1994-02-11 - JESUS SAVES!

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From: nobody@shell.portal.com
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
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UTC Datetime: 1994-02-11 07:20:24 UTC
Raw Date: Thu, 10 Feb 94 23:20:24 PST

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From: nobody@shell.portal.com
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 94 23:20:24 PST
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message-ID: <199402110719.XAA23790@jobe.shell.portal.com>
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Part of the inspiration for OPERATION BLACKEN BLACKNET...


RISKS-LIST: RISKS-FORUM Digest  Thursday 10 February 1994  Volume 15 : Issue 49

Date: Sun, 6 Feb 1994 01:17:49 -0500 (EST)
From: Paul Robinson <PAUL@TDR.COM>
Subject: What goes around, comes around

The following was posted on a local BBS about the recent incident on the 

Staff member suspended for network abuse, by Wendy Wein
     Clarence Thomas, systems administrator for "Redwood," the administrative
computer, will be temporarily suspended from his job because he sent a 5,500
character religious message to between 1,200 to 1,500 news groups across the
world through the Internet.  This act violated the system's purpose, giving
Andrews University a bad reputation among the Internet users. Over 1,200
complaints came over the Internet to the Andrews computer science department
demanding justice.
     According to Mailen Kootsey, chair of the academic computing committee
and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Thomas will be suspended from
his position for a week. His status will be reviewed at the end of the time
period. During this week Thomas will not have available access to the network
     Sometime between five and eight o'clock Monday evening, January 17,
Thomas sent his three-page message titled "Global Alert for All: Jesus is
Coming Soon," from the Andrews computing center to the news groups which are
accessible through the Internet, a computer system which connects computers
throughout the world.
     These news groups deal with different individual topics. For example, if
a news group is about cars, then only information about cars should be sent to
that news group. Some people subscribe to more than one group and some
universities and organizations are subscribed to almost all of them. Thomas
sent his religious message to all of these groups.
     People who were not interested received this message, some more than
once. Some organizations received 1,200 to 1,500 copies.  For many of the
subscribers religious input was not accepted very well. This message took up
their time and money.  The message accumulated 5.5 kilobytes of disk space.
Within an hour after the message was sent, Daniel Bidwell, administrative
contact for the network at Andrews, received Internet messages from the East
     In two hours they came from the West coast and within four hours,
complaint letters came in from other countries. The letters made statements
such as "This is not what I am paying for" and "Will this guy be stopped?"
     In addition to the news groups, Thomas also sent his message through a
mailing list, filling others' electronic mail. This could have been changed by
sending it to only a few news groups so fewer copies could have been
distributed.  "If he sent his message through a news group which dealt with
religious issues then everything would be fine," said Bidwell, "No one would
have known."
     There are no laws against Thomas' actions, yet he violated and broke some
of the unwritten rules of society. That is why many people are unhappy.
     This act created poor reactions towards the university.  Thomas' intent
was to spread the good news of Jesus' return to all those he could reach.
Thomas was trying to witness to others, yet instead of creating joy in
peoples' heart, he only created anger and resentment. "He was doing the right
thing in the wrong way," said Bidwell.
     Some of those who wrote to complain said that they agreed with the
message, but that Thomas delivered it wrongly. This message has created bad
public relations for the church at another's expense.
     The letters that were received included threats. They wanted Thomas
fired, or else the Internet connections from the Andrews campus could be
"taken." People are now writing and finding ways to contact President Lesher.
Not only have strangers called, but also a large amount of Adventists claiming
that something must be done to save the church's sacred reputation.
     On Monday morning, January 24, Rob Barnhurst, Thomas's supervisor and
director of the computing center, Ed Wines, vice president for finance, and
Kootsey, met to discuss the incident.  They decided to send out an apology
through the Internet, explaining that they did not condone Thomas's act and
will try to keep this from happening again.
     Thomas graduated from Andrews with a computer science degree.  Those at
the computer science department feel that he knew better then to send out that
many copies. "It was clearly, very definitely abuse," said Ray Paden, chair of
the computer science department.  "He broke the guidelines for the Internet
and violated the net etiquette. The trust was violated."