Ufology, you’ve got a problem. No, another problem. No, not that one either–it’s a problem called censorship. It’s a problem exacerbated and defined, really, not by one of your sacred cows or celebrated figures, but by a nobody in this field. One who has come out of nowhere and taken it upon himself to defend the honor of a woman whose alien abduction claims have been shown to be a silly concoction, the researcher who hung his career on her ludicrous story, and his best friend, an abduction researcher who offered to buy one of his female subjects a chastity belt with nails in the vaginal opening to prevent her from being raped by highly advanced alien/human hybrids–with the caveat that it might not work but it will enrage them.
Internet censorship is a problem that affects everyone, not just me or the people in this article or the characters in ufology. Everyone. But in ufology and for me and the people I’m writing about, internet censorship is a problem exacerbated and defined by Sean Meers.
Normally I don’t give attention to people trying to make a name for themselves by tearing down others, because they thrive on negative attention. They tend to have not much else going on in their lives and all the time in the world to get revenge on you for speaking out against them. In fact, that’s why they do what they do–so that you will speak out against them. It makes them feel important. Back and forth you go; meanwhile, very few observers actually care about it. So let it be known that although I’m breaking my own rule here, this is it for me. I have no want for an internet war, nor to make this man any more famous in his head than the amount of time it takes him to finish reading this. It’s just that the bad he is doing is inadvertantly drawing attention to a huge problem on the internet that affects even you. Perhaps some good can come out of this, yet.
Thank the internet gods for WordPress. They won’t delete your website at the slightest provocation by an internet troll crying “slander” where there is none. When Jeff Ritzmann and I were doing the Paratopia podcast, we had one of the best message boards on the planet. I say that because it didn’t attract just any old cretin with an opinion talking about the greater mysteries of this here world; it attracted thoughtful, articulate people who actually cared. But then one fine day or two or many, we had the audacity to challenge the lords of alien abduction research and call them on their unethical practices. That’s when all of their ufologist friends came to their aid and most of our ufological allies kept their silence. Because they’re cowards. Yup, it’s that simple. They have no problem yelling at skeptics or government officials or the nearest television camera about MJ12, Area 51, Roswell, and other unprovable ufological threads–but rock the boat of the cottage industry that supports them with accusations that are backed up by real audio, video, and firsthand witness accounts? Mmm… no thanks. Better to tuck tail and keep those lecture gigs.
And that’s to be expected. That’s called preserving the status quo. You’ll get that in any field, I’m sure, not just the subculture ones where people make a living ranting against status quo.
But this got dirty. Really dirty. In fact, some anonymous person filed a complaint on behalf of David Jacobs and Budd Hopkins, the aforementioned lords, and quicker than you can say “Scared of frivolous lawsuits,” our provider shut us down. For your amusement, here’s one of the post entries that was so offensive, so libelous, we got censored:
Re: Hopkins replies to Rainey Article
« Reply #9 on Feb 16, 2011, 5:30pm »
I echo what you stated in your first post, Jeff. Let us not just assume everything is hunky dory just because the words “peer reviewed” are inserted. Peer reviewed by who exactly? I would like to see just who exactly carried this review out. David Jacobs certainly doesn’t count.
I might as well say my posts are peer reviewed by Paratopians.
Amazing, isn’t it? Erase that or lose the message board. Why? Because someone complained about it. Who? We can’t tell you that. Why? That’s our policy? Why? Change it or leave.
So we left.
That type of censorship is so crass and wrong that even some of our enemies told us they didn’t do it. Yes, even they wanted to clear their names because shutting down someone’s message board or website is a step too far. We never did find out who the complainant was, but now we have a really good candidate because there is one man who is currently trying to erase the web presence of Emma Woods and Carol Rainey: Sean Meers. In Rainey’s case, he is trying to get her documentary clips on Budd Hopkins taken off of youtube. In Emma’s, he’s trying to get her website removed. Thankfully, Emma’s service provider gave her the letter from her accuser so he couldn’t hide in anonymity. Unthankfully, they acquiesced to the bully and when she offered to change the–that’s right, ONE SINGLE–line he found offensive on the entire site – “Dr. Jacobs’ behavior towards me became increasingly bizarre and psychologically abusive” – her provider countered with,
Dear Valued Customer
Thank for responding to the notification. At this time we are not able to provide legal advice or arbitrate disputes between yourself and complainant. Please understand that adding the phrase, “In my opinion…” will not address the matter. We ask that you remove the offending language completely. We also recommend that you contact the complainant directly to clear any language to be used.
At this time the account has been re-enabled. Please note if there are further complaints, we will disable the account again.
Verio Abuse Team
The “Abuse Team” is recommending that she, the “Valued Customer,” allow the accuser to edit her language? What? This is a victim speaking out against a victimizer. This is all documented and backed up with facts. In a sane world, the only person who could or would scour her entire website for some bit of slander he could use is the victimizer, right? But no. This was not him. This was someone else. Someone not even from the same country. This was a total stranger–a troll. They bowed down to a troll over the valued customer presumably out of fear of a potential lawsuit. A lawsuit that’s not even in the cards. This, to my mind, is the larger issue here. If internet providers presume you guilty and shut you down on the word of someone who complains against you, without even looking to see if the verbiage is slander, without even looking at whether this is an internet bully, without even caring if the complainer is involved or not… then… anyone can do this to anyone else and we can go round and round shutting each other down all day.
Mercifully, WordPress understands these issues and actually does care about them. Their dispute resolution policy is clear and it is clearly not on the side of bullies and censors:
We strongly believe in freedom of speech. WordPress.com enables anyone to freely express their ideas and opinions, without censoring or endorsing them.
We take our terms of service very seriously and will suspend any sites that are found to be in violation. By the same token, we will not suspend blogs if they are not in violation of our terms or policies, even if they are offensive or objectionable. We think the right response to bad or offensive ideas is to speak out against them, not to censor them. Instead of asking us to suspend such a blog, please consider either responding in the blog’s comments or on a blog of your own, to set the record straight.
Example: we don’t suspend blogs for: describing a negative experience with a business, stating an opinion you disagree with, or using offensive language.
Rather than give in to obscene censorship, Emma is porting her site to WordPress where we’re protected from trolls, bullies, zealots, wannabes, the delusional, people with way too much time on their hands, and Sean Meers, whichever of those categories he may fall into.
‘Sean Meers. Why haven’t I heard that name before?’ you might be thinking. It’s because he didn’t exist in ufology until he decided to take up for his heroes, Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs. He exists in response to the whistleblowing of Carol Rainey and Emma Woods, and the reporting of Paratopia. He’s an angry fan. It would be like if you read a book by Stephen King, contacted him, pledged your allegiance to him, and then called yourself a horror novelist. You can do the equivalent of that in ufology and get away with it for quite a while because nobody knows what they’re talking about anyway.
If Meers had stayed in his little neck of the internet ranting against us, I wouldn’t be writing this. I believe in his right to do that. But his continued dictatorial actions don’t even serve David Jacobs’ reputation well. They don’t serve anyone, actually. What they do is expose a flaw in the system.
Meers originally came to my attention when he wrote to Carol Rainey pretending to be a humble, friendly researcher. Here’s how that went:
On Sun, Jan 30, 2011 at 11:31 AM, Sean F Meers wrote:
Hello, my name is Sean.
I’m doing some research into the work of Budd Hopkins. I was wondering, since you’ve worked closely with him what can you tell me about Budd the man?
Thanks for your time and have a great day
From: Carol Rainey
To: Sean F Meers
Sent: Monday, January 31, 2011 6:18 AM
Subject: Re: Dear Carol
I’d rather not get into this matter now, other than what I’ve stated in my article and radio show on Paratopia.
Sorry not to be of help,
On Tue, Feb 1, 2011 at 12:07 AM, Sean F Meers wrote:
Sean here again.
I’d just like to say that after reading your work that I find your attack on Budd Hopkins and his work as contemptible. Rather than using evidence, the only thing driving your arguments is hearsay and hate. It sickens me that you’d launch such vicious diatribes against someone who is extremely frail and dying in stage four of cancer.
I knew a person once who did similar things, but as well as being full of hate that person was mentally ill and a abuser. Every attack you launch on Budd Hopkins and his work will be evidentially refuted and when it is the world will see you for what you truly are.
Sean F. Meers
With that failure under his belt, he turned to Emma Woods:
On 2/4/2011 06:22 AM Sean F Meers wrote:
My name is Sean. I’m a UFO and Abduction researcher from Australia. I only recently found out and became aware about what happened to you regarding David Jacobs. I’d just like to say, from one human being to another, that I’m very sorry for the pain of what you must being going through, and that I hope you find peace and justice in your future.
Take care 🙂
Sean F. Meers
He later wrote a hit piece involving Carol, Jeff, and me that was so illiterate he had to rewrite it a few times to even make his nonexistent points legible. He contacted me, trying to bait me the same way you see above, and I challenged him to come on Paratopia for a debate. He, of course, like they all do, refused. Then he posted my response to him as hate mail on his website. He neglected to include his initial email to me, which gives one the impression that I’d challenged him out of the blue. I let it all go because he’s as transparent as they come and any thinking person can see what he’s doing. Actually, no thinking person would be taking a Linda Cortile fanboy website seriously in the first place so I probably looked like a hero.
When it all happened….
Check out the time stamps on those emails I cited above. These exchanges didn’t take place yesterday or last week or even last month. They took place three years ago. Three years ago! And now he’s back at it again, trying to expunge the internet of viewpoints he doesn’t like, like a child shoving palms to ears, while yelling “La! La! La! La! — I can’t hear you!”
He’s trying to rewrite and own the Hopkins legacy with not only his main website on the Linda Cortile farce, but also by inserting himself as an “independent investigator” on Budd’s wikipedia page,* referencing himself more than anyone else by far–including Budd Hopkins! And now it would appear he is trying to rewrite and own David Jacobs’ ongoing saga as well. (So much for relating to Emma’s pain, one human to another.)
Public tantrums, revisionist history, and self-aggrandizement would be fine, except he’s dissatisfied with shouting over the factual reports he finds offensive–he doesn’t want you to hear them at all. He wants to dictate to you what information you read, watch, and hear about his ufological heroes. And far too many web hosts will go along with a misguided control freak like that because… I don’t know why. I’m guessing fear of lawsuits but I don’t really know. All I know is that Meers is so against free speech that he will go to great lengths to exploit whatever that fear is so that he can shut us down and shut us up.
That he tries is sleazy and speaks to his character. That he gets away with it is unfathomable and speaks to the need for clear internet censorship laws that protect us from would-be dictators like him. This type of abuse transcends my personal problems with a man I’ve never met. I won’t stand for it.
Please feel free to share your ideas on how we can curb internet stalking and account suspensions caused by false accusations in the comments section.
* NOTE: As an example of how to edit without censoring, I edited to slightly better reflect reality–not censored to reflect what I want to hear–the following passage from the Budd Hopkins Wiki page:
“Sean F. Meers, an independent researcher of the Linda Cortile Case, claims to have subsequently investigated and refuted Carol Rainey’s allegations against Budd Hopkins and Linda Cortile in a comprehensive, fully referenced rebuttal to her article titled ‘Free-For-All: The Assassination of Budd Hopkins and Linda Cortile’. He believes Rainey’s statements against Hopkins’ and Cortile were inaccurate, unfounded, and originating from a biased and subjective source.”
The original Meers fantasy version read: “Sean F. Meers, an independent researcher of the Linda Cortile Case, subsequently investigated and refuted Carol Rainey’s allegations against Budd Hopkins and Linda Cortile in a comprehensive, fully referenced rebuttal to her article titled ‘Free-For-All: The Assassination of Budd Hopkins and Linda Cortile’. Rainey’s claims against Hopkins’ and Cortile were found to be inaccurate, unfounded, and originating from a biased and subjective source.”
We’ll see how long it takes for the fantasy version to be reinstated. Then again, he fancies himself an “independent” (and yet he also says he’s friends with the people he is independent of) “researcher” (pretty hard to do from his armchair in Australia). Methinks the fantasy runs too thick to edit.
POSTSCRIPT TO THE NOTE: The original fantasy language has returned. That didn’t take long. What? 24 hours?
8.12.15 UPDATE: Someone has finally cleaned up the Hopkins Wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budd_Hopkins