Many, many moons ago someone used a word in front of me I'd not heard before - "blog". I asked her what it meant and she explained that people were basically starting up websites where they'd psot their thoughts, pictures, essays, all sorts of things to get exposure across the internet. I thought it was a neat idea but didn't pay much attention after that. Like many other things on the internet, I thought it was just another vehicle for self-aggrandizement.
Then one day, while in a foul mood for one reason or another, I typed "Lubavitch is bad" into Google and checked out the search results. Top of the list was a site called Failed Messiah. I clicked on it and, without even saying a shechechiyanu, my life was changed forever. I read, eventually got the gumption to comment and finally decided to start my own blog. (No hyperlink, figure it out)
Over the years I continued to visit Failed Messiah on a regular basis as a source of news from the Jewish world, for entertainment and sometimes just to get into arguments with people. (See the foul mood reference above) More than once the blog served as a hat tip for a rant of my own.
I didn't get along with Scotty all the time. He dismissed me as a troll more than once but I eventually figured out that he would use that insult when someone made a point he couldn't refute. Sometimes I even agreed with him. All in all, he changed my perspective of what had been a rose-coloured perception of the Orthodox world and made me feel that it was necessary for those of us who believe in the goodness of Torah Judaism to speak out against those who are perverting it.
And now he's gone.
Several days ago a post went up on his blog announcing his retirement. Shortly after another post went up from a "Diversified Holdings" announcing that he/she/they were the new owners of the blog but that they would continue on posting about problems in the Orthodox world.
The identity of the new owners is unknown. Some suspect it's a guy named Rechnitz from the States because, of all the Orthodox public figures Scotty attacked over the years, he is the only one that he backed down from after posting allegations against him. The theory goes that either Rechnitz (if that's who it is) threatened to credibly sue him or gave him enough money to retire and help the poor like he always said he wanted to.
Either way, the blog is still posting but it's not the same. It's bland, non-descript piece of news without any of the salaciousness that drew the crowds. It's a terrible thing to behold. What we're seeing is what Saks would look like if Wal-mart bought it.
As much as he was hated by some segments of the Orthodox community, he was a hero to other parts because he responded to a need. Most Orthodox people who knew the stories understood that Rubashkin was a criminal, that pedophilia and abuse were rampant in our communities, that more and more Orthodox Jews were committing a variety of crimes while hiding behind a facade of piety. We were tired of being assured by the Rav Avi Shafrans of the world that nothing was wrong, that all the allegations were baseless, that we didn't know as well as "the Gedolim". Scotty spoke out against those attempts and even if his methods were, at times, crude and hateful, he was fueled more than anything else by the ammunition his opponents gave him.
He will be missed.