But I'm stubborn as those garbage bags
that time cannot decay,
I'm junk but I'm still holding up
this little wild bouquet
~ Leonard Cohen, "Democracy" (1992)
free speech on the internet is a lie. the possibilities are limitless and intoxicating to imagine :: but the actualities are primitive and trampled upon by the forces that be … the same boring ass forces that always have been.
~ Salty Droid, "reboot revolution" (2016)
He has risen.
After too many months of silence, Jason M. Jones' "tiny piece of the Internet," the Salty Droid blog, has been revamped and re-launched. Here is the first post from the "new" SD. It was actually published on March 24, but due to some files still being switched around and other technical stuff I can't claim to understand, I wasn't able to actually read it until yesterday, March 26.
So today is as good a day as any to celebrate the resurrected Salty Droid.
One major difference between the old SD and the new SD is that the new blog is a static site, and comments (all 50,000 or so of which were carefully preserved in the changeover) are now handled through Disqus, thus closing the database gateway for the hacks that Jason had been fighting since his blog's inception in 2009. And indeed, it was an almost constant battle for more than six years. In contrast to paranoid lunatic drama queens such as Not-Doktor Leonard "Loony" Coldwell, who has been claiming for years that his web sites and Facebook pages are constantly being hacked, it appears that Salty Droid -- who actually is a force to be feared by bad guys -- was being hacked, attacked, phished and otherwise compromised.
my content has been removed :: destroyed … and banished from an unlistably wide array of internet platforms. hackers :: attackers :: malware :: lawyers :: lawsuits :: smear tactics :: irl harassment … every kind and sort of smelly shenanigan deployed to silence me.Some of those smear tactics include a couple of asinine "documentary" videos about Jason, cobbled together from various news stories about other folks who are real scammers and hackers, but made to look as if Jason were the perpetrator of the reported crimes. And the lawsuits against him have been even stupider -- particularly those initiated by the aforementioned Loony Coldwell. In February 2014, as many may recall and as I've recounted numerous times here, Coldwell unsuccessfully sued Jason for blog posts written by another blogger, Omri Shabat (the case was ultimately dismissed on April 17, 2014, for "want of prosecution"). And in January 2015 he unsuccessfully sued Jason in a hilariously wrongheaded defamation case in which I was also named as a defendant. There have been numerous other lawsuits too, including a comical trillion-dollar joke by a crazed wordslinger named Crystal Cox.
But you can't keep a good fake robot down.
Free speech on the Internet is a volatile issue, and it is the issue at the heart of Jason's struggle, and to a less dramatic degree (since almost nobody reads my blog) to mine as well. Scammers fight fiercely for their right to utilize every online resource available to prey upon the vulnerable; they battle for their right to make the most outrageous claims about their accomplishments and their overpriced frauducts and flopportunities -- and they fight with equal or greater passion to silence their critics. They will stop at nothing to quash any speech that threatens to disrupt their income stream by exposing the scammers and their scams for what they really are. The Church of Scientology's "Fair Game" strategies represent an extreme, but hundreds of lesser organizations and individual scammers use similar tactics. And when you have a front-runner in the 2016 US presidential race threatening to "open up libel laws" in the US to make it easier to silence critics of scams and scammers, that's truly cause for concern.
Krispen Culbertson, the North Carolina lawyer who headed the two-man "legal team" that sued Jason and me on behalf of Coldwell, wrote a blog post in April 2015 in which he referenced that case without naming any names except that of his heroic partner, Bill May. There's no permalink to the individual post, but you can find it if you follow this link and scroll down to April 6, 2015. The profoundly self-important Mr. Culbertson wrote:
I have been a lawyer for more than 20 years. I've seen my clients wearing London tailored suits and I've seen them with tear-drop tattoos at the corners of their eyes on their faces. I've represented every kind of person, from State Senators to alleged senior members of Mexican drug cartels in federal court. I have seen the angel in the human race, and I have seen the scariest of the devils. But now there is a new kind of devil evolving in the law. And I'm not sure if this type isn't ultimately more dishonest than the type with tear-drop tattoos.
I'm almost honored to be categorized, along with Jason, as "a new kind of devil." Mr. Culbertson went on and on about online defamation, claiming that he as well as his clients have been the victim of same. Said he:
We mustn't accept this as the new reality. Europe has taken steps in the right direction with its "Right to Be Forgotten" laws, which require search engines to remove outdated and inaccurate information about individuals. As much as we Americans hate following Europe's lead on anything, it isn't a bad idea at all. It puts the human element back into the machine...But you see, bad guys don't have a moral "right to be forgotten" -- and they shouldn't have a legal right either -- if they continue doing their bad-guy things to the present day, like Mr. Culbertson's former client Coldwell does. In any case it is worthy of note that Culbertson & Associates no longer lists Internet defamation as one of their areas of practice. I rather think that Jason shamed them out of it.
But there are plenty of others who continue to fight on the wrong side of this war, defending the indefensible and seeking to destroy the wrong people. (By the way, this March 2012 Salty Droid post has some good stuff about protecting freedom of speech and going after scammers who would destroy it.)
Hobby blogging is for the most part a thankless task; it has to be its own reward. Some people make tidy little incomes from their hobby, and I've nothing against that at all, but so far haven't managed to do so. If you're not making money from your blog (as Jason isn't, and as I'm currently not, apart from the occasional donation), it's inevitable that at some point you'll ask yourself why you keep doing it. I most certainly have, as I mentioned in my belated New Year's post in January of this year.
I ruminated at greater length about these matters in late December 2014, following Jason's "Merry Christmas Goodbye" post, in which he announced that he was putting his blog on hold for an indefinite period to attend to other things. (Some of us feared it might really be goodbye, but as it turned out it was neither goodbye nor even a true hiatus, as Loony Coldwell's Culbertson-fueled flawsuit actually gave the Salty Droid blog a little bit of a shot in the arm during those fallow months.)
And author and journalist Steve Salerno, whose SHAMblog initially inspired me to tread into the blogosphere, recently questioned his own blog's purpose as well. This is in response to a comment I made on his March 16, 2016 post, where I wrote that I missed the conversations many of us used to have on SHAMblog.
Yeah Connie, there are days when I miss the sizzle of the old thriving SHAMblog. And I certainly miss the mix of personalities, both individually and in the way we all played off each other. ...But then there are other days when I think of all the time and energy I put into the blog, and I say...to what end? How might I have better served myself and my family if, instead of coasting along on the reasonably solid workload I had going then (and running back to SHAMblog at every opportunity), I put out the kind of single-minded effort I've been forced to expend over the past few years?
And I also ask myself: What was changed? What was the upshot of all that banter? Did we really make a difference? I do get appreciative notes now and then from people who say I "helped save" them from this or that, but it all seems so disproportionately small compared to the investment. I dunno. I guess every writer who isn't Grisham or whoever asks himself at some point, why am I doing this? Maybe even Grisham asks himself.
I can't count the times I've asked myself those questions too, but these days I keep coming back to the concluding paragraphs of the Jennifer Garam blog post that I cited on my own New Year's post, linked to above. Someone, somewhere, does give a sh-t about what I'm writing. This despite my pathetic stats, which I check every once in a while. Here's a shot I took on March 15, 2016. The number in column 2 following the blog post title indicates number of comments, and the one in the next column indicates number of visitors. I'm really raking 'em in.
But I still care enough to keep on writing because of the possibility that somehow it matters. As well, I know that a lot of folks still care about what Steve writes on SHAMblog, and -- more importantly for the purpose of this post -- they care about what Jason writes as well. I can't wait to see what's next.
So on this day when millions are celebrating what many believe to be the Greatest Miracle of All, I'm celebrating a lesser one: the persistence of one little wild bouquet that blooms on, despite the most toxic campaigns of who knows how many scoundrels. Writes Salty, "it’s not supposed to be some big fu----g triumph that i continue to exist … but i guess it is. much of my energy :: and most of my frustrations … flow to and from this battle for basic existence."
Bleep on, little robot.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go in the house and bite the head off of the chocolate bunny that my friend Joan gave me. I'll be back soon.