The stalkers: Nina Alter has obsessed about me since 2007; Ben Burch has begun this year. They take action toward me regularly, and repeatedly. Ben Burch (Achaeoptaryx and other usernames) and Nina Alter (Ninavizz and other usernames) have used multiple identities on various websites to harass, intimidate, impersonate and otherwise stalk me. Unfortunately 2008 is too soon for online stalking to be understood in American courts as a serious threat and psychological means of terrorizing a woman.
Yesterday I woke up to an email in my inbox from a total stranger telling me that the man I tried to get a restraining order against last week had — Ben Burch — uploaded and linked to police reports I made based on his activities, which contained unredacted my phone number, address, California driver’s license number and all my personal information on the reports linked to from Wikipedia as downloadable .pdfs — in addition to chatting about finding my Social Security number. Those reports with my private information*** were then copied onto the Wikipedia page about me. However, when he linked to the *one* document pertaining to the request for hearing that contained his personal information (the notice of my filing for a restraining order) he did indeed redact his own personal information such as his address.
I am not safe. In many ways. Thank you Wikipedia.
*** There are still live links to download the files, but the content was removed from RapidShare after a friendly letter from my lawyer. I don’t know why the links are still on Wikipedia, nor how long the files were available for download.
Unlike Ben Burch claims, there was no lawsuit. It was a hearing only. I requested a restraining order and had a hearing; the judge denied my request, without prejudice (a dismissal that allows for re-filing in the future). Importantly, Burch was not at the hearing. Anyone wonder why I wanted to get a restraining order against this guy? A lot of people do. Valleywag made it look like I was simply trying to “silence Wikipedia critics” and the man harassing me claimed I was trying to curb his first amendment rights to “tell the truth”. As for silencing critics, I have MANY and I’ve never tried to “silence” any of them, I have simply, openly disagreed with them. And for being a critic, he can get in the line that begins at Focus on the Family (who has worked on more than one occasion to ban my books). I have all kinds of critics — and I believe in a robust First Amendment. So please do opine away about how I’m a pile of shit on the floor if you feel the need. I had very good reasons for trying to create a paper trail by requesting a TRO:
On May 21 2008, I got this email:
from Ben Burch
cc WN2-LIST 2
date Wed, May 21, 2008 at 3:15 PM
subject Cease and Desist
To the third-rate author, Violet Blue;
Look, I know you must absolutely loathe sex workers, but if you do NOT lay off poor Violet Blue, the porn star, I will absolutely see to it that the world is reminded about how you abused the legal process against a struggling single mother between now and the end of my time on this planet.
NOBODY confused the two of you.
She does porn films.
You give bad sex advice.
Its that simple.
EXPECT to hear a lot more from me and people I motivate to advocate against you unless you desist in this effort to harm this woman.
Because there is NOTHING “sex positive” or even “human positive” about you.
I had no idea who this guy was, but he was clearly threatening me in regard to my trademark lawsuit, and was going to come after me literally “between now and the end of my time on this planet.” Now, I get awful emails every now and then, but this one scared me. But rather than engage or provoke, I just didn’t do or say anything. And then, he started his weekly, daily and sometimes hourly work on the Wikipedia page — and the talk page — about me. I don’t have a Wikipedia account and I’ve never used it as an editor. So I didn’t know what to do. Especially when he actively took action with false and untrue things like this example:
Burch (re)inserts at Wikipedia on May 29 at 16:43: “Blue is reported in court documents to have complained; “I am appalled that I am being confused with a whore, and that anybody would consider that I was so vile as to have sex for pay.”
The “citation” is a fake court document (a “transcript of proceedings”) as the purported “source” reference did not exist: “Transcript of proceedings re: .Violet Blue v. Ada Mae Johnson’ pp 5”
The original insert was from an anonymous IP. When a Wikipedia editor removed it, Burch reinserted it, and argued for it to remain.
What an interesting tactic, if one might imagine a tactic like this: insert your agenda/lie via an anonymous IP, use an established account to back it up and keep it open to discussion as if it could be truth and keep it on the Wiki page, then finally relent and let others convince you it should come down. Or, it stays up if no one notices. Then the established account still looks credible, but the system’s been used carefully enough to push the POV-pushing, or agenda. Which should work great, unless you forget to log out of your accounts and accidentally edit both accounts at once. I’ll bet something like that would get awfully confusing, no matter how much time a girl or guy had on their hands to sit around and try to destroy someone on a highly public, easily exploitable site like Wikipedia. Just a hypothesis.
“Okay, I know that Morven cautioned us against throwing
around sock accusations, but BenBurch, is this your IP? What’s with
the edit putting in information that you know was not okay and then
reverted yourself with your main account? –Chunky Rice (talk) 23:53, 8
July 2008 (UTC)”
Also, fyi Burch’s statement on the same page that Johnson is a “single mother whose only income was from her web site” is interesting. Is this statement true? I mean, I know porn performers love to do movies and appearances and HBO shows for free. On the Wiki talk page, and on the Wikpedia page about me, Burch did everything he could to undermine my credibility. He viciously attacked anyone who defended my work, my character, credibility, or anyone who disputed Burch’s “facts” — most especially he had fun viciously attacking my boyfriend (who incidentally was consistently open about his relationship to me and made few actual edits to the Wikipedia page about me, opposed to Burch’s frightening amount of activity).
Again, Valleywag presented this as a Wikipedia issue, but for the restraining order request, Wikipedia was but a piece of the picture — and Wikipedia editors and admin were notified about the threatening email and personal info links. I only received a response from Wikipedia 5 hours ago, simply telling me the links were dead and asked if I knew where else there might be links to the information. When the BoingBoing “unpublishing” happened, it became a new bullhorn to spend his copious time harassing me personally, and there were many statements made at BoingBoing by Burch as himself and as the screen name “Archaeopteryx“. Of course, BoingBoing allowed all the character attacks on me to remain, as it fit their agenda. For example, on July 2nd he writes: “Its also really clear that her reason [for bringing the lawsuit against Ada Johnson] was not because of any real confusion between the two, but because she could not stand the thought of being thought a *gasp* whore.” (Ital and bold from comment).
Oh, the truth I’m trying to hide. Burch also edited the Wikipedia page to state that I live in Berkeley. Of course, I do not. He also fought to have my photo removed. He also kept trying to insist/insert that I have other names (and birthdates), but then later admits that his sources are “whitepages.com” and that he found “other cities for the name, too.” Here, Burch admits after the fact that he has unreliable information and that his statements in comments (at BoingBoing, as “Archaeopteryx”) that he “heard” I got Amanda Congdon fired was “speculation”.
I am a public figure. People write unflattering shit about me every day of my life. Big fucking deal, I’m used to it. This ain’t a libel or first amendment case; it’s a creepy guy harassing a woman online. Again, get in line, haters. He can call me a poopoohead on his own blog all day long, like I could give a shit. I find it especially interesting that Burch has said he “consult[s] on news stories and legal matters with [AVN] Editor Mark Kernes via email on an almost daily basis.” Kernes, who has written a couple one-sided hit pieces about me in regard to my trademark suit. So, did Burch “help” with those articles, too? Articles, which I may gently suggest, were possibly not fact checked as much as they should have been — and which Burch consistently cites (like check this one out) on the Wiki page about me. Burch claims over and over on Wikipedia that he has no conflict of interest (COI) in regard to me.
That Burch threatened me personally, privately scared me, (and followed through with his threats) he has stated his sources for his “facts” are unreliable, and has embarked on a continuous, repeated course of conduct daily and sometimes hourly directed to hurt me, in public places he knew I would see (such as the Wikipedia page about me) — I didn’t know what else to do. Wikpedia did nothing. I followed all the rules, and so did my boyfriend, who stayed civil on the talk page regardless of Burch’s and Ninavizz’s attacks and those of her sockpuppet. BoingBoing did, you know, what they did. Meanwhile, Burch had emails sent to the SRL mailing list with all kinds of crazy statements in them, like that I’d served him with domestic violence papers, that I said every sockpuppet on Wikipedia was him… I think we’re all getting the picture here. Nina Alter has a role here, not insignificant.
When this happens to women offline, we make police reports and try to get restraining orders. This is about a pattern of behavior, based on a clear attack (the initial email) and has gone on to be fairly consistent over a long period of time. And has shown patterns of intentional deception.
I wanted to create a paper trail in case something *does* happen. Now that my private information has been made public, I’m at serious risk. It took Wikipedia over 24 hours to respond. They’re a lot like the original officer I dealt with at the SFPD. I told him explicitly that I was *afraid* of Burch, that I did not want my phone number, address or any other information vieweable in the report to Burch because I had no idea what he’d do with it and I was *scared*. The officer did the exact opposite, and completely misquoted me saying I was more worried about my reputation than my safety (and got shit wrong like saying Wikipedia was my own personal website and that my hair is red) — which is why there are TWO police reports. I freaked out in fear when I saw the fuckups on the police report, but it was too late. But attaching a corrected statement and report is the only way to try and fix such dangerous mistakes. Though you won’t see my true, corrected police statement quoted or emphasized in Burch’s must-destroy-the-evil-Violet manifesto. Just the incorrect one that supports his arguments.
Now, here’s the deal with my trademark suit. You can read all the facts and the evidence from Federal court proceedings in the judge’s opinion for the Preliminary Injunction here. Please do read the NOLO post — sums it all up in regard to trademarking names — in Can You Trademark Your Name? I’d only dovetail Stim’s sex advice statement with these three links.
In the response to my filing for a temporary restraining order against Burch, one of his responses was that he would apologize if I showed the world my birth certificate. Given what he did yesterday, this is really a scary thought — as if to say, I’ll come after you forever until you give me all your privacy, and as much power over your identity as a human being can have.
My name is Violet Blue. As I have proven, provided evidence, and provided plentiful witness testimony (and have had legally acknowledged) to and by the US Patent and Trademark Office and the Federal Court of the 9th Circuit, I have been using my name Violet Blue related to the goods and services of my brand, “(…) since 1999, plaintiff has regularly published articles on the Internet about human sexuality, erotica, and pornography. (…) On March 4, 2008, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office registered “Violet Blue” as a trademark and recognized that plaintiff first used her name in commerce on May 1, 1999)”. I have been a sex columnist and sex website editor from 1999-onward, and used my name in commerce since as early as 1996. Also the Court found and stated that, “Plaintiff, for instance, has pointed to evidence showing that she began using her name as a “machine and robotics artist” as early as 1996 up through 1999, appearing in various events and productions in the United States and elsewhere. See Blue Decl. at ¶¶ 4-6; Blue Decl. exs. A-D. More importantly, plaintiff has put forth evidence demonstrating that her career as a writer in the fields of human sexuality, erotica, and pornography began in May 1999, when she published her first online article, and continued to May 2000, when she began writing bi-weekly online columns.” Incidentally, Johnson’s “Violetta Blue” Wikpedia page states that “Johnson eventually began appearing in pornographic films as “Violet Blue”, beginning with “SMUT 14″ released in October, 1999”. I have a copy of that film. It’s VHS. It is not Johnson in the film, but a Latina performer named Violet Love.
For those of you out there whom I keep hearing about hitting up my friends for personal information about me and my name, here is my passport, and whoever told Vale (who forwards the Burch emails to the SRL list — where Nina Alter actively altered the website to remove my name and contributions, and started rumors that I harmed individuals there) there is a name other than Violet Blue on my Cal ID is full of shit. Do I really need to put these scans online, too? But I’m sure the attacks will never, ever stop. The two people I tried to get TRO’s on actually claim I like this kind of attention. When tabloids step in and call me an attention whore, suddenly it looks a little grayer because I do in fact like to wear short skirts. I do not want what these people have done, nor do I deserve it. What’s important for you to know is that I think these people are bonkers.
It’s clear I have at least two full-time trolls (who have teamed up nicely), that Wikipedia is BROKEN, and that I am now physically unsafe after having my privatest information posted and made accessible for all to see. It’s also clear that there’s no such thing as a stay-away restraining order for the Internet that doesn’t conflict with First Amendment rights — and I don’t want to be the test case for this, but there WILL be one, as the Internet is a text-based economy.
I saw Batman last night. I’m reminded of this exchange:
Alfred Pennyworth: When I was in Burma, a long time ago, my friends and I were working for the local Government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders, bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. We were asked to take care of the problem, so we started looking for the stones. But after six months, we couldn’t find anyone who had traded with him. One day I found a child playing with a ruby as big as a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing the stones away.
Bruce Wayne: Then why steal them?
Alfred Pennyworth: Because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.
More like, some people just want to hurt other people.
But the best line for me is, “Wanna know how I got these scars?”
I liked The Joker a lot. He believed that people are bad, inside. He also knew that (like Batman can’t exist without The Joker) that people are actually good, inside. The truth he expressed was that people — we — don’t actually know if we are good or bad, slippery slope of madness’ gravity and all.
And right now, I feel like if someone finds my house via Wikipedia and sticks a shotgun in my mouth and pulls the trigger, I’m sure it’ll make for a very entertaining read on Valleywag described jovially as the last minute in my 15 from their “drama-seeking attention whore” of the month club.
So, who wants to buy a 100% silicone LOLBenBurchvizzapeida Nina Alter stalker Ben Burch troll stress relief squeezy doll (with all proceeds going to sex worker health organizations)? I’m thinking that’s gonna be my new craft line, since people seem to think this whole sex educator thing is turning into such a sideline.
Update Thursday, August 21: In response to this wonderful SF Weekly piece suggesting that I sought restraining orders on Ben Burch and NIna Eleanor Alter because I was afraid of the public finding out my *weight* and not my *driver’s license number, phone number, etc.*, read on — the very valid, SFPD recommended reasons I sought to get a TRO (temporary restraining order) on Alter in addition to Burch. This harassment has been going on since May 2007. I did not get the restraining order — it was denied without explanation. I have no real understanding of the reasoning behind the judge’s decision (since no reasoning is stated), other than to assume that we were unable to meet the “clear and convincing” standard of evidence coupled with the fact that cyberharassment is still quite new. But thanks to the judge I can re-file at any time and that gives me comfort.
This is the SF Weekly quote I want to respond to: “[Nina] Alter, who denied ever harassing the sex writer, called Blue’s attempt to obtain a court order against her “a total bullshit abuse of the legal system.””
I’d been talking to the SFPD since at least August ’07 (when there was a spike in her activity) about the ongoing harassment. Each time, they told me to make a report. I just hoped it would stop and waited, but it didn’t — I’d hear from friends that they’d run into her at a cafe and she’d go on an unprompted rant at them about how I was ‘out to get her’. (Of course they told me about it.) This July, she used the Boing Boing “unpublishing” issue as a platform to make statements about me (and teamed up with Burch on Boing Boing and Wikipedia) and admitted to sock-puppeteering as far back as 2007 to attack me (meaning, when someone makes accounts to hide their identity while editing a page that is supposed to contain facts about a person). This new set of attacks went further, she was emboldened, and it freaked me out; it made me talk to the police again, finally make a report, and the police *told me to* get a restraining order. In the report itself, their recommendation for a restraining order is strongly worded. I did what the SFPD said to do after a year and a half of hoping it would just go away; this was not “bullshit abuse” (on my part, anyway). I gave the SFPD a thick printed file of evidence, and a timeline, with screenshots from various websites. Yes — I have a folder for her harassment and I just keep updating it. It was clear that she wasn’t going to leave me alone, as I’d been hoping she would — since May ’07.
As we can see, my fears re: Burch were valid. And to have the police tell me — and write in the report that I should get a stay-away order on Alter is a fact. Her harassment was online — and offline as well (which she admitted to in her court docs, such as asking people about the contents of / items in my house). My friends were blocking her on Flickr and Twitter long before her Boing Boing outbursts (where bizarrely she accused me of stealing images). In her rebuttal to my request for a TRO — a public Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco document, btw — she said her overall reasoning for her ongoing pattern of behavior was to participate on the side of Boing Boing. She stated that I show “displays of enjoyment” from this type of attention; she said her personal friendships with Xeni Jardin and David Pescovitz made her feel compelled to post what she did — to me, the posts were just part of an ongoing pattern of behavior. (I don’t remember them being personal friends when I was “in” SRL, but whatever.) In the court documents, her evidence for my “enjoyment” of the negative attention she directly participated in, were links to the first LA Times article about that BB thing, the first post on my blog that said I’d been removed from BB, a Valleywag post about my former relationship with Xeni, the “That Violet Blue Thing” post, her own blog where she said the time was “right” for her to “own” being a public member and the only one willing to “come forward” as one of the “hallowed ‘Survivors of Violet Blue Club”. Yeah, that’s clear enjoyment on my part. Say what?
She also stated that she had endured a “year of slanderous allegations” from me. I truly wonder what she’s talking about. She provided one printout as evidence — my March 2008 SXSW privacy panel post where I referred in text to a “Ms. Ninapedia”. On the actual panel, I briefly discussed the methods cyberbullies use to undermine Wikipedia to attack, harass and cause distress to living persons by using sockpuppets. Interestingly, March ’08 is when she deleted / edited a Wikipedia sockpuppet account (created August 17, 2007). She also claimed in her docs to have pleaded with people on the SRL list to get me to engage with her in “verbal dialogue” and “mediation” — I was never contacted in this or any manner, nor do I want *any* contact with Alter at all. That’s the point of the TRO request. It is saying *leave me alone* (and you scare me) as loud as I can shout, legally.
Her evidence presented in court: she slapped down in front of me on the table a freakishly thick stack of pictures of me she’d printed out from the Internet. It was the creepiest Single White Female moment of my life. She’d probably gone through every photo stream and album online she could find, to find every photo of me with a weapon. Included was this gallery, and on the top of the stack was this photo (ironically, one of Scott’s favorites). She told the court that I was a violent person and that I looked for trouble. My lawyer told the court that I was a pinup model, and this was simply examples of my work.
You know, a woman who poses with weapons obviously deserves (and enjoys) the trouble she’s looking for — she’s just asking for it. Or to put the reasoning more precisely — because I won’t portray myself as a victim, I should be punished.
When she came to the hearing, she submitted another stack of papers as evidence: printouts of email threads from the SRL email list, which seemed odd in contrast to this item in her summary court response of facts and reasons that there should be no TRO issued:
“The internal email list, as with most internal email lists in private organizations, did have the one caveat that all matters discussed in that forum remain private- and this caveat is made known to participants when they ‘subscribe’ to the list. For having broken this important rule of conduct, and for other reasons I am unaware of, Ms. Blue was removed from the organization- and this caused Ms. Blue significant personal distress.”
(She means this post. And in case you’re wondering about the post title or my role in the show, I did not run a machine that could have, or had anything to do with what started, or had anything to do with the fire. I don’t know how it started except to look at pictures and guess; the non-flaming machine I operated passed the ball, which was useless to me, and went way across to the other side of the parking lot to get stuck in the wooden house where I spent the rest of the show trying to get it free. It’s easily seen in this video from the show. I’m visible at around 5:34 into it, looking at something to the right of frame (“Running Machine”), then looking to the left briefly as the “Satan Head” machine slams the fireball, then I walk off to the right away from that area around 5:44, chasing the Running Machine. That was in May ’07. The acrimony — such as the Wikipedia SRL attacks — spiked in August ’07, which seems to be the time of the BB “unpublishing”. Makes me wonder.)
What’s her deal with me? Well, in my opinion I think she wanted me out of SRL (tall poppy syndrome) and I think she probably deceived humans in real life, and also Wikipedia to do it — my guess is that she used Wikipedia to “make it fact” and attacked (or emotionally persuaded) anyone who disagreed. When I asked Mark Pauline last August at the shop about what was going on he told me (and not just me), “You know, you got successful. Some people get jealous.” When I asked him why I (and others who sided with me) were taken off the SRL crew list he told us that he never told anyone to take us off the list. He also said I wasn’t “kicked out” of SRL — his words were, “You *know* it doesn’t work that way. You can’t get kicked out. Look at [redacted].” He told me to come help move the shop after the September Robodock show, when things cooled off. And then my ex-husband / best friend was majorly injured, and then I decided that an SRL with Nina in it, with the shock of what happened to Todd, was too much to deal with. Regardless, I’ve been off the list for well over a year, so when things go on that list that attack me (which they apparently seem to quite a bit), I’m not there to defend myself — and I don’t know who is on that list. I still have friends on that list, that’s for sure. But I definitely don’t want back in.
This is from my TRO request:
a. Date of most recent harassment: July 6, 2008
b. Who was there? As further described below, the harassment has been on-line at a number of popular websites including boingboing.com, wikipedia.org, Flickr.com, on her personal blog available at kickingpebbles.net, and through emails sent to non-private email lists such as the Survival Research Lab’s “Crew” list. This means that the public, generally, and the entire community receiving Ms. Alter’s emails have been “present” and can view and read in the defamatory and harassing statements.
c. Did the person in (2) commit any acts of violence or threaten to commit any acts of violence against you? Yes.
Description: Please see the police report for case report number 080 695 869 filed on July 3, 2008 with the San Francisco Police Department. Ms. Alter has over at least the last 12 months, harassed Ms. Blue through postings on numerous blogs and websites, including at www.kickingpebbles.net (Ms. Alter’s personal blog), www.boingboing.net (through comments to recent posts), www.wikipedia.org (through additions and alterations to factual information at the Wikipedia page for “Violet Blue (author)”, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violet_Blue_%28author%29). Her postings and statements are largely made up of false statements of fact regarding Ms. Blue. In addition, she has sent harassing emails to a public “Crew” email list (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the Survival Research Laboratories (an arts organization where Ms. Blue and Ms. Alter first met) in which she furthers her harassment and has made veiled threats against Ms. Blue’s person and personal property. For example, as recently as March 17, 2008, Ms. Alter attacked Ms. Blue with unsubstantiated and false statements that Ms. Blue had “defamed” Ms. Alter, and included a reference to harming Ms. Blue and/or her car*** through the use of a “pipe bender” (a type of crow bar). Her statement enlists the help of “[redacted],” a reference to a neighbor ([redacted]) living in Ms. Blue’s San Francisco neighborhood. Taken in context of other directed activities of Ms. Alter, Ms. Blue understands this reference to a “pipe bender” to be a direct threat to her personal safety.
d. Did the person in (2) engage in a course of conduct that harassed you and caused substantial emotional distress? Yes.
Description: Through statements made on her blog (www.kickingpebbles.net), through commenting on other blogs (www.boingboing.net, through additions and alterations to factual statements at on-line wiki pages (e.g., at (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violet_Blue_%28author%29), and through a series of email messages sent to a public group of email participants at the Survival Research Laboratories (an arts organization where Ms. Blue and Ms. Alter met), Ms. Alter has engaged in a course of conduct that has harassed Ms. Blue and caused her substantial emotional distress. She has followed Ms. Blue on-line, she has made numerous untrue statements about her in public on-line forums, and made veiled threats against Ms. Blue’s person and/or personal property. Her actions have also involved friends of Ms. Blue. For example, Ms. Alter has approached and harassed friends of Ms. Blue through on-line social networking sites requiring these friends to “block” Ms. Alter from further contacting them via those sites. Ms. Alter’s conduct amounts to stalking, veiled physical threats to her person and her personal property, following her on-line, and causing serious alarm and annoyance.
The conduct stated in this Request is further described in detail in a police report filed on July 3, 2008, with the San Francisco Police Department, see report number [redacted]. That report recounts the numerous points at which Ms. Alter has harassed Ms. Blue. Once the report is available from SFPD, Ms. Blue will file a copy with this Court.
CH 100 – Item #9 – Others to Be Protected
CH 100 – Item No. 12 – Temporary Orders.
12. Temporary Orders.
Do you want the court to make orders now on the matters listed in (7), through (11) that will last until the hearing? Yes.
Explanation: The conduct of Ms. Alter has escalated in recent months, and especially in the last several days. Her most recent statements make clear that she will continue to harass, stalk, threaten and annoy Ms. Blue unless a temporary order is entered. For example, in the past 3 days, Ms. Alter has made postings to several internet websites, as follows:
Date Site (url)
April 7, 2008 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/Ninavizz
*** My car has been vandalized twice since this all started, with interesting timing. In one of the SRL emails after I was offlist, she mentioned something about having my car taken away.