name change

It’s not like this hasn’t come up before, but in light of the recent discussion about my online handle (“exmoron”) being offensive (whether that is the intention or not), I thought maybe I should change it. Just so everyone is clear here, I came up with it not specifically to poke fun at Mormons (Mormon/Moron) but because I think of my past self as a moron. Certainly the Mormon/moron similarity did influence my name choice, but it wasn’t the sole rationale. I recognize it is a bit pretentious to claim that I’m not still a moron (I mostly certainly am in many areas; I hope not in the one that is my profession…), but I’m trying.

Anyway, I’d like to know what people think about this issue and whether or not they think I should change it in light of the fact that most people who see it on here interpret it as a cut at Mormons (even though I don’t honestly think there are any more Mormons who are morons than there are non-Mormons who are morons). So, I created a poll. You can also leave feedback and give suggestions for a “new name” (I couldn’t help myself with the new name wording 😉 ).

One final note, I am trying to maintain some anonymity (if you really want to know who I am, you can email me). The anonymity is for two reasons. (1) I am a college professor and I try not to let my personal views influence my students. So, I try to keep my personal views fairly hard to find online by posting anonymously. (2) My family (not my wife, but just about everyone else) takes anything critical of Mormonism as a personal attack. Family is more important to me than religion (or even criticizing religion), so I also try to keep my comments and thoughts about religion secret from them. In an ideal world, this wouldn’t be necessary, but our world isn’t ideal (thus the need for criticism).


I'm a college professor and, well, a professional X-Mormon. Thus, ProfXM. I love my Mormon family, but have issues with LDS Inc. And I'm not afraid to tell LDS Inc. what I really think... anonymously, of course!

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21 Responses

  1. William Morris says:

    To be perfectly honest, I think handles are a cop out and it’s hard for me to make the commitment to pay attention to the words of those who use them. I think we all should use our real names.

    Everybody except me, of course. But since I am literally channeling several historical William Morrises, I get to be the one exception.

  2. Seth R. says:

    I voted “make up your own freaking mind”

    Um… It was “freaking”, wasn’t it?

  3. dpc says:

    How about postmoron? 🙂

  4. dpc says:

    Or newordermoron? 🙂

  5. dpc says:

    Or how about ProfXM?

    (You get the point…)

  6. exmoron says:

    All very good suggestions… ProfXM is way better than the one I came up with for myself as an alternate: theskeptical_d.

    As of this comment, there are 4 votes, 2 in favor of changing in it and one each for:
    -a comment (maybe William Morris)
    -and make up your own f[rea]king mind (duly sanitized for those who are averse to cursing).

  7. Wayne says:

    I did think of your name as being a play on exmormon also. I was not personally offended by it. So, I don’t really have an opinion, is what I am trying to say.

    I have less to hide, which is why I am using my real name.

    Maybe your next moniker could be getoverit…..(short for: I left the church, but still like to talk with both Mormon and former in a civil way……get over it.)

  8. john f. says:

    Exmoron, you need to be authentic. That is the key. If you think Mormons are morons and you are no longer one because you are no longer a Mormon, then you need to stand up for that.

    The discussion in the previous thread that has apparently led to this new post did not involve mention of “offense”, “offended”, or “offensive”. I brought up your handle because you commented on labeling theory and the most ready example at hand to discuss it was your own handle. The focus on your handle sought to explore how labeling theory might apply to the handle you chose and what you intended with it. Of course the reception of that handle also forms part of the analysis. I was looking for your analysis of that, applying labeling theory but did not see it in the end.

    In other words, in my view, whether Mormons are in fact offended by your handle is beside the point; more to the point is what you intend the handle to achieve. If you are trying to offend Mormons with it and Mormons are offended (no Mormons on the previous thread asserted that it was offensive or that they were offended), then you have succeeded and you can feel proud of that fact. This, however, could raise other issues that could be legitimately discussed and analyzed about people who seek to offend others. Again, it should be noted that “offense” was not the issue in the last thread; rather labeling was in issue.

    My vote is that you should definitely not change your handle based on the discussion in the previous thread, particularly if you are asserting that the previous thread suggested that the handle was offensive as a reason for seeking a changed handle.

  9. Guy Noir, Private Eye says:

    john f:

    “I couldn’t have said it better Myself!”

    thanks for many/all of us!!!!

  10. Michael says:

    I confess to having missed the discussion of the name on the other thread. I usually just monitor the original post and whatever comments are there when I check it with bloglines. But we’ve talked about your name before, and I think I remember you saying that your exmoron to refered to no longer being a moron, not no longer being a mormon. Still, I’d forgotten it, and went mistakenly thinking that it was exmormon, abbreviated.

    I can’t help but wonder if a name is really very useful if it doesn’t convey the meaning one wants it to. If you do change it, I love ProfXM. That has a nice ring to it. Or I might suggest PeakClimber, for reasons you would understand….

  11. Hellmut says:

    Thanks for your generosity, John. That’s very good of you.

    On the other hand, we do not need to indulge into our impulses to remain sincere. By definition, acting on reflection rather than reflex or impulse requires discipline. That does not make our behavior any less sincere.

    On the contrary, deliberate behavior might be an expression of our aspirations, which says at least as much about who we are as our spontaneous behavior.

    Spontaneity can be a good thing, of course, but it is not the only thing.

  12. chanson says:

    William — So that’s not your real name? That’s funny, I wouldn’t have guessed. “C. L. Hanson” or “chanson” isn’t my real name either, as I’ve explained here. 😉

  13. exmoron says:

    John… As I explained in this post and on the other post, I don’t think Mormons as a whole are morons (there are moron Mormons and moron non-Mormons). Need I repeat that again? Also, as I explained above, the primary motivation for the name was not me leaving Mormonism. So, in terms of authenticity, I don’t think I need to keep a name that refers to my former “moron” status in order to remain “authentic.”

    As per the labeling arguments… You said, “This becomes particularly relevant given your claims about understanding labeling theory and what motivates it and what agendas might be driving aspects of labeling. And yet you state that Mormons are engaged in fallacious argumentation when using the label “anti-Mormon” at the same time that your very handle labels them “morons”.”

    This returns us to the point made in aerin’s post about being considered anti-Mormon and my comment #25 – you are making my moniker into an “anti-Mormon” moniker when that is not what it was designed to be. (I’m not saying it is unreasonable to do so given the context, but if you are truly interested in my “intent” rather than the “effect,” then you would have to recognize that my intent isn’t to label Mormons as “morons” but to admit I used to be a moron. Crazy thing, subjectivity: my mind, my moniker, I get to dictate my intent!)

    As far as labeling theory goes, it’s possible to argue that my moniker is an implicit label of all Mormons as morons, assuming that is how you interpret the moniker. But labeling theory is ultimately about the effect of labels on groups or individuals. Unless the “interpreted” label from my moniker spread and was pervasively applied to Mormons, I don’t believe labeling theory is really relevant to the moniker. Your example isn’t apropos; it’s like me trying to label Brad Pitt “Mr. Stinky.” I’m one person with an, in this case, implied label, trying to make it stick to someone it would never stick to (though I’ve heard he doesn’t shower regularly). Even if I explicitly said all Mormons are morons (which I never have), the odds of that label sticking are literally zero. Unless the label becomes pervasive and/or Mormons begin to see themselves as morons, the label is basically meaningless.

    Now contrast that to aerin’s original post about people being labeled “anti-Mormons.” That label is pervasively applied to anyone critical of Mormonism primarily by Mormons. Her point is a legitimate one, and labeling theory is relevant: if anyone who criticizes the religion is labeled an “anti-Mormon,” which implies their goal is the complete and utter destruction of the religion, this allows Mormons to dismiss their claims without any serious consideration (because they want to destroy the religion). How could a criticism from an “anti-Mormon” have any possible benefit or utility for Mormons? In short, labeling theory is relevant for aerin’s argument, much less so for my moniker.

    Two more points… You said, “Responding by saying that you also use the handle “exmoron” at your personal blog, which is called “Sons of Perdition” doesn’t seem to score many points in this debate about labeling. Somehow Mormons illegitimately use the term “anti-Mormon” but the labels you choose do not invoke the same problems?” My point: I use “exmoron” outside the context of Mormon criticism. I use it in lots of contexts. And outside Mormon criticism people do not draw the connection to Mormonism. In short, my point was relevant. If I used the moniker exclusively in Mormon criticism contexts than you could argue that that is the “true” or “real” reason for the moniker. It’s not, and I don’t.

    Lastly, you said, “In other words, in my view, whether Mormons are in fact offended by your handle is beside the point; more to the point is what you intend the handle to achieve.” Are you really interested in my intent or the effect? In all seriousness, until you brought it up, I hadn’t thought about the implication of my moniker for about a year or so since the last person brought up the fact that Mormons might see it as offensive. To me it is just a name I came up with several years ago to post anonymously online and indicate I think I used to be a moron.

    However, and here’s returning to the authenticity argument, if I wanted to post in, say, a forum frequented by Jews and I decided to call myself “Hitlr,” I’m guessing my moniker in that forum would cause a stir. People would focus more on my name than what I have to say. Thus my point with the poll: If my name is so disturbing to the readers of this website that they cannot focus on what I have to say then it makes sense to change it. I’m not interested in offending people; I’m interested in dialog and discussion and intellectual repartee. If my name is an impediment in that, I’ll change it.

  14. john f. says:

    You gotta do what you gotta do. I was just pointing out the obvious.

    You state that your intent was not to mock, ridicule, or make fun of Mormons. So there is no argument against that since you state it.

    Your comment # 14, however, still shifts the issue back onto Mormons: if Mormons think that the name “exmoron” means that you are stating that you are no longer a moron because you are no longer a Mormon, then the problem is theirs.

    Also, it is worth noting that offense was not in issue in either the last thread or this one except to the extent that you continue to frame the issue as Mormons being offended (no one said they were) at your handle rather than as a corollary to the point about Mormons labelling critics anti-Mormons (you addressed this a little in # 14, so that’s moot now).

  15. chandelle says:

    who cares what other people think? just do what works for you. those who would ignore what you say just because of your handle probably will ignore what you say either way.

  16. Chris says:

    I think it’s worth changing it, if only for the sake of better communication with people who are still in the Church.

  17. wry catcher says:

    I think it’s worth changing because it sounds like an RFM-type angry exmo handle, and you risk being taken less seriously and easily dismissed, and I think that does not represent who you are. I, another postmormon, am somewhat put off by the exmoron handle, I hope that doesn’t offend you. I understand the self-doubt and anger that may have led you to feel like a moron and playing on the mor[m]on thing, but that probably shouldn’t be where you set up house permanently, KWIM?

    Anyhow, good discussion.

  18. William Morris says:


    No it’s my real name. I just never pass up a chance to make that joke.

    I also understand the need for handles. I use them myself in certain parts of the Internet (not the Bloggernacle). It does allow us, for good or ill, to say certain things that we might not.

    I do want to respond to what chandelle says: “those who would ignore what you say just because of your handle probably will ignore what you say either way.”

    I don’t know that that’s entirely true. I’m sure it is for some readers/bloggers.

    However, there are now so many denizens of the Bloggernacle and associated Mormon blogospheres that I find it difficult to keep track of everybody. Full names help. They also suggest a transparency and commitment that makes me more likely to decide to invest the time and mindspace to track/understand/remember a particular person.

  19. FaithNoMo says:

    ExMoron, I dig the name. But I see why you would want to change. I also don’t see it as that big of a deal if you don’t. If people are offended I think it is their problem, especially if you never intended it to offend them.
    I know, with the power of the Holy Priesthood you once held, you will make the right choice. You may get an answer by feeling nothing, burping, getting an itch on your ass, getting an itch near your ass, itching your ass for no reason, heart burn, a leg cramp, etc. Just go with whatever answer you get.

  20. profxm says:

    Name is changed. From here on out I will be known as ProfXM. This is my last post as exmoron. ProfXM is my “new name”…

    Ugghhhh…. [exmoron commits seppuku for breaking his holy oath never to reveal his new name.]

    (no offense intended; just trying to be funny)

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