I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Update on Cheri Yecke

As regular readers of this blog are aware, I have been charging that Wikipedia is violating its 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization tax status by blocking rebuttals of attacks on a candidate in an upcoming public election.
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There is one little problem, however: Cheri Yecke is not a candidate in an upcoming public election. She just informed me that the position that she is seeking is appointive, not elective.

Wikipedia sure had me fooled. A notice at the top of her Wikipedia bio says,

This article or section contains information about one or more candidates in an upcoming or ongoing election.

I don't know where those jerks at Wikipedia ever got the idea that she is a candidate in an upcoming public election. In fact, one of the references in her bio, reference #4, makes it clear that the office she is seeking is appointive.
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13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And this is one of the bigger windmills you are charging against, Don Quixote. I wonder if Yecke is still conveniently "sick" during all your attempts at contacting her...

And to all your regular readers, here is my update on why your charges are ultimately groundless:

Your "rebuttals" were based largely on biased personal opinions and are contrary to all currently available documented evidence. (But yeah, counterpoint: truth only against libel and not against censorship blah blah blah)

HOWEVER, 501(c)(3) specifically forbids partisan or biased information in regards to a specific political candidate. Larry's comments fit this description perfectly to the point where even he is himself reluctant to make the statement that his assertions were truthful.

I have also dug up another gem of info on the IRS website regarding specific rules enacted during an election year. It's really an interesting read (if you like reading legalese) and details what a non-profit organization can and cannot do under 501(c)(3) regarding candidates currently running for an election to a public office. It's found here:

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/eotopici02.pdf

In almost every single clause, the language is very specific in that any language that DIRECTLY ENDORSE OR OPPOSES said candidate for the elective office is prohibited. However, there are a number of loopholes, allowing for a non-profit organization to publicly send a message opposing a political or social stance opposed by the organization that just happens to be advocated by said candidate. How do you think non-profit organizations such as churches get away with the massive pro-life ad campaigns that just happen to coincide with elections. For those with ADD or those not wanting to read all 153 pages of the rules see page 10, under Sec. B-10 of the article..

Given that the Yecke article makes no mention of anything remotely similar to "WIKI TELLS YOU NOT TO VOTE FOR YECKE CUZ SHE IS A CREATIONIST FUNDIE RELGIO-WHACKO", 501(c)(3) is not violated under the election-specific rules. Furthermore, in the Yecke article, there isn't even language that specifically states that wiki condemns intelligent design, creationism. So, in summary, no explicit political stances on either the candidate nor her political/social leanings means no violation. For all the IRS knows, wiki's only stance is unbiased information based on documented source evidence, however political or social you want to spin it. Since this article is promoting this stance given the complete LACK of evidence to claims contrary to the ones asserted in the Yecke article, such actions, however remotely interpreted as political, is still allowed under the 501(c)(3) election guidelines as stipulated by the IRS.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007 10:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, even more gems, on page 15 and 16 under sec B-10 and C-1, if it happens to be interpreted that wiki is just "educating" voters on the facts of Yecke's past actions, it is still allowed as long as the language is not unsupported by facts (like Larry's censored comments), distorted facts(again, like Larry's censored comments) or specifically inflammatory against a particular candidate. To be fair, I'm slightly worried about the 4th clause in which "the approach used is not aimed at developing the audience's understanding because it does not consider their background or training" whatever that means... Feel free to spin this one for me, Larry. I need some amusement.

Finally, whatever wiki's motivation may be in this matter, it cannot be held legally accountable under Sec. C-1 due to its irrelevance.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous, I have been over this umpteen times already. Truth is a defense against charges of libel but is not a defense against charges of censorship of rebuttals.

Also, Wikipedia doesn't care whether the rebuttals are supported by facts or not -- Wikipedia is just censoring all rebuttals, period.

>>>>>> However, there are a number of loopholes, allowing for a non-profit organization to publicly send a message opposing a political or social stance opposed by the organization that just happens to be advocated by said candidate. <<<<<<

And if Yecke were a candidate in a public election, the situation here would not be one of those loopholes.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007 1:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.. Looks like your attention wandered off after the third paragraph of my first post and missed the point entirely. The issue now is whether wiki violated their non-profit status by censoring your comments. Regardless of their non-profit status, they are entirely within their right to censor you based on their terms of use regarding groundless assertions.

Now, back to whether or not this action violates 501(c)(3), I basically proved how the Yecke article was in compliance with the rules limiting political actions by non-profit organizations as stipulated by the IRS. Regardless of elections or not, the language specified by the IRS defines lobbying as language explicitly promoting or opposing either side of a political candidate or issue. In every instance, no direct language in the Yecke article even comes close to this definition. Denying rebuttals is not mentioned anywhere in the list of activities prohibited by the IRS in that it was censored due to lack of evidence, not due to partisan bias on behalf of wiki. Trying to prove that your comments were censored out of partisan bias would make your case fall apart when the IRS themselves ask you to prove that your comments had any truth behind them to make the censorship unjustified.

Finally, the Yecke article is not a voter education/registration effort. The documented references to her actions promoting intelligent design do not go on to denounce intelligent design in any significant way. It does not advocate any specific political action for or against Yecke on behalf of its readers or itself, nor does it cast favor on any opposition candidates to Yecke for the Florida state education commissioner's chair (they aren't even mentioned).

At this point, I'm starting to wonder about your reading comprehension skills, Larry... You seem to be parroting your 501(c)(3) violation claims without going into detail on how the violation occurred with the censorship of your comments.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007 2:38:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>> The issue now is whether wiki violated their non-profit status by censoring your comments. <<<<<<

Wrong. There is no IRS issue now because Cheri Yecke is not a candidate in an upcoming public election.

The issue of violation of 501(C)(3) status is moot now, but I will respond to your false arguments anyway.

>>>>>> Regardless of their non-profit status, they are entirely within their right to censor you based on their terms of use regarding groundless assertions. <<<<<

Wrong. The IRS cannot concern itself with whether rebuttals are true or false. Also, if the rebuttal just states a matter of opinion, truth is not an issue. All that the IRS can concern itself with is whether or not
rebuttals are allowed.

>>>>> Now, back to whether or not this action violates 501(c)(3), I basically proved how the Yecke article was in compliance with the rules limiting political actions by non-profit organizations as stipulated by the IRS. <<<<<<

False. You have proved nothing, basically or otherwise.

>>>>>> Regardless of elections or not, the language specified by the IRS defines lobbying as language explicitly promoting or opposing either side of a political candidate or issue. In every instance, no direct language in the Yecke article even comes close to this definition. <<<<<<

False. Several statements in the Wikipedia bio directly attack Yecke:

PZ Myers and other critics of intelligent design deemed the move an attempt to misinform the public in order to sway the committee decision in favor of intelligent design using public opinion.

PZ Myers, who had commented extensively on Yecke's support of intelligent design in the past, described the recent effort by Yecke to distance herself from intelligent design as an attempt to "whitewash the past and silence her critics".

Cheri Pierson Yecke, Ph.D. is a conservative politician who has been involved in attempts to have creationism taught in science classes.

Both in Minnesota in 2003 and in Florida in 2005, allegations of nepotism were raised by democrats and the press over Yecke's husband being placed in state jobs soon after Yecke had taken her positions.


>>>>>> Denying rebuttals is not mentioned anywhere in the list of activities prohibited by the IRS <<<<<<

Prohibition of censorship of rebuttals is implicit in the IRS rule requiring that voter education activities be conducted in a "non-partisan manner" :

Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including the presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. (emphasis added)

>>>>>. . .in that it was censored due to lack of evidence, not due to partisan bias on behalf of wiki. <<<<<<

As I said, the IRS cannot concern itself with truth or falsehood here, and Wikipedia is censoring all rebuttals here anyway, whether those rebuttals are true or false. Also, truth or falsehood could not possibly be an issue in rebuttals that are just matters of opinion.

>>>>> Finally, the Yecke article is not a voter education/registration effort. <<<<<

Only because Yecke is not a candidate in a public election.

>>>>>> The documented references to her actions promoting intelligent design do not go on to denounce intelligent design in any significant way. <<<<<<

Yecke is denounced for an alleged "attempt to misinform the public," an alleged "attempt to 'whitewash the past and silence her critics', and alleged nepotism.

>>>>>> It does not advocate any specific political action for or against Yecke on behalf of its readers or itself, nor does it cast favor on any opposition candidates to Yecke for the Florida state education commissioner's chair (they aren't even mentioned). <<<<<<

Voters are implicitly urged to vote for other candidates. How dumb can you get?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007 5:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, your biased interpretation is not shared by the IRS, which requires that that the language of the Yecke article explicitly violates the conditions for 501(c)(3) before it will taking action. The IRS rules even goes out of the way to allow for implicit political activity that just happens to favor a particular candidate regardless of intent as long as no direct actions, language, or misinformation is used.

Contrary to what you may think, the Yecke article is not a public discussion forum (there is a separate page for that in the upper tabs) nor was it written as a voter education guide, so the alleged violations are moot as well.

I think a throw-down is in order, windbag! You say there are violations? File a lawsuit (Pro se or shell out some cash for a lawyer) on Yecke's behalf using that implied cause of action nonsense you mentioned earlier. Bring it on! The IRS sure as hell will take their sweet time with this, and in the remote chance that action is taken, there are a multitude of responses using the same kind of loose interpretation you just displayed to reinterpret the Yecke article as being in complete compliance to 501(c)(3).

Burden of proof and action remains on you, and so far, you've been largely ineffective. Yecke must be really proud.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007 10:56:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous drivels,

>>>>>>Unfortunately, your biased interpretation is not shared by the IRS, which requires that that the language of the Yecke article explicitly violates the conditions for 501(c)(3) before it will taking action. <<<<<<

The language of the Yecke article does explicitly violate the conditions for 501(c)(3) status -- I have amply demonstrated that fact.

>>>>> The IRS rules even goes out of the way to allow for implicit political activity that just happens to favor a particular candidate regardless of intent as long as no direct actions, language, or misinformation is used. <<<<<

There are plenty of direct actions, language, and alleged misinformation in Yecke's bio. The IRS is clear that information that 501(C)(3) nonprofits present about public-election candidates must be presented in a non-partisan manner.

>>>>> Contrary to what you may think, the Yecke article is not a public discussion forum (there is a separate page for that in the upper tabs) nor was it written as a voter education guide, so the alleged violations are moot as well. <<<<<<

People usually don't read the discussion page unless they are involved in discussions about edits. And Yecke's bio was definitely written as a "voter education guide" because of the mistaken belief that she is a candidate in a public election. Now the authors hope that the bio will be used as a guide in the selection of an appointee for the position.

>>>>> I think a throw-down is in order, windbag! You say there are violations? File a lawsuit (Pro se or shell out some cash for a lawyer) on Yecke's behalf using that implied cause of action nonsense you mentioned earlier. <<<<<<

You are really desperate, dunghill -- challenging me to sue on someone else's behalf on a non-existent cause of action! LOL

Thursday, August 23, 2007 4:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well now, I suppose given your previous posts that I shouldn't be surprised that it comes to this. You seem to have randomly contradicted yourself about a dozen times with your awesomely worded responses, clearly demonstrating that you have the reading skills and the attention span of a grade schooler.

You first make the case that the Yecke article implicitly violates 501(c)(3) rules, then out of nowhere, retract this statement and claim that it explicitly violates them without any examples of that explicit direct language required to violate said rules, and in past two instances, seem to waffle back and forth on whether or not Yecke is an election candidate for public office (different rules would apply for each case). I don't think you quite grasp the definition of "explicit" and "implicit". You have any examples of explicit violations or are you going to go off on a tangent again?

The examples you gave of the implicit language are exactly what they are: implicit. The readers are informed of her politics and past/present actions, but there is NOTHING written that directly suggests that the reader take a specific action or interpret the facts in a certain way upon learning these facts about Yecke. The lack of information contrary to the assertions made in the article is due to lack of facts, not partisan bias. The IRS will be looking at the truthfulness of the censored rebuttals very closely since it is the basis of this case

Now if the article goes on to suggest that the reader should think a certain way regarding intelligent design, creationism, and the public officials like Yecke who support them, wiki will have problems. This is the kind of language that the IRS will be looking for. If they don't find it, life will move on. They can't take action because you are implying that all readers by their own nature oppose intelligent design and such and would automatically withdraw support or take action against Yecke. What about readers who just happen to be supporters of intelligent design? Would they not garner more support for Yecke because she shares their ideals? The fact that the above scenarios have an equal chance of happening proves the non-partisan/biased nature of this article. The IRS would not and cannot share your implication that the majority of the readers would be opponents of creationism and intelligent design, and take negative actions against Yecke upon reading this article.

Lastly, I consider most conservative windbags to be at most, annoying and self-deluded. It is when they put their arguments to the test through action that spectacular displays of stupidly can be enjoyed. I find it especially entertaining when reality comes crashing down and shatters their sheltered idealist perception of the world. You speak of lawsuits and suing if the IRS doesn't go your way. By all means, do it. The more attention, the better.

Thursday, August 23, 2007 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

As the saying goes, don't feed the trolls.

Thursday, August 23, 2007 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

admission is the first step to recovery, congratulations!

Thursday, August 23, 2007 2:50:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

I have admitted nothing, dunghill.

The Wikipedia bio simply lacks credibility because they won't allow rebuttals.

Friday, August 24, 2007 10:48:00 AM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

>>>The Wikipedia bio simply lacks credibility because they won't allow rebuttals.<<<

This is a false statement. They allow rebuttals. What they don't permit is the person writing the rebuttal to use himself as a source. This policy is applied across the board to all content, thus making it a non-partisan policy - which means it doesn't violate 501(c)(3) rules. Since Larry cited his own blog in his alleged rebuttal, the contribution is not permitted under explicit Wikipedia rules. And under the sockpuppet/meatpuppet rules, he can't have someone else do it for him or contribute under a pseudonym.

Did I say "alleged rebuttal"? Why, yes I did, because he doesn't actually rebut anything. Here is what he wrote (there were some minor revisions during the edit war)

>>>Larry Fafarman disputes most of these claims of Elsberry and Myers. Fafarman makes the following claims on his "I'm from Missouri" blog: (1) an article by the National Center for Science Education, Elsberry's former employer, misinterpreted the No Child Left Behind Act and the Santorum Amendment [11]; (2) an "incriminating" (Fafarman's sarcastic description) Yecke letter posted by Elsberry did not misrepresent or misuse either the Act or the Amendment [12]; (3) Elsberry censored blog comments that disputed his interpretation of the Act and the Amendment [13]; and (4) Yecke's Wikipedia bio is being misused for posting political attack ads against her [14].<<<

First, he claims that he "disputes most of these claims of Elsberry and Myers." There is no link at the end of this sentence, so we are left to assume that this is either a bald assertion (and thus not permissible) or that the 4 items in the next sentence are the disputations mentioned. Also notice that he said "these claims". This indicates that he is disputing the claims made on the bio page, not claims made elsewhere that may or may not be appropriate for inclusion in a Wiki bio.

So let's list the actual claims of Elsberry and Myers that appear in the bio:

Elsberry's part of the bio:
"In June 2007 she disputed the accuracy of the newspaper article which said she supported including intelligent design in Minnesota science curricula in 2003, and hired the internet information-scrubbing service ReputationDefender to remove any association of Yecke with intelligent design online. Wesley R. Elsberry, marine biologist and critic of intelligent design whose blog The Austringer had referenced the article linking Yecke to the Teach The Controversy method of promoting intelligent design was contacted by ReputationDefender in June 2007. They requested that he remove a quote from Yecke on the issue of teaching creationism and intelligent design on the grounds that she disputes the quote in the original newpaper article. In considering the request Elsberry has asked for proof that the newspaper article did indeed quote Yecke inaccurately, going so far to contact the original reporter. Readers of blog then provided links to archived recordings of Twin Cities Public Television broadcasts from 2003 showing Yecke saying that teaching intelligent design was a decision local school districts could undertake and teaching intelligent design is supported by the Santorum Amendment. Elsberry says her statements in these broadcasts are consistent with the quote Yecke disputed and tried to remove in the newspaper article."

So Elsberry claimed that:
E1)Yecke asked him to remove a reference to a newspaper article that she claims quoted her innaccurately
E2)Said article links her to support of using Teach the Controversy to promote ID
E3)He requested proof that the article misquoted her
E4)The statements in television broadcasts were consistent with the disputed quote
E5)Readers claimed that in addition to claim number 4, in those broadcasts she linked support of her position to the Santorum Amendment

Those are the only claims that are attributed to Elsberry in the bio.

Myers' portions of the bio:
"The versions of the Minnesota Science Standards circulated by Yecke contained language used by the pro-intelligent design Teach The Controversy campaign which casts doubt on evolution while offering intelligent design as a competing theory. The version that was circulated among the public did not include these revisions. PZ Myers and other critics of intelligent design deemed the move an attempt to misinform the public in order to sway the committee decision in favor of intelligent design using public opinion."
...
"PZ Myers, who had commented extensively on Yecke's support of intelligent design in the past, Myers described the recent effort by Yecke to distance herself from intelligent design as an attempt to "whitewash the past and silence her critics"."

Myers claimed that:
M1)The different versions circulated were an attempt to adopt her Teach the Controversy proposal in regards to ID
M2)Yecke supported ID in the past
M3)Yecke was distancing herself from ID by covering her tracks and silencing critics

I've labelled the various claims E1-E5 and M1-M3 for ease of reference.

Now, onto Larry's four items.

1) The NCSE misinterpreted the Santorum Amendment and NCLB Act

This bio is about Yecke, not the NCSE or the NCLB Act or its parts. Quite simply, this item should not be included in her bio, but rather should be added to the wiki article for one of the three topics. And Larry's blog post did not dispute any of the claims made by Elsberry or Myers.

2) the Yecke letter did not misuse the Act or Amendment

The claim in the bio was simply that Yecke based her support on the Santorum Amendment, not whether she was right in doing so. Furthermore, the letter was not offered as proof that she misused or misinterpreted the Santorum Amendment, but rather that the quote in dispute is consistent with her position on whether schools could decide to teach ID.

3) Elsberry censored comments that disputed his interpretation of the Act and Amendment

This is simply a personal attack, which is expressly forbidden by Wikipedia rules. It might have been appropriate in the discussion, if you had been trying to convince a neutral party to contribute and use your blog as a citation, but it is inappropriate for a bio (especially since the bio is not about Eslberry!). It addresses none of the claims in the bio. Furthermore, it is a false statement. Elsberry did not censor any posts that disputed his interpretation of the Act or Amendment. Aside from censoring an off-topic rant and an off-topic personal attack, he deleted several comments made anonymously by the banned Larry Fafarman. The first asked where Congress derived its authority to dictate state education standards. The second one actually supported Elsberry's interpretation of the Amendment. Larry, of course, is too stupid to understand why, and assumed that the deletion of his comment was due to disagreement instead of what really happend: Elsberry following site policy of deleting all comments made by those who have been banned, regardless of content. Larry followed up with two more posts (which were nearly identical) that complained about being censored and addressed comments made by others.

4)Yecke's bio being misused for political attack ads

Again, this language does not belong on the article itself, but rather in the discussion pages. The only claims that Larry addresses in the blog article are E4 and E5, and he says that they shouldn't be considered credible sources because they were on television. The Buckingham (or was it Bonsell?) defense didn't fly in Dover, and it doesn't fly here - especially since there are so many other sources that make the same claim.

What it boils down to, is that Larry completely misunderstood the controversy addressed by the Yecke bio. It's not whether she properly interpreted the NCLB Act or the Santorum Amendment, it's whether she supported writing legislation that permitted local schools to teach ID if they desired.

That all said, there actually is room for a rebuttal on Elsberry and Myers claims, though not anything like what Larry blathered on about. It is quite possible that rather than trying to hide her support of intelligent design, she was making a semantic correction. It may be that she felt that one quote falsely implied more involvement at the state level in the decision to teach ID in the schools than was actually there. Stated in a more cynical way, she was trying to place all liability for teaching ID on the local schools - also known as the Dover Trap.

Friday, August 24, 2007 5:10:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>>The Wikipedia bio simply lacks credibility because they won't allow rebuttals.

This is a false statement. They allow rebuttals. What they don't permit is the person writing the rebuttal to use himself as a source. This policy is applied across the board to all content, thus making it a non-partisan policy - which means it doesn't violate 501(c)(3) rules. <<<<<<<

The IRS couldn't care less about the Wikipedia rules -- all the IRS cares about is whether or not rebuttals are allowed. And the bio lacks credibility regardless of whether or not there is an IRS violation.

As for the Wikipedia rules, which do not apply here anyway, blogs are not allowed, period, unless (1) the blogger is writing about himself or (2) the blog is a journalist's blog under the editorial control of a newspaper (or presumably other major news media outlet). So I said that if the rules were broken to allow citations of Sleazy PZ Myers' and Ding Elsberry's blogs, then citations of my blog would have to be allowed, too.

>>>>> And under the sockpuppet/meatpuppet rules, he can't have someone else do it for him or contribute under a pseudonym. <<<<<<<

You stupid fathead, either Sleazy PZ and Ding Elsberry posted the citations of their blogs themselves, which supposedly is a violation of the rule against "self-promotion," or others posted the citations for them,
which you say is a violation of the "sockpuppet/meatpuppet rule." And where in the hell did this term "meatpuppet" come from? And I don't even like the term "sockpuppet" -- to me the correct term is Charlie McCarthyism."

I have already explained why the question of the truth of the rebuttals is not an issue so far as the now-moot charge of a violation of the 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization rules is concerned.

>>>>>> Stated in a more cynical way, she was trying to place all liability for teaching ID on the local schools - also known as the Dover Trap. <<<<<

The "Dover trap" is on the way out -- if it is not out already.

Friday, August 24, 2007 9:53:00 PM  

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