Controversial website

Subform: Traditions > Tibetan Buddhism > Tibetan Buddhism General Forum
Thread title: Vajrasana.org, Henry’s website
Date: Aug 25 2005, 07:25 PM

Henry, a current global moderator, maintained over a number of years what he refered to as a list of controversial Buddhist traditions. He promoted his site on E-sangha until a complaint was lodged with Yahoo and the site was shut down.

Henry:

Dear Dharma teachers/friends,

Controversial Buddhist Traditions A – Z updated:
See Note: 7 – My reply to a visitor for my website on the above subject.

A thread on E-sangha celebrated and discussed this site until one day:

mtodd75682:

I have been reading over this thread for some time and wanted to make a few observations. To begin, I was the one that filed a complaint with Yahoo regarding your site Henry, although it appears that you and others think it is Lama X. I have spent many hours investigating some of those people and groups that you labeled as “cults” on your previous site and found most of what you alleged to be completely false.

I have no problem with someone posing a debate about specific religions or practices, but when it is done through fiction, not fact, and with malicious intent then it becomes an attack and not a debate. The individuals that I have corresponded with have given me information which I deem to be reliable and accurate. They have also stood by and allowed you to spread propaganda across the web and have not retaliated. In looking at your previous site and this thread, when someone doesnt retaliate or answer every question you pose or every “fact” you assert, you seem to take a stance that they are admitting the accusations by failure to reply, or in the alternative, you use a reply and chop up the response so it is taken out of context.

If you do not understand the legal liability behind making libelous statements then apparently Yahoo certainly did and that is why they chose to take your site down. While I feel that your initial intention was good and was to bring attention to those who are not following the teachings of Lord Buddha, it is my opinion that the matter turned into more of a witch hunt and you focused more on expanding your site with unsupported claims. This is truly where the problem is. In the event that you open a new site, I would hope that you look further into making such unsubstantiated claims against people and groups.

Dorje T

Henry just a note here,

I would advise you to seek legal counsel advice and assistance on getting your files back and perhaps posting a disclaimer of sorts on your next website. You are safe generally to express your views on the actions of other so called “Buddhist” groups provided you do that within certain guidlines. Personally, I have always found your site very helpful and thought it that way for those whome I recommended it to.

mtodd75682,

You had a specific issue with part of his web site but you intitiated an action that ended up bringing harm to not only Henry, but to the many people who were benefiting from the vast collection of Dharma texts on his entire site. While I can’t read your mind, it seems to me that – at best – you mishandled this situation at a level – at the very least – worthy of being banned here. You either knew better or you should have known better than to take this coarse of action. Of coarse, I am not a moderator or founder on esangha so what I say in this regard is just my own opinion.

Personally, I have found that the moderators do a pretty fine job here of not only protecting e-sangha, but also of protecting the Dharma in general from harmful degenerative influences and for this I think we should be greatful. I for one trust their judgement for the most part – and that of coarse includes Henry and most of the views he expressed on his webpage.

Whats that saying again? The answer to bad free speech is good free speech, not ‘no’ free speech…something like that

PS – Maybe he did and I don’t know about it, but the last time I visited Henry’s page I did NOT see him outright say that such and so group was a “cult”, and as I recall he refered to these as groups that were “questionable” in their activities, again, not cults. I could be wrong about that though, and if so, my advice to him above applies.

mtodd75682:

Hello Dorje,

I appreciate you taking the time to write and I respect your opinion. I would like to address a few points you made, if I may.

To begin, while I am thankful for anyone who takes the time to put Dharma teachings on any website. However, the complaint that I lodged was not with the specific intent to have the entire site closed down, but only certain parts. If the entire site was shut down then it was a result of Henry’s own content, not my complaint.

Next, as to your sentence of “The answer to bad free speech is good free speech, not ‘no’ free speech”, I will most certainly agree with you. While I do not know what country you are from, I am located in the U.S. and the U.S. Constitution speaks volumes to the right to free speech under the First Amendment. As my career is in the legal field, I have spent much time researching constitutional law. When speaking of First Amendment issues, the Supreme Court has ruled on many important cases relating to the 1st Amendment. See for example Abington School Dist v. Schempp (school prayer), County of Allegheny v. ACLU (nativity scene and menorah), Barnes v. Glen Theatre, Inc. (nude dancing), Cohen v. California (vulgar speech) Employment Division v. Smith (religious use of peyote), and Tinker v Des Moines (Vietnam protest).

While free speech is a right, Henry was using his free speech on a site owned by Yahoo. If the speech or writings is defamatory in nature then Yahoo could have potentially been held liable under U.S. law for the actions of Henry. Of course, any other site that Henry puts up with the same defamatory remarks could also place liability on the owner of the site. If Henry chooses to invest in all the equipment needed to have his own server and website then he could still have the site shut down and face civil liability, even if he is in Singapore, under the Alien Tort Claims Act (28 U.S.C. 1350).

I do hope that he puts up another site with the teachings on them as they were very valuable to anyone who used his site for that purpose. If he chooses to put the information about the Controversial Buddhist Traditions (formerly known as Buddhist Cults A-Z) then he certainly has that right. In fact, maybe he could start with a topic on the reasons he thinks that the options of smiley faces that can be put on this site includes two which obviously promote drinking and his stance on that.

Another forum member adds:

Dorje wrote

“You had a specific issue with part of his web site but you intitiated an action that ended up bringing harm to not only Henry, but to the many people who were benefiting from the vast collection of Dharma texts on his entire site.”

Although I agree that when a site is shut down with valuable information on it , this is a sad situation but I have visited Henry’s site and not all was valuable. Part of it was actually slanderous. Also Henry has been fighting tooth and nail to shut down Lama x’s site. Lama x’s site also has valuable information on it. Don’t you think Henry’s fight to shut down other sites is also harming many people?

Also, if Yahoo did not find controversial issues on Henrys site why would they shut it down?

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