In fact, we came so close as to smell the fresh ink on paper.
As many of our members and visitors may know, there are small pockets of people that have taken joy in creating fictitious stories about myself, Mark
(Springer), Simon, and various aspects that make up the management and business operations of AboveTopSecret.com and The Above Network, LLC. Most
often these are people who have been banned from ATS for various reasons and have some deep-seated resentment toward our success.
While it's often frustrating and tedious to encounter new efforts from these types of people, we've grown accustomed to seeing it from time to time.
However, recently we've become aware of a proactively malicious attempt that represents a new level of harmful intent we've not seen. Our legal and
business advisors agreed, unanimously, that we have an "open-and-shut" case to win an immediate injunction combined with judgement in our favor for
damages. The path toward defending our name, our personal reputations, and the honor of our membership was laid out in a clear-cut strategy.
And it remains a well-researched and smart legal response to an overt attack against the people of ATS... and one which we can afford, even if we
receive no judgement other than a cessation of hostilities.
There it shall remain.
WHY WE BRING THIS UP...
I bring this to the attention of our members so that you may be aware of the intensely difficult decision we made... the decision to "stand down,"
and move on.
My gut and heart screams for the opportunity to defend ourselves.
Mark's gut and heart screams for the necessity of drawing a line beyond which our tolerance stops.
Our advisors' and financial partners look forward to successfully establishing a limit on malicious fabrications.
But my brain, steeped in the digital culture of free expression from as far back as 1984, combined with the sober reason of all involved, won the
It hurts me personally to see what is being said of myself, my partners, and the business that occupies my daily energy. It hurts me personally to see
that someone with nothing to lose would seek to damage all that I've worked on, all the hard work of our staff, all that my partners have worked on,
and especially the stunning contributions of our members. It's frustrating beyond words to experience people who purport to have evidence of wrong
doing here at ATS, but constantly refuse to offer anything more concrete than error-riddled opinion inspired by deep-seated envy.
If we were to move forward with this legal action, I and all those who work to further the goals of ATS would forever lose a small piece of our soul.
And that is a price beyond compare that we cannot endure.
Our decision to "stand down" will be interpreted any number of ways with an infinite variety of misconceptions and speculative stories.
To each and every interpretation, we have the same response. We chose this path, this time. Our decision had nothing to do with money, nothing to do
with the inability to recover the legal fees, and nothing to do with chances for success. It had everything to do with morals and ethics and the core
ideals of free expression for which we all stand.
ESTABLISHING A HIGHER GROUND...
Long ago, we made the promise that "ATS" also stands for Altruism, Trust, and Sincerity (www.abovetopsecret.com...
that this core ethic will be the foundation for how we grow ATS into a business we can be proud of. Being of obvious admirable ethics and upstanding
business practices has been and will continue to be the cornerstone of how we operate. It's reflected in our joining the Internet Advertising Bureau
and serving on their small publisher committee, and soon to be even more obvious through certification of a leading digital privacy advocacy
organization. We take seriously the public trust we ask of our members and visitors.
We offer and enthusiastically tolerate methods for public questions of our operations and tactics here on ATS. The
ATS Issues thread
is a recent development intended to maintain a single-source and
easy to locate place for a broad variety of concerns and questions. We've never shied away from valid questions and never intend to. For anyone who
wishes to raise issues, please do so here and you will receive an answer.
Becoming a legal footnote as a company that stopped someone's opinion, even if it's one of vindictive hate focused on harming our efforts, is not a
place I intend to go just yet. Some day our hand may be forced, but not this day.
For those who continue to cowardly post lies and stories from the safety of their blogs and forums, have your fun at our expense. We can take it. We
will gladly respond to those claims here, on abovetopsecret.com, should the questions arise. We will no longer attempt to answer these claims on the
boards where the claims are being made as it has proven, time and again, to be an exercise in futility and we are better served responding to these
wild claims and fictional stories on our own site, where a larger audience can be addressed.
COMMENTARY AND RESPONSE...
This will be a single-post thread, with a mirror post in the ATS Issues
where we ask our members and Anonymous guests to post their comments, questions, and concerns.