Mon 6/9/2003
Email from Joe Campbell to <name withheld>

Mark Matthews has made it clear that I'm permanently banished. When I tried to re-subscribe, he wrote:

No thanks. You demonstrated that you don't care for the list rules, therefore I no longer care to offer you the service. Good day.

Bob Steward asked Matthews to reconsider, to which Matthews replied:

Not after ignoring *two* automated warnings and subverting the filter. And bugbear has been floating around for a year. *Everybody's* name is getting attached to forged mail. Joe, or Ron, or even you are not special in that regard.
[end snips]

Matthews is correct in asserting that I ignored an automated warning and that I resent the message with the word "virus" spelled "v-i-r-u-s."   He is, however, misrepresenting three facts: (1) my message did not concern viruses transmitted via Grumman-Gang email; (2) I received only one, not two, automated warning (not that it would have mattered), and (3) I didn't "subvert" anything. One subverts governments or political systems; I merely circumvented a mail-server script--much as one runs a stop sign in an emergency.  Finally, the assertion that a warning is not necessary because "everybody" is being targeted is fatuous.

Getting unsubscribed by Matthews is like getting whacked by Sadaam--a person just disappears and nobody really notices that he's gone. And the person can't protest because Matthews controls the medium of protest. Other members of the Grumman Gang don't protest because (a) they don't know the person's been zapped, and (b) their protest is conveniently judged "off topic" and they're soon zapped, too. Kafka himself couldn't have invented a better scenario.

Matthews has created a situation where people will not shout "Fire!" in a burning theatre for fear of being treated as if they shouted it when there were no fire. I don't think anyone questions his authority as owner of the machinery, but most want him to exercise it more cautiously, recognize nuances in the 'off-topic' policy; and be willing to reverse patent mistakes in his application of that policy (like banishing someone for posting a brief Merry Christmas message).

I've noticed a tendency for some people to justify Matthews' behavior on the grounds that "he owns the Gang, so he can do anything with it he chooses." I agree--but only up to a point. The Grumman Gang is more than the hardware and software that makes it go--it's a community, and owning the land does not impart ownership of the community.  I acted for the benefit of that community, and encourage others to do likewise.

I certainly don't consider myself one of the luminaries of the Grumman Gang, but I've made my share of useful contributions, and at times contributed to the high level of discourse.  I remain, however,  unapologetic and unrepentant for my actions in this area, so I decline to grovel or feign contrition in order to gain readmission. 

While I don't subscribe to concepts such as Karma and Grace, I do believe that one's character is one's fate, and that bullies eventually get their comeuppance.

Joe Campbell
N4524P '79 Tiger
HWD (Hayward, CA)


Footnote: (6/23/04) I've received a large number of supporting emails from members of the Grumman Gang, some of whom have themselves been kicked off for some trivial transgression.  A surprising number of folks have never been kick off, but were surprised to learn of my fate.

Recently, someone who read these web pages posted a request to reinstate me on the Gang, and included a pointer to this web site. Today I received more than 50 emails.  From time to time, I may publish excerpts from these mails anonymously on this web site, so please do not include any details that could identify you. (Starting to feel creepy?)

I have believed for a year that there is zero chance of my returning to the Grumman Gang, so I'm not encouraging others to put their memberships at jeopardy by trying to make that happen.  But to those brave soles who have offered to post your indignation to the Grumman Gang itself,  I say:  do so at your own peril. 

Should you decide to post on the subject,  however, you should know that Matthews has, like Colonel Cathcart in Catch 22,  officially declared the topic of whom he allows on the list to be off-topic. This means that  you will get Sadaam-ized just for offering an opinion on the issue.  By the way, Matthews is also blocking replies to the posts that do get through, so if you do post, be sure to use an innocuous Subject line.  Finally, once you have posted, make certain that your post actually makes it through--Matthews has a habit of intercepting and quietly swallowing posts that he doesn't like.

If you've never been warned, expect to be; if you've already been warned, don't be surprised when you receive an email (written in Matthews-speak) that you "have unsubscribed yourself," or  "did you think I was kidding?" or, my favorite, "I did what I promised I'd do."   It will make your skin crawl.