3WM and the Association of Clowns

3WM and the Association of Clowns

May 2, 20112966Views

By Iwazaru

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values.  For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people. ~John F. Kennedy

On Friday morning, April 29, 3WM found that the Web site had been shut down. After contacting Bluehost support, 3WM found that someone contacted them requesting that their name be removed from the ATEK stories, thereby shutting down the site. The violation was labelled a “copyright violation” and 3WM was deemed in violation of the “Terms of Service.”  Below is the chat session that occurred once 3WM saw that the site was down:

Chat Content:

Transferred Chat Session:

Chat Content:

Jolynn: [6:30:51 PM] Welcome to our real-time support chat and thank you for contacting sales! My name is Jolynn, may I get your first name?
FIRST TIME SALE..: [6:31:00 PM] John
Jolynn: [6:31:13 PM] Hello there!
FIRST TIME SALE..: [6:31:48 PM] I don’t want sales, sorry. I’m having issues with my site. It is down and I get a message that says contact.
Jolynn: [6:32:39 PM] What is the domain
FIRST TIME SALE..: [6:33:02 PM]
Jolynn: [6:33:43 PM] I can get you to our Terms of Service Department for help.
[6:33:46 PM] Just a moment

Thomas: [6:34:58 PM] Welcome to our real-time support chat – please be patient if there are short delays. If you provide your main domain and the last 4 digits of the credit card on file or your password, that would help me look up your account. How can I help you today?
FIRST TIME SALE..: [6:35:51 PM] Hey Thomas, xxxx
[6:36:18 PM] The site is down again after being down yesterday. I got a message to contact. What’s going on??
Thomas: [6:36:47 PM] It appears we received a report about personal identifying information on the account and the person has requested that it’s removed. I’m getting the rest of the information for you now.
FIRST TIME SALE..: [6:38:43 PM] What means has he undertaken to request this? We are a registered Press service and business. We also have a legal team.

Thomas: [6:41:30 PM] If someone doesn’t want their full name, image, address, phone number, email address, etc listed on a site they have the opportunity to request that it’s removed. We received a notice from this individual about getting the information removed. Section 9.05 (listed below) states that you cannot post this type of information without their consent.

# Private Information and Images. Subscribers may not post or disclose any personal or private information about or images of children or any third party without the consent of said party (or a parent’s consent in the case of a minor).

FIRST TIME SALE..: [6:43:36 PM] This was not personal information. He was a member of a public organization and the actions disclosed were what he did as a member of that organization.
Thomas: [6:44:45 PM] This is part of our terms of service. Whether they’re a member of a public organization or not doesn’t matter. You agreed to our terms of service when you signed up. In order to get the account reactivated, you’ll need to remove any personal identifying information for the above named individual.
FIRST TIME SALE..: [6:46:13 PM] So any story that we run is in danger unless anyone mentioned in it said, “you can say that”?
Thomas: [6:48:16 PM] If you provide their full name, address, phone number, email address, etc that would personally identify that individual and they don’t wish to have it on the site then yes.
FIRST TIME SALE..: [6:51:30 PM] So even if I mention someone’s name and they don’t want their name mentioned, it has to be removed? Meaning we can’t say anything critical about anyone? So if I’m writing a news story and it mentions someone’s name who was publicly convicted of a crime in a court of law and that person contacts bluehost and says “remove it,” then you will disable our account immediately until we remove it?
Thomas: [6:52:56 PM] If you’ve put up their full name, picture, address, personal email address, phone number, etc then yes. It’s against our terms of service to post that kind of information without that person’s consent.
FIRST TIME SALE..: [6:56:02 PM] Well, Thomas, I know you’re just the messenger. You’ve just sent a shot through the bow of our publication. I would have thought at least a notice and time period to remove it would have been given before it was just shut down. This means people who aren’t paying for the service have more power than those who are.
Thomas: [6:57:37 PM] If you’re not following our terms of service then yes, they would I suppose.
FIRST TIME SALE..: [6:58:38 PM] 10-4. Over and out.

Russell Bernstein was the former Internal Communications Officer who left ATEK (after basically taking it over) to run Global Team Players which, interestingly, also lists Greg Dolezal, former ATEK president and current National Communications Director as staff and Jeff Nunziata, current ATEK National Membership Officer, as a Board Member.

On Saturday, less than 24 hours after the site had been down, ATEK sent 3WM an odd letter claiming they “had nothing to do” with the site being down.

Dear sirs,

ATEK had nothing to do with any issues your site may be having. It’s not part of our tactics or strategy to stifle debate or criticism. If the complications arose because of any individuals they did not represent ATEK, its members, or officers. We have always appreciated criticism that remains focused on issues and policies rather than personalities. We respect and support having a free and open press that acts as a watchdog or spotlight on any subject of interests no matter how esoteric or relevant.

If dissent is impossible then we are unable to carry out our mission – as we see ourselves as dissenters in a country that often espouses or at least allows ineffective, discriminatory, and sometimes illegal practices in the educations system. In this we are on the same team.



Gregory C.F. Dolezal
National Communications Officer
The Association for Teacher of English in Korea

Now we are “on the same team.”  Before and since the story came out, 3WM had heard several times that Bernstein still maintained some sort of role in ATEK from abroad, that his hand was still on the wheel to some extent.  The facts show based on his own emails that he single-handedly shut down ATEK’s Web site after he realized that he could not control the commentary anymore.  He obviously had full access to the site and was acting as a Webmaster even though ATEK claims they haven’t had a Webmaster for “over two years.”

Sources for 3WM have since reported that ATEK sought the services of Caleb Cook a Seoul PMA member who recently told 3WM in a e-mail, “I signed on to fix the website, that’s been my goal from the beginning.”  Furthermore, a Caleb J. Cook wrote a comment on Chris in South Korea over the weekend that is below which seems to confirm the obvious.

Another issue that needs to be addressed is the constant squawking by members of ATEK that the right questions weren’t asked and that many of those that were arrived “loaded.”  Below is one example.

His assertion that my questions were loaded is not true. After my first set of questions regarding former President Oh’s election, accomplishments (What would you say have been your greatest accomplishments so far?), challenges (What do you say to those people who criticize the organization’s progress?); (Currently how many of the 64 rep positions are full and operating? Is Seoul more important because it is home to so many schools and teachers? Why/why not?), I sent a second set to obtain more information and verification of the recent events I was researching. Several examples:

  • I have read that the Ethics Chair Charlotte Lawrence became involved in the dispute contrary to Bylaws that say she must be invited. Is this true or hyperbole?
  • Some information I received says you were opposed to the motion from the beginning. Can you offer anything further on this?
  • Are you aware of the “conflict of interest” issue that arose with a Mike Reyes? Is he with the organization any longer?
  • Could you confirm or deny the accusation that you contacted Mr. Reyes’ employer to influence Mr. Reyes’ actions related to ATEK?

The closest I got to any answers was:

The issues arose as internal matters in the association and have been resolved internally. The closure of the website, for less than a 24 hour period was a result of such concerns. The motion was not upheld by the association.

The association continues to work hard to balance the interest of members and to serve as a network of teachers of English in Korea. All members and officers have the right to comment on association debate. The association cannot at this time make comment about any current or former officers of the association or their actions as these are internal matters for the association and the association wishes to avoid any legal actions. The association is actively encouraging officers to join the association in all PMAs.

And near the end of the email, “This is the last time ATEK’s national officers intend to comment on this matter in relation to your story.”

They were given a chance to directly address the accusations made against them.  But as one clownish critic said, “Even my research design class highlights the fact a high rate of non-respondents undermines reliability.”  Oh, well you took a class?  Really?  So if people are evasive or don’t respond, then we might as well abandon a story.  How many stories in journalism would not have been written if those who wished not to speak, who wished not to have the truth brought to light controlled the story with their silence?

In addition, recent assertions by former National Communications Director Rachel Bailey on Chris’s Web site are mendacious in places.  3WM doesn’t have any communications directors (we probably should by now) or any other highfalutin titles so sometimes a word may be wrong in an email that is fired out of the bunker of one editor or another (in this case it was invited).  Anyway, Rachel is right that ATEK contacted 3WM requesting the opportunity to respond to the piece.  They also asked to run a “progress report.”  See below the comment and the exact email Rachel sent.


Now that your piece on our organization has run in its entirety, ATEK would like to an opportunity to respond. I have drafted a response, which I could send out in the form of a press release, but it seems more appropriate, since most of what we have to say has to do with your article, to publish it alongside your write up. Perhaps 3WM would be interested in posting ATEK’s response at the end of the third installment of your piece or as a separate article. I also have a progress report that I wrote up a few weeks ago that I would like to make available to your readers, as one of the main concerns of your argument seems to be that ATEK isn’t doing anything of substance.

Please let me know some time today if 3WM is interested in running these items.

Rachel Bailey
National Communications Officer
Association for Teachers of English in Korea

I see no need to point out the clear differences between what’s implied by Rachel and what she actually wrote.  Additionally, my e-mail back to her is below.

Dear Rachel,

First, we would be willing to run your writing with the 3rd installment on Thursday as an update (that is our day for updates).

Secondly, we would expect that you’d recant your assertion that we ran the wrong photo of a former member of your organization, thereby misrepresenting that individual.

Thirdly, perhaps you misunderstood part of what I was trying to get at:  that you’ve attempted to do good things and have had some great opportunities, but those have been scuttled by an ineffective and bloated bureaucracy along with a series of individuals who put their own self-interests and egos ahead of ATEK and the many teachers they seek to assist.  The mission is noble.  The execution has been far less than average.

Fourth, ATEK should start over.  Remove the absurd you-have-to-fill-out-seven-forms-every-time-your-visa-runs-out membership process (E-2’s have to reup every year!).  Dismantle the bizarre, parliamentary nonsense that stands at every corner.  People want to help–let them do it without being babysat like a 2-yr-old.  And do something about this 1-yr term limit stuff unless you’ve found it helpful so far (which from what I have learned during 10 months of investigation, is not helping).  Lastly, there needs to be true follow-through with each and every case; so many people have told me that they’ve been left hanging.

In sum, we’d surely be willing to run a press-type release after reviewing it and concurring with you.  We are not an anti-ATEK site (we’ve run plenty of critical content about things from plays to K-pop).  We just want a group that has been touting its existence and pseudo-accomplishments to take responsibility for the reality and become what it truly aspires to be.



Perhaps it’s beyond normal understanding but ATEK had weeks to defend itself in comments or in some other publication.  We had zero obligation to allow them to use our site as a publisher.  Nevertheless, I told Rachel we’d do it after “reviewing it” and getting back to ATEK with any issues–this is something we do with all our contributors.  I never said or wrote “corroborating” but perhaps that’s semantics. What’s funny is that Rachel says they decided to take things elsewhere.  But what really happened is that Rachel went elsewhere, literally.  She left ATEK.

After not hearing back from her for several days, I e-mailed again asking why I hadn’t heard back from her and within less than a few hours, Greg fired back a long, rambling, acerbic e-mail threatening a lawsuit if the stories were not changed in places.  At the end of the same week, another e-mail came from Ethics Officer Lawrence threatening a lawsuit if Part 3 was not taken down or “at the very least” she was not removed from the stories.  UPDATE: Since this story ran, Charlotte Lawrence attempted to do the same thing Bernstein did–she tried to get 3WM shut down. Those are the facts.

Lastly, 3WM would like to state the obvious:  five weeks after Part 1 was published, ATEK announced a series of changes which they’d supposedly had long in the works.  Is it a coincidence that many of those changes deal with exactly what the series criticized?  The Web site has been simplified.  The bloated bureaucracy is being trimmed down.  The “student government association model” is reportedly going to be scrapped.  Even Greg said something about this in his aloof Seoul Podcast interview when he acknowledged that the series had “put a little fire on the grill” and helped “hurry along” the overhaul process.   That recognition brings with it some sense of satisfaction that, by chance, ATEK may right its wrongs and get about setting up a simple way for teachers to get answers.

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