May 26, 1999
BUSH REQUESTS "LIMITS TO FREEDOM"
Internet bites Bush: Not news. Bush bites Internet: News!
Contact: Ray Thomas (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org)
Zack Exley (mailto:email@example.com)
The satirical website GWBush.com has received several million hits since a press conference Friday at which Texas governor and probable presidential candidate George W. Bush called its owner "a garbage man" and said "There ought to be limits to freedom." The outburst followed two separate attempts by Bush campaign attorneys to shut down the site. (For coverage of the comments, please visit the press archive at http://gwbush.com/.)
Those behind GWBush.com--a Boston computer consultant named Zack Exley, and RTMark--ascribe their site's newfound notoriety to the interesting nature of Bush's words themselves, and also to the ease and speed with which ordinary people can make their voices heard on the Internet. The statement, besides being broadcast on television and reprinted in hundreds of newspapers in the U.S. and abroad, immediately became a hot topic of discussion on the Internet.
According to RTMark spokesperson Ray Thomas, "Anyone at all can now compete for attention with huge, wealthy corporations--or with well-funded candidates. Bush's 'limits to freedom' quote is interesting because it reflects the (usually unspoken) desire of certain market segments to suppress this potential of the Internet."
"The Internet has amplified the voice of the ordinary citizen," said Exley. "This web site is only two months old and cost only $210, yet we already have more readers than many major political magazines. Americans are excited about this new power and freedom, and they will distrust a candidate who says he wants to limit that freedom."
Bush's statement was the latest in a series of widely-reported gaffes related to GWBush.com. Here follows a blow-by-blow account of the action:
1. The Bush campaign fails to reserve permutations of Bush's name, and in December of 1998 Zack Exley purchases GWBush.com, GWBush.org and GBush.org.
2. Upon noticing GWBush.com, with content by RTMark and Exley, Bush campaign advisor Karl Rove belatedly scrambles to reserve up to 260 'bush'-related domain names (Bush campaign accounts of the actual number vary). When this frenzy becomes a running joke on the internet, Bush spokespeople claim the names were reserved in the summer of 1998. (Internic records available to the public reveal that the domains names were in fact reserved two months after Exley reserved his.)
3. Bush attorney Benjamin Ginsberg sends Exley a cease-and-desist letter, and shortly afterward registers a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission.
4. The Bush campaign tells press interested in the above situation that GWBush.com contains click-throughs to pornography sites. RTMark and Exley are inundated with emails from frustrated visitors seeking pictures of nude women. (Note: GWBush.com has never contained nor linked to pornographic images of any kind.)
5. The Bush campaign tells press that GWBush.com is deceptive. (Meanwhile, the Bush campaign uses the negative domain names it has bought--bushblows.com, bushsux.org, etc.--to point unsuspecting Internet users to the official campaign website.)
6. Governor Bush himself lashes out at GWBush.com at a televised press conference, calling the site's owner "a garbage man" and saying "There ought to be limits to freedom." The quote is widely reported and becomes a hot topic of discussion on the Internet.
7. Domain name speculators begin snapping up other names related to the Bush campaign, like gwcocainejr.com, bush-lite.com, and cokeisbush.com. GWBush.com itself has so far reserved justsayyestobush.com, fantasticbush.com, bushisnicelydressed.org, and about a dozen others.
For more about GWBush.com, including a partial press archive and letters from visitors, please visit the site itself.
RTMark (http://rtmark.com/) uses its limited liability as a corporation to sponsor the sabotage of mass-produced products. One of RTMark's ultimate aims is to eliminate the principle of limited liability. Occasionally, as with http://www.gwbush.com/, RTMark participates in advocacy directly related to issues of corporate abuses of the political process.