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Michael Sims - "The Censorware Project is now closed"

[Below is the message which kicked-off the "hostage crisis" of Yes, Michael Sims really did throw a temper-tantrum over email criticism, and shut down the website in retaliation. See also Jonathan Wallace account , Bennett Haselton account ]

[This came up on a freedom of expression mailing list. Jonathan Wallace commented as follows (used with permission - from Jonathan Wallace)]

From: Jonathan Wallace
To: [a freedom of expression mailing list]
Sent: Saturday, August 04, 2001 9:34 AM

Mike characterizes his shut-down of as choosing to stop doing volunteer work. He was free to stop volunteering but not to destroy the site.

Below is the mail Mike Sims sent when he first pulled the plug on Note the unilateral "The Censorware Project is now closed." Note also, "If I am to be continuously accused of evil deeds, I might as well do them" and the reference to "settling old debts with violence while the opportunity existed." Then ask yourself whether your webmaster has the right to shut down your site because he's angry.

Below that is one of several messages I sent Mike asking him to relinquish the domain and the content to the group, or, failing that, to remove my name from it.

As I wrote in private to a couple of you, this is not a "moral equivalency" or "cultural relativism" situation. Mike was in a position of trust which he violated by taking down the web site of an active group and bouncing its mail.

[Note - this is the full Michael Sims message, from another copy]

From: "Michael Sims" <>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 17:04:42 -0400
Subject: Re: The CWP Unperson

Included below is the response that I started writing, and choked down, a few weeks ago. I think I had the thought that I ought not to escalate, perhaps Jim would come to his senses and realize how utterly and totally offensive it was to be compared to Big Brother. I suppose I could achieve the same response by comparing Jim or Jamie or Jonathan to Adolf Hitler, or Goebbels, or Mengele. I don't know what might achieve the same reaction from Bennett - perhaps comparing him to Brian Milburn? Those depths are too low for me to plumb, however.

In any case, since Jim has so kindly provided Seth with the cruelest criticism I've ever received, I shall never hear the end of it. Thanks, Jim. You're a real friend.

The Censorware Project is now closed.

Good luck, Bennett. You've taken the wisest course. I don't know whether it was true wisdom or merely luck... Jonathan, I don't know what you're up to, really, but I hope you will continue to make (it will have to be made, you can't simply wait for opportunities) time to write. Jamie I will continue to see since we work for the same company - I hope introducing Jamie to Andover is not a decision I shall also regret.

Jim, you and Seth can go fuck yourselves. I wouldn't treat a dog the way you've treated me. Hell, I wouldn't treat Seth the way you've treated me.

------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent: Fri, 4 Aug 2000 07:44:47 -0400 (EDT)
From: Michael Sims <>
Subject: Re: The CWP Unperson

On Fri, 4 Aug 2000, James S. Tyre wrote:
> You and he have become enemies, and there is nothing which I can do about
> that, apparently.

I don't think you should confuse an unwillingness to become involved with impossibility.

> But you can not deny the contributions he made, that CWP likely never
> would have existed but for him.
> He had been listed as a former member, though I do not recall the exact
> language. Unpersoning him is just wrong.
> Please reconsider.

Seth's attacks have far outweighed any work he's ever done. At this point, I can say with some assurance that the Project would have been more successful in the long run had Seth never been a part of it.

I decided that I might as well fulfill Seth's accusations. If I am to be continuously accused of evil deeds, I might as well do them. Certainly there is no perceptible downside to doing them; I shall be punished as I have been, by constant attack from Seth. And doing them provides a certain measure of satisfaction.

I believe there are lessons learned by first-year law students which involve human behavior in the face of over-zealous punishments - specifically, the concept that since the punishment for minor crimes was death, 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.

------- End of forwarded message -------

Michael Sims - The Censorware Project -
Your Rights Online -
One should never put on one's best trousers to go out to battle for freedom and truth.

[Note from Seth Finkelstein: In fact, by the time he sent this, Michael Sims had been fully informed of all my private decryption work , and that " ... CWP never would have existed without Seth's (undisclosed) involvement" . ]
Jonathan Wallace later commented::
My mail to Mike after he put the domain back up. This is one of several messages I sent asking him to transfer the domain and content to the group. His response was to take the site offline permanently.
From: [Jonathan Wallace]
To: [Michael Sims]
Sent: Friday, October 06, 2000 4:24 PM

I think what you did in pulling the site down was not excusable, and you compounded it by failing to respond to email about it.

CWP was a community of equals, based on discussion and consensus, and your behavior was completely inconsistent with this. You seem to feel that you "own" CWP. In reality, you maintained the domain as a fiduciary responsibility on behalf of the group, and by high-handedly taking it down you violated that trust.

I would like to see you give up the domain (which I would no longer trust you to manage). Since no-one seems to think you will do that, instead I will request that you reflect the reality (that we are not members of any kind of collective, or engaged in any acts of cooperation with one another) by removing my name and any content I exclusively authored from any part of the site, including the Administrivia and Essays page.

Thank you for your rapid cooperation.

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