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June 02, 2010


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Ah well. You know what they say about arguing on the internet...

I don't think we have muckrakers where I am. We used to have (or still have) muckers. They were a lot of fun. It kind of seemed like you were being baited into being the official spokesperson for AA.

I don't know, I have a friend who got clean and sober without any A's and is now an addictions counsellor. At one time, I considered her (and myself) hopeless. I think that there are alternative methods of getting well. I also think that some overzealous people in AA or NA get it wrong.
I recall fellowship after a meeting once, where several guys were telling this very obviously schizophrenic person that believing in god would save him and that he shouldn't take any drugs. I "intervened".

I could go on and on but I think really, for me, it boils down to: I think the muckrakers are entitled to their valid opinions, just as I'm entitled to mine.

Julie B

I have to agree, you are a really really good writter.
All of that back and forth banter really got the wheels turning today, and I realized that I have possibly been relieved of my tendancy to think in black and white terms.
The bottom line for me is, I know what AA has done for me, I know what it has done for my dad and my husband. I tried human power, my own and others but found that "No human power could relieve my suffering". I sought God as I understand him, and here I am.....happy, joyous and free. ;-)

The Albatross

Lord, Grant me the serenity to ignore the weyane trolls, the courage to debate with honest opponents, and the wisdom to know the difference.

The Albatross

Ack... I have no idea how the "weyane" got in there... my apologies.

A site I used to participate on had this adaptation to the serenity prayer... I thought it might be of use when replying to certain people.


I saw your post in the comments of that blog, as I cannot respond to the blog or the youtube vid.

Here's what I would have said about the vid;

I thought the vid was pretty lame and I'm not a big fan of the music.

If you're sexually abused, call a cop and have the perpetrator busted. If a whole group of people attacked you, have them all busted and stay away from that part of town.

Now, if someone not in A.A. tried to chair an A.A. meeting, I'd say, why don't you go chair your own meeting and give XAers something to do instead of moan about A.A.

You are kind, Mr. S. I envy your ability to keep a cool head and not get rude. I'm working on it so I can have a voice and not get banned from places.


Mr. Sponsorpants, Thanks for visiting our site and for the thoughtful engagement. We keep you in listed in our blogroll (the "resentment list" section :) ) because we like your blog.

I appreciate the debate, too, and please don't worry about getting passionate about this subject; I think, both sides of the issue really feel that it's a matter of life and death. We can definitely think, passionately, without getting ugly with each other.

I guess if I were to sum up our position as concisely as possible, it would be something like this: We're not saying AA isn't right for you or that it has no legitimate place; it just has no place being the foundation of our addictions treatment industry. And, the place that it does have, should have some oversight and accountability -- standards, I should say, to prevent, or at least curb, abuses within the groups.



Better you than me! I'm listening, thanks for sharing.


If the readeship is interested here is a link to the conversation, so you do not need to continue to cut and paste to your blog.



Hi Mr. SP~ I have visited Stinkin Thinkin a few times after discovering it thru you. I am an Al-Anon member (I take what I like and leave the rest...and some days and in some groups, that's a lot!!), and I have to say that at Stinkin Thinkin, I feel they have some valid points! Maybe that is also a part of why you find yourself visiting from time to time :) I will say though, that when they get mean (and personally attack someone), it is a real turn off, and that actually goes for the comments from both sides of the debate that turn childish and rude. I think it is great that you posted the debate here because I agree that it is definitely worth thinking about! Your writing is a shining asset, and I love to read you :) :)


Big Book Bob


I believe that AA causes a lot more harm than good.

I'm doing so much better without it.


mssr. sp,

as the author of the "12 rights" post (and deposed contributor over @ ST), i think i can offer a [somewhat] unique perspective.

when you come right down to it -- blame's video is really not something of terrific consequence. jimmy & mike's YouTube offerings are polemics, much like orange's site (however steeped in factual content & source material) is on the whole polemical. ken ragge's "morerevealed" is also largely polemical ... although he's loathed to admit it.

they're bomb-throwers.

but that doesn't make them objectively wrong or hurtful or even all that insulting to the AA faithful.

remember, it's AA & the more than tacitly AA-endorsed "minnesota model" that's been THE MEDICAL STANDARD for the treatment of alcoholism for nigh on 50 years now. the AMA's very definition of alcoholism as a "disease" is steeped in academic skullduggery & exhaustive lobbying.

yet the statistics (and, please, let's not get into a hyper-text link war of study findings & such), show that the AA/12X12 model is really no better than simply quitting on your own.

whether you want to admit it or not -- AA/12X12 is the entrenched medical/cultural/sociological standard. at least here in the U.S., of course. it enjoys a place at the 'scientific/medical' table that is thoroughly unwarranted -- especially if one considers the standards that other 'diseases' must meet.

the WHO doesn't even enter the 'disease' fray, preferring the terms 'alcohol abuse' & 'alcohol dependence'. it may seem like small potatoes for you & regular readers of this blog (no disrespect intended), but the distinction is critical.

and scientific in nature.

not like the definitions in the BB & 12X12.

if you're rigorously honest about it, those texts are largely polemics as well. (they're miserable as theology, scientifically laughable, & really not all that good as pop 'self-help' books).

but those polemics -- via networking, marketing, & more than a fair amount of razzmatazz -- became the industry standard. as Ray S. often points out (& rightly so, i think), AA is a dumping ground for a society (or societies) that can't be bothered with dealing with a social issue in a clear-eyed, verifiable, honest manner.

i often find myself at odds with blame's presentation but i have to remember that it's the polemicists & bomb-throwers that force the subject to the table. i mean ... you're paying attention now, que no?

ST's approach is about as even-handed as one can get -- MA & ftg bending over backwards to accommodate some respondents (included in this thread) that i would have blasted into never-never land before they even got their web-legs steady.

on the subject of AA/12X12 & its efficacy we differ. i hope i've done that in a civil & congenial manner with this response. but it's the polemicists & bomb-throwers that force the engagement of level-headed discussion -- real discussion & debate geared toward getting to a broad-based 'solution'.

i don't have to agree with blame's message in its entirety. but i applaud the effort & encourage further output.

just as i would encourage further output from you.

it's all good,



Holy crap! Who really cares???


There is nothing to debate. This is religion, which is a first amendment matter.
While you are out there helping alcoholics, who are not the only ones in need, I hope that you do some good and little harm. If you can do that, you are doing well. Good luck to you.


But I thought it was a cult. Which is it? Religion or cult?

Being that it's a cult, it's a shame that our judicial system would send poor poor alcholic victims to the Vampire lair.

Almost wants to make you stop drinking.


You know, I think one place the stinkin thinkin and similar crowds really have a point is in the responsibility of AA as an organization when it comes to crazy sponsors and/or predatory sexual behavior. I for one would welcome some kind of amendment to AA's position on these things. Like, why not have some kind of actual instructions or guidelines for a sponsor? Or, why not have some kind of stated policy against being predatory with young girls/boys? I say this as a grateful AA member and welcome any thoughts you have on this matter, my esteemed Mr. SP.


This is content for a philosophy course. Totally enjoyable.

Innocent Abroad

An interesting debate, both here and at ST.

Just a couple of quick points. I suppose that if you regard the Freemasons or the Oddfellows as religious outfits, you will also regard AA as one.

Second, AA co-founders Bill W and Dr Bob both wanted to be evangelical Christians and would have stayed in the Oxford Group if they'd been allowed to. There is a wonderful passage in "AA comes of age" about Bill W and the Buddhist monk.


AA works for millions of people and if there are flaws in individual members, that is not the fault of the organization. Also AA has no official opinion on outside issues, and the literature states they have no monopoly on alcoholism. It can't be a religion because there is room for any and all (or no) religion when doing the program. It can't be a cult because it is completely voluntary and no one is forced to do anything. It's odd to me that there are people who feel the need to spend a lot of time picking it apart instead of just ignoring it and doing what works for you.

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