TUCoPS :: Cyber Law :: offal.txt

Another story of net-censorship and enforced political correctness on campus and on the net.

Press Release


Online Freedom Fighters Anarchist Liberation

November 26th, 1995

On Thanksgiving Day, 1995, OFFAL mailblasted a bogus, satirical email
message (reprinted below) to more 21,132 students, staff and faculty of
Cornell University.

This message was a protest against recent acts by the sanctimonious
hypocrites at that "seat of learning" who think it's more important to be
politically correct than free.

Background to our Action

Earlier this month at Cornell, four male students circulated to a limited
number of friends a satirical list of 75 reasons why women should be seen
and not heard. Cornell's Judicial Administrator Barbara L. Krause
subsequently issued a public response explaining with apparent regret
that college regulations would not allow her to discipline the students.
But she got around that little problem by getting them to "volunteer" for
corrective measures such as sensitivity training and 50 hours of
community service.

Remember, the only "crime" of these students was to share tasteless jokes
with their friends, which is a tradition as old as college itself. The
"75 reasons" were not initially posted to Usenet, and were not targeted
at anyone likely to be offended by them. They were mailed privately. Yet
the students were publicly scolded and made to do penance for their self

Why We Chose to Act

We've had enough of this oppressive bullshit. The answer to offensive
free speech is not "sensitivity training" (which sounds like Marxist
rehabilitation to us). The answer is more free speech. Direct or indirect
suppression of minority viewpoints is intolerable in a country that
claims to be the world's greatest defender of freedom.

Our fake letter was written under the name "Barbara L. Krause" because we
believe that what we wrote is very close to the views that she and her
feminazi cohorts share at Cornell. This, we believe, is what she would
have said if she were an honest woman instead of an academic bullshit
artist who claims to be in favor of free speech while she attempts to
suppress it.


OFFAL hereby issues a warning.  Our action on Thanksgiving Day was just a
first step. If other universities behave like Cornell, condemning
unpopular viewpoints because they can't stand the stench of free
expression, we'll use the power of the net to ridicule, satirize,
humiliate, and embarrass them too.

Time for a Counter-Offensive

In Congress, a committee is currently hammering out the final version of
a "decency amendment" to the Telecommunications Bill. Many observers
suspect that Congress is going to try to regulate the Internet via the
FCC. Led by loudmouths (such as Bruce Reed of the Christian Coalition)
and neanderthals (such as Senator Charles Grassley), the forces of
conservative oppression are attempting to eradicate our online freedoms
-- despite opinion polls (such as one last month in USA Today) showing
that 8 out of 10 Americans believe we should be free to decide for
ourselves what to read on the net.

At this time when free speech is under severe attack, our universities
should be fighting a counter-offensive, not tut-tutting over four naughty
boys who dared to say things in their private correspondence that just
happen to violate conformist notions of "good taste."

We Are Not Criminals

Our action violated no laws and was consistent with netiquette.

We could have forged the headers of our email messages to make them look
as if they came from the *real* Barbara L. Krause at Cornell -- but we

We did not make any kind of threat, overt or implied.

We did not use obscenity or other material that could distress our

We did not spam multiple news groups with our message.

We did not circulate untrue facts or malicious lies. We told the truth as
we see it, in a manner that any thinking person could identify as satire.

The Future

We believe that ridicule is a more powerful weapon than bombs or death
threats. And we believe that the Internet is the most powerful system
ever invented for channeling grass-roots protests and public opinion in
the face of petty tyrants who seek to impose their constipated values on
everyday citizens who merely want to enjoy their constitutionally
protected liberties.

Our action on Thanksgiving Day was just a warning shot across the bows of
the decency armada. Let them understand that if they don't shut up, fuck
off, and leave us alone, we will strike again in our own inimitable
fashion -- and next time, we will hit harder.


Reprint of the message that was sent to 21,132 students and
faculty at Cornell on Thanksgiving Day, 1995:


I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the many faculty members who
advised me regarding the unfortunate matter of the "75 Reasons" letter
that was circulated via electronic mail. Your recommendations for dealing
with the foul-mouthed "four little pigs" (as I think of them) who
circulated this filth was both apposite and prudent.

Now that we have had time to evaluate the media response, I think we can
congratulate ourselves on a strategy that was not only successful in
defusing the scandal, but has actually enhanced the reputation of the
university as a sanctuary for those who believe that "free speech" is a
relative term that must be understood to imply acceptable limits of
decency and restraint--with quick and severe punishment for those who
go beyond those limits and disseminate socially unacceptable sexist slurs.

I am especially pleased to report that the perpetrators of this disgusting
screed have been suitably humiliated and silenced, without any outward
indication that they were in fact disciplined by us. Clearly, it is to our
advantage to place malefactors in a position where they must CENSOR
THEMSELVES, rather than allow the impression that we are censoring them.

Personally I wish I could have inflicted a more severe response such as
suspension or perhaps a public "debate" in which we would have paraded the
little pigs in public, for their humiliation. But in some cases (and this
is one of them) a subtler approach yields higher dividends on the broad
stage of public opinion, even though it provides less gratification for
those of us who enjoy the vigorous application of punishment.

Once again, my thanks to you all for participating in this highly
successful public-relations exercise, which has kept Cornell safe for
those who wish to live in a nurturing environment free from offensive
speech and degenerate behavior of all kinds.

Yours sincerely

Barbara L. Krause
Judicial Administrator


Reprint of selected responses recieved from bewildered students and

Date: Mon, 27 Nov 1995 08:14:08 -0500
To: blk7@phantom.com
Subject:  Confidential Memo -Reply

Did you really intend for me to receive this?
Like the :four little pigs", you might want to be careful who you send your
e-mails to.  I happen to support your actions and the resolution of this
incident, but put into the wrong hands, this memo could perhaps be used
against you.

Date: Mon, 27 Nov 1995 09:29:13 -0500
To: blk7@phantom.com
Subject:  Confidential Memo -Reply

** High Priority **

Thank god  you sent this memo--something with a little anger and
fire--something that speaks to the emotion and not just the
legalities. I hope you are right in stating that what went on behind
the scenes was truly humiliating for "them". I was in San Fran. a
week ago and the morning paper held an article about this scandal
whose title read "No discipline for Cornell students in e-mail
scandal". It made me very angry.  Thank you for your memo.

From frank w. young
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 1995 09:39:49 -0500
X-Sender: fwy1@postoffice.mail.cornell.edu
To: blk7@phantom.com (Barbara L. Krause)
Subject: Re: Confidential Memo

Dear:  Ms. Krause:  thank you for this public copy of your decision, but I
don't think your language is appropriate for a judicial administrator.
Frank W. Young,, Professor, Rural Sociology

From Douglas E. Milton, Sr.
X-Sender: dem8@postoffice.mail.cornell.edu
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 1995 09:38:13 -0500
To: blk7@phantom.com (Barbara L. Krause)
Subject: Re: Confidential Memo

Sorry, wasn't responsible, but I am glad things were taken care of anyway.


From Richie Patrick
Date: 27 Nov 1995 09:32:34 -0500
Subject: Re: Confidential Memo
To: "Barbara L. Krause" <blk7@phantom.com>

        Reply to:   RE>Confidential Memo

I agree with what your memo states about the "four little pigs" (students
who embarrassed the entire Cornell community), but I don't think I was one
of the people really intended for your confidential memo.  To my knowledge
I took no part in, nor made any statements (or gave advice) concerning
this terrible incident, nor do I know any of the names involved in this
memo (I am not faculty, I am a graphic designer at Publications Services).
If you send confidential e-mail you should triple check the persons
address for your own safety. As we have learned well from these students
what can happen when e-mail's slippery written words relay into mailboxes
we never intended!

From Dick Blood
X-Sender: rb53@postoffice3.mail.cornell.edu
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 1995 09:28:13 -0500
To: blk7@phantom.com (Barbara L. Krause)
Subject: Re: Confidential Memo

Remember me, I'm the one from N.H. whose accent you could understand.  I'm
Dick Blood, we met at an orientation meeting.  Welcome and Great Job in the
handling of a most sensitive issue.  I appreciate your discretion in a
situation which might have called out " Behead them!".  I understand how
difficult it all must have been.  Thank you for your professional attitude.
The university is lucky to have you on its side.

Yours from New England,
Dick Blood
Head Coach of Softball

From Elizabeth A. Oltenacu
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 1995 09:05:10 -0500
X-Sender: eao4@postoffice4.mail.cornell.edu
To: blk7@phantom.com (Barbara L. Krause)
Subject: Re: Confidential Memo

I am not quite sure why I am a recipient of this memo, as I had no
involvement in the "four little pigs" episode.  Perhaps my name is on your
list because of my previous position as Associate Director of Academic
Programs in CALS.  I stepped down from this position in July 1995.  I hope
that steps are being taken to trace and censure the individual(s) who made
this shameful list, intended for a group of immature friends, into a
national issue.  To my mind, this was the source of Cornell's embarrassment.
The authors of the list have received richly-deserved humiliation, but the
disseminator(s) should not escape censure.

From Kathleen P. Long
X-NUPop-Charset: English
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 1995 10:04:02 -0400 (EDT)
Sender: kpl2@cornell.edu
Reply-To: kpl2@cornell.edu
To: blk7@phantom.com
Subject: RE: Confidential Memo

I believe that I am not the Kathy Long with whom you consulted concerning
the "four little pigs," although I am interested in issues of sexual
harassment.  In fact, as the daughter of two constitutional lawyers, I am
wary of any limits placed on free speech that are not themselves limited in
some reasonable way.  However, I believe that attendance at a particular
University is not a right, but a privilege that can be suspended if the
students do not abide by the social code of that University.  This
particular use of e-mail strikes me as being a form of harassment, even
though it was generalized to many women, most unknown to the "little pigs."
Perhaps, as we devise a University policy concerning sexual harassment, we
should think about a broader definition that includes cyberspace.  We should
also think about the general atmosphere at Cornell itself, which in many
ways still leads male students to believe that they can get away with this
sort of thing (although I think that the current Administration is
determined to change that atmosphere).  I suspect that if you looked at
faculty salaries, for example, you would find that women are still less
valued than men.  You would find some male faculty members who devalue the
work of women, or who, themselves, harass routinely and are not punished for
lack of a coherent policy or enforcement of that policy.  I can guarantee
you from personal experience that Cornell does not particularly appreciate
faculty women going off and having children...although no one seems to mind
if the men do.  These problems are typical at any academic institution, and
are certainly less severe at Cornell than they were at my previous place of
employment, but they still foster an atmosphere that encourages many of my
students to call me "Miss Long" even while they call the male graduate
students I supervise "Professor So-and-so."  Oh dear, sorry to mouth off
like this; you probably don't need more of this to deal with.

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