An Open Letter to Belťn, NM, and its Parents, Teachers, and Students
by T.C. Johnston, aka, Skeeky Webo, Jr.

Dear Gentle People:

I started one year ago as a forum for free speech, satire, and goofy humor. One of the pages "Have a Nice Day ... In Hell," was designed to list people whom the viewer thought was bound for Hell. The intention was for people to name those who were guilty of bad behavior. If you peruse the initial posts, that is what it did. However, a little over a month ago, I started noticing postings by people who were obviously young, and with rather nasty things to say about others. After a while it became apparent that these people knew each other.

Last week the postings expanded to over a dozen a day Ė these kids were taking over my web page and saying terrible things. So I read through the posts, figured out where they were, and built them their own page so they would get off the "Have a Nice Day" page. At the time I built the BMS page, they had entered over 60 posts. I thought that removing the shield of anonymity and exposing them would change the tenor of their posts. It did not. And things escalated quickly ... to say the least.

Now look where we are. I happened to have a canvas, and I am being castigated and threatened for the graffiti that your children placed on it. This situation is like bad wiring sparking inside the walls. I only tore away the plaster to reveal the problem before the fire started. It should be painfully clear to everyone that there has been a real problem brewing at BMS.

Now for the ugly truth. This morning, my web hosting company called me and informed me that someone had called and demanded that it shut my site down. They refused. About that time a cryptic message saying "goodbye" was posted on the page. I posted a note that we were still here. The next post was my name, address and telephone number (obviously from a whois search), apparently intended to show that they knew who I was. I use a pseudonym for fun. I have never attempted to hide my identity. Finally, on the "Have a Nice Day" page, someone posted, "You better clear these two school links from this site. You are creating problems we don't need. Is it going to be neccessary (sic) to persue (sic) this further?" That, people, sounds like a threat.

Interestingly, not one single person from Belen e-mailed me about the site. Not one. No, only anonymous posts, attempts to shut down the server, and inflated news stories.  Knee-jerk reactionaries?  Absolutely.  And you wonder why your children say terrible things about others in an anonymous forum?

Your attempt to shoot the messenger will not resolve the issues here. There are literally millions of places these posts could be placed. My web site is not the issue, it was just the site on which BMS students chose to place their comments. The issue is the underlying malaise that seems to have taken hold of your community and turned you upside down.

Again, THEY CAME TO MY SITE. I did not invite them. They made those posts, they said those things. Then, I exposed them, and here we are.

Treat the disease, not the symptom. GO TO THE SOURCE: your kids. I did not create a monster, I only brought it to light. If you do not like the page, you can block it in nearly any browser. You can check the history file to see if it has been accessed (Hint: if the history is blank, then your kids have been there and deleted the history file. Simple.). You have a duty to monitor the behavior of your kids anyway. Take the reins here. This is a unique opportunity to find and distinguish the hotspots ... issues that need resolution.

If you cannot keep your kids off this rather innocuous site, think about all the real obscene junk that is out there that they may be viewing. Think about the sites that preach hatred and intolerance. What are they viewing? Do you know? Think about what you can do to keep your kids off of them.

As for students at BMS: I understand you probably got caught up in the rancor. It appears these events have taught you something. Please try to use what you have learned. I have seen all the web sites about you and you seem like good people. Try to live that way.

In short, I will not remove the BMS and LLMS pages. I will fight for free speech because I live by it, and especially because it is someone elseís speech at issue. And, kids, if you continue your rampant nasty postings, remember, your posts are never private on the internet Ė itís a public forum. Itís up to you.

As to parents and teachers: I exposed your BMS students as the people posting these ugly missives, and they know it, and that is the only reason you know about it. You should have known about it, but you didnít. Read the recent posts. They are realizing what was happening. Just tonight students and a teacher were engaged in a lively conversation in the chat room. Thatís what this site was for. It can continue to be that way, but there is nothing more I will do about it. Itís up to you.

This is an issue for you to resolve. Go to it. Talking to your kids will do a lot more good than threatening me.


T.C. Johnston, Esq., LL.M.
aka Skeeky Webo, Jr.

Posted: 3/20/01