The lineage I practice with (Deshimaru Soto Zen) is closely related to Brad's and I've never seen this sort of behaviour or attitude anywhere else. People can be quite direct sometimes and they tend not to put on pretenses, but I've not seen anyone act or encourage others to act in this way. The attitude I'm familiar with is non-dogmatic and inclusive with emphasis on open-minded, open-hearted, non-judgemental observation and responsible behaviour.
Zen monks don't observe the full Vinaya precepts, they keep to a much smaller set of ten precepts. The sixth precept is generally translated as 'Do not criticise others'. Brad Warner will have made a solemn vow to keep this precept. Interpretation of precepts vary from teacher to teacher, but the explanation I was given would certainly have excluded Brad's behaviour. According to Brad it only means that you shouldn't criticise others behind their backs or criticise them for not following the precepts. In response to criticism, Brad said:
...the precepts are only to be used as a guide to gauge our own behavior — not the behavior of others. I said this before but I cannot stress it enough. When the precepts are used to judge the behavior of others we're back into the same sick game every religion plays where we are the morally righteous and the unbelievers should change their ways. Buddhists must never be like that.
....It's also absolutely un-Buddhist to point at another person and say that person is breaking the precepts. You cannot know what the precepts are to someone else. Trying to insist that others live up to your interpretation of the precepts is a recipe for misery anyway.This rings true, but surely it's also absolutely un-Buddhist to mock and slander other people too? The precept is to encourage us to be non-judgemental not used as a shield to protect us from people who are accusing us as being judgemental. This sort of thing becomes a vicious circle. The best thing is to avoid slandering people in the first place.
I think that constructive, open-minded criticism can be healthy in that it exposes our views to the experiences, and analysis of others. However, criticism that is attached, and narrow-minded can be like an intoxicant that increases egotism, intellectual vanity and hostility, all of which are forms of clinging and delusion. Also, not criticising others is a good 'house rule' for maintaining social harmony in the place of practice, which itself helps with the practice.
The justifications that Brad Warner gives for acting in the way that he does is that he is exposing false teachings and that this is how he really feels and that to act differently is 'phoney' and that being phoney is the same as being a hypocritical charlatan or that being phoney leads to repression and passive-aggressive behaviour. This isn't Buddhism as taught either by Buddha or Dogen. This sort of argument can be used to justify pretty much anything. There's no support for the idea that not acting out all our anti-social impulses ie. acting as a socialised human being leads to greater harm later on. He is placing 'authenticity' ie. his attachment to 'punk' credibility above any harm he does other people. Unsurpisingly his blog comments section is full of conflict - with people challenging Brad's controversial teaching and others attacking those who criticise him.
Some of his defenders argue that Dogen himself criticised others quite heavily, comparing practictioners of Nembutsu (chanting the name of Amida Buddha for salvation ie Pure Land Buddhists) to 'croaking frogs'. Well, firstly Brad isn't Dogen - he doesn't have the understanding of Dogen to be able to arbitrate what does and doesn't constitute 'True Buddhism'. Secondly, while Genpo Roshi does advocate a controversial new method he isn't suggesting we chant for enlightenment. Third Dogen's criticisms, even in the context of the religious conflict and competition of Japanese Buddhism are significantly milder and more reasonable than Brad's.
The Zen way is neither amoral nihilism nor is it repression. It means at least trying to live according to the precepts and taking the Bodhisattva vows sincerely. Things like selfishness, vanity and arrogance are not rationalised as 'authentic' they are faced as part of our practice. How do these delusions arise? And why do we cling to them? By releasing the tight grip of the personal mind we can naturally understand other people better and treat them with kindness.