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Horses, gossip, and free speech issues..or "hey, there is an elephant in the room."

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  • Horses, gossip, and free speech issues..or "hey, there is an elephant in the room."

    I took this from the Horse Show Diva website written by the administrator (whomever that is??) It really raises valid questions about how far is too far and who exactly controls cyber space and the free speech issue therein. Allegedly, there is an article coming out this weekend regarding these sites. It also serves as an example of what can happen when people post anonymously and/or minors who post incriminating photos of themselves on a public BB. A real eye opener. All this fulminated between three specific sites, horseshowdiva, horseshowspy and Mason Phelps Face Book personal page.
    I guess I think it is a good thing to talk about the elephant in the room. I hope COTH agrees.

    Hey pot? It’s the kettle calling! A certain MP has declared internet war against Horse Show Diva and allegedly Horse Show Spy and has claimed to have filed lawsuits in various States regarding the websites both in Federal Court and State courts. Ironically MP started internet gossip for the equestrian community back in 2004 (and possibly before that) when he created Hildegard Frostbite the “dishy gossip” for the equestrian world. First published in Sidelines and then adopted to his website and syndicated throughout the United States, he continues this character. Why not just say “I am Hildegard Frostbite?” Isn’t that what you are asking of Diva and Spy? You want to “out” others but hide behind your veil. Sidelines would get hundreds of blind emails with juicy equestrian scoop and he would pick and chose what to write about. Do you think alluding to the person by description and not naming the person makes printing comments about them right, MP? Whose to say the information you received and printed was factual? Will Sidelines be subpoenaed to produce all emails, as well as the MP site, to see who is feeding gossip to Frostbite? The ole’ saying that comes to mind is “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”. Oh, that’s right, MP hides behind the alleged journalism privilege not to disclose its sources. Why did you not go after Patrick Doherty who runs Spy and sells Manolo Blahnik Paddock Books to the upper echelon of equestrians? Oh yeah, cause he friends with your PR clients. People like the Goodmans and many others. Wasn’t there a picture of MP and Patrick from a Charity on the Palm Beach Post back in 2007 or so? The Manolo Blahnik Paddock boot site/equestrianchic.com on the very bottom directs you to none other than “Horse Show Spy”. Buy hey, more power to Patrick and Spy. They can do as they wish. He started the site as his webpage states to counter the horse show world and give a place for people to speak their minds.

    He claims writer Michele Dargan, his FB friend, is writing a front page story that dishes all about Diva. Will she credit MP for his FB frenzy where he accused innocent people of having blog names? He does say on his FB that he started all this “nonsense”. Will she mention how many new subscriptions MP got to his blog site where he claimed people could pay and see more Diva doings all in the last week? (I mean clearly in a lawsuit and countersuit MP will have to disclose this information and it will show how his antics were solely done to bolster his subscription base and FB.) Guys and girls, you fell for his bait hook line and sinker. He has a huge financial gain. Certainly the article will refer people to MP and he has already stated his intentions to post it on his FB for all to see and then some. What, more publicity for MP?

    How about the new PR customers, what 5 more now? Did MP ever think that certain judges, stewards, and usef officials were posters on Spy and Diva? Do you want them to step out? How about clients of his PR firm posting on Diva? Did he consider that? How about “A White Horse” a horse blog that comments on horse scams and crimes, with all names and arrests noted? Will they mention the Chronicle of the Horse Forums that has had such popular threads such as The Games Trainers Play: Florida Horse Saga with 1,550 posts and 156,275 hits or the favorite Drug Use in Professionals that had numerous views and over 2,000 hits and then an added thread that continued the comments. That one has been a favorite from September 2000 to the present. They are so popular that the Chronicle archived them as favorites. How about the numerous Chronicle threads that discuss judges and opinions? How about certain authors/judges/trainers that wrote Chronicle articles and people commented, not so nicely, about them and no one sued the Chronicle. Will there be comments about the USHJA asking competitors to complete surveys about the showgrounds, footing, judges, etc? Obviously a competitor’s opinions are necessary to the continuation of the horse show approvals and judge credibility/accountability. Clearly the USEF has interest in hearing about all the Shamateurs that have been outed on the Chronicle, Spy, and Diva? MP noted that USHJA was unhappy because people commented on Diva about the trainer programs for certification and their likes and dislikes? Really? Is hearing about the arrests of professionals wrong if the public entity that arrested them posts it online or in articles about them? I mean didn’t horse show blogs find missing horses and help innocent people get their animals back?

    How about the hotbed of activity on Chronicle anytime someone mentions Paul Valliere? Gee, in just three, still standing Chronicle threads, there were over 106,000 hits. So it’s fair game to go after Paul Valliere but not other horse people that have victimized people? Will MP admit that he created and was organizer of the event Equus Medal and hired Paul Valliere to participate as a judge in an equitation event and thought it was okay because it was not a rated event? Then he had to ask him to step down because of the controversy.

    “The Equus Medal format will be foreign to non-U.S. riders because it is judged under USA Equestrian Hunt Seat Medal Rules,” said Phelps. “That means they have to demonstrate their horsemanship and equitation, which are classes not done in Europe. This will be a new experience for these riders. They’re going to have to conform to our American system of going back to the basics and demonstrating their skills over a junior course, 3’6” in height – not big, not tricky, but perhaps a little technical.”

    Norman Dello Joio, Ellen Lordi and Paul Valliere will officiate and also collectively design the course. “It will be judged on numbers – three judges, three locations,” explained Phelps.

    How about MP’s comments in the article dated February 1, 2006 about Paul:

    "I support Paul 100 percent," Mason Phelps, Valliere's longtime friend and former owner of Glen Farm in Portsmouth, said yesterday. "What he did is unfortunate, but unlike some of the others who did this, Paul has acknowledged what he did. He certainly has been remorseful, and he has made the appropriate apologies publicly. He has abided by the sentence put out by our equestrian federation. He's paid his dues. I think it's time for him to be allowed him to come back. People who have done murders and rapes do their sentence and are back on the streets." "True," said Williamson, "but child molesters aren't allowed to be around children. Why should horse killers be allowed to be around horses?"

    Go to the Chronicle site at “Score One for the Little People” and search for Mason. See what others have to say. Heck search the entire Chronicle site for “mason” and read on. Did Mason go after those folks on the Chronicle site? Hell no….he would be out of business had he tried that.

    On March 16, 2005 Phelps Media posted the following:

    Many outstanding trainers have stepped to the plate, offering their expertise, giving their time, and supplying horses for lessons for the R.W. Mutch scholarship program. Rolfs has trained this week with such outstanding trainers as Leo Conroy, Geoff Teall, Nona Garson, James Lala, Lisa Rex, Darren Graziano, Patty Harnois, Bill Cooney, Maria Lithander, Donald Cheska, Wilhem Genn and Paul Valliere. Some days she lessoned five times at five different barns. “It was a thrill to learn from so many great trainers,” she said. HE WAS SUSPENDED, DID ANYONE CATCH THIS?

    Will the writer speak about how parents learned their children’s Facebook pictures included illicit activity and they learned about it from Diva? Or that certain trainers bogarted extra commissions on horse sales? Really, you want to file a lawsuit and say its not right I NEVER took extra commissions or shared commissions with a zillion people? Really? When you sue someone you know damn well you expose yourself. Are your closets clean? Did you know that once you sue its ALL public record for everyone to see? Clearly MP will update the lawsuits on his paid site. Hmmm, who makes money….yep you got it.

    I would like MP to state specifically what content that was posted on the DIVA site was objectionable and worthy of suing for? Exactly what professional that was wronged on DIVA allegedly has hundreds of thousands of dollars to file and fund a lawsuit? Is Ms. Tamara Tucker going to handle that free of charge? You have to have STANDING to sue.

    Is MP going to sue Perez Hilton for his blog?
    The thing about smart people, is they look like crazy people, to dumb people.

  • #2
    I think it's one thing to start with a verifiable statement of FACT, and discuss it. A fact such as, "This person was arrested for DUI," or "That person was suspended by the USEF for giving a horse reserpine."

    It's an entirely different thing to state something as a fact when it cannot be verified, but discuss it as if it's true.
    It's also a different thing to state an opinion that serves no purpose, other than to insult or hurt someone. For example, posting a picture of someone solely to make fun of their looks or fashion ensemble is flat out wrong, on any site.

    Vulgar, racist, immature, mean-spirited, hateful comments- also flat out wrong, in my opinion.

    I prefer to stick to sites where people show a little decorum, and where there are moderators for those who can't even spell decorum, much less show it.


    • #3
      Unfortunately MHM, you find all of the above here and then some. Until you have been the brunt and folly of those who are mean spirited, nasty, rude, vulgar, lying, sniveling, trash talking fools, you don't always see things, or bulletin boards, for what they really and truly are. Even some of the moderators have been known to be in cahoots with those who don't play nice.


      • #4
        Well, after wading through the first incredibly disorganized post (what I assume is a quote from someone else somewhere), I can say that it appears as if it is just more of the same finger pointing and gossip it also seems to be decrying.

        There is an immense amount of nastiness and gossip in all communication spheres. That is normal (there is also a great deal of 'overdriven sensitivity' on the internet in which people fly into a rage and take umbrage simply because someone doesn't agree with them on some ridiculously trivial point of horse management - FYI, 'I disagree' is not the communication equivalent of 'I declare war and a continuing cat scratch battle for the next 20 years'). The difference is that the internet can be viewed by a great many people, and it is taken as having some sort of 'truthfulness' or 'value' to it. We often used to assume that books, magazines and newspapers had some 'air of authority'. But we also tend to give a great deal of credence to 'my neighbor says'.

        The law has really just started to grapple with the problem of the internet. But I would think it might be wise to remember, that

        1. You can't get sued for just any little thing.

        2. Even if you can't get sued for something, it probably is wise to consider how it would make people feel, and how likely it is to be true

        'Jim told me that Bill hasn't paid his debt at the feed store' is a little different from 'Bill is a cheat'. Neither would land you in a lawsuit, but there are problems with each. 'Jim told me' is usually heard as, 'The Gospel says'.

        Recently a poster got some pushback for declaring some of Lingh's babies are only suitable for canning. There was some pushback, including from Lingh's owner (LOL, the miracle of COH).

        The poster indicated that she didn't mean they really were, and since there is no 'flow of conversation' ('did you hear so and so said lingh's babies are only good for the canner', 'oh gosh, how mean', 'oh yeah, i would never say that') people had misinterpreted her. I read the earlier comments about 6 times and found no hint of anything other than she didn't like the stallion, mostly based on, I believe, not being aware of his competition success or the meaning of his stallion examination comments (which are supposedly made public....somewhere....but the writer of the examination is not attributed....).

        Sometimes, it''s far better to say, 'He's not a favorite stallion of mine', than to say 'People say', and just have a little bravery and state it as an opinion and accept that others won't agree, and accept the flack that will come.

        Many of those opinions are based on....lack of knowledge. The criticism leveled at Lingh by the poster was a straight shoulder. It is a ridiculous thing to discard a successful sport horse stallion over. In fact, a great many horses do very well in FEI sport despite standing fairly straight. As I was taught long ago, what really matters is what happens in motion. And in Lingh's case, he has great freedom of the shoulder in motion. While a traditional 'nice thing' a laid back shoulder does not preclude a horse from great freedom of motion if the scapula is long and coupled with a good forearm and other favorable proportions overall. A horse that wins for years with a top European professional and then takes an amateur with little experience around the ring and introduces her to the world of international dressage, has SOMETHING going for him, and the knowledgeable experienced breeders beating a path to his door are not dummies about conformation, temperament or gaits.

        No court in the land will sue you for saying, 'He's not a favorite stallion of mine'. Saying, 'None of his offspring have gotten approved' or 'All of his offspring have club feet', might be closer to actionable, but only if it actually hurts the owner's business in a way they can measure, document and present to the court.

        And in fact, the court does expect people to use common sense, and simply ignore things that don't appear to be particularly factual. It isn't always guaranteed to wind up in a rich and happy person walking out of court.

        The bottom line is that we can't set standards for behavior based on what the court would successfully prosecute. We have to have social standards that are based on respect of other people. The court is the judicial branch of our government, not a morality police. That we have to manage ourselves.


        • #5
          Wait, so this is a "Diva and Spy got slammed for being catty witches and now we're all going to Neener at Coth because they commented on truthful PV issues."
          You're a member over there OP...and not adverse to being rude online at all judging by your posting history here. Some may find it ironic that you're the one starting a thread on Coth about how nasty someone else finds Coth while they're trying to justify their own nastiness. From a BB that's only about gossip and nothing else.
          And talk about irony:
          Unfortunately MHM, you find all of the above here and then some. Until you have been the brunt and folly of those who are mean spirited, nasty, rude, vulgar, lying, sniveling, trash talking fools, you don't always see things, or bulletin boards, for what they really and truly are. Even some of the moderators have been known to be in cahoots with those who don't play nice.
          I'm sure the mods are going to love hearing it's their fault other posters don't have any abilities of fitting into a social group.
          You jump in the saddle,
          Hold onto the bridle!
          Jump in the line!


          • #6
            Belplosh, mean people stink, but they are everywhere, particularly on the Internet. The combination of anonymity and a computer adds up to some very nasty behavior sometimes.

            I have found the ratio of mean people to be a bit lower on this BB than on many other sites, and I think the moderation here has been pretty fair and even handed lately. I'm sorry if you haven't had the same experience. There is the occasional conflict or train wreck, but I think the frequency is pretty low, considering how many people post here.

            I believe the old adage still holds true: if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

            I try to avoid sites that seem to have the motto: If you can't say anything nasty, don't bother posting here.


            • #7
              I am not saying we have to fit in, I am saying that I have seen some very catty, nasty things being said or others slide under rules while some get slapped on the wrist or gone after and no one does anything. Believe me, I have had several pm's and emails from others about those who want to have others believe they are pristine and always nice, if only the real truth could be told...many who have the last laugh wouldn't be laughing so hard.

              I am not saying I am innocent, I can be just as rude as the next person, but I don't go out of my way to intentionally hurt or poke fun at someone then come onto this board and lie through my teeth. I call a spade a spade....unfortunately not everyone wants to hear it and would rather have a little "something" to wipe off their nose....while behind their back laugh and poke fun at them or make up snide nasty nick names for them....course, I would know nothing about that...just what people tell me


              • #8
                Let's keep the focus here on horses vs. other sites' legal issues. We do our best on this site to moderate to our posted rules, which each user agrees to upon establishing an account.

                Those rules are written to encourage an environment that fosters debate and the exchange of ideas and opinions, but free speech does not apply here. If we feel a post or poster is violating the rules of our site, we will address the situation as we deem necessary.

                As we caution in those rules, while the Chronicle is generally legally protected re: the comments posted here, those posting them may NOT be, and, as posted in our Terms of Service, we will cooperate with the authorities if issues arise.

                Back to horses...

                Mod 1