The New York Psychogeographical Association has been conducting a sustained and fairly successful agit-prop campaign in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This campaign has in fact been so successful that it has attracted the interest of the Brooklyn Cacophony Society, which planned to use the campaign as the basis for one of it's own actions. Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. Well, Bill not B and the rest of the NYPA were duly flattered.
But the love affair was short-lived. At a block-party in Williamsburg at which both the BCS and the NOT BORED! Radio Players performed, Bill Not Bored announced his presence -- and thereby invited members of the audience to talk to him about the YUPPIE GO HOME stencils and so forth. But both William Abernathy and Mike Connor of the BCS -- knowing full-well of their group's strong interest in the stencils -- declined to speak to Bill in person. The little weinies preferred instead to gossip among their friends, that is, with the subscribers to the BCS's listserv. This is called cowardice and Bill (tipped off by a BCS subscriber) was able to bring it to light almost immediately. Bill subscribed to the Cacophony listserv -- which, it is important to add, was at that time unmoderated and open to any and all comers -- and called it as he saw it.
For a few hours, freedom of speech flourished on the Cacophonists' lifeless listserv. There was a lively -- and no doubt rare -- debate on it. List administrator William Abernathy, of course, was the first one to express himself. Bill then responded to Abernathy. Mike Connor spoke up, but did so privately, not on the BCS listserv. Bill answered him. Connor -- again responding privately and not publicly -- wrote back to Bill, whose remarks to Connor on this occasion were the turning point. Connor (finally responding on-list) responded in typical style to Bill, who then posted to the BCS listserv his response to Connor.
In the midst of all this, we were contacted off-list by someone who sympathized with our situation. There were a few other posts by BCS subscribers Rolf, Brent and Soosan, all of them completely trivial -- and then the list's owner (Abernathy) intervened and summarily threw Bill Not B off the list. Deducing that he'd been booted without notification from the BCS listserv, Bill re-subscribed himself and reported what had just happened to him. Abernathy then threw Bill off the list again, and sent him a note both indicating what had happened and explaining why it had happened. Apparently not satisfied with Bill's expulsion, Connor and Abernathy teamed up to send a ridiculous "non-complaint" to Bill's internet service provider, which is bound to do nothing about it, because it has proven itself in the past to be a steadfast supporter of free speech. That is why Bill Not Bored uses it.
Stupid fool that he is, cowardly Connor repeated his first mistake (talking about someone who he thinks won't find out about it) and posted to the BCS another set of half-truths designed to make himself look good! When will he ever learn?
As for Abernathy, he remained deeply -- and justifiably -- concerned that either Bill Not Bored's criticisms of the BCS or Abernathy's own draconian manner of dealing with them was causing people to unsubscribe from the cacophonist listserv. Consequently, he advised that his fellow cacophonists remain silent on the subject of the silencing of Bill Not Bored -- a fatal strategy, if there ever were one.
Silence seems to be Abernathy's favorite mode. For when Abernathy discovered that Bill Not Bored had copied a photograph of Abernathy from the cacophonist's own site and made it part of the NOT BORED! collection of documents relevant to this whole episode, Abernathy remained silent and called in his friend Mike Connor to complaint -- yet again! -- to Bill's ISP, this time on Abernathy's personal behalf. "Mommy, help me!" But Mommy reacted to all this just as Bill thought she would: she told little Mikey Connor that there is such a thing as freedom of speech, both in this country and on the internet. Apparently, the Brooklyn Cacophonists find this disadvantageous to their efforts.
We don't know what goes on with other Cacophony Societies -- there are several of them, located in cities all across the USA -- but this kind of intolerant response to germaine criticism of individual cacophonists seems contrary to the spirit of cacophony. It is certainly contrary to the spirit of free expression.
14-20 October 1998
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