Thursday, 26 September 2013

Tulasi Srinivas and Moreno

Professor Tulasi Srinivas

From 2004, Gerald Joe Moreno (Equalizer) conducted an intensive internet campaign against critics of Sathya Sai Baba (d. 2011), and also critics of himself. Significantly perhaps, his campaign worked against this guru, who did not look good as a figurehead for aggressive denunciations. There were many resentful victims of Moreno taunts and libels, so frequently operating under pseudonyms like Equalizer. Moreno also attacked families and friends of his victims. Ex-devotees of Sathya Sai Baba listed his extensive breaches of etiquette.
 
Moreno made a very big mistake when he attacked a university Professor in June 2010. See Politics of Religion.  This attack occurred at his website and also featured on a blog. Professor Tulasi Srinivas was well disposed to Sathya Sai Baba, and certainly not a critic, a fact which makes the attack particularly discrepant. The web aggressor accused Srinivas of “tattered research,” and described her book Winged Faith (2010) as “poorly researched, highly biased.” He opined that Srinivas was too inclusive of critical ex-devotee reports concerning Sathya Sai Baba, reports which Moreno stridently denounced. The Moreno accusation of poor research resembles his criticism of the present writer.
 
The book of Srinivas was published by Columbia University Press.  In his agitation against that book, Moreno negated his depreciatory theme in my direction about self-published works. The truth is that he reflected adversely upon any writing that contradicted his own militant campaign in the cause of Sathya Sai Baba.
 
Moreno accused Professor Srinivas of “errors, inaccuracies, misrepresentations and subjective inferences.” This disparagement accompanied his familiar refrain that all critics of Sathya Sai Baba are unreliable sources, and indeed too ridiculous to merit any credence. In this manner, testimonies to abuse are eliminated.
 
Moreno even cast aspersions upon the academic role of Professor Srinivas as an anthropologist at Emerson College.  “There is little doubt they would all laugh her out of Emerson College.” Moreno says this more than once, the implication being that his version of the controversy would have such an effect of dismissal. In his adamant perspective, the anthropologist was laughable because she had cited ex-devotees who were beyond serious consideration.
 
Another accusation was that she (Professor Srinivas) “never attempted to contact Moreno even once.” The accuser is here typically in the third person. The academic was upbraided for describing Moreno as a devotee of Sathya Sai. He had disavowed this orientation on his website in 2005. However, the purported non-devotee programme of attack clearly evidences a partisan attitude, and a circumspect tactic has been suggested. The present writer had earlier been admonished for not contacting Moreno, who had a habit of parading emails of contacts as proof of error.
 
The Moreno broadcast served to alert some academics to the confusion and misrepresentation created  by internet polemic in “guru defender” format.
 
The book by Srinivas gained different responses. An ex-devotee spokesman urged that the author of Winged Faith had not gone far enough in presenting the critical arguments against Sathya Sai. See Research into Sathya Sai Baba Issues. Cf. my own review Srinivas and Winged Faith.
 
The Moreno website (saisathyasai) declared “Joe Moreno” as the webmaster. His attack on Srinivas also appeared at wordpress.com. As a result of strong criticism, Moreno was now also using his real name (in full) on a new blog feature. Yet many of his blogs are pseudonymous, a convenience extending from his deposed Wikipedia role as SSS108.
 
Professor Srinivas had named Moreno in a footnote: “Sanjay Dadlani and a devotee called Joe (Gerald) Moreno have also engaged in such vituperative arguments that they have been banned from contributing material to some portions of the Internet” (Winged Faith, p. 372 note 48). No further details are given. Moreno was banned from Wikipedia in 2007, though not in relation to Dadlani. The blog duel between Moreno and Dadlani occurred earlier, with no resolution emerging.
 
Kevin R. D. Shepherd
 
ENTRY no. 2
 
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