Wired, Ellis Don

Why doesn’t the FBI stop these two nuts before someone really
does get hurt.

Undernet Shaken by Anti-Porn Crusade
by Steve Silberman

2:38 p.m. Jan. 15, 1997 PST

An evangelist who claims that his God-given calling is to “make
America straighter and whiter” is causing anguish on the
Undernet, a global affiliation of Internet Relay Chat channels
that bills itself as “the friendly network.”

Calling himself “Reverend White … the most feared man on IRC,”
the self-proclaimed “Christian Realist” charges that the
Undernet “supports child porn,” and vows to lead an “IRC Watch”
campaign, using the nickname “RevWhite,” until the network is
purged of chat channels like #gayboysex. RevWhite has been
joined in his crusade by at least one vocal supporter, Don
Ellis, whose Web site, The American Guardian, promotes many of
the same values as RevWhite’s own Maryland Christian Politics

“This guy is the worst I’ve ever seen,” says Web designer John
Leth-Nissen, whose nickname on the Undernet (or “nick” in IRC
parlance) is “Deadelvis.” Undernet administrators claim that
RevWhite and his supporters have forged email and Usenet posts,
unleashed denial-of-service attacks, posted unlisted telephone
numbers, and made direct threats to those who voice opposition
or assist IRC channels targeted by RevWhite’s campaign.

At least one Undernet operator, whose nick was “Judi,” resigned
her volunteer post following threats made to her life and that
of her 9-year-old daughter after she “reopped” a gay channel
disrupted by RevWhite. “After that, he’d come on IRC with nicks
like ‘KillJudi,'” Judi says. “He’d say anything … to somehow
prove that I am, as he claims … a child molester.”

“He called and told me that he intends to kill my child,” she
continues. “I grew up terribly abused by my own parents, and I
was proud of myself for having the courage to work through that
and break that cycle. … I started getting phone calls from all
kind of freaks that he’d given my number to. My husband was
furious with me and said, ‘Just get off IRC.’ But I didn’t want
to let him win.”

Undernet operator and Unix consultant Mandar Mirashi insists
that RevWhite’s crusade – which has dominated the newsgroup
alt.irc.undernet for weeks – is more about self-promotion than
about battling exchange of pornographic GIFs on the
Undernet. “He’s destroying the newsgroup,” Mirashi says. “It
used to be a nice place for discussion.”

IRC operators say an inflammatory post RevWhite made to a white-
supremacy newsgroup bore Mirashi’s address – a tactic that, Leth-
Nissen points out, can be especially damaging as more and more
employers use Dejanews to compile background information on
potential employees.

The issue is further complicated by the fact that there is
confusion as to RevWhite’s true identity, with some Net denizens
believing that RevWhite, Ellis, and other defenders of IRC Watch
are, in fact, the same person. RevWhite has posted to the
newsgroups under various aliases, including names with the
initials “PSB.”

Neither RevWhite nor Ellis responded to Wired News inquiries,
and many of those contacted for this report asked that only
their “nicks” be used, fearing reprisals.

Several operators on the network say the trouble started almost
a year ago, when RevWhite began “flooding” IRC channels that he
claimed were hangouts for online pedophiles. One administrator
says that the targeted channels included any channel with gay
content, as well as channels frequented by African Americans.
RevWhite himself opened channels on the network with names like
#!!!!nigger, and one of RevWhite’s Web sites contains the annals
of the Negroid Research Institute, which – while insisting it is
not a hate site – awards “Nigger of the Week” prizes to
prominent blacks, and includes a science-fiction fantasy of the
chaos that would overwhelm civilization if every white person on
Earth died.

Ironically, Geocities, the Internet provider that hosts
RevWhite’s homepage, is lauded on HateWatch as an ISP with a “no
hate pages policy,” though the site boasts links with slogans
like “Thank God for AIDS,” and such declarations as, “Negroids
commit more crime than any group in history… Blacks rape
whites 1000x more than whites rape blacks. … It is estimated
that 3 percent of the population is homosexual, meaning that a
male homosexual is 23x more likely to moleste [sic] a child than
a straight male.”

Jeff Field, aka “Terabyte,” a 14-year-old Web designer who hosts
Windows-related help channels on the Undernet, says that he
helped Don Ellis’ brother Richard run an Undernet server in
Arkansas after receiving a request for assistance on a mailing
list. (The availability and willingness of Undernet operators to
assist users is one of the things that distinguishes the
Undernet from the other major IRC networks, such as EFNet). The
server had been online for a month or so, and “Don was going to
become an operator,” Field recalls, “but I had to de-link the
server from the network after somebody started changing the

One day after the server was removed from the Undernet, Field
says, he was subjected to a massive, disabling ICMP data-flood,
originating in Arkansas. Field’s name also started appearing on
Usenet posts that he hadn’t written, implying that Field
himself – an honors student in 9th grade – was a supporter of
child pornography.

Administrators admit that pornographic files are exchanged
during chat sessions on all three major IRC networks, but it is
Undernet policy not to police its thousands of channels for
content, and discussion of pornography itself is not illegal.
With 20,000 users chatting at one time, and 240,000 on the
network in a single day, monitoring content would be next to
impossible, says Undernet operator Angel111. And with a protocol
in place called Direct Client-to-Client that allows users to
link their machines directly for file exchanges, bypassing the
Undernet’s servers, holding Undernet operators responsible for
pornographic GIFs exchanged by users would be, says Field, “like
saying MCI’s backbone should be shut down because of porn on
somebody’s Web page, or suing the Post Office because of people
mailing dirty magazines.”

Undernet operators do, however, cooperate with police and the
FBI to snare child pornographers, and Angel111 points out that
the one time she gave RevWhite the means to take action against
a child-porn Web site by mailing him the name and address of the
site’s webmaster, he did nothing. “If he’d written just one
letter to law enforcement,” Angel111 explains, “I might believe
what he’s saying… If he really cared for children, he’d do
something in his own community, like getting single-parent child
support laws passed, or making sure his church group has
programs for kids.”

Getting RevWhite banned from the Net by tipping off his ISPs has
been difficult, Angel111 admits. “It took us six months to get a
contact at PacBell. These guys are only in it for the money.
They get their $20 a month, dump their users on us, and they
expect us to take care of it.”

Several operators indicate that they are fearful that RevWhite’s
campaign could add fuel to anti-Net hysteria in
Congress. “People who don’t know what’s behind his agenda could
be misled,” warns Mirashi. “Knowing lawmakers, it’s not

David Beam


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