Tim Robbins and his Hollywood cronies have carped about imaginary censorship ever since the public overwhelmingly repudiated their anti-Bush and anti-American views. Addressing the National Press Club (the irony of which was apparently lost on him), Robbins whined, “A chill wind is blowing in this nation. . . Every day, the air waves are filled with warnings, veiled and unveiled threats, spewed invective and hatred directed at any voice of dissent. . . I am sick of hearing about Hollywood being against this war “ (listen here).
For Tim Robbins to imply that his freedom of speech is being undermined – while at the same time, his speech is being broadcast multiple times around the globe is ironic, at best. While Robbins, Mike Farrell and Janeane Garofalo continue to spew their leftist venom at the president and other American patriots on television stations from sea to shining sea, Hollywood has not been as kind to those expressing – let me use their favorite word – dissent. In fact, the high-powered William Morris Agency put this author and her small website through “a chill wind” those political hypochondriacs can only dream of.
Although no evidence exists of “veiled and unveiled threats” against Robbins, I agree with one part of his analysis; I, too, am “sick of hearing about Hollywood being against this war,” which is the reason I decided to launch my web site, Boycott Hollywood.
The web site provides an outlet for the millions of American citizens who are tired of hearing Hollywood has-beens fulminate about how awful President George W. Bush is, while whitewashing Saddam Hussein’s murderous regime. We want to get the message out that Hollywood and other celebrities do not speak for the entirety of the American public – nor even for the majority. On our website, we tracked egregious quotations from the stars, culled from credible news reports (i.e. Reuters, Washington Post, WSJ, etc) and allowed our visitors to comment on these statements. Sounds fairly innocuous, right? We may not have the bankroll to purchase a $56,000 advertisement in the Washington Post to express our support for our President and our love for this country - - but we do have a voice, and we do have a website. At least, we did.
On April 28, 2003, we experienced a bit of a ‘chill wind’ of our own, at the hands of one of the most powerful corporate entities in Hollywood; the William Morris Agency. William Morris represents some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including those our visitors criticized on our site. The law firm that represents the William Morris Agency filed a complaint against the Boycott Hollywood website, claiming that the site is committing libel and possibly other, unspecified ‘civil and criminal violations’ in the course of exercising our First Amendment rights. This is an excerpt of the complaint that was sent to Dotster (sister company of Names Direct) by William Morris Agency’s law firm:
"We represent the William Morris Agency, Inc. ('William Morris'), a talent agency that seeks employment opportunities for actors, directors, writers and others in the entertainment community. As litigation council for William Morris, we have been asked to contact you regarding the fact that our client has come under attack by a website operating under the domain name www.boycott-hollywood.us. Recently, William Morris has been inundated with e-mails from patrons of www.boycott-hollywood.us, which claims to identify celebrities who purportedly oppose eitehr the war in Iraq and/or the Bush administration. . . . "
The letter claims William Morris VP David J. Kekst e-mailed me to inform me of "potentially libelous" statements that "invade the privacy of the agents named" and demanded I "cease and desist from . . . aiding and abetting such publication the names and contact information of William Morris and.or its employees. . . We believe that by engaging in the conduct described above, the authors and/or other persons responsible for the www.boycott-hollywood.us website may potentailly be liable, both criminally and civilly, for a variety of offenses. However, our efforts to halt this unlawful activity has been hampered by the shroud of anonymity which has thus far protected the website's owners." (See parts 1, 2 and 3 of this excerpt scanned.)
The William Morris Agency did not, in fact, attempt to make contact with me via email, despite the fact that I listed my email address (firstname.lastname@example.org), and they could have easily used it to reach me. Likewise, I did not hear from their attorneys. However, I did hear from Dotster, Inc. They sent me an email on April 30, 2003, to inform me that they would be suspending my domain registration, and our website would be down within 24 hours. The reason? I had received numerous threats calling into question my own safety and, more importantly, that of my family. I, unlike these pampered Hollywood stars, do not have millions of dollars of security equipment guarding my home, my family and myself. I do not employ personal bodyguards to keep me safe from some of the more aggressive ‘peace’ activists out there. To protect my family, I had intentionally ‘masked’ the contact information about a month beforehand, so unstable individuals would not have access to my home address and telephone number. I substituted my own contact information with erroneous information until I could secure a legitimate Post Office Box.
Finding this out, the William Morris Agency got us on a “technicality.” Although no evidence of “libel” ever surfaced regarding my website, Dotster informed me that providing false contact information to the database violated the contract between me and Dotster, and they would be suspending my registration. They further informed me that the website would be down within 24 hours. I explained, in detail, to Dotster why I changed the contact information and I offered to correct the information immediately – as the ICANN Terms of Service does recommend allowing 15 days to rectify the matter. Nonetheless, the person I spoke with at Dotster refused to allow me the ability to correct the information and maintain ownership of the domain.
However, the larger picture here is that the William Morris Agency claims that I am “potentially liable, both civilly and criminally, for a variety of offenses.” For allowing American citizens to write their opinions? I know columnists and writers who have written far worse thoughts (with a far wider audience) than I have on my little website.
Upon posting the letter from the William Morris Agency’s law firm on my website, I receive thousands of emails of support from across the country, offering free web hosting, free legal representation or words of support for our site. People seemed to latch onto this story and started to post it on their websites – and people organized a movement to email and phone Dotster, Inc., the William Morris Agency, and the law firm listed above to voice their opposition to their genuine censorship tactics.
As it stands as of this writing (May 6, 2003), our site has yet to be taken down. However, I have finally spoken with a human being at Dotster, who informed me that the site will, indeed, be taken down promptly. At this point, I have secured new domains at boycotthollywood.us, boycott-hollywood.net, boycott-hollywood.org and boycott-hollywood.biz and we will be changing domains, hosting and registrars within the next few days. The web hosting company, Ch0ices, has extended a great many of their services to me during this time period, and are to be commended to their commitment to freedom of speech and protection of privacy online.
We will not shut own our website. We will not be silenced by high-dollar contributors to the Democratic Party. The William Morris Agency, et. al., apparently believes free speech means freedom from consequence – the removal of any repercussions for one’s actions. (Perhaps they have watched too many of their own movies?) The millions who have accessed or spoken out on our website will continue to employ every legal method of holding the limousine liberals of Hollywood accountable for their Hate America rhetoric – and expose their efforts to undermine our freedom to express our viewpoint, the opinions of the massive “Silent Majority” that stands behind its president, its flag and its armed forces. We have been experiencing our very own, personal wind chill – and it is coming from the direction of the Hollywood Hills.