Animal
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Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
From  Issue
7 July 2002
Bonzai Kitties

A week doesn't go by that we at Animal Rights Online don't receive at least one request for information on how to stop the cruelty at the Bonsai Kitty website. For those who haven't seen it, please don't give the webmaster the satisfaction of your visiting the site. For those that have seen it, the following letters from PeTA and the ASPCA may answer some of your questions:

Dear Friend,

Thank you for contacting us about BonsaiKitten.com. We share your disgust with this disturbing Web site and are extremely concerned about its influence. Please file a complaint at the following Web site: www.ifccfbi.gov. This is a reporting center Web site set up by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) for Internet fraud and other forms of Internet crime.

Although we have found this site to be a "joke," we still feel it is inappropriate and certainly not funny. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) investigated the origin of the site and found that the name and address under which the site is registered, a "Dr. Michael Wong in New York," is false information. The site was reportedly created by a student at M.I.T. as a joke among friends. When this site initially appeared in December, a local humane organization did get involved on a local level in checking out this person but discovered no evidence of actual animal abuse having occurred. We believe that the Web site's creator was simply trying to generate attention by upsetting people who care about animals.

So far, it has been an uphill battle, as the only law that even remotely covers issues like this is a law that covers e-mailed obscenities; therefore, if the site is not in violation of the host's user agreement, no law is being violated, and the site can remain up. As you may know, this site has been closed down at least twice before but continues to reappear with different Web addresses. If enough people file complaints with the FBI, stressing the influence it may have on cases of actual cruelty, maybe it will be removed permanently.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact us about this issue and for all you do to help animals.

Sincerely,

Kelly S. Cunningham
Administrative Assistant
757-622-7382, ext. 398
KellyC@peta-online.org 

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The ASPCA Speaks Out Against Bonsai Kitten
Presents Steps to Encourage Shutdown of Offensive Website

The ASPCA shares your anger and concern about the Bonsai Kitten website. Our investigation of this website showed that it was false and bogus. It is a "joke" website that is mired in poor taste and immature humor that is obviously the creation of an uninformed individual with too much time on his hands.

We appreciate your effort in contacting us, and would like to pass to you some general information on how to fight against this and other sites which you may encounter. Unfortunately, new ones appear every day.

While internet technology has made a positive contribution to our society, it has also resulted in the rapid expansion of publicity for individuals who promote animal abuse. Moreover, thanks to the active participation of web-users such as yourselves, the above-mentioned website has been forced to shut down and move a number of times.

In the United States, individuals have the constitutional right to Freedom of Speech and therefore, they may discuss and advocate for animal abuse on the Internet and in other public forums. If they go beyond words and speech and actually practice what they preach, animal cruelty is a crime in every state.

A 1999 federal law bans the knowing creation, sale or possession of depictions animal cruelty, with the intention of placing the depiction into interstate or foreign commerce for commercial gain. The new law covers any visual or auditory depiction of intentionally maiming, mutilating, torturing, wounding or killing a live animal. If the conduct in the depiction is illegal under federal law, or state law in the state where the creation, sale or possession takes place, then this new law will apply.

The place where the actual animal cruelty took place is not significant under this statute. Anyone convicted of the interstate or foreign sale of these depictions of animal cruelty can be faced with a fine, or up to a five year prison sentence. Exception is made for depictions serious with religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical or artistic value.

We encourage concerned citizens to write the various internet service providers which host these websites that advocate animal abuse. You can find the address of the provider by connecting with Network Solutions and inputting the name of the website. PLEASE NOTE that Network Solutions is not responsible in any way for the content of the websites they register. Remember, Network Solutions is also the ASPCA's registrar and a very fine company.

We also suggest that you contact local and national media organizations to make them aware of these sites. Finally, you may want to write the online providers with which you regularly do business to encourage them to screen their own sites and not allow websites which promote animal cruelty.

If you have concrete information that an individual is engaged in the creation, sale or possession (with intent to sell) of these depictions of cruelty, and you know the city in which this person lives, the most effective response remains with traditional measures. While the ASPCA is a national organization in many respects, our powers to enforce animal cruelty statutes are limited by law to the State of New York. We care, however, that acts of animal cruelty and neglect be addressed wherever they occur. In this situation, we would urge that you contact any or all of the following organizations and advise them of the facts of the situation:

For more information, please visit these websites:

ZDNet: Bonsai Kitten: An Obvious Hoax
http://netscape.zdnet.com/zdhelp/stories/main/0,5594,2692699,00.html 

Wired.com: FBI Goes After Bonsaikitten.com 
http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,41733,00.html 

2000 The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal

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