Fisking: A point-by-point refutation of a blog entry or (especially) news story.
On 3 May 2010, the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ) published their monthly newsletter, with their leading article being entitled “ALRANZ wins website sabotage case“. The article was presumably written as a collaboration by former baby-killer and president of the organisation, Margaret Sparrow with Communication Officer, Alison McCulloch. It was designed to bring the dwindling membership of the pro-abortion lobby group up to date with the news about the website that I set up recently, exposing the group. I have already discussed the issue here – read the article if you haven’t already, for background to the incident. Below I will go through the article featured in ALRANZ’s May Newsletter, point by point.
On 5 November 2009 Andy Moore, National Director of ProLife NZ, a youth oriented anti-abortion group also involved in the stopfamilyplanning consortium, gained rights to the domain name alranz.org.nz. and set up a website there using the US based Web hosting company GoDaddy. The terms of service which clients agree to when setting up a website include: no activities designed to defame, embarrass, harm, abuse, threaten, slander of harass third parties; no activities that are obscene or otherwise objectionable; no activities designed to impersonate the identity of a third party. But as it turns out this means absolutely nothing unless you are a powerful corporation with a team of lawyers. Even when there is obvious violation and a complaint is laid GoDaddy accepts no responsibility and refers the complainant to local enforcement agencies.
I understand that these requirements are standard of web-hosting companies, and are designed to protect them from legal action against themselves. I hadn’t read these terms of service, but it is fairly clear that I am breaking them. GoDaddy doesn’t care what activities are carried out on their servers so long as they are not breaking any laws; the terms of service are laid out to provide them with immunity from prosecution.
When purchasing the domain name Andy was less than honest. He did not use his own name but hid behind the appellation “mybook.” He did not use his own address but hid behind PO Box 8979 Christchurch which turns out to be the address for the Grace Baptist Church of Christchurch of which he is a member. A letter of complaint to the church elders was not even acknowledged.
When I set up my domain hosting account with Discount Domains, I used the name of a company that I was looking at starting named MyBook. It is acceptable practice to list a domain under its company’s name. Long before I purchased the domain name alranz.org.nz, I purchased another domain name which was for a holiday club which my Church was running. Therefore I used the Church’s PO Box number, not wanting to put my own home address online for anyone in the World to ascertain. It was an oversight on my part to register the controversial alranz.org.nz in the same account to which the holiday program’s URL was registered.
ALRANZ found out about the rogue website in February when a supporter wishing to look up something on our website typed in by mistake alranz.org.nz instead of alranz.org. The viewer was appalled when her screen filled with an offensive picture of what appeared to be a bloodied late-term dead fetus. This is an image that Andy had previously used on his blog starstuddedsuperstep in an article on “What is abortion?” with the caption “abortion at 24 weeks.” He used the same image on his Facebook page boasting about how it may have deterred a young woman from having an abortion. Unlike GoDaddy, Facebook took exception to the image and disabled his account citing an offence against section 3.7 which states: you will not post content that is hateful, threatening, pornographic or that contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.
I am surprised at ALRANZ’s description of the photo of the dead child. (view an archived version of the website here) It is a photo of a 24wk old American baby girl who has been brutally murdered in an abortion. The photo is declared to be offensive and appalling. On 8 February, Sparrow stated that the photo was “pornographic”. In 2007, the Abortion Supervisory Committee reported that 105 babies aged 20wks and over were killed by abortion. That is foetuses of a similar age and viability to the foetus pictured in the photo. 19wks is the age of the most premature foetus which has been born and survived. Furthermore, ALRANZ supports total decriminalisation of abortion – no matter what the age of the pre-born child. Therefore I am confounded at their apparent disgust at the photo. Surely it’s nothing more than a photo of a terminated pregnancy, or the products of conception?
The account of the Facebook incident is correct, and you can read about that here.
Apart from the overwhelming image the page was set out as if it was the real website with the three female symbols with the words KEEP ABORTION SAFE and the text “Welcome to ALRANZ (Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand). We are a pro-choice organisation founded in February 1971 to support reforms which allow a woman to choose whether or not to continue an unplanned pregnancy or to seek an abortion.” Then right at the bottom was the message to CLICK HERE to visit the real ALRANZ website. In February he added text “We support late-term abortions for disabled babies” which clearly misrepresents our standpoint.
A cursory glance at the website will be enough to see that it is clearly not operated by ALRANZ, but has instead been set up by someone who opposes their objectives. I designed the website, drawing on elements from the real ALRANZ site, to create a stronger link – and sarcastically placed the three images, “keep abortion safe” in the bottom-right of the page. I think the point made is pretty clear; how can abortion ever be safe? The CLICK HERE text at the bottom of the page was clearly visible and designed to allow visitors to click through to the real ALRANZ website.
“ALRANZ has for many years protested at the anomaly of our legislation that the grounds for abortions after 20 weeks do not include fetal abnormality. This significant anomaly could be easily rectified by Parliament but politicians seem unaware of the distress caused to parents. It is difficult enough deciding whether or not to abort without worrying whether or not it is a crime.”
From this and other documents it is clear that ALRANZ does in fact support decriminalising abortion in the case of foetal anomaly. Anomaly is a nice cute word for disability, and is just another example of the pro-child killing lobby distorting language to try and make their case seem a little more reasonable.
When ALRANZ requested that the site be closed down Andy replied “As an active member of the pro-life movement in New Zealand, I currently have no intention of taking the website down.” GoDaddy and the Grace Baptist Church both failed to intervene. Lawyers we consulted advised making a complaint to the Domain Name Commission (DNC) which handles complaints relating to websites with the suffix .nz via a dispute resolution service.
You can read the entire complaint here. While my original website was arguably unlawful, subsequent to ALRANZ’s complaint, I altered the content of the website so that it was no longer a spoof site, but instead an expose site. Among these alterations, I changed the name of the site from “Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand” to “Exposing the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand”.
On 24 February ALRANZ lodged a formal complaint with the DNC (1) that we had rights to the acronym ALRANZ and (2) that the offending website was an unfair registration. The remedy that we sought was to have the domain name transferred to ALRANZ. To establish the first claim we provided a compendium of articles, pamphlets, and other printed matter demonstrating the widespread acceptance and use of the acronym ALRANZ. Establishing the second claim was more complex. While free speech and vigorous advocacy must be allowed we had to demonstrate that this was not only part of a wider campaign against ALRANZ, but was designed to mislead and deceive internet users and would have been particularly confusing to any young woman seeking information about abortion.
It is categorically untrue that my intention for the website was for it to mislead and deceive internet users. My sole purpose in setting up the website was to expose the organisation for what it clearly is: a proponent of legalised child killing.
Andy received a copy of our complaint and the 42 supporting documents. Ordinarily the respondent will contest the claim and must reply within 15 working days. Then the matter is referred for mediation provided free by the DNC. Andy failed to respond so this course of action was not possible. The next option was for ALRANZ to have the complaint sent to an independent expert at a cost of $1800 + GST. ALRANZ chose to do this and on 29 March an expert lawyer was appointed by the DNC.
I chose not to contest my right to the domain name, due partly to having been very busy with many other pro-life activities such as the successful 2010 South Island March for Life, and also being quite happy with allowing ALRANZ to foot the fairly substantial legal fees. ALRANZ spent $2025, the fee for having an independent expert hired by the Domain Name Commission to decide on the case. As far as I’m concerned, that’s 2 grand less for them to be able to spend to promote killing kids.
On 19 April ALRANZ received the 13 page expert opinion with the good news that the complaint was resolved in our favour and that the website would be transferred to ALRANZ on 3 May unless Andy chose to appeal which was unlikely at a cost of $6,000. Even though strictly speaking we do not have a legal right to the acronym ALRANZ (in the sense of a business having a trademark) we had cited an Animal Welfare case similar to ours where a lobby organisation had been deemed to have the right to use a name. Our claim that this was an unfair registration was accepted and Andy’s failure to respond did not help his case. His only communication with the DNC was an email: “Dear John, Have a great week. Andy.”
It is incorrect that this was my only communication with the DNC. In fact I wrote, “Thanks for your email John – have a great week. Regards, Andy”.
ALRANZ has purchased six other common suffixes to make it more difficult for imposters to sabotage our website. It is a price we are prepared to pay to discourage malicious or unethical behaviour.
This cost them at least $136.35. With a total of 6 extra domain names that they previously did not need, this is going to cost ALRANZ an extra $136 per year, as domain names incur an annual fee. I spent a mere $31.45 purchasing the domain name alranz.org.nz, however it has cost ALRANZ at least $2161 in initial outlay, not including their lawyer’s fees. This is two grand less per year that the pro-child killing lobby in New Zealand has at their disposal, for the purpose of promoting their lowly, despicable cause. And I really couldn’t care less about ALRANZ getting the alranz.org.nz domain name, because I’m now involved with a new project,
At the Exposing ALRANZ website, we’re shining the spotlight on the activities and agenda of this organisation and the entire pro-abortion lobby in New Zealand, as well as profiling the people within it. ALRANZ is a pro-abortion extremist group which promotes a strongly anti-life vision for New Zealand. The blood of 400,000 babies killed by abortion before they were born, is crying out and it’s time for all those in New Zealand who value life to stand up against ALRANZ and the other pro-abortion groups in New Zealand which are a very vocal minority, pushing for an awful pro-death culture in New Zealand, “our free land“…