Yesterday I received a letter from the lawyers of Chef Peter Tempelhoff of newly opened FYN Restaurant, reacting with threat and intimidation to my Blogpost dated 28 November, about being banned from his restaurant, which opened on 30 November. Some speculate that the banning is a cheap publicity shot by Tempelhoff, to fill his 40-seater restaurant, and that the lawyer’s letter is a follow-up to his marketing strategy, to attract further attention to the restaurant. Continue reading →
The wine industry is surprised about the repeated missives i.e. missiles from Neil Pendock, the blogging bully attacking Pieter de Waal, Secretary of the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group (SBIG), sponsor FNB, Christian Eedes as chairman of the judging panel, and the Sauvignon Blanc producers generically. Most readers of Pendock’s raving ramblings have no idea what his fight is all about. There is no better book title to describe this mess than the one penned by Pendock himself, appropriately entitled ‘Sour Grapes‘!
The Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group, with the material muscle of its sponsor FNB, is not allowing polemic Pendock to get away with his defamation, denigration, and disparagement, and has taken action Continue reading →
It all began with Naashon Zalk, who with his House & Leisure editor wife attempted to defraud us at Whale Cottage Hermanus in October. I posted a warning to other guest houses on Twitter, Facebook, and made an indirect mention of it on my blog. Instead of paying us, Mr Zalk spent an incredible amount of energy on having our mentions of him removed on Facebook and our blog. The Twitter mentions cannot be removed, as I too have learnt.
It was the “Take-Down” request that I received from Hetzner, our server until last week, that alerted me to the power of the server in blocking Freedom of Speech, in their own self-interest of not being dragged into any legal matters. Despite arguing for Freedom of Speech, Hetzner was quite clear about changes having to be made or else they would close down my website, which was like pointing a gun to my head, given that our website is our source of bookings.
When I saw the disparaging and untruthful comments made about ourselves on This Tourism Weekly website, I approached the owner Martin Hatchuel, and requested that he remove the comments. He refused. We then used the now familiar “Take-Down” procedure, requesting of Hetzner that the three comments be removed. Hetzner gave Hatchuel the same pressure – remove the three comments or we will close down your site. Hatchuel refused, and Hetzner closed down his site. This led to a Hatchuel-the-victim-at-the-hands-of-Chris-von-Ulmenstein blogpost by Carl Momberg, telling a very one-sided story, and not blaming Hetzner for this. We wrote a blogpost in response to Momberg’s slander. We were unable to request a “Take-Down” of Momberg’s post, as his website is hosted in the UK. Ironically, quick as a shot and demonstrating his double standards, Momberg approached Hetzner, requesting deletions to our blogpost, which we had to make under duress of having our site closed down. Not satisfied, Momberg had the whole blogpost taken down via Hetzner, despite us arguing for Freedom of Speech. In a chain reaction, Michael Olivier, editor of Crush!, and the childish Twitterer David Cope of The Foodie Blog forced edits of blogposts referring to them via Hetzner.
This, together with the request by Cape Town Tourism’s PR Manager Skye Grove, Michael Olivier and Carl Momberg to have the Whale Cottage Blog closed down completely, prompted the move of our website to an American server, which makes our site untouchable to any further “Take-Down” requests. We have reinstated our censored blogpost and other edits.
Despite the right to freedom of speech in our constitution, and on the internet in general, South African servers (and I only have experience of Hetzner) do not apply this. Whilst one is given an opportunity to respond and to refuse a “Take-Down” request, it became very clear to me that they are determined to not get on the wrong side of ISPA (Internet Service Provider Association), through which all “Take-Down” requests are channelled, and to not get involved in any potential legal action.
Excerpts of the ISPA Code of Conduct are the following:
* “ISPA members must respect the constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression
* ISPA members must make all reasonable efforts to resolve complaints in accordance with the complaints procedure.
* ISPA members must co-operate with ISPA in accordance with the complaints and disciplinary procedures and comply with any decisions taken by ISPA with respect to the Code of Conduct and complaint and disciplinary procedure.”
In our experience, it would appear that our Freedom of Speech, the very first point on the ISPA Code of Conduct, was violated by our server in requesting us to close down a blog post and to make editorial changes, given that most of these requested changes have been “frivolous, unreasonable, vexatious or in bad faith”! We call on ISPA to relook its Code of Conduct, or more importantly its application, to allow responsible Freedom of Speech on the internet.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage