Update Number 3: Fall 1997: flourishing at Phix
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BoyChat History Update #3:
Fall 1997: Flourishing at Phix (9/30/97-12/6/97)
The combination of the stable Phix server and the end of summer meant that BoyChat saw a drastic upswing in visitors. The counter, despite some technical problems, ticked from 252,000 in August to 415,000 in early December. This was an average of about 1,400 hits a day, reaching a peak in October of about 2,300 hits a day.
More visitors meant two things: increased server costs, and increased visibility. The price of Phix's libertarian attitude was realistic bandwidth charges, and every new visitor increased the BoyChat server bill. The Free Spirits treasurer, GB, instituted one of the first changes to the appearance of the BoyChat index file in months by changing the old "Sponsors" link to "Contributors and Contributions". Jimf3 simultaneously organized a series of fund drives to raise money. Donations came pouring in.
Increased visibility brought some notable characters to the board. Several of our age-old enemies, the self-hating boylovers, began posting regularly. One of them, Alan Walker, even tried to evangelize self-accepting boylovers, suggesting that they visit his web board "Resisting Pedophilic Urges", a sort of Bizarro BoyChat. He was joined by another figure who called himself Bounty Hunter, who threatened to post the pictures and addresses of various BoyChatters on a sort of "America's Most Wanted" site that was linked to Walker's. BC regulars wondered why all self-hating boylovers are incapable of spelling correctly or understanding the rules of "apostrophe-s".
These characters and others were skewered by a series of hilarious articles written by a 14 year old BoyChat contributor, Double Q. Can't you see that you guys are irrational in classing boylovers as abusers? Double Q asked them repeatedly. Why not listen to a real boy's view on boylovers? But the self-haters chose to ignore or talk down to Mr. Q and other boys on the board, reminding this writer of CPAC's response to another underage BoyChatter, Soaken. It's hardly a surprise that the educated boy will choose to hang out with boylovers, when the anti-boylover crew tends to treat him with condescension or to ignore him completely.
Fall 1997 saw some of the most slanted media attention to boylove in recent memory, at least in the United States, particularly in the reporting of the Sam Manzie and James Michael Curley cases. In both cases boylove was regularly equated with the desire to coerce, rape and murder.
While NAMBLA had to take most of the heat, for the first time, attention was also focused on BoyChat and Free Spirits. A Miami television news reporter named John Deutzman posed as a BoyChat poster, making a large number of innocuous posts in late September as "nuboy". Eventually he emailed Jimf3 to say he would be visiting New York City and would like to meet up. Deutzman taped Jim surreptitiously at dinner, talking in a friendly manner about various issues, and then ambushed him the next morning with cameras and microphones.
Unsurprisingly, Jim had said nothing incriminating or unethical in his conversations, so Deutzman was forced to use the usual techniques of tabloid journalism to produce the smear piece he wanted. Interspersing footage of Jim's statements of his love for boys with interviews with a Florida couple whose son had been murdered, and footage from the James Michael "Hurley" (sic) case, the piece implied that boylovers are akin to murderers. He also depicted links from BoyLinks to sites with pictures of naked boys -- not pornography or anything illegal -- to imply that BoyChatters use child pornography.
The Miami news piece coincided with a similarly inept segment on 20/20, which explored the Manzie case to suggest to parents that "Internet pedophiles" haunt chat rooms to ensare their children. Interviews with Colin (or Gabriel) Hatcher's CyberAngels group emphasized the danger of allowing kids freedom on the Net. The reporter interviewed a group of high school students, asking them whether they thought they should be allowed the freedom to roam the Net and meet strangers, to which they replied, hilariously, that they should. In a tone reminiscent of the condescending CPAC and Allan Walker, he explained to them that they were not yet old enough to understand the dangers of free information.
Meanwhile, BoyChat bubbled with discussion.The sex debate was resurrected in spectacular form. Tom, NewEyes and others wrote of their experiences with the penal system and the justice system, particularly as they affect the younger partner in a discovered relationship. Dennis (formerly Dennis2) then suggested that people on sex offender registries were not real boylovers, but criminal child molesters. The distinction between the two groups had been made before, but generally on the grounds of the quality of the relationship rather than criminal charges.
In response, wps, waltz and Jimf3 made the case that some child molesters are indeed boylovers too, not a completely different category. The law would place any of us on sex offender registries if it could. In this view, many child molesters are simply boylovers who are caught. The men on sex offender registries are not qualitatively different from the people on BoyChat, no matter what their personal morals may be. The point is that we should not allow the government to label us and divide us; under governments incapable of distinguishing between love and coercion, it should be up to us to make moral judgments -- based on other material besides labels and sex offender registries.
FoX, formerly Fox, came back and lambasted me for not giving him adequate space in the History. Since it's true that any boylover-authored History should give inordinate space to smart, intense 15 year olds, I bow my head in shame. One of the original boys to post to BC, and perhaps the first, FoX has always supported us. With a clear, honest style and a mischievous sense of humor, he in many ways set the tone for future minor posters to BC. My hat is off to you, FoX.
In plugging a newly discovered security hole in mid-October, we found that we had denied BoyChatters one of their favorite posting games: signature pictures, or sig pics. It had become common for posters to sign off with a small photograph, typically a picture of themselves as a boy. Working closely with various Free Spirits technical experts, not was able to restore sig pics to BC, using a new "Safe Sig Pics" subroutine in the BC script. Currently, regulars can submit a sig pic to Ford Prefect, who will store it in a special directory (at a bandwidth-charge-free location) where it can be called from the script using a password.
Several notable posters mentioned in the History are no longer with us. I miss Little Prince, who left in July with promises to return someday. Eljie also seems to have gone for good, making a mockery of my assertion that he never vanishes for more than a week or two. Awaken Dad, now Awakened Dad, comes back only very rarely. Songmaster has vanished into the netherworld of 20-hour gaming marathons. One thing that this History cannot do is preserve posts, which are the essence of an online personality. No mere description can do justice to these people without their "wonderful words", as LP would have put it. For any reader who may have come on too late to see their posts, I can only say that you have missed out. The lesson is to treasure the wonderful posts that we have today -- whether those of Double Q, Phred or roo, because our medium and our community is evanescent, and those people and their words may be gone tomorrow.
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