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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

FreeDUMB of Speech?

censorship

Something was recently brought to my attention that I really thought should be shared with my readers/lovers/fellow bloggers. Something that I found to be quite disturbing. No, it has nothing to do with blog contest nominations, or killer whales THAT KILL, or even the "I am a motherfucker!" bus brawl. Nope, it has to do with a certain criticism that has resulted in quite the internet mess for a certain blogger.

This all started back in the middle of January when Dangerous Jamie posted a critical piece on a UK Horror magazine over at his blog, Let’s Get Dangerous. The post was titled An Open Letter to Gorezone Magazine and was just that, an open letter to the editors of the Gorezone, stating what issues he took with the magazine in question.

This open letter has spawned something of an internet frenzy for Jamie and his blog, mainly because he and his blog have been attacked for his critical comments. There are 176 (and counting…) comments on the post in question, many of which are filled with hateful remarks towards Jamie, his blog and his defenders. Remarks that are filled with violent threats, insults about weight and appearance, homophobia and ill wishes for Jamie’s physical wellbeing. You know, nice things.

Now, I have read the piece and being that I read many reviews and criticism of books, movies, etc…as well as write critical reviews of movies myself, his open letter was anything but a viscous attack on the magazine. He pointed out that there were a lot of grammatical errors to be found in each issue, and he questioned the magazine’s content choices as well as it’s depiction of women. In my very reasonable opinion, he did this in a completely respectable fashion, pointing out some positive aspects of the mag as well.

I have read the magazine in the past, but only a few times, so to be fair, I cannot say whether or not Jamie’s criticisms are true. But what is true, is it’s Jamie’s criticism, his opinion, and he is completely allowed to have an opinion as do you and I. That is where things get a lot sketchier and quite shocking.

Unless Jamie takes down the post, Gorezone has threatened legal action, claiming that his constructive criticism was slanderous and a defamation of character. They are also threatening copy right infringement for his use of a photo that he had in the post, a photo that he found on Google (but has since removed) and is legal to use in the context of a review. Now, this is UK law, so it’s obviously not the same as America, but considering that Gorezone is a horror movie magazine that partakes in critical reviews and are going after someone over a negative review, is a little disheartening.

This is where my big issue comes from. First of all, the thought that someone is being attacked for having an opinion is unacceptable, especially when that opinion is a fair one and not given in a hateful tone. Second, someone be bullied for their opinion is incredibly cowardly and if Shock Till You Drop did the same thing as Let’s Get Dangerous, would this be happening? Hell. No. Gorezone is using threats to force someone to remove their fair opinion, threats that have absolutely no ground. They cannot sue him. If they did, they sure as hell wouldn’t win.

They don’t want to go to court. That's why they’re threatening him, they want to scare him into removing the post. As a blogger, the thought that anyone would try and censor me, is a thought that shouldn’t be. And heaven forbid anyone ever try to. Using clout and false power to push around the little guy is flat out unfathomable as well as a form of bullying. This would be like the filmmakers behind Automation Transfusion threatening me because I trashed their movie, and that thought is sickening.

Besides the legal threats, Jamie claims that 15 of the commenters that left the crude and hate filled remarks on his post are from the same IP address. An address that links back to Gorezone. It’s very easy to track back IP addresses, I have yours right now, so this is something that could very well be true. Still, this is Jamie’s claim, not fact, but it is something that could easily be proven if need be.

What is fact, though, is that one of the administrators at GZ’s forums has not one, but two sticky posts that pertain to this particular subject matter. These posts are very misleading and state that the “blogger” attacked Gorezone, it’s staff and it’s readers. Something that would only be intended to rile up GZ fans indirectly, by playing the victim role. There is even someone that has gone on the GZ forums claiming to be Jamie and has made negative remarks, thus stirring the pot even more.

Why is Gorezone so offended by one blogger’s thoughts? I have no clue, but what they are doing is wrong in so many ways and they are doing nothing but hurting their reputation by treating a horror fan and a budding critic the way they are. I have no ill will or any issue with Gorezone the magazine, or anyone involved, but I do take issue with how they are handling such a situation. From an outsider's perspective, they are clearly in the wrong.

I know this post is a bit long, but I think this is something that's important to everyone of us for a variety of reasons, thus my reason for sharing. I encourage you to read the post, some of the comments, and the GZ forum posts. I have shared my opinion, and now I ask you: Is Jamie’s post deserving of threatened legal action?

31 comments:

  1. Gorezone is so wrong in this case, it makes me angry.
    Jamie just stated what he felt the magazine was doing wrong, not unlike any other reader would do in a magazine`s letterpage. I read alot of magazines, both music and movies and if they have a reader letters page, they allow people to criticize them.
    Utter bullshit in my opinion, from a clearly unserious publisher!

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  2. Jaime should sue Gorezone for harrassment, bullying and stress.
    I for one shall never buy that disgusting rag again - a poor excuse for a horror magazine.

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  3. I am no lawyer (but I play one on TV), but I do not think that a blogger could be sued for a critical reaction to magazine - hell if that were the case, Rob Zombie would have sued my ass by now. It would be up to the magazine to prove that his criticisms were personal or threatening attacks on certain people attached to the magazine - but even that might be a long shot. I'd love to hear what someone with some legal expertise has to say about this.

    In the mean time, Jamie should moderate his comment section to weed out the freaks - and furthermore, he should make it clear that what he stated were his opinions only.

    Think about some of the horrid stuff on high profile blogs (Perez Hilton, anyone?) if that jack off can get away with humiliating any one he sets his sites on, then why can't a lowly horror blogger put his two cents in about a third rate rag.

    Matt, you've got me all worked up over this, I feel the need to kick some arse!

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  4. Well said Matt, and way to highlight a great guy getting ridiculously attacked by a publication that's supposed to care about its fanbase.

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  5. i live in the US and have never read Gorezone, nevertheless, i have been aware of its existence and willing to give them a shot if i ran across a copy. reading Jaime's blog about them didn't change my mind about that; GZ's response has however. i wouldn't support a rag that behaves in such a way and i've heard many people who feel the same way. so, really, who is responsible for us not reading their mag?
    side note: i realize my grammer and punctuation kinda sucks, but i'm not writing for a magazine that people pay good money for.

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  6. It's nice to know internet jackassery isn't limited to the USofA.

    If Jaime wants to cut down on hateful posts, it would appear all he'd need to do is have some sort of audio captcha where one must correctly spell a word in order to leave a comment.

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  7. That is appalling. I suppose, if we're looking for an upside, an argument could be made that one blogger's opinion does, in fact, matter. But this is overshadowed by GZ's bullying which, if if true, is so thoroughly unprofessional they should be shut down for conduct unbecoming.

    It reminds me of something that happened a couple of years ago. When Halo 3 came out, a friend of mine gave the game a 7/10 on a popular game review site. The comments section quickly filled up with slander and death threats because the fanboys didn't agree with the reviewer.

    Seems to me like GZ is behaving in much the same way--like a kid with hurt feelings.

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  8. Gorezone is still published? And people still read it? Who'da thought?

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  9. Good piece, Matt. I don't know anything about the situation but I'm interested enough to follow it through a bit. I've picked up the British Gorezone once or twice and never been impressed. And the GZ rep that commented on the kid's site is out of line. Good work.

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  10. Another sad, sad example of a company attempting to bully an independent blogger. I was vaguely familiar with the issue, but thanks for bringing it further attention, Matt. I'm of a mind to suggest that concerned horror fans boycott this magazine until such time as formal restitution be made to the wronged party.

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  11. First off... I live in the U.S. and know little on this subject. With that being said, I believe there is a lot of push towards reforming the slander laws in the UK for this very reason. They are completely insane.

    Basically, if an American wants to sue someone in Russia over something negative published there, all the American would have to do would be to prove that someone from the UK had at some point viewed the material online, and they'd have a good case. As you can imagine this is a major problem for a lot of people.

    If anyone with a more informed opinion can point out how I'm wrong on any of this stuff, please do.

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  12. I didn't even know Gorezone was still around. I always hated that rag--now more so. This is all so ridiculous. Good job standing up for the little guys, Matt!

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  13. Wow, this is insane. Surely they're doing themselves more damage but attacking him.

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  14. What utter bullshit! Maybe we should round up a posse of horror bloggers that would all re-publish the original post on their own blogs. Let's see Gorezone came after us all.

    --J/Metro

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  15. Wow, just wow. Jamie's post and critique isn't anything different than you or I would ever post. I'm simply appalled that a magazine that calls itself 'upmarket' would do something like this. But I find it ironic that a rag that's obviously trying to be elitist but at the same time trying to appeal to the T&A crowd is now trying to strong arm some dude who obviously has a healthy appreciation for the genre and could have become a loyal reader if they actually had put out a quality product. Now their reactions could actually undo them which would be absolutely amazing if one dinky blogger (of which I consider myself to be) could accomplish this. Fight on Jamie!

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  16. Ya it was quite sickening to read some of the comments on that particular post. What really seemed to kick it off was the editor's response to Jamie: "have you got the balls" or something to that effect, like he wanted to pick a fight. Whereas Jamie was just offering constructive critisism. Really weird situation

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  17. I did forget to mention that Jamie claims that Gorezone offered him a free one year subscription to take the post down. He obviously declined, which I give him major props for if his claim is true (and it's hard not to believe him). I so would have sold out and took the free subscription!

    Thanks for all the comments everyone...this is a lot of feedback in a very short amount of time and I'm not really surprised either. This situation is something that I think many of us find to be very offensive, especially when most of us are big fans of the horror genre, a genre that has suffered from censorship across the globe since before I was even born (yikes!). Growing up with the threat of the MPAA ruining the movies I wanted to see, has made my stance on censorship a very strong one and I think it's safe to say that I stand not alone.

    I was honestly hoping for a huge reaction because it's a bullshit situation and the second I heard about it, I knew that others would feel the same way. I would like to point out how often Fango is criticized (especially lately) and they don't go after their internet detractors the way that Gorezone has gone after Jamie and his blog. If they did, they would not be around very long, now would they?

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  18. Unfreakinbelievable...imagine if we wrote an open letter to Fangoria...oh wait I sorta did.

    This too has happened to former writers and staff who bashed Fangoria and they got bombarded by hate in comments, forums, etc.

    But really? A lawsuit? That's ridiculous

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  19. Well, that's decided for me that I'll never read Gorezone. Methinks they dost protest too much. I'm off to support Dangerous Jamie.

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  20. Considering what GZ are doing on their own forums and playing the victim, this seems like a calculated move to boost their public profile. Make their current readers more loyal and grab a few potential readers into the fray. Bad publicity is still publicity and i'm sure a few curious people might of picked up the magazine to see if what Jamie said is true. I really hope Jamie manages to get out of all this and I wish him nothing but positive thoughts. On the other hand I hope the editor GZ nothing but (censored) (expletive deleted) (censored) (wow that was mean) (censored) that and use a wrench.

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  21. Very much agree, Matt. I feel that, no matter the case, every horror blogger needs to stick together. Revel at recognition, console in bad times, that sort of thing. Gorezone would do well to recognize that we're all writing for the same purpose, and if we have differing opinions, all the better for the horror genre for having so much positive criticism.

    For a MAGAZINE to get worked up over a blogger post just shows how fragile their opinions are as a whole. Will not pick this mag up any time soon.

    Thanks for highlighting this atrocious development in the horror community.

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  22. As a blogger AND a magazine publisher (hee hee), I am appalled!! I had heard rumblings of this issue and I thank you for this well laid out, comprehensive breakdown.
    I wish I could peek into the minds of the folks at GZ. Other than the publicity/loyalty angles mentioned above me, I have no clue why they would choose this course of action. It comes across as childish and really cheapens the image they appear to be going for.
    I'm really irked on multiple levels. It's difficult for me to keep a civil tone to my writing...
    I will say this though, Jamie's "open letter" was in no way slanderous. And you could shit all over my magazine and ya know what? I wouldn't give a fuck because I am putting out the product I want to produce; something I am proud of. Maybe they can't say the same... too busy taking pictures of horror "celebs" holding their mag...

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  23. This is terrible! All I have to say is: GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

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  24. gorezone is the courtney love of horror magazines!

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  25. As the person who performed the reverse IP lookup on Jamie's behalf, I am more than willing to back up his claim as to the source of the majority of the negative comments. I think it speaks for itself though that the negative comments dried up as soon as it was pointed out that commenters' IP addresses were being logged and traced.

    A cynical man would also say that it seems suspicious that any posts on the GZ forum pointing out that the Jamie posting inflammatory comments there wasn't the real deal were immediately removed (for being inflammatory, no less) yet the fake Jamie remained.

    If the intention of Gorezone was to prevent negative press harming their sales, I think they've scored a spectacular own goal. Indulging in bullying tactics and portraying their own readers as barely literate, homophobic morons is such a myopic tactic that it almost beggars belief.

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  26. Jamie's post really wasn't that bad. He started out with a compliment and stated his opinions. So what? It's not like he called them a bunch of names and said "you're a twat if you read this magazine".
    Have Ebert & Roeper ever been sued for not liking a movie?
    Some people are overly critical of others opinions... Unfortunately many of them are horrorfans. I see it a lot in podcasting.
    Dudes, we have a bond in genre fandom. Lets not fight, lets band together like brothers and sisters!

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  27. wow! shocking to read Matt. this situation is a bit of a shame since GZ is a mag with an apparent readership (and a rep to maintain) and they can't take a bit of gentle critisism from one of the little guys. I want to read Jamie's post now (and will after this). I think he should keep the post intact (bad/ scary comments and all) as a testimonial to GZ's lack of class and the scary way they do business. getting people to harass and bully a guy stating his opinion is pretty classless and not how a serious publication should conduct itself.

    nice post bro.

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  28. I had no idea about any of these goings ons but that truly is a disgusting abuse of power and false authority to try to censor a legitimate argument. I would only expect any respectable magazine or shit any other media outlet to offer a rebuttal disputing the claims in a likewise fair and respectable manner. You better watch out Matt, this post will come under fire next.

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  29. Sounds whacked! Had no idea there even was a Gorezone mag in existence, but less about any internet uproar. Thanks for putting the spotlight on this, Matt! And even though I'm probably the last person to get around to saying so - I love your new banner!

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  30. Why do people take horror so seriously? what ever happened to opinions? its hard enough being a horror fan & being ridiculed on a reg. basis, now a mag. is going to sue someone & people are wishing bad things on someone? because of a blog? grow up. period

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  31. I've never heard of this magazine, but I think I'll be taking a pass on it if I ever do come across it.

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