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Dean Letfus: “my job is to cover sin” -- WHO & WHAT?

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  • #61
    Obama: "It would be wrong to stay silent"

    Originally posted by Seth Godin
    Sometimes people push back on posts of mine they don't like by telling me I'm out of bounds. Somehow, they say, I've crossed the boundary of what I'm allowed to write about. They are angry that I'm now writing about something outside my defined area.
    I'm usually taken aback by this, because I didn't realize I'd actually agreed to any boundaries.
    A similar thing happened to me here on PT last weekend, too.

    A person criticising my posts really tried to go to town on me, calling me ‘petulant’ and accusing me ‘attack[ing] with no genuine foundation’ and putting ‘multiple links to old and irrelevant posts’ (That’s a crime? Don’t like it? Don’t click the link!) and overall accusing me of being a nasty person waging a ‘one-sided war’ on another forum member.

    The poster went on to broadly denigrate my humble contribution to PT (“your posts do nothing to educate or add to this forum”) and announce he/she would from now on boycott my business Empower Education because of my “behaviour”.
    Originally posted by Slapper View Post
    On the basis of your behaviour here on PT I would never spend another dollar with Empower although I have in the past.
    Then as a followup, my newfound critic told me I should be ‘ashamed’ of myself for mentioning a very short bible verse (Ephesians 5:11, if you care: “and have nothing to do with the unfruitful works that darkness produces. Instead, expose them for what they are”) that someone had emailed me in support of my comments ... either be ashamed or admit to being a religious hypocrite, was the gist of the criticism.

    Pretty negative. And all this from an anonymous poster called “Slapper”. (I know. Don’t say it.)

    Now, it’s OK. I can take it. THIS IS NOT A COMPLAINT. I've been forthright in my own comments -- but not abusive, IMO.

    But it got me thinking about things.
    • First, wow, I really did push somebody’s buttons.

    • Second, what anonymous Slapper was really saying was: “Shut up! Stop saying what you're saying.” Or as Seth Godin’s post above says more elegantly: “You’ve crossed the boundary of what you’re allowed to write about.”

    • Third, the fact that my writing was classed as “behaviour” was also interesting. Basically, I see myself as someone with opinions and PT is somewhere I go to share some of them. Oops, it's a discussion forum.

    Then, today, getting my daily Huffington Post fix (I got hooked during the US Presidential campaign and haven't managed to shake it off) look at what I saw:



    OBAMA: "IT WOULD BE WRONG TO STAY SILENT" ... is just Ephesians 5:11, isn't it? (I hope we can safely mention the bible in this thread -- it's obviously relevant to the topic.) Obama's full comments are here.

    Well. It made me think again about this 'collusive silence' issue ... and anonymous Slapper's attempt to shut me down with abuse ... Not OK. Especially ANONYMOUSLY. (I thought the PT rules made that clear?)

    The moderators, blessings be upon them, have indicated to me before their view that I have to be prepared to take a bit of stick. That’s OK too. I can stand the scorn.

    I’ve been upfront about who I am/who I work with when expressing my honest personal opinion about what I see as important issues here at PT. Yes, critical, even harsh -- but they’re MY personal opinions, nobody else’s. But because anonymous Slapper knows who I am, my workmates & I can cop it. Should my colleagues at Empower Education suffer a boycott as result of my opinions? I don't claim to be perfect but it seems 'off'. It's a free country, of course.

    As I posted to anonymous Slapper:
    Originally posted by PeterEmpowerEd View Post
    Of course it would be easier for me to publicly announce an intention to boycott your business based on the honest expression of your personal opinions... if we knew who you were.
    How do you engage with an angry glove puppet out to punish you?

    Any comments or thoughts, fellow PTers? (Oh, oh. Politics and religion in the same post? Gulp. All we need is someone to mention 'fiat money' and we'll explode!)
    Peter Aranyi
    Blog: www.ThePaepae.com

    Comment


    • #62
      "But because anonymous Slapper knows who I am, my workmates & I can cop it. Should my colleagues at Empower Education suffer a boycott as result of my opinions"

      Yes.
      He can hardly boycott you personally, by refusing to slow down when you cross the road, or denying you nookie etc. So anonyomous slapper is making a statment the only way they know how. No doubt he/she was one of your best customers that spent thousands of dollars with your business why otherwise would he/she think this boycott would affect you so much. Clearly his/her boycott is hurting your business financially and if you do discover who he/she is you will then be able to measure the effect in dollar terms rather than a vague guess as I have done. You could then pursue anonymous Slapper through the courts for lost income and loss of face due to petty insult or whatever the legal term is.
      As for Obama Barrack saying it would be wrong of him to remain silent, he has clearly forgotton this mantra at times such as the twenty years he listened to his racist Reverend and mentor and not once said something along the lines of "hey isnt that a wee bit racist, you know some of those Jews are good people"
      Alas he remained silent, perhaps he did not think that was wrong, if so I apologise for implying that he did not live by the creed that "it would be wrong of him to remain silent" and I have misjudged the fellow.
      Yes people can be two faced, hence the term turn the other cheek.

      Comment


      • #63
        Originally posted by WBuffett View Post
        Yes.
        He can hardly boycott you personally, by refusing to slow down when you cross the road, or denying you nookie etc. So anonymous slapper is making a statement the only way they know how.
        Excellent comment!
        As for 'pursuit through the courts', reports of my litigious nature are greatly exaggerated (as Mark Twain may have said?) Anyway, no massive downturn in business yet.

        I still breathe a sigh of relief Obama is in office. - cheers, P
        Peter Aranyi
        Blog: www.ThePaepae.com

        Comment


        • #64
          crikey I think I need to spend less time on twitter I seem to have been missing out on all the good threads

          Comment


          • #65
            I've just discovered the flip side of this. I spoke out in 2005 about something I thought was wrong. Over time I've gathered a large number of anecdotes from people with similar concerns.

            Now the crowd I outed are claiming defamation. Just how far do you go before you have to "cover sin"?
            Charging enough rent?
            NZ Scams to Avoid
            Add a sleepout to your rental property

            Comment


            • #66
              Originally posted by sarahk View Post
              Now the crowd I outed are claiming defamation. Just how far do you go before you have to "cover sin"?
              Tried 4 times but Link is broke.
              You getting paid per click ???

              Cheers
              HermanZ

              Comment


              • #67
                Didn't work for me either.
                "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx

                Comment


                • #68
                  Originally posted by sarahk View Post
                  I've just discovered the flip side of this. I spoke out in 2005 about something I thought was wrong. Over time I've gathered a large number of anecdotes from people with similar concerns.

                  Now the crowd I outed are claiming defamation. Just how far do you go before you have to "cover sin"?
                  Link works for me fine.

                  I once considered using NBO for paid advertising however during my research I had many questions and the benefits I could not fully justify.

                  Many of the questions I needed to consider were:
                  -Was the business model legal?
                  -Is it a scam or merely just questionable?
                  -Will I get return for my dollars vs click through costs etc?
                  -Does the business run ethically to a high standard which I would consider spending money with?

                  Comment


                  • #69
                    Originally posted by HermanZ View Post
                    Tried 4 times but Link is broke.
                    You getting paid per click ???

                    Cheers
                    HermanZ
                    The hosting company I use was suffering from Friday-itis

                    Originally posted by whitt View Post
                    -Was the business model legal?
                    Online directories are legal and can be run very successfully as Finda.co.nz discovered.

                    My point, though, was that you may feel ethically obliged to make some noise (whether those feelings are inspired by one's religion or some other source) but the personal cost may be too great to bear.

                    I wonder if that was Dean's real motivation back when he posted his blog, and it was financial conservatism that was behind his silence rather than "the big guy" having a yarn with him.
                    Last edited by sarahk; 26-06-2009, 10:38 PM.
                    Charging enough rent?
                    NZ Scams to Avoid
                    Add a sleepout to your rental property

                    Comment


                    • #70
                      "Covering sin?" or "Covering backside?"

                      Originally posted by sarahk View Post
                      I wonder if that was Dean's real motivation back when he posted his blog, and it was financial conservatism that was behind his silence rather than "the big guy" having a yarn with him.
                      Divining motivations is very tricky (if it's possible), but I think we pretty well established that Dean Letfus's blog post was in part a coded message to Phil Jones along the lines of: "It wasn't me that squealed to the Sunday Star Times about the revolt of the Blue Peak licensees seeking their money back". (see Whitt's post, second in this thread)

                      Viz:
                      Originally posted by Dean Letfus
                      So while I was away at Camp the first independent public exposure of the issue has happened, without my involvement or assistance at all.
                      i.e. "Not me, Phil. Honest, I had nothing to do with that story. I was away at Camp!"

                      ... leaving others with more backbone (or less to lose?) than Dean Letfus who were also aware of the Blue Peak financial train wreck, to carry the burden and face Jones's retribution. Which they did.
                      Peter Aranyi
                      Blog: www.ThePaepae.com

                      Comment


                      • #71
                        Hi Sarah. My blog purely reflects my convictions. I endeavour to do what God tells me to do, that's the beginning and end of it.

                        Comment


                        • #72
                          Better to die on your feet than live on your knees

                          Originally posted by sarahk View Post
                          ... you may feel ethically obliged to make some noise (whether those feelings are inspired by one's religion or some other source) but the personal cost may be too great to bear.

                          I wonder if that was Dean's real motivation back when he posted his blog, and it was financial conservatism that was behind his silence rather than "the big guy" having a yarn with him.
                          I’m pretty sure I had a call from this same NBO outfit -- fortunately after I'd seen some negative publicity about this type of operation elsewhere, which put me in a position to ask some pointed questions. They were definitely not a straightforward business operation, in my experience.

                          With me, they used a "we’re contacting you about renewing your listing" approach. This is also favoured by those dodgy fund-raising/community service/advertising invoice scam artists that call businesses about supporting a road safety magazine that doesn't exist, or the web domain registry that wants to charge double the 'real' price for registering a website name and sends plausible-looking paperwork looking for suckers, or an accounts department that’s not on its toes.

                          Why they're going so hard after Sarah K is a bit mysterious. I guess worried about derogatory comment (even if true) circulating the internet forever.

                          But on the issue of the possible costs of 'speaking out'... yes, it's a tough situation, isn't it?
                          On the one hand, stay silent and watch the rort continue to snare new victims (earlier in this thread I posted an article quoting former MP John Luxton's unsatisfactory excuses for walking away from his Blue Chip board position in silence) on the other, make yourself a 'target' for speaking up.

                          On Thursday (I'm not making this up) at a conference morning tea I got talking with a retiree who'd been invested in Lombard and was still feeling very, very angry with Doug Graham (another former MP who'd lent his name and credibility to an enterprise that turned out to be, sadly, shonky.) Her emphatic view was those directors hired for window-dressing should all give back their fat fees -- and put that money into a pot for the investors. She was outraged at what she saw as their lack of forthrightness and their silence in the face of financial wrongdoing.

                          Of course ‘the baddies’ are often bullies. As Blue Chip was going down (so I am told) their lawyers frequently hassled the NZ Herald to keep bad PR at bay as long as possible. What we know now is that they were still selling BC 'deals' -- even to their own staff -- almost until the last minute.How much better would it have been for those victimised as the ship went down if Luxton or Irvine or someone else had the guts to blow the whistle a year or two earlier? (Same with the Blue Peak fiasco related to this thread.)

                          --

                          The threat is often “defamation proceedings” just as Sarah is facing (the threat, not the action). Defamation is an extraordinarily expensive course of legal action to take, according to most lawyers you’ll talk to -- and a real gamble. Even if statements in question are 'proven' to be ‘untrue’, the injured party has to prove financial damage as a direct result of their publication.

                          So for example, while you might at first blush consider it pretty easy for Matthew Gilligan to prove Phil Jones's negative comments about Gilligan and GRA’s professional competence and ethics around the tax liens argument earlier this year were ‘damaging’ to their reputation ... it’s quite a different matter for Gilligan to show a financial loss has resulted. In fact, if I recall, Gilligan posted that GRA had "lost NO clients" as a result of Jones’s smear. (A shot in his own foot?) Although the offensive blog has been removed, pending... what?... the process has been expensive.


                          So it may be with these business directory wallahs. It’s one thing to say: “Oh those statements are technically untrue and my feelings are hurt”, quite another to show demonstrable financial harm (a drop in sales, cancelled subscriptions etc) as a result of the ‘bad’ publicity or those specific comments. Hence, I guess, the implausible effort by their lawyers to show that Sarah’s comments were somehow ‘made in the course of business’ - i.e. subject to the Fair Trading Act. Grasping at straws, if you ask me. Trying to intimidate her.

                          Of course, the financial cost of having the argument: instructing lawyers to answer letters, respond to a summons or statement of claim as necessary, and preparing a ‘defence’ can be extremely challenging. It’s too much for most people, especially if, like Sarah, they’re not directly victims but are rather just speaking out as a good citizen.

                          That’s why it’s common for people to cave in or crumble under the pressure and financial risk. They walk away. I can understand that, can’t you? Choose your battles.

                          --

                          It’s quite a different matter to pursue someone for redress.

                          My own experiences suing Richmastery for copyright infringement taught me a lot.

                          In his summary of ‘lessons’ drawn from the 1987 sharemarket crash as recorded in Lost Property, Olly Newland records:
                          4. Remember that all too often justice comes through the cheque book. If you can afford the huge costs of a court battle you are far more likely to get a fair go. If you cannot pay you will probably miss out. Tough luck.
                          Olly’s absolutely right. I recently had the pleasure of a long talk at the Empower Education offices with a client of ours who was the plaintiff in an early 1990s High Court case against a large real estate firm which had, the courts eventually found, acted deceptively when it sold him a property.

                          The case is now in the legal textbooks and quoted as a precedent in judgement after judgement. Among other things, it demonstrates real estate agents can’t use disclaimers to ‘contract out’ of their legal obligations to the purchaser.

                          But it cost him a great deal of money, time and energy and saw him and his family deal with stress and provocation by the agents and their lawyers. He came through and won his case, but at a very high cost -- and he was chasing something he’d lost, not just speaking up for principle.

                          Edmund Burke got it right with:
                          All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
                          Eventually, each of us has to locate the line in ourselves that, once crossed, provokes or inspires us to action -- sometimes that will mean speaking out or taking a principled stand in the face of potential reprisal.
                          Peter Aranyi
                          Blog: www.ThePaepae.com

                          Comment


                          • #73
                            I got a call from Mark Bryers in the early days of the Blue Chip thread. As you know the thread remained and (the way I see it) it gave the investors the opportunity to share their experiences and work out they needed to fight this wrong-doing together. Fighting the battle on your own is tough - however as shown with Blue Chip when you work together as team you stand a much better chance at being heard.

                            We (PropertyTalk) get threats often. However we have to stand up for 'freedom of speech' (within our rules ). There will always be bullies and I agree sometimes the threats turn really nasty and force you to weigh up your options. Good legal advice is a must - know what you can and can not do and stay true to it.

                            If you have to stand down - I guess you have already made your point and it hasn't gone unnoticed....especially in cyberspace with google caching pages etc. You may be forced to remove information from your site but it will still be found in google searches ....and there's not many people willing to take on google.

                            Cheers,

                            Donna
                            SEARCH PropertyTalk, About PropertyTalk

                            BusinessBlogs - the best business articles are found here

                            Comment


                            • #74
                              With me, they used a "we’re contacting you about renewing your listing" approach. This is also favoured by those dodgy fund-raising/community service/advertising invoice scam artists that call businesses about supporting a road safety magazine that doesn't exist,
                              This was one of the reasons I was not happy also and together with other factors declined paid advertising with them.

                              Comment


                              • #75
                                Another HAZARD of being forthright ...

                                I posted this as an inspiration when this book came out ...

                                Why speak up at all?
                                So many books try to expose bad behaviour and even worse practice but stop short of presenting specific examples. Despite the mass destruction to New Zealanders' wealth that the financial sector has wrought, the avenues of redress that ordinary folk have are so woefully inadequate that justice and accountability remain elusive. This reality is something our regulators should be ashamed of and it requires urgent redress if the individuals behind the offending companies are to be stopped from once again performing their tricks with impunity on another generation of Kiwi saving suckers.
                                Gareth Morgan - from his new book 'After the Panic'

                                I heard today from the publishers of this book: "there is a mistake in this book and it must be corrected" -- they're recalling all the unsold copies of the book and replacing them with a new edition.

                                In my experience THAT very expensive procedure is only triggered under threat of defamation or some other serious legal problem. (The Zero Taxes author Peter Sibbald had a book recalled for "serious copyright infringement" in 2007, I recall ... and didn't Michael Laws(?) have a book held up while they put stickers into it?)

                                I wonder WHOSE FEATHERS Gareth Morgan's new book has ruffled?

                                Good on Morgan, I say. The trouble is, one has to be so super careful to get the facts right... and have the evidence in support of any 'controversial' statements.
                                Last edited by PeterEmpowerEd; 13-07-2009, 06:36 PM.
                                Peter Aranyi
                                Blog: www.ThePaepae.com

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