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Journal Journal: Censorware Project "goatse'ing" - Bennett Haselton comments

Further material for
What Happened To The Censorware Project (
This can be found at
Bennett Haselton on Michael Sims' hijacking of

[These are comment by Bennett Haselton (Peacefire) regarding the lack of consequences for Michael Sims' hijacking of, and how it's not a case of truth-is-in-the-middle. Used with permission.]

[This was written to someone who made a plea to resolve the conflict, but also refers to trivializing and dismissive comments made in a public interview by Michael Sims' supervisor at Slashdot ]

Date: Sat, 20 Apr 2002 10:03:02 -0700
From: Bennett Haselton <bennett[at-sign]>
Subject: Re: Please resolve the censorware conflict.

Any discussion of the controversy has to start from the fact that Michael and the rest of the former CWP are not "equal sides" in this, are not "both right and both wrong", etc.

Michael did not own the Censorware Project and did not do a majority of the work involved, he just hi-jacked the domain name and stole it from the rest of us. The fact that people look at what he did, and look at the response from the rest of the group, and call it "infighting" or "airing dirty laundry" is frankly an insult to the Censorware Project and its work. If the EFF webmaster put the domain in his own name and then hi-jacked it from the organization, he'd be branded a traitor and a pariah in the Internet community for the rest of his life, and nobody would ever forget what he did. Same if it was the webmaster, the webmaster, or whoever. But if the Censorware Project webmaster does it, we're expected to "work out our differences" with him?

There is an absolute difference between Michael and the rest of us. None of us, despite some personal animosities (not between me and anybody, but between people that I know), would ever, ever do anything like what Michael did. But Michael did it.

It doesn't matter whether or not Michael promotes anti-censorship work in his position as a Slashdot writer; he's hardly making much a difference by saying things that were going to get said anyway, and nothing he does there will ever come close to canceling out the harm he did by shutting down the one-time Censorware Project website.

The only legitimacy that Michael has is through his position as a Slashdot writer; he has just enough writing skills to make his writings sound seductively intelligent to anybody who doesn't know the real story. The fact that Slashdot hired Michael should be deeply embarrassing to them, and is in fact eroding Slashdot's credibility according to comments made by some people who found out about the site. But Slashdot is apparently too deeply wedded that decision to reconsider, and comments from [Michael Sims' direct supervisor] have been more of the same along the lines of "They should work out their differences" instead of acknowledging Michael Sims's utterly disgraceful behavior as compared to the average person. You think Slashdot really believes Michael is trustworthy, after what he did? Do you think they're going to let him put the domain in his name? :)



Journal Journal: Michael Sims "goatse'ing" letterfest

4/13: Yet another chapter in the saga of What Happened To The Censorware Project (

I just sent twenty-eight of what I think of as the Michael Sims "goatse" letter. That is, a letter to a webmaster telling them that Michael Sims has hijacked the domain for his rants, and that he's maliciously redirecting them from the information they thought was at the domain. I'll probably be smeared as a spammer for all those letters, though every one was hand-sent with personal feeling in it. My eyes hurt. My wrists hurt. How the hell does he get away with it all? The Power Of Journalism probably means that my effort at cleaning up his vomitus will get me more "stalker/harasser" points. It's amazing.


Update 4/16: More about What Happened To The Censorware Project (

Somewhat repetitious, this weekend, I sent out around another twenty such Michael Sims "goatse" letters (a letter to a webmaster telling them that Michael Sims has hijacked the domain for his rants, and that he's maliciously redirecting them from the information they thought was at the domain). My wrists hurt more. Probably more "stalker/harasser" points for me for shoveling the elephant-dung. I've gotten some webmaster responses, all positive, all fixing their web pages. I'm still bothered by how the hell he gets away with it all. It seems to be that a few dozen webmasters having a very negative opinion of him is a joke compared to the The Power Of Journalism.

Update: So, to whom do I write, to fix references to the goatse'd domain, in pages such as this one?


Update 4/18

My folder of Michael Sims "goatse" correspondence has now passed 100 messages. This is including replies to me, my acknowledgements, etc, to what I've sent.

Somebody on Slashdot objected to my refering to what Michael Sims is doing as "goatse", apparently thinking it's too extreme a term. I believe it's absolutely appropriate and a wonderful description. A person is looking for an anti-censorware report, or a censorware case legal archive, or a censorware-related essay. Suddenly, they find themselves redirected to an utterly obnoxious page. And it's done willfully, maliciously, with the hijacked link intending to have that effect. That's what the trolls do with goatse'ing links. And that's exactly what Michael Sims has done, an uberTroll. Except there's no-one to mark him as (-1, Troll).

Bow down to The Power Of Journalism.


Update 5/5

I heard that a little while ago, someone submitted an Ask Slashdot question about the goatse'ing of I must confess to being amused.

The Courts

Journal Journal: On why comments aren't enabled, and meaningful discussion

There's been some question as to why I don't have comments enabled.

The problem is that in order to have an informed opinion, you have to understand a fairly extensive set of material.

For example, you have to understand that I've been very worried about being sued ever since I started doing any anticensorware work, in 1995.

You have to understand that programmers HAVE BEEN SUED for anticensorware work. And that lawsuit took place downtown from me! No fancy ha-ha-I'm-in-another-country Internet issues for me.

You have to understand then how vicious it was for Michael Sims, a few days before the start of a major Federal government censorware trial, to reveal to every interested censorware company, every decryption and reverse-engineering he knew I had done, every detail, in the words an attorney with Censorware Project

Then it's relevant to understand how this led to my idea of making a Slashdot code proposal, to have the legal risk for releasing code in the face of this behavior by Michael Sims, be in part Slashdot's problem as opposed to purely my problem.

And so on.

That's a fairly complex chain of reasoning. The problem is it doesn't even have a chance in an unmoderated discussion. It'll get crapflooded into oblivion. Someone calls me a name. I repeat my reasons, ask them what's wrong. More name-calling. More repetition on my part. Then someone else attacks me for the repetition. Maybe I react with less than perfect calmness. Aha! I've proven I'm indeed insane. What's the point of going through all that?

This journal is an experiment for me. I'm trying putting in various updates, or little slices-of-life showing what I go through, or bits and pieces that wouldn't fit in an essay because they'd then be considered too much detail or distraction.

I know people have called me various names. Believe me, I know it. I have What Happened To The Censorware Project ( telling me that.

One of my failures is that I haven't found a way to get across how much I worry I'm playing Russian Roulette with censorware lawsuits. That the more I do this anticensorware work, the more chance there will someday be a legal bullet with my name on it, locked and loaded on me. That has to be understood for any meaninful discussion. But I doubt it's going to do any good to repost this long message in response to every name-calling comment.


Journal Journal: Michael Sims "goatse'ing" letter #1

[Continuing the saga of What Happened To The Censorware Project (
This is probably an example of the type of message which Michael Sims considers as "stalking" or "harassment". Remember, The Power Of Journalism results in an outcome that if Michael Sims hijacks a domain and replaces it with a rant, then apparently I'm in the wrong for writing to people in trying to clean up his mess. Or maybe it's that I'm not happy while doing grunt-work in cleaning up his mess, and that's a severe loss of reputation for me. Because of course anyone would be overjoyed to deal with a "goatse'ing" of a group domain and making it into a personal smear-site instead. It's truth-is-in-the-middle in action.]

Dear webmaster:

On your website. on the page "Hot Issues"
you have a link to
"Passing Porn, Banning the Bible"

Any links to are no longer valid. The FORMER webmaster of, Michael Sims, hijacked the domain and turned it into his platform for personal ranting. Michael Sims is now misleading people by intentionally redirecting all existing anti-censorware report links and returning instead his current flame. Whatever you think of it, it's certainly not the anti-censorware information you expected.

For further validation, you may examine the public statement by Censorware Project, which is archived at
It describes Michael Sims as "flipping out on us" and that his domain actions "will continue to confuse people and divert traffic"

The new domain for Censorware Project is http://censorware.NET . All links to http://censorware.ORG should be replaced with http://censorware.NET

Thus, the link above to
should be

Please fix this link. Thank you.

Seth Finkelstein Consulting Programmer sethf[at-sign]
Disclaimer: I was formerly chief programmer for Censorware Project, but I am no longer a member. This letter represents personal views only, and is not an activity of, or endorsed by, Censorware Project.


Journal Journal: A censorware company rep sends me their PR

Today, a PR flack from N2H2 (a censorware company) made sure I personally received their latest censorware press release

Such service.

N2H2 was using the recent Federal censorware law trial as a PR opportunity.

I don't know if he was implicitly gloating at me, regarding What Happened To The Censorware Project (, and how Michael Sims' actions had viciously derailed my planned related anticensorware efforts, such as a code release. Hard to say.

But it was a depressing moment. I was thinking about how this flack is being paid to hype censorware, while I have to continually worry about being sued (huge "negative" pay) for volunteer work against censorware.


Update: Another N2H2 employee explictly mentioned Michael Sims' smear-site to me. So if there was any doubt, it's clear they at least do know about it, and will happily use it against me if convenient.


Journal Journal: Censorware Project essay / Michael Sims update

Latest update to:

What Happened To The Censorware Project (

April 8 2002: From the-lurkers-support-me-in-email dept.
I don't think there's much point in posting generic he's-a-nut messages (besides, who can tell if they're fabrications or not?). But the following comment struck me as having much worth pondering in it:

Imagine if you were the president of the NRA and in the early days of the Net had personally set up, and then fell out with them and replaced the homepage with a rant. It's just insane. It's saying "my personal shit, with someone I claim to have no need, respect or care for, is way more important to me than my mission of seeing that this important issue and goal are taken seriously and succeed."

Really pisses me off. It makes ALL of us look bad, and marginalizes cyberliberty work even further.

Just sent him a (polite, pleading) note to this effect.

Obviously, the polite, pleading, note had no effect.

[Never forget The Power Of Journalism - my protests and defense are accounted worse than Michael Sims' actions]


Journal Journal: Michael Sims - "The Censorware Project Is Now Closed"

Never before revealed. I've now added the full text of Michael Sims' original pronouncement that he had killed, to the chronicles revolving around What Happened To The Censorware Project (

It's at

The Censorware Project is now closed. ... Jim, you and Seth can go fuck yourselves. ... if a serf were to be accused of a such a crime, he would go on a rampage, settling old debts with violence while the opportunity existed.

At some primal level, I don't understand journalism. I'll undoubtably be accounted worse for talking about this today, than Michael Sims will be accounted for continuing doing this today. That is, it'll be more proof of my bad character to continue to protest, than it will be proof of his bad character to continue obsessively hijacking the domain name and misleading people who mistakenly try to find material there. It's great stuff, that journalism.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Blog, blog, blog

I understand blogging. But I'm not sure it's for me. Much of my life which is deathly dull, while other aspects aren't something to be shared in public. On the other hand, there's many aspects of free-speech politics, anticensorware issues, fear and loathing of lawsuits, aggravation, which might make sense. Maybe updates to my website work. Just ruminating, in a somewhat recursive manner.

Journal Journal: Slashdot 'n me

Slashdot's always been a kind of symbol for me. I'm a dedicated Linuxian, only using Windows "under duress". I've seen much of Slashdot's growth and popularization. I think about it at times - what it means, how it functions, does the system really work, if not, why not. If my life had taken just a slightly different turn, I might in fact have been an "editor" when the YRO section started.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

-- The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost

Let's see how this quasi-blog works ....

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