Sunday, September 28, 2008
I wrote at some length about the controversy surrounding The High Road forum (THR) in an earlier post. Many of you have commented on that post, and I've had a number of e-mails about it. I've also noted a number of reactions on other forums and blogs.
I'd like to say that a great many comments that are being made are not relevant to the central issue here. Whether or not someone said good (or bad) things about someone else; whether or not dissent is a good thing, and its silencing on THR at present a bad thing; whether or not one side, or the other, has made or is making wise decisions; all of these are IRRELEVANT at this point.
That central issue is this: the domain name and ownership of THR have been stolen. The rightful owner has now instituted civil legal action to retrieve his property. All of us should support that action, because if someone can steal another's property with impunity, it affects all of us, as it makes a mockery of the rule of law.
There's also a criminal law aspect to this, of course. Since the domain name was "hijacked" by a person in one state, while being transferred from the former owner in a second state to the new owner in a third state, it unquestionably becomes a matter of interstate commerce. This is reinforced by THR's "For Sale" sub-forums, where much interstate buying and selling takes place. That makes this a matter for federal law. As one formerly employed in (and now medically retired from) a law enforcement position with the US Department of Justice, I've made a few phone calls to former colleagues, who've expressed considerable interest in what's going on. I daresay we may see some action on that front in due course, over and above any civil litigation.
It's critically important that the right be upheld in this situation. If that doesn't happen, or if some form of "settlement" is reached whereby the guilty party receives any type of compensation for returning what has been stolen, it will make a mockery of justice and the rule of law. All of us should surely be in agreement that any such thing would be intolerable.
For myself, I won't be posting on THR's general forums until this matter is resolved. I see no reason why I should contribute even my presence to a stolen entity. I hope and trust that all my readers will feel - and act - likewise. Once THR's back in the hands of its rightful owner, we can all celebrate with him, and set about rebuilding the forum together.
EDITED TO ADD: I've had a couple of e-mails since posting this, from THR members who seem to think that there are two sides to this issue, and I'm only giving one, and the other side deserves a fair hearing.
People, WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE!!!
There is only one central issue now at stake: the theft of one man's property by another. That's it. There is no other issue.
The rights and wrongs of that issue are clearly established for all to see. That's been done firstly by the testimony of (many) current and former moderators and administrators of THR, all of whom have acknowledged that it's Oleg's site and he's the boss. Secondly, the public testimony of the former domain name owner, Mr. Rich Lucibella, is a matter of open record. He's come out flat-footed about it, and made it clear that the other party in this dispute misappropriated the domain name, rather than transfer it to Oleg as he was instructed to do. If you need more evidence than that, I'm afraid I can't help you. Probably no-one can.
There aren't "two sides" to this story. On the main issue, that of criminal conduct, there is only one side - and it's going to win in court. The evidence is so overwhelmingly in favor of that side that any other outcome is inconceivable.
As for any damage done to THR by the legal fight, or whether this situation could have been better handled, or whatever - yes, I think there are lots of things that could have been better handled, and plenty of fingers that can be pointed. Once the immediate problem has been resolved, we can hold all the inquests and discussions we wish about that. However, as I said above, that's no longer relevant to the problem at hand.
This whole affair boils down to a matter of crime and justice. When a crime - any crime - has been committed, whose side are you on? The criminal's, as he seeks to illegally and immorally retain the fruits of his crime, or use them as tools to extort? Or the victim of the crime, as he seeks justice?
Your answer will determine your position on the former, current and future ownership of THR.
It really is as simple, as black-and-white, as that.