P.S. I Hate You

Her great-grandparents died in the Holocaust. But Sara Salzman knows that anti-Semitism lives on -- on the Web.

Green told Westword that Ellis, an auto mechanic whom everyone in town knows, gave him copies of his Internet correspondence with Salzman. Green said that because Ellis and Salzman had argued back and forth, it would be hard to prove that the communication was unsolicited. "If she's posting things, she's sort of inviting some kind of response," he says. "I didn't think it rose to the level of a criminal matter. I don't want to prosecute people just for saying stuff that other people don't like, and I would have had a hard time making a harassment case out of it."

Salzman, however, says that she and Ellis never debated the Holocaust at alt.revisionism, and that the only words she exchanged with him were when she told him to stop forging her name and when she notified him that she would forward the forgeries to seark.net. She suspects that Ellis may have produced fake e-mails and alt.revisionism postings in her name to try to prove to Green that the two were engaged in an ongoing battle.

Even if he could have made a case, though, Green admits that his judicial district would be ill-equipped to handle it. "We deal with traffic tickets, boyfriends beating girlfriends and DUIs," he says. "We've never dealt with Internet problems."

Sara Salzman has seen the ugly side of the Internet.
Anthony Camera
Sara Salzman has seen the ugly side of the Internet.

On July 18, Westword contacted the only Don Ellis in the 2,000-person town of Star City. He said he didn't know of a Sara Salzman and that her situation was "kind of news to me." The following conversation ensued:

Westword: Are you the Don Ellis who used to operate The American Guardian Web site?

Ellis: There is no American Guardian Web site.

Westword: Did you used to operate a Web site called The American Guardian?

Ellis: [no reply]

Westword: Did you used to operate a Web site called HateWatch of America?

Ellis: Ummm...not to my knowledge.

Westword: Have you ever posted negative messages about Sara Salzman or anyone else to alt.revisionism?

Ellis: I haven't posted anything in three or four months.

Westword: Have you ever posted to alt.revisionism?

Ellis: I'm not sure. I'd have to check my files. She should just turn the computer off. She should just back out of the situation. I have had death threats, and I just ignore them. It's probably just someone blowing off steam.

And later:

Westword: Sara Salzman claims nasty messages have been posted about her in a news group.

Ellis: What kind of nasty messages?

Westword: Things like "Sara Salzman is a dyke. Sara Salzman is a dog-fucker."

Ellis: Well, is she? [A couple of moments of silence.] So, does she do those things?

Westword: All I can tell you is that someone has been posting messages saying she does, and she's not happy about it.

Ellis: How do you know that she doesn't do those things?

In recent weeks, the situation has escalated. Someone placed links on more than forty Web sites with messages claiming that Salzman's kids were planning to bomb an Aurora high school; placed a link on more than ninety Web sites with messages accusing Salzman of child abuse; posted messages saying that Salzman makes her daughter give men blow jobs to support the Nizkor Project; posted Salzman's father's name, office address, telephone number and e-mail address to alt.revisionism along with a threat to pay him a visit; forged Salzman's name on a threat to Mayor Wellington Webb's life that appeared on more than twenty Web sites; e-mailed a death threat to President Clinton in Salzman's name; and posted a message threatening to skin Salzman alive and use her skin to make a new holster for his gun.

Another message on alt.revisionism announced an upcoming Web site containing even more personal information about Nizkor supporters. "See where the anti-revisionist: lives, works, schools, shops," it claimed. "View the many images of their homes, car, children. Read facts about their: history, lovers, sex lives, medical records, criminal records." No such Web site ever materialized, but the names of Salzman's two children and photos of what someone thought was her house appeared on the Internet (the picture was of the wrong house). Salzman had included the names of her kids in a biography she wrote about herself on the Nizkor Web page, so it was easy for someone to find out.

"I wrote that [biography] at a time when it was inconceivable that anyone would use that information against me," she says. She has since removed her children's names from the site.

Nizkor's Ken McVay says he's been insulted so often because of his work that the messages that have been posted about him to alt.revisionism don't bother him. "Everyone who confronts extremists on the Internet gets this kind of treatment eventually. I've been getting it for eight years, but Sara has not," he says. "What makes Sara's case so unusual is the tenacity with which it's been going on."

McVay guesses that Salzman has been the primary target of the alt.revisionism postings because of her extensive involvement with the Nizkor Project. "The other reason is because she gets in their face and stays there, and they're probably trying to see how far they can go to intimidate her. She's tough, and as smart as they come -- and that really irritates them," he adds.

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