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There are several issues I want to address in this message. One
is communication style, another is the nature of my anonymous
service, and finally, what I think about the whole thing.
On communication style: some people have this delusion that they
can write to others and expect or even demand a reply. Well, it
isn't so. If someone writes to me, I'm under no a priori
obligation to read, to try to understand, or to spend effort
replying. This is irrespective of the style *or* the content of
In general, the only thing that obligates one to answer another is
the prior respect that one should have for others -- which has to
be lived up to in *their* actions. Mr. Detweiler simply blew it.
His original message was full of insults and insinuations and,
quite frankly, he should consider himself honored that I bothered
to tell him where he went wrong. _Of course_, any legitimate
issues he brought up in the same message weren't addressed. He
demanded of me that I address those issues -- and that I deal
with hus abusiveness.
As you may guess, I really have no interest in addressing Mr.
Detweiler directly; I figure he's got a few years of mental
development to go through before I'll consider him fit for
carrying out any sort of rational conversation with. However,
others have been more reasonable and I'll try to address some of
their concerns and to point out some of the relevant
circumstances surrounding my service.
The first thing you need to understand is that my anonymous
service is integral to a specific community of people who have
suffered through childhood abuse and adult sexual abuse. (In
fact, essentially everyone on the group who is dealing with adult
sexual abuse is also dealing with childhood abuse.) It is
intended only for the users of a specific set of newsgroups,
alt.sexual.abuse.recovery and its .d group.
On the newsgroup, there are usually several individuals who are
"that close" to committing suicide. Some will be shortly, or have
been recently, in psychiatric wards. Most have been in, or are
contemplating, psychological therapy of one sort or another.
Quite a few are taking medication for various psychiatric
This is neither the time nor the place to discuss the wherefors
and whys of abuse recovery; you'll just have to take it as a
given that the rules used for understanding people in general
won't work so well when applied to this newsgroup, or to my
I provide a service to people who, at least in specific areas,
are not rational, who are definitely irrational. I know of, for
example, one person who went into convulsions simply because they
received e-mail from a person who, many years ago, had abused a
In line with that, my service differs from the standard anonymous
services. One is that it *is* integrated into the community. I am
a survivor myself, I offer personal assistance (in computer
matters) to people in the group, I forward the newsgroup via
e-mail to those who can't get it otherwise, and so on. These are
all part of what I do, not just running the anonymous service.
(In fact, I have to occasionally correct the erroneous belief
that I am responsible for the newsgroup; not surprising when you
realize that over half the newsgroup goes through my server.) My
service has things like being able to turn on and off e-mail
forwarding. People can remove themselves from the server
automatically. Shortly, people will be able to specify by id who
they do or do not get e-mail from.
The other area where my service differs is that the others
provide two distinct functions, confidentiality and privacy, but
there is no attempt, or reason, to protect their users from any
sort of e-mail. It's enough to deal with harassment claims when
In mine, I've chosen a different direction. I've decided to make
the attempt to keep out specific types of e-mail, with the cost
that I cannot guarantee privacy from me. Also, I probably have a
higher standard of confidentiality than the other two services.
(This is not intending to suggest that there's anything wrong
with their standards, just that I suspect mine are a bit tighter.)
People on the newsgroup post their innermost secrets and fears and
many have a need to believe that those won't then be used against
them. (And, for that reason, the default for e-mail forwarding is
"off".) Public posting is one thing but it is quite easy for one
skilled in the art of abusing (and, yes, there are such people
and they do read the newsgroup, getting a kick out of the pain of
others) to manipulate people behind the scenes into abusive
situations and in such a way as to keep the victim from being
able to speak of what is going on. *That*, and similar things,
are what this is all about.
As to my thoughts on the relevant principles. As I mentioned, I
am an Objectivist. That may clue you as to where I'm coming from.
But in case not, the primary fact is that I'm offering a
*private* service. I run it out of my home, using my phone lines,
and paid for with my money. While I offer it to all on the
newsgroup, it *is* *not* intended for the general public. Only
survivors and their supporters are legitimate users. (Though I
tend to be lax on that. Just as I am with my encryption
proscription. There are users who send encrypted e-mail through
my service but they have recieved my prior permission to do so.)
No one, other than myself, has any right to specify what I do
with this, beyond the minimum of respecting their rights. Their
rights do not extend to arbitrary protection of their
confidentiality or privacy. Those who use my anonymous service
have an implicit right to protection of their anonymity *and that
is all*. (And even that is only up to a point.) Any other
protections I offer beyond that are mine to choose; they are not
implicit in an anonymous server. In addition to confidentiality,
I offer privacy in two ways: from others, because it is necessary
to protect confidentiality, and from myself, because no one likes
their innermost thoughts gratuitously pawed over by one who is
essentially a complete stranger. But that latter privacy is only
with respect to *gratuitous* invasion by myself. Beyond that, I
offer a watchful eye to keep abuses in hand.
The bottom line is this: I provide a useful service to over half
of the newsgroup. Most of its users are happy with it. Most
people who have communicated with me, who are or are potentially
legitimate users of my service, have been either neutral or
positive about my policies. (Yes, most people who have expressed
dislike for my policies are outsiders.)
As things are, they work well. No change is *necessary* though
some may be *desirable*. Careful thought and respectful dialog
may convince me of desirable changes. Logicless rhetoric and
verbal abuse, however, will, at best, cause me to ignore both the
speaker and his message.