arrow S.P.(U.T.U.)M. Shames Spammer into a Rage

5:00am  25.Mar.97.PST Mike Enlow claims he was simply running a test when his marketing company spammed the alt.binaries newsgroups of Usenet on 6 January. The self-proclaimed "world's most-respected information broker/technology marketing consultant" says he thought the alt.binaries groups would be a good place to try out his advertisement, because "they were getting spammed to hell anyway."

But Enlow's "Too Cool......-hotstuff.jpg" file - which included a picture of a fully-clothed Enlow leaning against a shiny new Mercedes and a caption advertising Enlow's business Web site - started a Usenet war that is raging still.

The members of alt.binaries.slack - dedicated to posting religious artwork themed around the Church of the SubGenius - saw Enlow's spam as an opportunity to have some fun and teach the man a lesson, SubGenius style. The Rev. Funway Plastico, for example, downloaded photographs from Enlow's Web site and altered them in a variety of ways, re-posting them to the newsgroup. Some of the images merged Enlow's face with Bozo the Clown, some embedded his head into containers of Spam, some pasted Enlow's face into pornographic images. Funway then emailed Enlow a note that read, in part, "You might want to check alt.binaries.slack to see what we think of you and your phony get rich quick scam."

Enlow was furious. "These jerks attacked me like I was a $5 pyramid scheme," he says. "They have attacked a patriot of America." He posted a message to alt.binaries.slack that read, in part, "I have a network of investigators who just live to fuck up people who get too cute with me," signing his the post "Michael E. Enlow, Pres. National Assoc. of Investigative Technologists." (Enlow says that he now regrets "lashing out in anger and fury," adding, "I would never send someone out to create bodily harm.")

Shortly after the threat was posted, S.P.(U.T.U.)M. - alt.binaries.slack's very own Net-abuse response team (the acronym stands for SubGenius Police, Usenet Tactical Unit [Mobile]) - sprang into action, said Dennis McClain-Furmanski, the public-relations contact for S.P.(U.T.U.)M. The unit emailed Enlow, warning him that he "violated and [is] continuing to violate the rules of the Usenet by posting commercial, non-Slackful, non-"Bob"-related binaries in our newsgroup," and urging him to "quit while you are *behind*."

A movement to police one's own newsgroup is on the rise, says McClain-Furmanski. "There is the alt.gothic special forces and there is WASP, the Warez Anti-Spam Patrol." He won't divulge how many members of S.P.(U.T.U.)M. there are, but says, "Two of us have military training in psyops (psychological operations) and intelligence work. There are six regulars on alt.binaries.slack and many occasional posters, and it is about as spam-free as you'll find on any binaries group."

But Enlow doesn't buy the claim that S.P.(U.T.U.)M. exists to rid the newsgroup of Net-abuse. He says S.P.(U.T.U.)M. and the alt.binaries.slack group are terrorists slandering him and defaming him with doctored images, which contain captions such as "OK, OK, So maybe I'm a PINK weasel posturing in front of a car I could never afford. I was born with a clitoris instead of a brain." Enlow says such statements are slanderous: "I paid cash for the last seven Mercedes I've owned." He also says that he has forwarded the altered images and postings to the "FBI and senators," and is gathering evidence to create a law suit.

Stacey Son of Internet Servers Inc., the ISP for the S.P.(U.T.U.)M. Web site, says Enlow recently contacted his company to complain about the images. However, since Enlow did not produce an injunction or court order, the ISP did not intervene.

McClain-Furmanski argues that the altered Enlow images and text are parody, and therefore protected by the Constitution. He also claims that no one in S.P.(U.T.U.)M., or alt.binaries.slack has done anything illegal against Enlow. "The artists of alt.binaries.slack are not members of S.P.(U.T.U.)M., they are the group that we protect," he says, adding that "S.P.(U.T.U.)M. is not the same as the Church of the SubGenius."

At one point during this escalating battle of threats and flames, Enlow called McClain-Furmanski on the phone, demanding that McClain-Furmanski remove the images immediately or he would spend upward of $1 million dollars in a lawsuit to force his group to comply. McClain-Furmanski says he replied to Enlow that for each month Enlow refrained from posting spam to Usenet, one of the four Web sites currently publishing the altered images would come down. "He didn't much care for the resolution," says McClain-Furmanski, "but it has been a week since he has spammed. In another three weeks, a site will come down."

Enlow, however, says the real battle hasn't even started. He would like to see the Church of the SubGenius get prosecuted under the RICO laws, as he believes that the church members are organized criminals engaged in illegal terrorist activities against him. Seeing himself as a law-abiding businessman who is up against a nest of filthy miscreants with abhorrent values, he asks, "Am I witty enough to make world history? Am I crazy enough? Hell, yes."

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