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Sunday, May 22, 2011



Thank you so very much for posting about this, Liz.

I'm a bit exhausted after the last couple of days' events, I have the good news that Jenn indeed did write to wordpress some time this evening (CET) and they did give me back my rights to post. The two posts which caused the controversy are still turned to 'private', which means they can't be read. I'm going to take care of it tomorrow. The posts will be there -- and I'll take care of the quotes issue. It won't be a problem. Given the list rules, it shouldn't have been a problem in the first place. But I don't think copyright was the real issue here -- it was lost anonymity and reputation.

Thanks again, I'm incredibly grateful for all the support I've had, from you and from others. That has been amazing (while the reason for it all was a lot less thrilling).



thank you for covering this so well, Liz.

Here's Dan Dugan, the administrator of the Waldorf Critics list noting that 54 posts from Jenn (and a few answering replies) have been deleted from the list 'in response to her demand and assertion of copyright.'


Perhaps the bully met up with an IP attorney who explained "Fair Use."

I see this kind of thing over at "Dr. Amy's" (The SOB) all the time, although AFAIK, it's never gone as far as sending an actual C & D. Zzzzoey is quite correct: it's most often a person, ill-informed about copyright law, who is really trying to clean up the evidence of their own stupidity.


I received the following text via email from JennSW on 5/23/2011, at 7:48 pm PDT.

I don't know why Typepad wouldn't accept her post.

I have not changed any text, but I have added a few words [source] and HTML tags for clarity.

I have attempted to contact her via email, but it appears that the email address she supplied is somehow not functional, as the emails appear to be bouncing.

Dear Liz,

I tried to post this on your blog, but it says "Sorry, we cannot accept this data"

I can understand, sort of, why it might be fun to post reams of insults about me, personally, but why would you go out of your way to expose and humiliate my children? You can say I posted the stuff, but understand, I did so anonymously, and when they became no longer anonymous, I had the posts removed (most of your links are dead).

But why were you so are eager to share private, embarrassing details about children with all your readers? I'm sure you'll be very happy to know how upset this makes me, as a mother, but why punish my children for my mistakes?

And is that what your readers want from you? To see you parading personal details about children and their mental health around the Internet? Because if I were a reader, that would definitely make me run for the hills. Exposing a bitchy Mommy, OK fine, but linking to sordid details about her children? Really? Wow.

There is nothing you could do to me, to make me go after your children, as you have gone after mine. I would never, will never, and could never take it out on your children.

I was about to post this next part via e-mail, because I hate to criticize people in public, but last time I did that, you all accused me of being cowardly and not having the guts to post in public. Therefore, this makes me cringe, but if out in public is the only way you like to converse, so be it. I apologize Alicia, but I think this is relevant to a mother and a parenting blog:

Alicia may be, for all I know, a great authority and person in a wide variety of venues, but is someone who says:

I honestly don't care about schools or children at all.


I hate children, I have nothing to do with children!)


Yes all children decieve their parents. The exception being retarded children who would not know how to.


the right person to highlight on a parenting blog for special needs kids?

(By the way, someone over on critics would say that Alicia misspelled "decieve" because she went to Waldorf. That's the kind of personal attack people will find over there).

Also, I did NOT justify my e-mail. I said it was stupid, nasty and wrong, I even called it temporary insanity. I ONLY explained what had made me so upset that I got to that point. Justify. Explain. Not the same things.

I also did not bash religious schools and Montessori. Rather, I said that they, like all schools have people who hate them, that all pedagogies (and groups and clubs and religions and philosophers) have critics and haters against them.

Also, since yet another person brings up the "fair use" issue, I will explain again. Yahoo Groups has conditions that allow a group to use their technology--Yahoo Groups. One of these terms of service is that no one may copy any posts from Yahoo to any other Web site without permission from the original poster, period. Second, fair use does not cover nearly as much as people like to think it does, and definitely not private material that was posted anonymously. The legal departments at Yahoo and Word Press agreed with me. However, I also said that I'm fine with being a target of insults and having my philosophical views aired, just not personal details that were meant to stay that way.

[this is the email in its entirely, other than the identifying headers and signature]



I've been corresponding with both Alicia and ThetisMercurio for quite some time, in a warm and friendly fashion. At one point in the past, I too was threatened (rather unfairly I thought) with legal action over things I had posted to my blog, so I was sympathetic there, too.

Alicia in particular has a pungent way of expressing herself in English (her second language). I don't speak or read Swedish, so I can't comment on that.

I am not a member of PLANS (see below) nor am I a member of the Waldorf Critics (W-C) Yahoo group. To be even plainer: While I can read the posts at W-C, I do not have posting privileges. Because I am not a member, I take no responsibility for the tone or content of comments made there.

Both Alicia and ThetisMercurio contacted me via Twitter Saturday morning, asking my opinion of JennSW's cease & desist order against Alicia's blog, for matter that Alicia had quoted from the W-C list.

Frankly, as I mentioned on Alicia's blog, I started reading the Waldorf Critics threads out of boredom. And then it dawned on me that this was an illustrative story on social media and how it can go wrong. So I started taking notes and screenshots. Now, why did I take screenshots? I often do relative to communities that practice intense moderation of comments and posts.

The story had less to do with Waldorf, really, than how these new forms of connecting people (social media) play out.

Let's take the Waldorf and Steiner out of it. I'll rephrase the People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools (PLANS) concerns and mission statement (originals at the links)


1. Water Schools are Religious Schools
2. Water Schools are Based on Occult Theory (based on the theological writings of of Samuel Sally)
3. Publicly Funded Water School Programs Violate the First Amendment in the United States

1. Provide parents, teachers, and school boards with views of Water education from outside the cult of Samuel Sally.

2. Expose the illegality of public funding for Water school programs in the US.

3. Litigate against schools violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment in the US.

I thought it was curious that an individual would arrive at a group with such a worldview and proceed to deny the reality of that worldview.

I thought it was curious that an individual would arrive at a group with such a worldview and mission and proceed to disparage the mission, and then complain that the group wasn't "open-minded" (among other complaints).

I thought it was curious that an individual would arrive at a group with such a worldview, many of whose members had been damaged by practices that are inherent to that particular pedagogy, and and proceed to deny that it was possible that such harms and damages had happened, based on that individual's relatively recent association with the pedagogy.

I thought it was curious that a US individual would be so oblivious -- or even dismissive -- of the First Amendment concerns that form part of the group's worldview.

I thought it was --well, astonishing-- that an individual would arrive at a group and within four days, take legal action against another member of the group, without exploring any other remedy.

On to the substantive complaints in JennSW's comment, posted above

Re JennSW's complaint about "private, embarrassing details". In the post above, I didn't identify JennSW, her children, her child's school or any "details". So she is complaining about something that happened only in her mind. And by the time I posted this, I knew that most of the links going to JennSW's revelations about her children on a public forum had gone dead.

Re JennSW's complaints about Alicia's views on children and schools.

  • There are a lot of people who can honestly say, "I honestly don't care about schools or children at all." That does not abrogate their right to bear witness to their own experience as children, or to hold views about a particular pedagogy.

  • Alicia, both at the W-C list and on her own blog, has expressed deep concern about the suffering of children who are subjected to the particular pedagogy and world-view under discussion.

Re JennSW 's complaint about her inflammatory email to Alicia, and my response to it. To be blunt, what JennSW issued was a not-pology: "I'm sorry for what I did, but golly, I had to because what you did was so provoking."

Re JennSW's complaint that I accused her of "bashing": my exact words were [Jenn] discusses Montessori and religious schools in non-complimentary terms.. Again, the "bashing" is in her own mind, not mine.

Re JennSW's comments on "fair use": I haven't expressed an opinion on that, one way or another.


I'd like to thank Liz for her well-written response to Jenn who, it seems, still is rather unwilling to see her own part in this.

Yes, I do say provocative things occasionally. Sometimes it's deliberate, sometimes if just happens. (I don't go threatening to sue people if they find my statements disturbing, though.)

The child comment happened in a context (unsurprisingly). I'm often told I should have no opinions about schools or children if I don't want to enter this world myself. I think this is wrong. I think I'm very much entitled to an opinion; and I am, in fact, quite interested in the issue of children's rights, in particular in the context of religious, spiritual or (sometimes) political beliefs. I also have things to say about waldorf, based on my own experience and based on what I've learnt since. I'm frequently told that if I criticize, I should stop doing this and go out and work with children. I should go change public schools, because they're awful hell-holes, e g. This is not my task. But I can tell people about waldorf.

It's true that I don't like children. Hate is a provocative word, that's true. I don't enjoy being around children. Whether you call this hate or not -- and I sometimes do, in particular when I get irritated -- my attitude usually makes people upset. (Also in Swedish ;-)) You're not supposed to say you don't like children. Even if it is the truth.

I'm not particularly interested in children or schools, actually. Only some aspects of these issues. You could say, too, that while I'm interested in some theoretical aspects of these issues, I'm not the least interested in the practical side.

I've chosen not to be around children; children are not my thing. I understand that this miffs some parents, but sometimes, I think, it's because they fail to see that not everybody finds meaning in that wonderful thing they have found. And, self-evidently, people like me should not work with children. I would be very unsuited, in real life, to making schools better places. (I know my limitations.)

The deception comment also happened in a context, of course. And, no, I don't think there are any healthy children who never deceive their parent(s). The mere thought is preposterous -- not to say frightening. Isn't it a normal part of chilren's development to have feelings and thoughts they keep to themselves? My hunch is that this need to keep things from parents increases in an environment with (stricter) moral codes and with expectations from parents on the children to adapt to a certain culture. Waldorf children love junk food. They just don't tell their parents, because children usually don't like being frowned upon, and waldorf parents are frowning upon many things enjoyed by people in the rest of our modern society, things highly desired by waldorf kids... partly because they're not allowed access to them.


Ps. For some reason (not looking at the options) I managed to sign in with my twitter-id when I sent the first comment (above), so as not to cause confusion, I did the same now.


From a comment today by Dan Dugan at Waldorf Critics. (For beginners: Waldorf/Steiner pedagogy is based on Steiner's writings on Anthroposophy)

the relationship of Anthroposophy to Nazi philosophy.....

The beginning of the connection for me was when my son was going to the San Francisco Waldorf School. They had a little "bookstore" bookshelf of Steiner and Waldorf books. I pulled one off the shelf and while leafing through it encountered:

"You see, when we really study science and history, we must conclude that if people become increasingly strong, they will also become increasingly stupid. If the blonds and blue-eyed people die out, the human race will become increasingly dense if men do not arrive at a form of intelligence that is independent of blondness. Blond hair actually bestows intelligence. ... It is indeed true that the more the fair individuals die out the more will the instinctive wisdom of humans vanish." (Steiner, 1922, HI-1, p. 86)

OMG, I thought. These people believe Nazi racial theory. I asked teachers if they would repudiate this text. I expected they might say something like "That was a long time ago, and we think it was pure crap. Anthroposophists don't believe any of that nonsense." But no, they refused to repudiate it. All they would say was "some of Steiner is difficult."

This is the ideology being both imparted to children, and imposed on children, in Waldorf schools today

Here is what JennSW, (in one of the posts deleted at her insistence) had to say about that ideology:

I guess the thing is, I don't have any problem with modern Anthroposophy, and no problem with anyone being attracted to it

I do. I do have a problem with racism.


Jenn wrote:
'someone over on critics would say that Alicia misspelled "decieve" because she went to Waldorf. That's the kind of personal attack people will find over there'

I think they would put it down either to mistake or to my being Swedish, which I can spell just fine, despite my waldorf education. (As I told you already, I started to learn English as a teenager -- and I knew more German than English until I was well into my 20s.) Some waldorf kids spell atrociously though. (Because they aren't taught basic stuff like this. And some learn to copy bad spelling from the blackboard... If you don't devour books at home, like I did, then what are the chances you'd learn to spell correctly? That said, I, unlike many waldorf kids, had a waldorf teacher who *could* spell.)

Anyway, despite the occasional spelling mistake, nobody on WC ever said such a thing to me. (You did patronize me over language, however.)

'because I hate to criticize people in public'

You figure you can post claims like these now that all your posts on WC have gone from the archives?

'The legal departments at ... Word Press agreed with me.'

No, they didn't. They simply shut me off because you reported my blog. That's standard. In the initial phase, they don't investigate if the accusation is true. They don't do this until the concerned party, i e, me, contacts them. If they bother then; perhaps they don't. We never got to that stage because you chose to retract the accusations, and contacted WP about it.

Liz wrote:
'Both Alicia and ThetisMercurio contacted me via Twitter Saturday morning'

I'm just going to say, because things tend to return to bite me in the ass for no reason at all, that it must have been not me but Thetis, whom I thank for all she did during those days. I was pretty much only making the odd desperate exclamation on twitter, while trying to solve the situation (copying & moving posts...). I don't even remember if I contacted anyone (except Thetis). I'm grateful for all who contacted me though, when reading about this on twitter or facebook.



OT, Liz: I just had the same problem Jenn must have had (an error message: we can't accept this data, or something). Had to copy/save the comment and open the page again. Paste the comment. Then, suddenly, it worked fine.


1. I looked back thru my tweet stream. Yes,it was Thetis who contacted me .... I tweeted with Alicia (Zzzoey) later.

2. I wonder if the "we cannot accept this data" message happens when the comment box has been open longer than a certain number of minutes? I've had it happen on other blogs.


Yes - it was me! A few other bloggers also showed an interest via twitter, a boost for Alicia. Even Simon Singh asked what was happening. Luckily, Alicia didn't need to ask for his help.


*If I throw a rock at someone's head, and you ask "Why did you throw that rock?" and I say "Because that person gave me the finger," that is not at all, in any way, the same as saying it was OK to throw the rock. I explained that Alicia's comments provoked me into losing my temper. In no way, shape or form does that excuse my response! I don't know how much more clear I can be on that point. If you see aggressive words or actions, are you not curious what prompted them? Just as Alicia's "I hate children" comment was her being pissed off and reactive, and was quoted without prior context here, so was my letter entirely out of context on Alicia's blog. (You did provide some context here, but not the most significant of it).

*You have a good mastery of language and now how to use it to get a desired point across. You know very well that saying I had "non-complimentary" things to say about religious schools makes it sound like bashing, and not like I simply said "all schools have their issues."

*My mistakes are my own, but shouldn't invite or excuse mistakes by others.

*You assign all kinds of beliefs and philosophies to me that I never claimed to have. I only discussed concrete experiences.


First, the comment error message -- yes, it could be! I didn't encounter this problem the first time I commented, but I think I'd left the computer for quite a while before I wrote that particular comment, and I think this page was open all the time.


'I explained that Alicia's comments provoked me into losing my temper. In no way, shape or form does that excuse my response!'

It's ok that you lost your temper. I understand that. Your subsequent actions leave a few things to be desired, though. Instead of owning up to your temper tantrum, you took action against my blog, in a way that was totally unacceptable to me. You now say I provoked it, i e, the letter. Sure, I provoked you. You said a few things that could be construed as provocative, too, if one is inclined to be sensitive about provocation. So?

I have explained my child comment -- and there's definitely more to it than being pissed. If I say that I dislike children -- would that provoke you too? It's the truth, a truth which I frankly don't see why anyone would feel provoked by. The comment is about me, and my feelings; it's a general statement, not about, e g, your children or anybody else's.

Anyway, as to this: 'my letter entirely out of context on Alicia's blog'

Of course it wasn't out of context on my blog -- how on earth could it be? (Prey tell -- what's the 'context' of my blog?) I write on topics like waldorf and anthroposophy frequently. I had a letter sent to me by someone who disagreed with me. This letter was of a certain nature. People who criticize waldorf education do get nasty feedback, although I'm luckily spared most of that stuff. On the other hand, since I'm open about who I am, I'm also in the position where I'm able to expose nasty behaviour when it occurs.

'(You did provide some context here, but not the most significant of it).'

I find it pretty unbelivable that you complain about lost context when you've forced all your messages on W-C to be deleted. They contained the original context -- and since it's gone, I'm not sure you could reasonably complain about lost context anymore. Or, you could, but it does look pretty silly.


I would have been fine with 1/2 my comments staying on there--the ones having to do with my own views, and not about other people who did not give permission to be discussed. But no one was going to cater to that kind of selective removal. Also, you can delete all your own messages on Yahoo, which I was going to do when I realized that, but Dan got to it first.

I felt personally attacked, I lost my temper, I behaved badly. I don't wish to rehash every statement that made me lose my temper. As I've said, it really doesn't matter. Even if you had told me to f**k off, I am not someone who would normally write a letter like that--so what provoked me is not especially relevant for me. I was just trying to explain that it was a heat-of the moment response. But, I've explained this way too many times already, and I'm tired, so I'm dropping it now.


PS-Someone made cryptic phone calls and e-mailed me, and I totally panicked and called my lawyer, in emergency mode. I believe that ANY parent would understand that, whether they admit it here or not. It was very scary. I lost more than you did I'm sure, in stomach aches, sleep, worry, and money. After a few days, and after gaining information about location, etc., it feels more like a prank, designed to get exactly the rise out of me that it did. But at the time, I was sick with worry and felt I had to act in the most urgent, official way.

Lara Dean

The problem with these Waldorf hate groups and conspiracy theorists is that they take a handful of experiences, make dramatic, alarmist statements, and assign them to one and all, the exact same type of all-inclusive judgment that spurs racism and anti-semitism. Modern hate, in this case against Anthroposophists, is no different than the hate that led to slavery, the Holocaust or 9/11. It's the precise same hate that these people claim to, well, hate.

Dan could have walked into any school in America and picked up a book on Washington or Jefferson, American presidents who owned slaves, and seen comments far more cruel, hideous, racist - than anything Steiner said. Dan should go into a school and start raving about the author of the Declaration of Independence Dan, and see what kind of response he'd get. As pointed out on the critics group, PLANS holds Thomas Jefferson up as the opposite of Steiner, when he was a racist slave holder. Can we say IRONY at its best?!

Anyone who wants a taste of Jefferson's remarks about blacks and their nature and physiology, and brains, and about genocide of another "inferior race," (in his words) the Native Americans, and about the nature of Jews, either google, or find the recent post on waldorfcritics, and then feel free to run to the library to fact check. The most authentic, respected accounts of history do not delete these awful statements, because they, just like Anthroposophists know that one must study history in its entirety to understand it, and when we forget history, we are bound to repeat it, and when we leave out the unpleasant parts of philosophy and history, we will never understand the valuable parts. Not only Anthroposophists but many Central Europeans see Americans as people who leave history behind, forging forward with little knowledge or understanding of history and tradition, good or bad. This Liz's self righteous posts about racism are absurd. Name most any white male, key figure in history from before 1925, or any religion or philosophy from before that time, and I'll find you quotes and beliefs just as ominous as Steiner's. The point is to take the parts that were right, remember the parts that were wrong, and do the right thing with them now. Not everyone will, but we are all individuals.

Waldorf educators lost all government aid and put themselves at great personal risk to keep the only black and white, integrated school in South Africa going strong during Apartheid. In Israel, they face great opposition educating Arabs and Israeli children in the same classroom. In Brazil and Nepal, Steiner educators and volunteers put sweat, money, time, heart and soul into feeding, clothing and educating the underprivileged. They teach children kindness, charity and a world viewpoint, and this is how you identify them--you, the very same Americans who hold Jefferson up as the ultimate hero of freedom and anti-bigotry. It's a joke and a travesty.

Some of you will do your homework and feel sheepish after this, while others go on believing whatever you want to believe, despite all the evidence. And I imagine that's your right, the one given to you by those perfectly wonderful racist slave holders.


Let's not forget that Martin Luther hated the jews. Like hated them badly. So badly he wrote books about how much he hated them. He hated the jews so much that the Nazis had celebrated a Luther day.

Does that make me like Lutheranism less?

Yes. It really does.

Does Steiner's racist ideas make me take him less seriously? Well, not really. All the other ideas he spewed from his delusional brain already did that. But it sure ads fuel to the fire and makes me realize that the condescending and arrogant attitudes of my Steiner friends stem from the bigoted world view of their cult leader.


Thank you so much for this summary Liz. I hadn't been able to keep up with this rather bizarre series of events at the time.

The internet is an extraordinarily powerful medium: any number of complete strangers anywhere in the world will read your words and occasionally this will effect (for better or worse) your life offline. It's everybody's personal responsibility to take great care over what they say and do online.

Lara, as Alicia said above 'hate' is a very provocative word. So you've provoked me into asking: do you truly believe Waldorf critics hate Anthroposophy and Anthroposophists? If so, why do you believe that?

My own thinking is that most Waldorf critics find Anthroposophy and its adherents rather interesting. They don't hate it. They may passionately believe that all Waldorf parents need to familiarize themselves with Anthroposophy, ideally before enrolling their children in a Waldorf school. I certainly believe that. However, the schools don't appear to agree, as it's a fair bet that their numbers and income would plummet, were that to happen.

It's this fundamental disagreement that I think drives most Waldorf criticism. It's perfectly rational, despite the fervence of some. It's not founded on hatred.


Jenn wrote: 'I lost more than you did I'm sure, in stomach aches, sleep, worry, and money.'

How would you know? I lost full access to my blog -- my established blog, my writing, my photos, things that mean a lot to me. And I lost it for something that wasn't really my fault. Maybe you don't think my time, my worry, my sleep have any value -- but you're wrong. And don't play the 'I have children'-card on me. Lots of people have children. It's not enough to grant you more respect and consideration than anyone else who writes a nasty email.

'I was sick with worry and felt I had to act in the most urgent, official way.'

So why did you take action against me and not the person who made those phone-calls, whoever it was? You knew they came from someone in the US. Don't pretend you ever thought that they came from me or had anything to do with me; you knew better.


As for the hate stuff -- I'll say what I always say: criticism isn't hate. I find anthroposophy fascinating, and I would not, for anything in the world, want to see it subjected to hatred (and much less eradicated). And, needless to say, I don't hate anthroposophists either. I'm quite happy about them, these days ;-)

Infamous Jenn

Alicia, the calls and e-mails were in direct response to your blog post linking to my biography and my children's school, which thus identified my children as well, by default, THAT is why I wanted them down, not as vindication against you.

I am not playing the kid card, but the personal safety card. The guy wanted me to think we were in danger, not just online, but in the real world.

I also knew very well Word Press would not eliminate your intellectual property. Plus, I spoke with them on the phone and they only indicated they would make private the posts in question until we could sort it out. Neither their online policy nor their legal department on the phone indicated that you would lose access to everything else. Ever. I don't know why they took that step. I'm sorry it stressed you out.


Jenn - there's no evidence that you had threatening phone calls, we only have your word for that. And why on earth would anyone use the kind of information you posted on WC to threaten your family? It was just mildly embarrassing, I suspect you exaggerated, and although it's unfortunate that your children had difficulties to do with school it's hardly that unusual. I know several children who have had episodes of stress associated with events at home or school. Most people are sympathetic. It's not as dramatic as you're suggesting, and your inability to take responsibility for your actions with good grace is exacerbating the situation. Mark is right - the internet carries a record of your activity online, you can't erase this entirely. But you can stop drawing attention to yourself here and go and do something more productive.


Jenn -- You can't know this someone didn't identify you from the google profile. You can't know this person came through my blog. And, even if he did, there's no way in this world I could control all the loons. I can't guarantee no loon is lurking on my blog; I blog about anthroposophy every now and then, loons come with the territory.

I do find it rather incredible that someone would go through the trouble and waste time and effort calling you because you wrote something embarrassing. So I agree with Thetis. On the other hand, I know there are all sorts of people, so just because it's a bit unlikely doesn't entirely rule it out. What I'm certain of is that this person must be quite unhinged, which, I hope, applies to very few of my blog readers. In principle, this (someone unhinged picking up a phone) could happen every time I mention someone by name (or link to their name) -- this is, of course, not something I can predict or prevent. It's the first time I've heard of someone who had this problem and who connects it to my blog. I hope you're open to the possibility that it's not a loon on the critics' side -- it could just as well be a loon on the anthro side of it, someone who wishes to make critics look like idiots. Still -- whoever it is, it's unacceptable. And I do understand it's scary.

'Plus, I spoke with [WP] on the phone and they only indicated they would make private the posts in question until we could sort it out.'

You can't be referring to your initial complaint to them. You must think about some action you took on Sunday when my blog had been blocked for too long already.

Still, your problem was with someone who made phonecalls. You now cites this unknown someone as your reason to report my blog. I don't think it's a valid reason to take the steps you took. No matter how much you wanted that link to go. (Besides -- you could have asked me! Your reporting me instead backfired spectacularly, if I may say so...)

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