P.S. I Hate You

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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.

Salzman has contacted the Jewish Federation, the Anti-Defamation League and an organization called Women Halting On-Line Abuse. None have been of any help. "They all said that what's happening is terrible," Salzman says. But just as law-enforcement officials did, they said they couldn't help because no overt threats had been made. The latter group, she adds, advised her to stop posting to alt.revisionism and to change her name and move. She has also contacted private attorneys in Colorado, but none have committed to helping her.

"At the time she contacted us, I characterized what was happening to her as a nuisance, but it was nothing rising to the level of a crime," says Evan Zuckerman, assistant director of the Denver office of the Anti-Defamation League. "Internet law is in an evolving stage. Now, just about anything can pass as protected speech."

But Salzman counters that her situation is no longer just about free speech. "Believe me, I am 100 percent against censoring on the Internet. I'd rather have these people in the light, because if you turn off the light, they'll crawl right back under the refrigerator with all the other cockroaches, and no one will know what they're up to," Salzman says. "But you can't yell fire in a crowded room, and you can't call me a dog-fucker and get away with it. I am absolutely convinced that going away will not stop this. There have been times when I've stopped contributing to alt.revisionism for a week and [the harassment] hasn't stopped. I'm not the only person out there who has had this happen. Somebody has got to set a precedent and say that this can't happen, and I guess I've sort of decided it's going to be me."

In fact, Salzman has had it pretty easy compared to Bonnie Jouhari, a former housing advocate in Reading, Pennsylvania, who for two years was harassed and threatened by white supremacists.

Jouhari's problems began when she noticed that the Ku Klux Klan, which was very active in suburban Berks County, was intimidating minorities into remaining inside Reading, despite the fact that better and more affordable housing was located outside the city limits. Jouhari formed the Berks County Hate Crimes Task Force and encouraged the police to punish hate crimes. In response, white supremacists embarked on a mission to terrorize Jouhari and her teenage daughter. One uploaded photos of Jouhari onto his Web site and wrote that she should be "hung from the neck" for being a "race traitor." Roy Frankhouser, a former grand dragon of the Pennsylvania KKK, promoted the site on his cable TV show.

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Julie Jargon
Contact: Julie Jargon