP address because it is merely hearsay to me without the email headers, and a way to verify it. Unfortunately, I'm not an IT person - I do my programming with a soldering iron!]

GuyIncognito said...

The link to the cached blog post that refers to Jon and Kate seems to be broken. However, it looks like this link works:

P-momma's Egyptian Septuplets Rant

Calladus said...

Thanks Guyincog. I've changed the link. I'm afraid all the googlecache links may go stale at some point due to google weirdness.

GuyIncognito said...

Sorry to be a nitpicky jerk, but I notice that the link to the cached posting of "Possum #1 Makes Us Proud" also seems to be broken. This one seems to work (for the time being at least):

Possum #1 Gives It to a Presumptuous Teacher

Calladus said...

Don't worry about being a jerk about it Guy. That's the problem with finding cached links. The link can change, there is no guarantee that it will remain permanent.

If anyone wants to search the Atheist in a Minivan blog, just include the term site:possummomma.blogspot.com as part of your google search.

Or you can do like I do, add her site to your Google Reader and read the last 300 posts through RSS.

llewelly said...


The crazed fans then added two plus two and got the USA National Debt as a result. Because they traced William to Possummomma's IP address, it was "obvious" that Possummomma faked everything, including Penn-mommy, William, and Jason

Once again, internet illiteracy plays a significant (although not decisive) role in yet another internet tragedy. When will the computer industry admit the idea that 'users shouldn't need to know anything' is a dangerous delusion?

watercat said...

I liked possummamma. I hope everything turns out good for her.

Michael said...

I am also very saddened to see her blog go dark. Since the blog is now invitation only is there any way to get an invitation? I would completely understand her hesitancy to grant access to ANYONE at this point, but I've been a daily reader/lurker on her blog for years as have many, many others and would love to be able to stay in touch with her.

Anonymous said...

you know it's just wonderful how the fanatic x-tians love to apply that bible to everyone except themselves

Martin said...

I've created an open thread for messages to P-Momma here.

http://atheistexperience.blogspot.com/2008/10/your-messages-for-possummomma.html

Zel said...

It is a sad day when people have to manufacture hate and deceit. They can see it in others, when in truth it lies wholly within them. I liked reading P-mommas blog, not often, but when I had time. Please let her and her family know that me and my 2 girls are sending happy thoughts their way.

A single atheist father in FL.

Ima said...

This is exactly why religion needs to be ousted as the silly superstition that it is. Some people find solace, but it should be their decision alone. I wonder how religion would be seen if all children were raised as freethinkers.

My support goes out to Possummomma.

Anonymous said...

hoard;
horde.

Muffin said...

This is sad news. PMomma's was the first atheist blog I ever read, and I have been a regular reader for quite a few months now. She really doesn't deserve all this stress and heartache. Please pass on my support to her and her family.

I will definitely miss her blog. Thanks so much for the update.

Anonymous said...

Jesus fucking Christ these people are nutters! Tracing down a bloggers geneology is fucking lame! As far as I can see this pennmommy person is at most responsible for asking for prayers. Not money. Never money. Never freebies. Not the fucking first born on those twats on GDNNOP. They've gone way beyond decent in this over-blown witch hunt. Fuck everything else. How does asking for prayers even if it's bullshit (which I believe all prayers are) constitute hurting someone? These women fucking act like they were hurt by this pennmommy. How? You prayed for someone and liked her. Big fucking deal. Is that reason to attack possummommas family tree or otherwise slander her because you prayed for somebody? Grow the fuck up.


The Consertive Atheist of Livejournal

jimmy said...

How disappointing. Seeing a new post on Possummomma's blog was a highlight of my day. At the same time, she needs to do what is best for her and her family. I just wish it didn't also let the crazy people feel like they won one.

I hope she decides to blog again. I'll be there.

Calladus said...

I've been allowing most anonymous comments through since they are relatively benign.  However I got one that was acidic.  But it asked some good questions, so I'll respond...

1.  I haven't blocked anyone from commenting.  I did, however, go to work today for a few hours and was away from my computer during that time.  If you are wondering why your friends aren't posting here, it is because they are not posting here.

2.  No, I'm not accusing the Gosselin fan club cult of being Christian fundamentalists - I'm accusing them of using cult-like tactics.  These include having a limited number of leaders who decide what is, and what is not true for their members, building an online power base, creating in-groups and out groups, and shunning heretical members when they don't toe the line.  It doesn't help their defense that they create a kangaroo court wherein the accused is not allowed to speak in self-defense.

3.  No, I don't "have" to prove that Penn-mommy and Possummomma are NOT the same person.  You're doing your logic wrong.  You assert that they ARE the same person, it is up to you to prove it with good evidence.  As a hint, anecdotes and "my friend says" are not evidence.  But atheists are used to this sort of argument, so I'll make it easy for you.  I'll prove that Penn-mommy isn't Possummomma as soon as you prove to me that you're not a prostitute.

4.   Yes, I've talked to Possummomma, and yes, I'm taking some things at her word.  She's built a solid online community of friends here, some of which do talk to her on a regular basis, and who know what her family situation is like.  What I don't know is you, Mr. or Ms. Anon.  And if you told me it was raining, I'll look out the window before getting my umbrella. 

5.  I could care less who Penn-mommy was to you guys.  You prayed for her and she broke your heart?  Tough.  Life's a bitch.  But you and people like you have mistaken her identity.

6.  Yes, I keep hearing about all this IP evidence.  But it is odd that no one has yet laid it out in the open for everyone to see and verify.  I find it amusing that the same group who can screen cap a blog can't screen cap their evidence. 

7.  Yes, Possummomma knows Penn-mommy.  They're distantly related through maternal lines.  But if they know each other, they can't be each other.  You're arguing against yourself.

8.  I'm so glad your friend is an expert on writing styles.  "Writeprinting" is an interesting skill, and I'm sure it would be good for your friend to work in the field of stylometry.  So far, other mere humans need a computer to do statistical analysis for them to determine if two blocks of text are written by the same person.  Maybe your friend would win the Nobel after submitting his or her method to a scientific journal.

9.  Yes, Possummomma has had a lot of medical problems.  For your homework assignment, I'd suggest you find out what chronic autoimmune disease is called, "The Great Imitator" and why.

10.  Yes, she had a book about Munchausen's in her wish list.  So what?  I have over 500 items in my wish list, and over 500 items in my online library catalog.  From my list you could claim that I'm a homosexual Christian creationist chef.  What you wouldn't find out from that list is that I'm an ordaned minister.

11.  Lastly, you ask why didn't Pmomma shut down when earlier fundies attacked her?  She almost did, but decided not to.  Each attack pushed her a bit further.  I guess your group was the last straw.

Mojoey said...

I am sad to hear the possummomma and her excellent blog has gone dark. I enjoyed her writing.

toomanytribbles said...

i've added the image to my sidebar... should it post to this entry on your blog or elsewhere?

Calladus said...

You can link it to this entry if you wish, or to an entry on Berlzebub's blog, but I also think Martin's "messages for Possummomma" entry on The Atheist Experience as a good landing spot. I really hadn't thought of a place to link to.

vjack said...

Thanks for covering this important story. Even in the America of 2008, being an atheist can be difficult.

Hope said...

What a sad story. My heart goes out to Possummomma. I have a chronic illness and know how much stress can aggravate the symptoms and deplete one's spoon suply. During the worst years of this illness the blogging community was a great comfort to me. I'm enjoying a remission of sorts right now (not sure what else to call it) and try not to take that for granted.
Thank you for giving Possummomma's story a voice in all this.

twincats said...

I used to occasionally read "Atheist in a Minivan" and also Possummama's posts on other blogs I read. She is indeed a wonderful writer and her voice will be missed in the blogosphere.

I lost the link to her blog last year when our computer's hard drive bit it and that version of my bookmarks was lost forever.

I hope P-momma is well and someday returns to blogging.

Infidel Rooster said...

I've been offline for a bit and returned to find a missing Possummomma. Although she will be sorely missed by many, myself included, I'm glad to find out that she hasn't had a bad health turn, which was my first thought. Granted, I'm not implying that the current situation is much better, but I am glad that my worst fears were unfounded.

Anyhow, when you speak to her, pass along yet another well wishers sympathy.

I had a link to her blog on my blog, which I guess I need to take down now? This sucks.

Anonymous said...

I hope someone archives her blog, because there is a lot of good stuff in it!

If the reason she stopped blogging was to avoid harassment from the lunatics, then I hope her site DOESN'T get mirrored, or it would defeat the point.

Leslie L said...

How to start this is weird for me. I felt like I couldn't post here because I am a Christian. I hope it is being okay to add my comment. My GDDNP habit was embarrassing cuz I spent hours there. I don't like pennmommy but I know she is a real person. I invited her to lunch the day before Jason died. She called me from a cell phone in Pennsylvania's area code. She let me know she was up to meeting. I ran her husbands name on google with that phone number that belongs to his business. The people at GDNNP wouldn't post with no reason. I got told they called to be hung up on which they think means pennmommy was fake then they blamed me of making up part of the conspiracy of bloggers who made up pennmommy. Am I confusing you? Look at the blog with bohemian moon you'll see what's going on. They blamed her of being in it to be deceiving of all this. I know each of them have identities they don't talk about. They sent a support email to possummommas blog to get the explaining email she sent. Guinevere is the worst of them all in lies. The mods of the site erased near 200 comments who broke the theory they had. When I asked how come to a friend moderator she said Guinevere said she wants to close possummommas scamming. Can you tell me if she scammed you? They say you are her. Berlie is her with Martin Wagner or you are all helping her bad mouth Jon and Kate Gosselin.
They don't fool us with the saying of not talking about possummomma and they are calling her oppossum to get over google rules. I prayed to heavenly father for pennmommy. If it's lies praying doesn't hurt me. This makes me say they are over involving in this. No proof that pennmommy asked for money like possummomma that I can't agree with which is why I want to know if she scammed you. Pennmommy's last name is [redacted - C]. She lied about living in Wyoming since 2004. You have enabled moderation if you don't want her name I know. I don't know why your friend won't be out with it to save this drama. All she has to do is give that what they want. [redacted - C] was the name from the cell phone call displays. The moderators got told that by me then other regulars. I hope your friend gets better.

Calladus said...

Leslie,

Thank you for writing. Allow me to address the points you've made.

First - I'm an atheist. That merely means that I'm a not a believer in a God or gods. That does not mean that I attack Christians because they are Christian. I do my best to not confuse a person's beliefs with the person. I do not mind attacking a poorly formed idea or philosophy, but I try to save personal attacks for those people whom I believe to be truly evil, who use their position of authority to attack or reverse human rights.

In other words, just because we don't agree on the subject of religion doesn't mean I think you, or any Christian, is automatically a bad person. I enjoy talking to Christians - which is a good thing because most of the United States is Christian! I hope you will feel welcome, as would any Christian, in my blog. All I ask any Christian here is that if they ask me hard questions, they must be willing to answer the same.

Second, thank you for Penn-mommy's last name. I didn't know it. I've talked to Possummomma and I know Penn-mommy's situation. Although I believe that Penn-mommy has and is doing some things that are unethical, I will not participate in outing her. We Atheists are sensitive about our privacy, and we tend to extend privacy to others.

Third, I do not think that Guinevere is stupid enough to believe that I am Possummomma. I, unlike the Possum family, am out in the local community. I am the president of a growing Atheist organization (CVAAS) in the California San Joaquin Valley. The local newspaper just ran a feature on our organization. If you call the CVAAS phone number you will reach me.  It is simple to find this out from my blog for anyone who is interested in doing so.

The Atheist community already knows that the GDNNOP blog censors those people who post to it in Possummomma's defense.  I think that most of what the GDNNOP fan club writes is pure propoganda - written only to prop up their authority in the Jon and Kate fan club community. 

As part of my journey from Christian to Atheist, I spent several years reading everything I could get my hands on about the subject of cults.  The leaders of the GDNNOP fan club exhibit many traits of cult leaders.  Shunning is a huge red flag, as is the controlling of information and the creation of a malliable "Truth".

You say that Penn-mommy has lied about some things.  I don't really care.  Penn-mommy's life isn't my concern. 

Yes, I agree it would solve things once and for all if Penn-mommy put in some sort of appearance with Possummomma - but since when is the standard in our country, "Guilty until proven innocent"?  The GDNNOP keeps talking about evidence, but I've seen only speculation.

No, P-momma hasn't scammed me.  I've met her and her family and they are nice people. 

Calladus said...

I forgot to add, Leslie... I've been reading the "Musings from the Moon" blog. From the little I've seen, this person is fair, and is familiar with critical thinking. I'll probably be reading more of that blog in the future, although I don't know how long it will hold my attention.

Sisyphus Fragment said...

How can people become obsessed with J&K+8? That show is so terribly boring and Kate seems to me to be very unpleasant to be around. What those despicable miscreants have done to Possummomma is outright criminal. P-momma was a beacon of light for the atheist community online.

Sheri from Lancaster said...

Hi

I am Sherri from Lancaster, CA.
I know possummomma personally and she shared with me some of the penn mommy story. She was just doing it to pass the time and it got out of hand. I know she regrets it but at this point she doesn't know how to get out of this situation graciously. She has done this before and been kicked off of some boards but this is the first time she really got caught. Maybe this will put an end to her trolling and she will stick to just writing the possummomma blog. I hope so because I enjoy reading it.

Calladus said...

Hi Sheri,

Excuse me for not believing you immediately. You've posted something that I'm not able to verify. And frankly, seeing all the high school stuff that goes on in the world of the Jon & Kate fan clubs, you'll have to offer proof that you know Possummomma before I believe anything.

You could start by sending me her phone number. Click my info at the top of the blog and email me.

Calladus said...

Question for you Sheri...

Did you post your comment from Lancaster? Because according to my log file, no one within a 60 mile radius to Lancaster visited my blog during your post, or for several hours before your post.

Maybe I'm not doing the log file correctly. Just send me an email and we'll talk. kthxbai!

K. David Ladage said...

Wow. I was recently introduced to the saga of P'momma... and my heart goes out to her and her family. I certainly hope she is doing well.

Berlzebub said...

@ Sheri from Lancaster:
Hi
Howdy.

I am Sherri from Lancaster, CA.
I know possummomma personally and she shared with me some of the penn mommy story.

Oh do tell?
She was just doing it to pass the time and it got out of hand.
And what proof do you have of this, other than hearsay? Calladus and I have been hearing the complete opposite.
I know she regrets it but at this point she doesn't know how to get out of this situation graciously.
This is just hearsay on my part, but I'm thinking the same thing about you. You could be from one of those other blogs, and trying to get Calladus and I to doubt ourselves and her.
She has done this before and been kicked off of some boards...
Do you have the links to those boards, or is this just hearsay also?
but this is the first time she really got caught.
If she's been kicked off of other boards, this is not the first time she got caught, "really" or otherwise. Like I said, show me the linkage.
Maybe this will put an end to her trolling and she will stick to just writing the possummomma blog.
You are criticizing someone for trolling? Now, there's irony.
I hope so because I enjoy reading it.
Damn Google Cache! I'd really like to test this statement, because I'm smelling a concern troll.

Agent X said...

I know this possummomma person. She's not who she says she is. Actually, she's a dude!

His name is Alex and he's 70 years old and he used to work for NASA. He worked to fake the Apollo Moon landings! He helped build the stage and the backdrop for the fake astronauts!

I was just having lunch with him yesterday, and he was telling me about his possummomma / pennmommy hoax and how they are all faked.

Calladus said...

Wow. I had no idea! Thank you for this important and obviously factual information Agent X!

Your unsupported assertion is obviously true, and not just something made up by some anonymous Internet troll for his or her own grins and giggles.

Well, that's it everyone. This incident has been exposed! I should have guessed it had something to do with the NASA cover-up, it was so obvious!

jimmy said...

ROFLMAO! Thanks for injecting some much needed humor, Agent X!

Of course, I thought that P-Momma was the front for a Vatican spy, and their goal was to infiltrate and discredit the atheist movement.

Or was it aliens?

(Sorry if this came through twice, by browser hiccuped!)

Berlzebub said...

Holy Crap! P-Momma is Bart Sibrel!

Ginny said...

I'm so sorry all that happened. I love Atheist in a mini van. I really looked up to her, enjoyed reading her thoughts & seeing her children grow up so wonderfully. Reading her blog made it easier on me raising my 2 daughters as Atheist. I'm really bummed for her.

I always thought it was crazy how much bad attention she got. I guess her well written posts scared the xtians!

AmberKatt said...

Aw crap. I'd wondered what happened, and like many others I too feared the worst.

I'm glad she and her family are ok. But GEEZ I'm mad that P-Momma was finally harrassed off the net. I HATE fanatics, of any sort.

It's a shame that if someone exists that disproves a fanatic's beliefs (in this case, a healthy happy well-adjusted children and family in an Atheist family), rather than examine those beliefs, the person or persons in question simply MUST be destroyed.

Or, as in the case of the rabid fan-cultists, if anyone DARES to question the object of their worship, the same destruction must also happen.

Please pass along my best wishes to P-Momma, too.

karen said...

Calladus, thanks for the enlightenment; I found out about your post via Pharyngula.

I've been lurking at P-Momma's blog since first reading about her at Pharyngula and enjoy her writing; I was saddened to see yet another intelligent, articulate, rational person silenced by the likes of the people who've made her life miserable.

I hope she'll be able to come back to blogging; her voice of reason is especially needed in times like these.

Calladus said...

Sheri,

I still haven't received an email from you. Maybe you just forgot?

I'll wait a bit more.

synchroswimr said...

Thanks for the update. I read Possummomma's blog through the feed and was just thinking about her today because I noticed the blog hadn't been updated recently. I am so sorry to hear of her troubles. Nobody deserves that. I wish the best for P-momma and her family

Anonymous said...

Hey there,

Well, it just goes to show that there is two sides to every story.

Well, I have learned a huge lesson from all of this for sure.

First, I have way too much time on my hands.lol

Seriously, about a month ago I was bored and I went to the Gosselinsneedourpity website. And, I never posted.. Just read. even read Pennmommy site.

It was a very, very mean site. So, I started to branch out and i went to the Goseelinsdonotneedourpity website. It seemed a little less biased and fair.

Last week, I went to ths site and read about the PennMommy drama. And, i thought, Wow.... I had actually felt bad for this woman and her son dying. It actually took my breath away when i read the post that her son had died.

Jump to tonight and I can thank my insomnia for this one... lol....

On another atheist blog that is taking up for Possum Mama someone from the GDNNOP posts wanting him to explain certain things... They post Ip addresses and stuff like that.

Where they go to far in my opinion and has really pissed me off is posting personal information about possummama.

In the end, I agree with you and what you say about cults. I have studied cults myself. And, I think you are right on point.

In the very least, Possummana could probably win a harrasment lawsuit against some posters.

I also like what you say when you say that they have to prove that possummama is pennmommy and not the other way around.

So, I leave your site a changed person. I will no longer visit those Gosselin sites.

I am just disappointed in people these days. Sigh...

Thank you for letting me post here.

Calladus said...

Anonymous,

Thank you for your very kind words.  However, your anonymity weakens your message.  Already most of those commenting here have been accused of sockpuppeting.  Your anonymous comment will be automatically discounted by followers of the Gosselin fan club.

I've allowed anonymous comments in this thread (except for one that was mean just for the sake of being mean).  However, I won't allow any more anonymous comments here.  From now on, please follow my comment moderation policy.

And I realize that doing this won't end the charges of sockpuppetry from the fan club supporters.   I think that even those with a Google ID or OpenID would still be accused of sockpuppetry.  Ah well - so be it.

Anonymous said...

Hey there,

I apologize about not leaving my name before. I was not sure I wanted to sign up for goggle. I have tried but apparently I have disabled the cookies on my computer and it won't let me. My name is McQuaidgirl and I live in SC.

So, just to reiterate. I am really disappointed in a site (GDNNOP) for saying one thing and then doing another.

To put someone's personal information on the web is just plain harassment. Regardless of what they believe to be their reason(s) for doing this it has made me really question why I even went to their site to begin with.

I believe if other posters were aware of what has been done they would lose a lot of followers.

Possummomma must be a really nice person to have so many people to back her up.


And, one more thing. I have really thought about this alot. I think this Pennmomma has done me a service. I mean really. Are you supposed to believe everything you read on the internet? Noone was hurt. Just ego and maybe some people who were invested way too much in a stranger.

I have a Masters in Counseling and Human Development so I have studied a lot of behavior in my studies.

This would be a great dissertation topic. Don't you think?

McQuaidGirl...

Calladus said...

McQuaidgirl,

First, let me help you out with the name. Although I like the blogger / gmail / RealID identification, the biggest problem I have is telling the difference between multiple "anonymous". When you leave a comment, there will be a place where you can select the choice "Name/URL". Choose that choice and put in your name. You can leave the URL blank if you wish. That will be enough to keep the different anonymous people straight.

Next, I would have to disagree that no one was hurt by Pennmommy's actions. People invested empathy and sympathy into Pennmommy's plight, and that was betrayed. Of course people are angry over that betrayed trust. It is a basic evolutionary response called "tit for tat".  The Golden Rule, chivalry, courteous behavior, manners, all have been invented based upon reasonable actions to prevent fighting - which too often would lead to war.  This is necessary because hurt feelings invite retaliation.

It takes an effort to rise above your own ego, and even the most selfless person lets it get the best of them from time to time.

And lastly, Pennmommy wasn't a stranger - she was a member of an online community, many of whom respected her.  The Internet is such a new thing, evolutionarily speaking, that no one has yet developed a way to implement our cultural behavior.  It's getting better, but we have a way to go before I can read subtle clues on which to base my opinion of a person's character.   And even then, human communities have always been vulnerable to betrayal.

McQuaidgirl said...

Hey there,

One huge problem with the internet is that you can't use your senses when you meet a new person.

How many times have we all met people in person that did not seem as they appeared and some sixth sense warned us away?

I think this whole situation hints at another problem. The universality of wanting to belong and wanting something to believe in.

I think predatory people take advantage of these human traits.

But, you know for me, I am a softie and I can get emotionally attached very easily. I think I said earlier when I found out about this I gasped out loud and woke my dog up. So, I was shocked.

But, after thinking about it for awhile I could only blame myself. The only thing I have control over is what I do. I chose to get emotionally invested in a member in a online community.

She never asked me for a commitment, ya know? lol....

Don't we tell our kids to watch out who they talk to on the internet, and when we fall victim ourselves its easier to blame than to point the fingers to ourselves.

I understand where you are coming from and much respect to you.

For me, I have come out of this a stronger and wiser person because of it. I have been way too free with my emotions on the net.

Thanks for the info on how to log on.

Karen said...

Calladus,

Thanks for giving us an update on the reason Pmomma's blog went dark. I like others had just found her blog only a month or two before it disappeared, so it is truly sad that she had to close it for such reasons.

Please give her my best as a fellow atheist and wellwisher!

Karen said...

Possummmomma, pennmommy, chrissyl . . . . can anyone answer those questions.