So it's Simon E., Tobes - and now Malcolm; and perhaps there are quite a few others who also have gone totally silent or simply quit and whom I, hardly being a regular visitor, have either forgotten or never noticed leaving.
It feels that there's something profoundly wrong going on here.
Simon E. and Tobes handed in their towels in protest against what they saw, and quite correctly IMO, as the rise of crass prejudice, fundamentalism and general narrowmindedness at DW. I don't really know what's exactly the reason behind Malcolm's leaving, but I think it's general shape must be really fairly obvious to anybody who followed his 'coming out' and the astonishing shitstorm it caused.
The aformentioned shitstorm was as surprising as it was unnecessary. And it was both repulsive and profoundly disappointing, revealing a face of Buddhists and Buddhism that I had thought died with, ironically enough, the worst excesses of e-Sangha - the face that had already made Simon E. leave DW. Perhaps we should have reacted faster and more strongly against such campaigns as the one recently waged by username against Malcolm in several threads. I didn't want to fan the flames, and decided to ignore username's increasingly abusive posts; I shouldn't have.
In short, I think it's all a bleeding disgrace.
The people who've left are no rabble-rousers or agitators. They aren't any newcomers who want to stir things up for its sake, have a quarrel for the sheer fun of it, or play with other Buddhists half-naked in the mud. They didn't come here to wax intellectual, let alone reinvent or slander the Dharma (as some people have ludicrously suggested, implicitly or explicitly). And they are long-time, experienced and in all likelihood quite 'advanced' practitioners, whose expertise has been incredibly useful to many people here or elsewhere.
I don't think many people are unaware of for instance Malcolm's generosity. Lots of folks, me very much included, kept asking him for advice on both health and practice-related issues - not to speak of our constant use of his vast knowledge - and he'd always respond, with quite astonishing patience answering the same questions over and over and over again to the endless stream of newbies who trusted him. And for some of us - username has recently suggested that for merely very few of us, but I do have my strong doubts here - Namdrol's transformation into Malcolm was a life-changing event; I mean that it changed our lives, not (only) his. Certainly, seeing the dreaded authoritarian operator of e-Sangha turn into a broad-minded, warm, Jim Valby-like presence was for me a breathtaking and profoundly persuasive experience.
I'm focusing on Malcolm but those who talked to Simon E. or Tobes know very well that we need them here as much. We relied on them as well, whether we quarrelled with them or agreed with them or merely listened to what they had to say. It's patently obvious that their voices are well-worth listening to at the very least.
DW, being the biggest Buddhist forum out there, simply cannot afford to lose such people.
It's not only the forum (and the regular posters here) that lose, it's the Dharma itself which gets thus diminished. We're basically kicking out people we should be not only respecting but cherishing, no matter how different our views may seem to be. It's good to remember that while the laws of early Buddhist sanghas were very strict on those who didn't respect orthopraxy, they were also very lax on those who questioned orthodoxy - and yet Malcolm was hounded precisely for holding unorthodox views. That's our tolerant, no-longer-medieval kind of Buddhism, it turns out, our Dharma emancipated from its cultural swaddling. It's heartbreaking.
I find it particularly bitter because Malcolm's leaving seems to have been to an extent caused by his being hounded by his - and mine - Vajra siblings. Everybody knows what it means (check out Precious Vase, page 55) and everybody knows what the price for intentionally stirring unrest within a Sangha is - both for the troublemakers and their teacher (whose name has been lamentably misused and abused in some of those attacks).
WE SHOULDN'T HAVE DONE IT. WE SHOULDN"T BE DOING IT. No matter what. Even if Malcolm had been wildly unorthodox, even if he had started to stir the trouble himself, no one should have responded in the hack-and-slash fashion that has become way too common here since May.
. . . there they saw a rock! But it wasn't a rock . . .