Current News and Actions:
  • CyberSitter Mailbombs Pagans
  • Creation of A Network of Pagan Support
  • Donate Books to Pagan Prisoners
  • News Flash: Wiccan murdered in Vermont
  • Website Reviews

    >From Wired Magazine:

    Write a Complaint, Get Emailbombed
    Janelle Brown

    5:40pm 9.Feb.98.PST
    Solid Oak is under fire from a woman who says the maker of Cybersitter Web filtering software launched an email attack against her after she sent it a critical message. Company officials deny sending Sarah Salls an emailbomb, but say she belongs to a group that has targeted the firm and was asking for trouble.

    Sarah Salls, a 27-year-old Web designer, says she sent four emails to Solid Oak last Wednesday accusing the company of carrying out censorship through its filtering software. After the email was rejected by several Solid Oak email accounts - including support, feedback, and CEO Brian Milburn's personal account, Salls says, she was emailbombed on Thursday.

    She says her account received more than 800 emails from, quoting her letter with the subject line "re: your crap" and a message "Do not send us any more e-mail!"

    "It seemed like they were being immature about criticisms of their software," said Salls. "Needless to say, I was a little irate."

    Although Solid Oak initially denied any knowledge of the emails, officials now say they were the result of a "frustrated technical support employee." The company also said that Salls sent 12 emails, not four, and her messages constituted harassment.

    "The person mentioned is not currently a customer, runs a Web site promoting witchcraft and paganism, and would obviously not be a potential Cybersitter user," Milburn said via email. "She is an admitted member of a group that has been engaged in a campaign of organized harassment against us for 14 months."

    The "emailbomb" is, in part, a continuation of Solid Oak's longtime war with the Peacefire organization, which was started by teenager Bennett Haselton to discuss filtering systems and their relationship to morality and censorship. Cybersitter, for example, blocks homosexual and feminist organizations' sites.

    Salls said she sent multiple emails only after her initial emails, which identified her affiliation with Peacefire, were rejected. Milburn confirmed that any email sent to Solid Oak with mentions of Peacefire or its founder is routinely bounced.

    The Cybersitter software blocks Peacefire's Web site and, in at least one case, a story about the criticism leveled against Cybersitter. An article that ran in CNET's last Friday about the Solid Oak emailbomb is now being blocked. A visit to the story using Cybersitter turned up the labels "NETPORN," "gay rights," "," "adult" and "" - but no story.

    "When you're talking about Solid Oak software, there's no point in even discussing how it's weird or ironic or doesn't make sense - everyone knows that already," said Peacefire founder Haselton. "The question is whether they did something illegal this time."

    In a semantic twist, Solid Oak also argues that the 400 emails it admits to sending don't constitute an emailbomb; and when asked to elucidate the difference between an emailbomb and 400 emails, company spokesperson Marc Kanter said, "a mailbomb would be an anonymous posting when everything would happen at once, this was 400 individual email replies from unique IP addresses."

    Milburn provided this clarification: "Emailbombs have been typically continuous and anonymous; there was no attempt to disguise who this thing was coming from."

    But according to MCI - the upstream provider for Sall's Internet service provider, Valinet - this attack is indeed being considered an emailbomb, albeit a small one. The matter is "being investigated," said Robert Hoskins, an MCI spokesperson.

    This incident also isn't the first complaint that has arisen about Solid Oak's alleged email responses to critics. Several Peacefire members (including Haselton and Lindsay Haisley) have complained of receiving four-megabyte to five-megabyte junk files in response to criticism they sent to Solid Oak email addresses.

    Milburn says the company initiated a response program for a short period last year called "Terminator" - through which critical emails sent to Solid Oak would receive a reply demanding that the sender stop sending email to the company. If they responded to the Terminator, they would receive a 500k Zip file of junk.

    "They replied to an automated account that we told them not to reply to; they did it to themselves," said Milburn, chuckling.

    Milburn said he personally receives "hundreds" of messages from Peacefire, and that his company will not respond to any criticism leveraged by its members. The average Peacefire member is 15 years old and, Milburn said, since kids aren't Solid Oak's customers, their complaints just don't count.

    "They aren't of an age that they can make a wise decision about things like that; they're also at the age where they're hackers, and things like that," Milburn said. "They seem to think that on the Internet they're the same as everyone else, and that they can demand that we respond to them."

    Milburn said Salls is "entitled to her opinions," and though Solid Oak doesn't "condone" the mass of email the company directed at her, he believes that she asked for it. "You have to use some common sense. Was she interested in the software, or was she trying to cause a problem?"

    Salls said her ISP, Valinet, is consulting both its lawyers and upstream provider MCI about the incident.

    "It's so unprofessional - all companies are going to get some kind of criticism of their product at some point or another. It goes with the territory," said Salls, who calls Solid Oaks' allegations "laughable." "I just want to bring some awareness to this, and I guess I'll just have to use my big mouth."

    For more information on net.filtering programs and their relation to Paganism, see FIRE's information on Cyberpatrol, the School Filtering Act, and the ACLU's order to unfilter library computers.

    Obviously, we need responses to this sort of thing; responses like this one, from one of our members:

    Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998 07:46:50 -0700
    From: Chris Wiegand 
    Cc: FIRE List 
    Subject: Re: CyberSitter Mailbombs Pagans!
     Quote begin:
    "The person mentioned is not currently a
    customer, runs a Web site promoting witchcraft
    and paganism, and would obviously not be a
    potential Cybersitter user," Milburn said via email.
     :Quote end.
    Now, excuse me, but I'm a "witch", however, when I have kids,
    I want them to have filtered access at first. Just because
    a person is a witch (which is a lifestyle and a religion, btw)
    doesn't mean that they don't have concerns about their kid
    being exposed to indecency! Please feel free to forward
    this to your president, however, also know that if your company
    e-mail bombs me, I will speak with representatives of my ISP
    about blocking your domain and possible legal action.
    Christopher Wiegand

    Support Networks Starting for Victims of Religious Discrimination

    We're brainstorming to begin creation of a network of support for Pagan victims of harassment and religious discrimination. Some ideas so far:

    A listserv (discussion list through email) will be started to provide support, taking the burden of such support off of more general Pagan listservs and newsgroups and providing a space devoted to emotional support. If you want to join this list please email Mel Fleming,, with your name, all your contact info, including your email address and URL if any, and your area of expertise. I will put you in a category by which service you can provide. If someone is a professional in counseling, or is legally ordained, please state that. If you're an attorney at law, or you specialise in Pagan civil rights, please join. Battered spouses services, food services, shelter services, drug/alcohol, addictive behaviour counseling, and teaching Pagan principle, are qualities that would be welcomed. You also must be willing to receive email letters personally addressed to you by those needing help; if you need help with resources ask other memebers of the list. The only help you'd not be expected to provide would be financial, however if you know of resources in that area, please say so.

    Donate Books to Pagan Prisoners

    Last month, I sent a copy of "The Witches' Bible" to a Wiccan group in a Texas prison. I just received a message from Blaine Evans, the leader of the group in Midway, TX. He said that "The Witches' Bible" was rejected by prison authorities because it contained material that could lead to the formation of a "criminal enterprise", and it had pictures of Sado-Masochism. The material that supposedly will lead to the formation of a criminal enterprise is a page on Wiccan symbols and lettering. Apparently, the authorities believe that these could be used as ciphers for sending secret messages, thereby establishing illicit communication between criminals.

    The other complaint has to do with photographs of the Witch initiation ritual, in which Stewart Farrar is bound and presented to the High Priestess. Blaine Evans tried to explain that this was part of the religion, but Texas prison authorities declared that it was Sado-Masochism, and therefore unfit for prisoners. Anyway, the book is being sent back, but the prisoners in Texas still want to read it. Therefore, in order to meet the prison standards, I am going to have to slice out several pages that offend the Texas prison authorities. After that, I can send back the book, and the Wiccan prisoners can study the text.

    Tom Canfield
    (Editor's note: Contact Tom to donate books; as long as they don't have anything that can be interpreted as "secret codes" or weaponry, they should be all right. Most Pagan books don't have pictures of skyclad rituals anyway!)


    Friday, December 05, 1997 at 10:19:15 (EST)


    Dwayne Bernier's family and friends gathered for a Wiccan memorial service, while police continued to search for clues in his death. Bernier, 45, was found dead Nov. 23 in his tattoo shop. Police will say only that he was killed with a ``bladed instrument.''

    Kirk White, minister of the Church of the Sacred Earth in Bethel, performed Wednesday's ceremony in the Wiccan faith practiced by Bernier. It is a blend of pagan and Native American traditions.

    Bernier owned the Dragon's Leyr Tattoo Emporium and Gift Shoppe on Route 103, where his body was found on a snowy Sunday morning. Police have said little about the investigation into the death, saying they don't want to reveal information that might be known only to the killer or killers.

    More details will be posted on this site as they are released.

    From Wren's Nest:

    Wednesday, December 17, 1997 at 15:17:52 (EST)

    Police continue probe into tattoo shop killing
    Associated Press/Boston Globe(12/17)

    EAST WALLINGFORD, Vt. (AP) - Police investigating the death of Dwayne Bernier are looking at his interests in fantasy games, the Internet and pagan religions to see if hey shed any light on his killing.

    Bernier, 45, was killed last month, his body left in the small store next to his home.

    Police have struggled to determine suspects or even a motive. No one in town held a grudge against him. He wasn't dealing drugs or involved in gangs. Nothing was taken from his store, a combination tattoo parlor and specialty shop that sold everything from T-shirts to pipes used for smoking marijuana.

    With those obvious possibilities eliminated, police have cast a wider net, considering whether some of Bernier's interests had any bearing on his death.

    Though Bernier lived outside the usual rhythms and norms of small-town Vermont life, police say there's no evidence he was involved in anything illegal or dangerous. People who knew him describe him as friendly, good-natured and caring.

    ``Just by virtue of his lifestyle, it headed us in a lot of different directions,'' said Vermont State Police Detective Sgt. Ray Keefe. ``If you check your statistics for murder in Vermont, they're mostly people who knew each other, domestics, that sort of thing. This one isn't going that way.''

    ``It's clear you can paint him as being involved in an alternative lifestyle - tattoos, paraphernalia, witchcraft,'' Keefe said. ``Not that there's anything wrong with that. But it can put you in touch with a lot of other types of people.''

    Ancient Travel WorldWide

    The Discovery Channel TV, USA repeated their show, "The Curse of the Cocaine Mummies", twice on November 29, 1997 and will again show it on December 6, 1997, at 6 pm Eastern/ Pacific times USA.
    The program discusses the finding of High Andean Cocaine in the hair follicles of over 100 Egyptian Mummies in Germany and England by the leading German forensic scientist, Dr. Svetlana Balabanova.
    Additionally, Ancient Roman amphora in Brazil, Thor Heyerdahl's trans-Atlantic/Pacific sailings, American sweet-potatoes and peanuts in ancient China, American corn in ancient India, an American pineapple in ancient Pompeii, ancient African sculptures in Mexico, Vikings in Canada, and other strong indications of ancient world-wide travel, communication and trade, etc., are discussed.
    Especially as we are in the Season of Samhain and about to celebrate the Winter Solstice, this program is appropriate.
    If ancient world-wide travel and trading are accurate, this would explain why our Samhain/Beltaine and Winter Solstice celebrations are an ancient world-wide phenomenon, celebrated by most ancient peoples. We, of course were not the first to celebrate what we call Samhain/Beltaine nor the Winter Sostice.
    Indirectly, it also touches on the Celtic-like mummies being recently found in the Gobi Desert in China and the controversial possibility that Ancient Celts traveled to America,

    The newsgroups sci.archaeology and sci.archaeology.moderated, as well as others, have spirited debates about the Cocaine Mummies and possible ancient sea travel and commerce. then "old" search, will introduce you to the many posts on these subjects.
    Here are three;

    Loch Sloy!
    Lowell McFarland ( **************************************
    Discovery Channel "Curse of the Cocaine Mummies

    Website Reviews

    The number of pagan-bashing hate sites out there is increasing, and so is the number of sites full of inaccurate and libelious information. (It's a strange coincidence!) Several of our members have gotten together to begin a Website Review service which will rank religious, personal, informational, and miscellaneous sites.
    Considerations in review are as follows:

    To request a review of your site, send mail to