Thursday, June 25, 2009

An open letter to Senator Anne Cools about 90sAREover and the Richard Warman allegation

Dear Senator Cools,

There has been some buzz in recent days about the testimony of Professor Robert Martin of the University of Western Ontario regarding Human Rights Commissions, which (if you haven't heard it already) can be heard here (loading can be slow, so be patient).

Professor Martin, who spoke in his testimony of his high regard for you and noted that he regarded you as a dear friend, seems to have been especially exercised by allegations that Richard Warman was responsible for a nasty racist screed about you -- so nasty, that he wouldn't (quite rightly) repeat its words. (Nor will I.)

The problem with Martin's testimony is that Warman didn't write that post. He has denied the matter under oath and has sued for defamation those who have made the allegation in unprivileged circumstances. Moreover, the allegation was debunked over a year ago, largely on the internet (from where all these allegations began), including at my site.

One of the basic facts, as you may know, is that that the racist post in question was made by someone using the pseudonym "90sAREover". The allegation that this was Warman depends on the claim that "90sAREover" had the same IP as "lucy" (Warman's pseudonym) and a computer with the same set-up.
  • the IP in question, however, was a web-caching proxy shared by most Rogers customers, as I have shown in a post called "Why there is room for doubt that Richard Warman wrote the Cools post". To summarize a long and technical argument, 90sAREover could have been any Rogers customer, or anyone with access to the computer of any Rogers internet customer. This could have been millions of individuals.
  • It has also been claimed that Warman's computer was set-up identically to the one that made the racist post. This would not be especially helpful even if true: something over 10% of users had their computers set-up that way (see here), and 10% of millions is still hundreds of thousands. The set-up, however, was not identical. In a post called "why Richard Warman is innocent" , I demonstrate that the computer used to write the racist post was different in at least one key respect from Warman's computer, with the result that they must have been computers.
The technical argument of my posts may be unintelligible to you, and there is no reason that you should believe me -- an anonymous guy on the internet. If you forward this letter to someone knowledgeable in these matters they will confirm to you that there is no good evidence that Warman made the post in question. (That the IP was a proxy and therefore represents a potentially vast pool of users has been endorsed, for example, by the Conservative blog Catprint in the Mash.)*

During his testimony, Prof. Martin said that you personally were greatly agitated at Warman for these remarks. You have every right to be agitated about this post. But not at Warman, who did not make it.

Obviously, if you have any questions that I can help with, I'd be happy to do so.

Best regards,


Edited to clarify catprint's analysis.*