The Day I Was Blacklisted
Written by: Alex Sandell
I was blacklisted this Monday. Now, it looks like The Juicy Cerebellum will be just a memory, and my newsletter will never again see the light of day. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's jump back two years to March 9th, 1998. I wrote an article for The Juicy Cerebellum titled, SPAM and the world will SPAM with you. It was a fairly lame article, as far as articles go, but it went against the grain in a rather nice fashion, and managed to squeeze in a couple of good points, in the process. Still, most people didn't really care one way or the other, and the article all but disappeared into the big glob of rambling goo that is The Juicy Cerebellum.
At the same time SPAM and the world will SPAM with you was turning into archived brain-slop, Microsoft sent out a group of "Micro-Cops" that patrolled the Internet in their "Micro-Mobiles," seeking out little people to sue (being that Microsoft has always been so short on cash) for violating Microsoft copyrights and trademarks. One of these Micro-Cops, an especially feisty one, at that, pulled his Micro-Mobile into The Juicy Cerebellum and caught a glimpse of my copyright notice in the SPAM article, which read, "if you copy this, I'll SPAM you with Microsoft ads and literature.." Mr. Micro-Cop found this copyright notice of mine rather ominous, and turbo-thrust his Micro-Mobile straight over to an anti-SPAM group known as "SPAM-L," to ask them if they knew anything about this nutty "Alex Sandell" guy, and why he had such a thing against Microsoft.
At the time MSPC BLUE screeched his Bill Gates' endorsed turbo-charged Micro-Mobile into SPAM-L, the majority of this cult hadn't heard of me, but were definitely interested in finding out what kind of evil individual had the "nerve" to make a joke about a billionaire, monopolistic corporation that the majority of the world despised, and the rest of the world simply put up with. Upon inspecting the page, this group of anti-SPAM extremists found something even more disturbing than the copyright notice, which had, only moments before, seemed so malevolent; an article in favor of SPAM. "This isn't right," they declared to one-another, "we have to do something." At that, they began sending email messages back and forth through their mailing-list at a lightning fast pace that has yet to be surpassed, even by the very best online role-playing clubs. A plentitude of messages so profound, and all wasting so much BANDWIDTH, that they staggered the mind, and quickened the heart. Messages that said things like, "this guy has no right to express his opinion in this democracy," "this guy is dumb, or something," and "could the Amstrad emulator for Linux co-exist on my Win98SE and Win2K PC if I use FIPS to partition the HD?"
It was when one gent, known to the world as "Al Iverson," but known to me only as, "The Fanatic Nerd," decided he was bored, and may as well start a personal vendetta against me, and The Juicy Cerebellum, that the trouble began. Soon, The Fanatic Nerd (I'll just call him "Fanatic," from now on, to save on typing), was doing everything in his power to put The Juicy Cerebellum out of existence. "Fanatic" couldn't handle the opinions on my page which differed from his own, and felt his "tough-guy-online," image was being compromised whenever I outwitted him, either in the SPAM-L group, or through email. Fanatic was going to get revenge for all the times I exercised my right to Freedom of Speech, if it was the last thing he did. If he could only succeed in accomplishing that singular goal, it would make up for all the times classmates kicked the shit out of him for being such a (take your pick) A.) Teacher's Pet B.) Total Dork C.) Tattle-Tale D.) Really, super ugly.
Fanatic tried to have me removed from the 'net at least half-a-dozen times in just under a year and a half. With each attempt, everyone from my ISP to the Hyenas at the local Zoo just laughed him off. Fanatic grew increasingly more upset with every giggle, snicker or loud guffaw. He built a database of servers that were used to relay SPAM, damnit; people just had to take him seriously, he earned it!
So, after masturbating for hours over OpenBSD and sheep-fucking videos, Fanatic came up with a plan. He could get me kicked off of my server for SPAMMING him! He knew I had never SPAMMED anyone, even though I came close to endorsing it in an update, once; but he could get me for SPAMMING, anyhow! No one ever said a geeky militant with a chip on his shoulder and sheep-fucking video on the TV had to play fair now, did they?
The next day Fanatic signed up for my newsletter (this was sometime in August of '99, I believe). As most of you know, to sign up to my mailing-list you MUST send an email stating, "hey, some of my best friends are midgets!" To make it even more difficult to become a member of my Totally Juicy Team, you can only sign-up using the address you want the newsletters sent to. You wouldn't be able to, for example, send me an email from email@example.com, and then tell me you wanted the newsletter itself sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Being that Fanatic was well-aware I wouldn't let him on my mailing list as "Al Iverson," he had to think of an alternate means of subscribing. Finally, he found an anonymous enough email address, and signed himself up.
The next time I sent out a Totally Juicy Newsletter, I was told by my former ISP (rea-alp) that I had been reported for SPAMMING someone, and that I was not to send out another newsletter again. I asked who the person doing the whining was, but was told that he did not identify himself. I was also told that he threatened to block rea-alp, and ALL their users, from sending email to, or using a LARGE chunk of the Internet, if rea-alp did not comply with his wishes. A pretty ballsy claim from a coward too scared to reveal his name. What is this guy? A man or a sheep?
For months I sat around, not wanting to be removed from my ISP, but feeling my Freedom of Speech was being violated. Why wouldn't this sheep just come forward and ask to be removed from my mailing-list? He asked to be subscribed to it; he could just as easily ask to be removed.
More and more fans of the newsletter started writing in. Before I knew it, I had over 300 emails asking where in the hell the "weekly" newsletter was. By this time, I was on a different ISP (midwestinfo), so I figured I may as well send out a message to all of the people on my mailing-list, and explain, in detail, why I wasn't allowed to send them the weekly newsletter that they subscribed to. (If you haven't read the newsletter, I suggest you do, by clicking here.)
In the message I sent out, I also took the time to ask the person guilty of stopping production on The Juicy Cerebellum's newsletter to come forward and let me REMOVE him from the list, so I could start sending the letter out to the people who actually enjoyed it. I also predicted that, if he didn't, my new ISP, midwestinfo.net, would "inevitably receive the same form letter that rea-alp.com did." I also hoped that midwestinfo.net would handle the matter "in a more intelligent, and fair, manner (IE – ignore it)."
Sadly, midwestinfo.net DID receive the form letter, and they chose to handle it in an even LESS intelligent, and even more unfair manner; they shut down all of my access to sending or receiving email. This is why, if you have sent me a letter in the past couple of days (and I know a lot of you have), you have gotten a message that reads something like this: "Message to <email@example.com>: The original message had delivery problems. Received at 2000/1/19 22:27:45:0 TRANSACTION HISTORY 22:27:45:0 DESTINATION HOST: <system> REASON: User unknown." Of course this whole bounced message they're sending you is one big load of cyber-crap, since the user IS known; he was just "suspended" from their system for doing absolutely NOTHING wrong. Even Midwestinfo admitted that I did not violate their acceptable use policy (although they changed their tune today, when the big guys who make all the money decided they didn't want to start growing a conscience this late in the game). Why would an ISP remove someone for doing NOTHING wrong? Because Fanatic (Al Iverson, who had the nerve to give his name out, this time) told them they had to, or else he'd "nominate" to have them "blackholed" by an extremely creepy cyber-dictatorship, known as "MAPS," that Mr. Iverson is now working for.
MAPS (this stands for something like Manipulative Abusive Puerile Snots) works in a completely Unethical and Un-American way, similar in nature to the McCarthyism of the fifties. Only, instead of falsely accusing filmmakers of being communists, MAPS falsely accuses webmasters, such as myself, of being SPAMMERS. Both groups "blacklist" the people that they don't like, and both choose not to like the people that don't think just like them. Primarily through bullying tactics that have been time-tested on elementary school playgrounds across the country, MAPS has taken control of 40% of the Internet. Although they haven't reached their goal of 100%, 40% is enough to create "intentional network outages for the purpose of limiting the transport of known-to-be-unwanted mass e-mail." This is a bloodcurdling threat to a lot of the ISPs who have a deep-seeded paranoia which causes them to believe that if their clientele can't get to an exclusive Unix site, they'll immediately drop the service and go back to playing Atari.
Midwestinfo happened to be one of those paranoid types, and when Al told them that he may be able to convince MAPS to "blackhole" Midwest if they didn't drop my account, denying all of their customers access to the 40% of the Internet MAPS now dictates (37.3375% consisting of exclusive Unix sites, and C++ chat-rooms), Midwest just crumbled, and without any reason given, shut off my service. Midwestinfo told me, when I called them (they never returned my calls, EVER), that they won't lose all of their customers because of one. When I told them that they most likely wouldn't lose any customers, because most wouldn't even notice, they laughed and said, "you don't know the power of C++!"
I struggled over this whole ordeal for HOURS on the phone. I talked to the fanatics at MAPS (don't even bother, they are a tyrannical group of anti-spam, anti-First Amendment nut-jobs who all worship some rich guy that invented a bunch of idiotic, rip-off programs, and is convinced that he's going to take them all on the next shuttle behind Hale-Bopp. They're sort of like a really nasty Borg Collective, if the Borg's were religious fanatics.) for nearly two hours. I talked to the weak-willed people at midwestinfo for what seemed like eternity (I asked three separate employees what they prefer; money, or their rights, and they all refused to give me an answer. I finally explained to the manager, who seemed to be hanging on puppet-strings that were being controlled by the upper-brass, that she should choose her RIGHTS, because if she loses her money, she would have the RIGHT to make it back, if she loses her RIGHTS, she wouldn't have anything, outside of a few extra puppet-strings. I don't think she got the point.). Finally, I talked to a lawyer who told me that what the MAPS group is doing IS illegal, but it's going to be extremely difficult to fight it (it turns out MAPS has a million-dollar defense team. Big surprise.).
I guess now my fate is left in the hands of some chick with puppet-strings and a bunch of fanatic Borgs. In other words; unless a miracle happens, my entire Internet connection goes down tomorrow. If you want to stay in touch with me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In worse news, The Juicy Cerebellum probably won't stay up past the end of next week; at least if MAPS gets a hold of the ISP that hosts it. So far, they have been amazingly supportive in this matter (Juicy Cerebellum's host, not MAPS), and I was promised that they will not take it down. I'm holding onto that thread of hope, but MAPS seems to have the strength to tear down just about anything; even if someone spent years building it up.
After 2 years of fighting,
it looks like Al
"Fanatic" Iverson finally got his way. He even got the last word, in
email form: "Hey Alex, I work for MAPS now. Are you sure you want to
send me this garbage? I contacted your ISP. Let's see if they hit the delete key
on your account. Al Iverson" Yet, in the end, I won the battle,
because Fanatic Al Iverson will always be a self-loathing, power-hungry
little stink of a turd, and I'll go on being what I always dreamed I would be .
. . a writer.
©(Copyright) 2000 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved]. If you copy this, without my permission, I'll make sure Al Iverson finally ends his virginity . . . with you!
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