The Joe Cienkowski game is at an end. No, REALLY this time.
When I announced an end to the Joe baiting last time, it was for the purpose of playing a trick on him that wouldn’t have worked, if anyone suspected a pair of fake Twitter users—@LarryLovesJesus, set up by myself and @Magdalene82 set up by @jeanybeany80—were anything other than the real deal. A few people knew, but played along. Most people were completely unaware but eventually worked it out for themselves in any case.
It seems, since the reveal, that there is also a third group of people, who are offended that they either fell for the trick too, or that even Joe didn’t really deserve what happened at the culmination of months of debate between Joe and the two Poe accounts, Larry and Magdalene. Consequently there are some rumours that this was a malicious or vindictive attempt to sink Joe’s marriage circulating among people who didn’t follow the whole thing closely, or that myself and Jeany deliberately forced Joe into a compromising position. Here’s what actually happened:
99% of people who followed the @LarryLovesJesus Poe account, from day one, realised within 4 or 5 tweets that something wasn’t right and played along with it anyway. Larry had a wife, Madeleine, a Stepford wife in the mould of Sarah Palin, who would tweet Joe now and then saying how worried she was that Larry had been reading Richard Dawkins books and had stopped going to church, because he didn’t want to associate with people who watch Fox News and question, on spurious grounds, the scientific facts of everything from Darwinian evolution by natural selection to the evidence of man-made climate change.
The plan all along would be that Magdalene would, at first worry about her husband’s recent change of mind, but eventually concede he might be onto something. Joe’s reaction to this and her admitting she too was now having second thoughts, would be it’s own reward. Sure enough, Joe didn’t disappoint.
Meanwhile, Larry is tweeting back and forth with Joe on the facts and nothing but the facts. I purposefully avoided strongly religious arguments with him, because the whole point of the Larry character was that he was already appraised of the Christian dogmas, but was seeking something more substantial by way of scientific evidence. Joe can go toe to toe with other religious people all day long, for all I care, on the question of the trinity and the resurrection. Larry’s interest was in Joe’s claims to have “scientific proof that evolution is a lie” and “Barack Obama is a Muslim”, despite the force with which he asserts this being matched only by his unwillingness to post a single link to any data or research to back-up these and many other phantasmagorically stupid claims.
When it began to dawn on Joe that he wasn’t going to get a theological argument out of Larry, his anger boiled over on more than a few occasions and I was close, at that point, to revealing who controlled the Larry Poe and put him out of his misery. But even after dropping some of the biggest clues imaginable, like posting links to RichardDawkins.net and even, on more than one occasion, Re-Tweeting my own @MovingToMontana tweets with Joe in the recipients list, he still didn’t put two and two together.
Despite maintaining a firm line against the Christian fundamentalists that turned him away from his church, Larry remained, as his username suggests, a lover of Jesus. You could almost hear Joe’s brain implode as Larry would dedicate prayers for all sinners who have turned away from the facts of science towards the occult lies of creationism and the Pharisees Beck and Palin. The more Larry’s internal logic tightened the screw on Joe’s lack of curiosity, the more Joe turned to @Magdalene82 for help—cajoling her into confronting Larry with more of what it was that turned him away from radical Christianity in the first place.
It should also be said, @Magdalene82 (@jeanybeany80) never once suggested anything improper to Joe. It amazed me how quickly people were ready to assume otherwise, as soon as the whole truth of the set-up was revealed. So many female twitterers, who by no means have any respect for Joe, nevertheless almost immediately accused @jeanybeany80 of springing a honey trap on him—luring him into a false sense of security with flirtation and sexual advances. I don’t normally get involved in cat fights, but let me be clear, @jeanybeany80 did nothing of the sort. She was playing the role of a stereotypical Christian housewife, not a hussy trying to wreck marriages. If she’d come on too strong, in the way people are assuming she must have, Joe would never have fallen for it for as long as he did—and boy did he fall for it.
We did toy with the idea of having Magdalene run away with a African American climate change activist, running for election on a strongly pro-homosexual, abortion on-demand ticket, but we plumped for a slightly more believable segue, when we decided to relieve Joe of his misery and work out for himself what was happening. @Magdalene82 asked him a perfectly innocuous question on how she looked in a dress she intended to wear out that night. Joe’s reply speaks for itself:
Bearing in mind that Joe’s nickname of #peachboy is borne of the time not so long ago when he tried to slime his way into the affections of @jeanybeany80, and that he promised at the time he’d learned his lesson of not preaching one thing and practising another, you’d assume this second fall from grace would be met by Joe head on and even he would have to admit to what we’ve all known about him from the start; that he’s just another liar for Jesus trying to cash in on the anti-science mythology at the heart of the Tea Party illusion—just another chancer panning for gold in Benny Hinn’s leftovers.
But no. Joe immediately demanded Larry accept his apology and forgive him for pointing out what should be obvious to anyone who is, you guessed it, “a real Christian”. That’s right folks, only in Joe land are you the one who owes him an apology when he accidentally posts into the public timeline something he was only supposed to post as a private message. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife”, Larry reminded him. “You should treat your lady better”, Joe insists—in that “it’s OK for me to completely ignore what it says in the bible, so long as you know when you do it you’re going to hell” sort of mealy mouthed, ignorant fuck type way, we all know him for only too well.
Twitter’s response to the reveal was a mix of hilarity and disgust that we should need to discredit him by deception, rather than by merely repeating what he himself actually says and does; that we had goaded him into flirting with Jeany. This is just not true.
Joe wakes up in the morning and, almost without fail, posts a tweet proclaiming another red letter day in his on-going “war on #atheism”. Not, a minor skirmish with the under 7’s balloon folding class, a war. If what he was actually looking for was something more gentle, he could have easily found people willing to engage him on that level on any one of a million different platforms. Instead, he chose to label an entire group of people, on the internet’s largest social networking site, “failed”, “ignorant”, “stupid” and “lachrymose”—all the while claiming to have nothing less than scientific evidence and the creator of the universe on his side.
It is no-one’s fault, other than Joe’s, that neither of these materialised. He was, don’t forget, the only one promising this kind of evidence, while repeatedly refusing to deliver on his own guarantee. Tired of watching him fail, I did my best to wake him up. If I failed, my heart bleeds. If I succeeded in giving him just one fleeting moment of clarity; one momentary glimpse as to how hundreds of people around the world view him personally, and millions more view the brand of naive literalism he has chosen to worship as if it were a god, it was worth it.
My video reviews of his book will resume at some point, because it’s just too hilarious not to see it through to the end. But, for now, it’s for other twitter users to argue with Joe on a day to day basis. You have my deepest sympathy and earnest best wishes.