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T O P I C
Protest? What Protest?
August 30th 2000, 23:41 CEST by andy

Earlier this year, Penguin published a book called Katie.com, written by American teenager Katherine Tarbox. The book relates her experience of being sexually abused by a man she'd first met in an online chat room.

Unfortunately, the Katie.com web site -- quickly inundated with so much unwanted attention that it had to be taken down -- is owned by a British woman called Katie Jones, who is totally unconnected to the book and also happens to run an online chat service. How's that for a coincidence?



One thing that will have jumped out at you if you followed this story when it broke late last month, is that every news report about it concluded in much the same way: "Pengiun declined to comment." News agencies from the Associated Press to CNN to the BBC were all knocked back by both Pengiun and Katherine Tarbox's publicist, which seemed unusual to say the least.

Inevitably, the message board on Katherine Tarbox's own web site, KatieT.com, became the focus for people who disagreed with what Penguin had done, and soon people were even starting to blame Katherine Tarbox herself -- some of them quite viciously -- for the situation that Katie Jones had found herself in.

Last week, after a month of sustained criticism on the KatieT.com message board, Penguin finally broke its silence and gave a statement to National Public Radio, quoted here from Katie Jones' web site: "We began making plans several weeks ago to include in future printings a note indicating that the book has no connection with the web site which we believe addresses the concerns of Katie Jones."

What appears to have happened here is that pressure from just a few dozen people venting their spleens on a message board has persuaded Penguin to change its mind. The more this story was reported, the more people went to the KatieT.com message board. The more people went to the message board, the more complaints were posted there against Penguin. By not acting, Penguin only made the situation worse.

But big corporations don't like to admit they can be swayed by public protest, do they? Which is possibly why, if you go and look at Katherine Tarbox's message board now, you'll see that all messages since the beginning of August have been removed. The posting facility has also been disabled. Is it just a coincidence that the beginning of August is when Penguin is now claiming to have changed its mind anyway?

The situation now is that, to anyone who hasn't followed the story, it will appear as if Penguin has decided to "do the right thing" of its own accord. People won't know that the decision is a reponse to public pressure.

Penguin's action shows, at the very least, that it's unwise to criticise a company through a medium that the company can influence, censor, and ultimately control. ("They don't have to burn the books, they just remove them.")

Back in June, before the controversy with the Katie.com domain name, a site called Pop Politics interviewed Katherine Tarbox. Already by that time, people were using the guestbook on her web site to post offensive messages of a sexual nature. Katherine told the Pop Politics journalist that she suspected some of the anonymous messages were written by the man who had abused her.

But, according to the reporter, Katherine had made it clear that messages were only deleted in extreme cases: "Katie has only deleted two comments from the guestbook, she says. Both of those were sexually explicit. She also e-mailed at least one participant and asked him to stop defaming her."

If this is true, then isn't it interesting that a victim of sexual abuse will only delete two of the most explicitly offensive messages that were intended to hurt her, but the second-largest English language publisher will delete hundreds of messages from people who are simply expressing their opinion?

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#1 by "Andy"
2000-08-30 23:42:44
andy@planetcrap.com http://www.meejahor.com/
There's another interesting 'twist' to this story but I'll wait a while before throwing that one in because it goes off on a tangent.

And FYI, my own web site has an interview with <a href="http://www.meejahor.com/article.phtml?id=5">Katie Jones</a> that also provides some more background info, for those who don't feel like trawling the news sites.
#2 by "Ian"
2000-08-30 23:43:15
Damn you Andy, stealing the first!<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#3 by "Dethstryk"
2000-08-30 23:46:33
dethstryk@damagegaming.com http://www.damagegaming.com/
I want to comment, but.. I just can't think of much.


--
Dethstryk
Damage Gaming
#4 by "Tom Cleghorn"
2000-08-30 23:48:53
tc10@spamBgonest-andrews.ac.uk http://www.fisty.com/~tom/
I've been curious about this one from the moment it first appeared in the news... my understanding has been that the title 'katie.com' was chosen by Penguin - not by the author. It just sticks in my craw somewhat that the publisher is choosing such a major part of the work - surely it ought to have been the author's choice anyway?
Ah well. Big business for ya :)
#5 by "Tom Cleghorn"
2000-08-30 23:50:27
tc10@spamBgonest-andrews.ac.uk http://www.fisty.com/~tom/
Hostname fans: it <i>is</i> me :)
#6 by "asspennies"
2000-08-30 23:52:52
asspennies@coredump.org http://www.coredump.org
<quote>If this is true, then isn't it interesting that a victim of sexual abuse will only delete two of the most explicitly offensive messages that were intended to hurt her, but the second-largest English language publisher will delete hundreds of messages from people who are simply expressing their opinion?</quote>

I think it's simply the nature of the two people.  The one, Katherine Tarbox, is clearly less phased by some of the more nasty or sexual comments - she did get herself into that unfortunate sitatuion, and frankly, you don't get yourself into sitations like that unless you're pretty tolerant of some dirty talk.

The other Katie, however, is more your straight-edge type person, it would seem, and wants to have her site as clean as possible.

I don't think this is an affront to freedom or anything like that.  It's just how the two people choose to run their site differently.  Hardly cause for concern.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#7 by "Andy"
2000-08-30 23:54:45
andy@planetcrap.com http://www.meejahor.com/
<b>#4</b>, Tom Cleghorn:
<QUOTE>
I've been curious about this one from the moment it first appeared in the news... my understanding has been that the title 'katie.com' was chosen by Penguin - not by the author.
</QUOTE>
The book was originally going to be called Girl.com but there's a porn site at that address, so Penguin changed the name of the book to Katie.com.
#8 by "asspennies"
2000-08-30 23:55:40
asspennies@coredump.org http://www.coredump.org
<b>#6</b> "asspennies" wrote...
<QUOTE>
The other Katie, however, is more your straight-edge type person, it would seem, and wants to have her site as clean as possible.

I don't think this is an affront to freedom or anything like that. It's just how the two people choose to run their site differently. Hardly cause for concern.</QUOTE>

Hmm, ignore this part of my message, I didn't read the topic as clearly as I thought.  It's been a long day...<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#9 by "Ian"
2000-08-30 23:56:59
<b>#Main Post</b> "andy" wrote...
<QUOTE>
If this is true, then isn't it interesting that a victim of sexual abuse will only delete two of the most explicitly offensive messages that were intended to hurt her, but the second-largest English language publisher will delete hundreds of messages from people who are simply expressing their opinion?</QUOTE>

Not particularly. I believe that despite what Seth would have you believe, poorly worded insults and sexual threats on message boards are less damaging than a well written, intelligent and factually correct dissertation. However, I have trouble seeing the problem here. Either Penguin, or the author herself decided that instead of coming up with an interesting title such as <i>How to Be an Idiot with Regards to Cyberspace</i>, they would take the sloth's way out and add a dot-com to the end of their name, something all to common in today's business world. Obviously, they didn't think things through, but as the parable goes, "Let He who is without sin cast the first stone." The smart thing to do now is not to put a small disclaimer on the inside cover of the book, but obviously, to buy the domain name "Katie.com". In a similar case earlier in Cyber-History, a company bought Eve.com (or the like) from a little girl (Named Eve. Duh.) for $10,000, free e-mail at Eve.com, and (I believe) a section of the web-site to put up whatever she liked. Why not do the same here? Because most publishers are idiots. If they had any brains, they'd be writing the books, not just creating unimaginative titles for them.

This, to me, seems like a non-story. The most surprisign element to me is the fact that CNN and the AP actually reported on the fact that a book had the same title as a web page. Similar non-stories include the whole survivor.com thing.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#10 by "PiRaMidA"
2000-08-30 23:57:13
piramida@agsm.net http://www.agsm.net
Maybe I don't understand something, but what is so special about that Kathie? Is the problem in that the book featured some other website addy which led to that other website closing down?

It is somewhat similar to the situation I have now, when my email address somehow got into an indian "get job in USA quick" newspaper or book - I now get 5 resumes per day, all written in english much worse than mine, following the same template, and surely all of absolutely no use to me. I can't get my email off that list and I can't close down my email box, so I have to live with that crazy indian mail-bombing and I don't even have anyone to blame... Shit happens, people make mistakes, and sometimes that mistakes are impossible to correct...<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#11 by "Dethstryk"
2000-08-30 23:57:18
dethstryk@damagegaming.com http://www.damagegaming.com/
<b>Andy wrote in post #7:</b>
<quote>The book was originally going to be called Girl.com but there's a porn site at that address, so Penguin changed the name of the book to Katie.com. </quote>
Okay, they checked out the domain names, and came up with that it was alright to point to a site having no affiliation with the book? Give me a break, and let me punch the dumbass publishing exec that handled that one.


--
Dethstryk
Damage Gaming
#12 by "Tom Cleghorn"
2000-08-30 23:57:51
tc10@spamBgonest-andrews.ac.uk http://www.fisty.com/~tom/
Andy:
So they checked the first title as a URL, but either didn't check the second, or had no compunctions about using it? There's something wrong there.
#13 by "Konrad"
2000-08-31 00:04:32
<b>Andy</b> (Main):
<QUOTE>isn't it interesting that a victim of sexual abuse will only delete two of the most explicitly offensive messages that were intended to hurt her, but the second-largest English language publisher will delete hundreds of messages from people who are simply expressing their opinion?</QUOTE>

Yes?

I don't really have anything to say so I'm going to try and draw a picture of a monkey:

,  
\0
\______/
/\/\
||||
^^^^

Hmmmm, not bad.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#14 by "Fortyseven[BTEG]"
2000-08-31 00:54:53
47@apple2.com http://bteg.com
What if they put someones home address on the front?  A real address picked at random?  Isn't this why movies use 555-xxxx for phone numbers?  I amazes me that people do shit like this...it's OBVIOUS that it's wrong, yet they do it anyways.  It's either corporate arrogance, or ignorance -- either way, they just bought themselves a ticket to Bad Pressville. ;P
#15 by "Baytor"
2000-08-31 01:01:32
baytor@yahoo.com http://www.geocities.com/baytor
<b>#7</b> The Pagan God of Lust, "Andy" wrote:  
<QUOTE>The book was originally going to be called Girl.com but there's a porn site at that address, so Penguin changed the name of the book to Katie.com.
</QUOTE>

Should have changed it to chick.com, there's only a fundie there :)

I... AM BAYTOR!!!!<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#16 by "12xu"
2000-08-31 01:07:30
mswitzer@insync.net http://http;//www.hichouston.org
Watch the stands for my new book...

called

375 Hudson Street New York, New York!!!

(i couldn't find penguins phone number on the web...just an address)...

12xu
out<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#17 by "Rambar"
2000-08-31 01:10:57
Hmm.  Common sense has no place on the internet!
What did Pengiun expect.  That they would not visit the site on the cover?

Why not call the book KatieT.com to begin with?  Oh, of course that T looks really ugly and they might sell 2 or 3 less copies.
--
Rambar
"Time to go dial 867-5309"
#18 by "bagofmice"
2000-08-31 01:12:24
rcastle@microsoft.com
Duh.

Brain dead move. the person who did the title needs to be whacked.
#19 by "Geoffrois"
2000-08-31 01:19:16
geoffrois@hotmail.com http://www.pelleronde.com
<quote>(...)that it's unwise to criticise a company through a medium that the company can influence, censor, and ultimately control. ("They don't have to burn the books, they just remove them.")
</quote>

Penguin also publishes Orwell's <i>Nineteen-Eighty-Four</i> novel... how ironic?

Hmmm...

And #13: What kinda monkey is that? :P
#20 by "G-Man"
2000-08-31 01:24:11
jonmars@shiftlock.org http://www.shiftlock.org
Andy what makes you think that KatieT.com is administered or owned by Penguin?

<b>#9</b> "Ian" wrote...
<QUOTE>The smart thing to do now is not to put a small disclaimer on the inside cover of the book, but obviously, to buy the domain name "Katie.com". In a similar case earlier in Cyber-History, a company bought Eve.com (or the like) from a little girl (Named Eve. Duh.) for $10,000, free e-mail at Eve.com, and (I believe) a section of the web-site to put up whatever she liked. </QUOTE>
The current owner doesn't appear to want to sell her domain. She is using it to run a business. But everyone has their price...

<b>#17</b> "Rambar" wrote...
<QUOTE>Hmm. Common sense has no place on the internet!
What did Pengiun expect. That they would not visit the site on the cover? </QUOTE>
From Andy's <a href="http://www.meejahor.com/article.phtml?id=5">article</a>:
<quote>One message in the KatieT.com guest book reflects a common feeling, that of Penguin having 'stolen' the Katie.com domain name: "Penguin are trying to set a precedence of stealing domain names that they have no rights to. When will it end? The big corporate powers will just walk all over the individuals."</quote>

 - [g.man]<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#21 by "12xu"
2000-08-31 01:30:36
mswitzer@insync.net http://http;//www.hichouston.org
The only thing to do is to pull the books off the shelves, and rename it...

I mean if I put out a book called mcdonalds.com about a group of Scottsmen fighting on the new frontier of the internet and Mickey D's started getting all kinds of questions about it...Oh Wait that would never happen because McDonald's would see that the book never got published...

Penguin needs to learn a little respect for other people's property.

12xu
out<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#22 by "Geoffrois"
2000-08-31 02:18:48
geoffrois@hotmail.com http://www.pelleronde.com
But isn't this free publicity? This Katie.com should upgrade her server and profit of the free pub she is receiving!

...or maybe not.
#23 by "Paul"
2000-08-31 02:21:08
paul@paulbullman.com http://www.paulbullman.com
I don't know what this katie.com is waiting for. Throw up some advertisements and earn some revenue.

Then again the world is going to hell because after great reviewing at planethalflife.com level of the week, we now get great maps ranked 4/5, and decent ones 5/5. Give me Radium or Complex back!

- Paul
#24 by "Jafd"
2000-08-31 02:27:45
jafd@zombieworld.com http://jafd.isfuckingbrilliant.com
Clueless, careless, irresponsible, senseless bitch.

That's just my opinion, of course.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#25 by "None-1a"
2000-08-31 05:45:37
none1a@home.com http://www.geocities.com/none-1a/
<b>#7</b> "Andy" wrote...
<QUOTE>The book was originally going to be called Girl.com but there's a porn site at that address, so Penguin changed the name of the book to Katie.com.
</QUOTE>

Wait a minite is KatieT.com ran by Penguin? Not that it really matters since it would have made much more since to call the book KatieT.com (looks more like an online name some one might use, and ties into a real site that at least has the person involved present). Just that if it is Penguin has a vested interest ing driving people to the correct location (then again I've never heard of the book before, so this just might have been what they wanted in the first place).

<b>#22</b> "Geoffrois" wrote...
<QUOTE>But isn't this free publicity? This Katie.com should upgrade her server and profit of the free pub she is receiving! </QUOTE>

Maybe but from the sound of things the people being driven there are not the type the owners want there. The majority of people that are going to visit are doing it because they just plan don't like the fact KatieT is telling people about it, and those scared of this type of thing happening to them (maybe those looking to make a point about how women are treated online). Not exaclty the types you'd want showing up (at the same)if your trying to run a less controveral online chat, tho I can't tell how the owner of Katie.com ran the service since the site was taken down.

--
None-1a.

O forget it.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#26 by "^mortis^"
2000-08-31 05:52:43
mortis@goddamnindependent.com http://www.goddamnindependent.com
are you sure this isn't another one of those freakylinks.com or andylives.org things..."look it's a website...no it's a book...no it's a TV series..."



^M^
#27 by "Andy"
2000-08-31 05:59:00
andy@planetcrap.com http://www.meejahor.com/
<b>#25</b>, None-1a:
<QUOTE>
Wait a minite is KatieT.com ran by Penguin?
</QUOTE>
It is <i>officially</i> (note the italics and fill in the blanks yourself) owned by Katherine Tarbox, but it is used as a promotional site for the book.
<QUOTE>
Maybe but from the sound of things the people being driven there are not the type the owners want there. The majority of people that are going to visit are doing it because they just plan don't like the fact KatieT is telling people about it, and those scared of this type of thing happening to them (maybe those looking to make a point about how women are treated online).
</QUOTE>
According to Katie Jones, she received abusive e-mails of a sexual nature, e-mails from people she knew asking if it really was her who had been abused, and e-mails from abuse victims who wanted to confide in her and ask for advice.
<QUOTE>
Not exaclty the types you'd want showing up (at the same)if your trying to run a less controveral online chat, tho I can't tell how the owner of Katie.com ran the service since the site was taken down.
</QUOTE>
Katie Jones was using Katie.com as a personal site. She had information about herself and her family, as well as photographs. It was your average, run-of-the-mill personal homepage.

Her chat site is at <a href="http://www.ukchat.com/">UKChat.com</a>.

This was all explained in the article/interview linked from post #1. :-)
#28 by "None-1a"
2000-08-31 06:08:15
none1a@home.com http://www.geocities.com/none-1a/
<b>#27</b> "Andy" wrote...
<QUOTE>Katie Jones was using Katie.com as a personal site. She had information about herself and her family, as well as photographs. It was your average, run-of-the-mill personal homepage. </QUOTE>

Ok thanks, makes even more since like this (replace less controveral online chat personal family page and your set, hell drives the point home better as well).

<b>#27</b> "Andy" wrote...
<QUOTE>This was all explained in the article/interview linked from post <A href="spy-internal:Load/145#1">#1</A>. :-)
</QUOTE>

Sorry I normaly don't bother reading the out side stuff (really should get in the habit).

<b>#27</b> "Andy" wrote...
<QUOTE>It is <I>officially</I> (note the italics and fill in the blanks yourself) owned by Katherine Tarbox, but it is used as a promotional site for the book. </QUOTE>

Don't worry I already have.

--
None-1a.

O forget it.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#29 by "woodchuck"
2000-08-31 13:35:57
http://www.geocities.com/wood_dave_1999/index.html
my site is cool
#30 by "Lucky"
2000-08-31 19:51:35
lucky@planetduke.com
Seems like the book's marketing (the Internet-related title) turned out to be unfortunate for the woman behind Katie.com - perhaps she is legally entitled to some compensation.

Especially if she made a financial loss due to closing the site, and because was inundated by insults she may have a case.

A real "doh" for all Katies involved - one's abused, one's forced to shut down her site. :/
#31 by "El Asso Wipo!!"
2000-08-31 22:53:42
wipoelasso@hotmail.com http://www.whitehouse.com
<b>#Main Post</b> "andy" wrote...
<QUOTE>Katherine told the Pop Politics journalist that she suspected some of the anonymous messages were written by the man who had abused her.</QUOTE>

Hell Andy, just reading this story has gotten me hard!<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#32 by ""
2000-09-01 08:42:07
<i>Thinking...</i>
#33 by "James E."
2000-09-01 09:05:19
jre@shpxurnq.net
At least the title of the book wasn't katies-world.com.  That would have been REALLY funny.
#34 by "El Asso Wipo!!"
2000-09-01 18:03:03
wipoelasso@hotmail.com http://www.whitehouse.com
<b>#33</b> "James E." wrote...
<QUOTE>At least the title of the book wasn't katies-world.com. </QUOTE>

I bet Mark Surfas already has PlanetKatie.com registered!<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#35 by "d0nk3y"
2000-09-01 22:01:25
d0nk3y@d-smiley.com http://www.d-smiley.com
Hmm...
#36 by "Zarathustrian"
2000-09-04 21:03:05
tarbour@canada.com http://powered.at/stooges
Sheesh, almost 450 posts to the Sanity Review story, and only 30-someodd posts here.

Shows, where everyone's priorities are, eh Andy? :)<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#37 by "Flamethrower"
2000-09-05 10:01:31
blah http://blah
There's no controversy here, Zara, Penguin did the wrong thing, probably though genuine cluelessness, but just possibliy through utter and outright Evil.

At least in the other thread we can call each other all sorts of names and someone else will make a comment about "flowers and handjobs". Try making a "flowers" comment in a thread about kiddie-fiddling and someone will accuse you of having distinctly bad taste.

This thread was DOA, nothing to disagree with, no bones to pick clean, this is a thread for hummingbirds, not vultures.
#38 by "Andy"
2000-09-05 10:10:51
andy@planetcrap.com http://www.meejahor.com/
<b>#37</b>, Flamethrower:
<QUOTE>
This thread was DOA, nothing to disagree with
</QUOTE>
There's something that could be said if people dug around enough, but I guess I'm the only one who does that sort of thing.

BTW, the other point I mentioned back in post #1:

Why, at no point in the many twists and turns of this story, has Slashdot covered it? It strikes me as prime Slashdot material. I've got my answer... tell me yours. :-)
#39 by "G-Man"
2000-09-05 17:42:38
jonmars@shiftlock.org http://www.shiftlock.org
<b>#38</b> "Andy" wrote...
<QUOTE>There's something that could be said if people dug around enough, but I guess I'm the only one who does that sort of thing.</QUOTE>
You mean the fact that KatieT.com isn't run by Penguin, despite what you claim?

<b>#Main Post</b> "andy" wrote...
<QUOTE>If this is true, then isn't it interesting that a victim of sexual abuse will only delete two of the most explicitly offensive messages that were intended to hurt her, but the second-largest English language publisher will delete hundreds of messages from people who are simply expressing their opinion?</QUOTE>
It's the SAME site, why do you assign responsibility for one deletion to one party, than the other act of deletion to another completely unrelated party?

 - [g.man]<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#40 by "Jeremy"
2000-09-05 18:05:47
jnthornh@eos.ncsu.edu
<b>#38</b> "Andy" wrote...
<QUOTE>There's something that could be said if people dug around enough, but I guess I'm the only one who does that sort of thing. </QUOTE>
Ah yes, I remember this from my journalism class!

You <i>never</i> tell the whole story; it's always best to make your readers <i>work</i> to get that relevant information!

After all, they don't appreciate it nearly as much if you just hand it over to them...

Jeremy
--
Despite your efforts to be a romantic hero, you will gradually evolve into a postmodern plot device. <I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#41 by "flamethrower"
2000-09-05 22:27:06
flamethrower@barrysworld.com http://flamethrower.evilavatar.com
<b>#38</b> "Andy"

<QUOTE>Why, at no point in the many twists and turns of this story, has Slashdot covered it? It strikes me as prime Slashdot material. I've got my answer... tell me yours. :-) </QUOTE>

Because slashdot is shit?

Hence the need for here.

<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
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