Friday, May 13, 2011

Integrity and Honesty

There have been several updates since I originally wrote up this post. Please scroll to the end for the final word on the matter.

Integrity and honesty. Two traits that everyone should strive to obtain. I put quite a bit of value on them. If someone says they will do something, they should do it. They should not lie about it, nor should they weasel out of a promise made. It speaks volumes about a person if they do not deal with others honestly or keep their word. Such actions make them untrustworthy. If you cannot trust someone in relatively small matters, then it becomes difficult to trust them with larger matters. This is particularly important when it comes to dealing with businessmen who have managed equity investments and specialize in mergers and acquisitions. You would expect them to honor their contracts.

There was one person in whom I really did want to see a glimmer of integrity and honesty. Despite his callous, abrasive nature, I really did hope that when he made a promise, he would keep it. I'm speaking, of course, about Generation Rescue and Age of Autism's Mr. Jonathan B. Handley.

A Promise Made

Back on November 16, 2010 (cached version here), Mr. Handley made a rather outrageous claim that blogger Sullivan was really Bonnie Offit, wife of pediatrician Dr. Paul Offit. In that post, he made a promise (emphasis added):

Bonnie Offit, or Sullivan for that matter, I have a simple offer:

If you can produce a dad with a child with autism with a remarkable grasp of the medical and scientific literature who blogs under the name Sullivan, a man who has an inordinate grasp of the details of your husband’s patents, lawsuits, published studies, and web habits, I will make sure that the pauloffit.com website is given to you and your husband for good.

In fact, if you can produce this father, I promise to never, ever publicly write about or utter the name “Paul Offit” again.

In this quote, Mr. Handley essentially created a contract between himself and the Offits. The transaction would consist of transferring ownership of the domain name pauloffit.com to Bonnie and Paul. The price of the transaction was the production of "a dad with a child with autism with a remarkable grasp of the medical and scientific literature who blogs under the name Sullivan". Upon production of that individual, Mr. Handley has explicitly agreed to make sure that the web site is given, permanently, to Dr. and Mrs. Offit. He did not set any timeframe for the revelation of Sullivan's identity.

One April 27, 2011, Sullivan revealed himself as Matt Carey, father of an autistic child. He blogs under the name Sullivan and has a good understanding of medical and scientific literature. In fact, he presented at this year's IMFAR conference in California.

Two days after this revelation, I had to post a followup, giving Mr. Handley props for keeping his word. You see, Mr. Handley admitted his error and wrote the following (cached version here:

I also offered to give up the website www.pauloffit.com...‘Nuff said, in the world I live in, a deal’s a deal, even if you took five months to get here. Just email me, plenty on the dark side know how to find me, and we can work out the details.

Shortly after that, the web site pauloffit.com, which had, until then, contained defamatory articles about Dr. Offit, displayed nothing but a white page with the image of Sullivan, from Monsters Inc..


Many people took this to mean that Mr. Handley had handed over ownership and control of the web site to Mr. Carey. It was very amusing and garnered a lot of praise.

A Promise Broken

And then yesterday, the site had reverted to its defamatory origins, with the addition of Mike Wazowski to the title.

Click to enlarge

This was first spotted by Liz Ditz, at I Speak of Dreams.

I decided to do a bit of investigating. Unfortunately, WhoIs wasn't any help, as the ownership of the domain name has been kept anonymous. So, I decided to contact both Mr. Carey and Dr. Offit to find out if they had been in contact with Mr. Handley regarding transfer of ownership of the site. Mr. Carey responded:

After Mr. Handley emailed me I replied that he could transfer the domain directly to the Offits. He never contacted them. As far as I can tell, the Sullivan picture was JB Handley's work.

And Dr. Offit's response:

I suspect that Mr. Handley did turn over the site. He just didn't turn it over to me or my wife. But his dishonesty isn't particularly surprising.

I can live with Handley's ill-informed and misguided attacks against me. But he reaches a new low when he accuses my wife of something she never did. Frankly, I've never come across anyone so relentlessly mean-spirited.

After promising that he would turn the site over to the Offits, Mr. Handley has reneged on his deal. He broke his contract with Dr. and Mrs. Offit and Mr. Carey. He is not a man of his word. In short, he is a liar.

Now, I am not a lawyer, so I cannot say if Mr. Handley's original offer could be held up under Oregon law (he's a resident of Portland), but his actions do make me wonder about how he deals in his other business. If he will not honor a deal as minor as this, will he honor other deals? Might he renege on financial deals with his clients? Perhaps not honor a merger/acquisition agreement? I cannot say, but my personal opinion is that I could not trust him to honor any contract after this. (For those who are lawyerly inclined, here are the Oregon laws on sales and contracts.)

Mr. Handley still has opportunity to make things right. He still has the chance to honor his word and turn pauloffit.com over to Dr. and Mrs. Offit. I would like to believe that even he can show some integrity, but it really is up to him to show it.

So, what's it going to be, Mr. Handley? Are you going to remain in breach of your contract or are you going to do the right thing and honor your offer?

UPDATE: I received an e-mail from Dr. Offit, informing me that he received an e-mail from register.com at 11:50am today (May 15, 2011) stating that Mr. Handley was willing to transfer pauloffit.com to Dr. Offit. The site, as of 6:08pm, May 15, 2011, looks like it is mirroring paul-offit.com:


Because Mr. Handley burned us all once with the Sullivan image, I'm going to wait a few days before I fully trust that Dr. Offit has finally gained control of the domain.

UPDATE: On May 16, 2011, Mr. Handley put up a post at Age of Autism about this whole affair in which he, once again, breaks his word. He writes about Dr. Offit, which he promised not to do ever again. Granted, he doesn't actually use Dr. Offit's name, instead referring to him as a "vaccine profiteer". I guess Mr. Handley just is not a man of his word, allowing his hatred of Dr. Offit to bring him to the point of breaking his promises.

UPDATE: The picture is becoming somewhat clearer. This evening (May 16), I received e-mails forwarded from both Mr. Carey and Dr. Offit, showing me exactly what they received and when. From what I can see, it appears that on May 2nd, Mr. Handley contacted a third party who apparently controlled the web site. On the 3rd, that third party replied to Mr. Handley letting him know that the domain was unlocked and that anyone could request a transfer (note that this is not the same as actually processing the transfer). Around 1pm on Sunday, May 15, a confirmation e-mail was sent to Mr. Handley indicating that the "Transfer of Registrant for pauloffit.com from JB Handley to Paul Offit" had been processed successfully. This information was provided to me by Mr. Carey, who has a more detailed account at Left Brain/Right Brain.

As to Dr. Offit, he forwarded to me the following e-mail, which he received yesterday, May 15, at 11:50am:


Checking the WhoIs listing for the site, today, revealed that the site is now registered to Bonnie Offit.

I am not clear on exactly what the delay was between Mr. Handley's May 2nd e-mail to the third party and the e-mail received by Dr. Offit 13 days later. I am also unclear on why the site changed to the picture of Sullivan and subsequently reverted back to false and erroneous articles denigrating Dr. Offit.

At any rate, based on what was publicly known between April 29 and May 13, I feel that my comments above were at least understandable. Mr. Handley had the option of sharing with me the e-mails involved, which would have clarified matters much more quickly and avoided this whole debacle, instead of complaining in the comments here and elsewhere, as well as in a lengthy article at Age of Autism blog. Certainly, taking such actions instead of calling me an "asshole" would have been far more constructive and avoided much of the temper-laden fallout.

Mr. Handley, while I am not entirely clear on what the problems were, I am glad that the issue is finally resolved and that you have followed through on your promise to ensure that the pauloffit.com web site be transferred to the Offits. In the future, should you feel that I am in error, I invite you to share with me any objective evidence (e.g., e-mails with headers included) that you feel may convince me. If you take the time to engage in a civil manner with me, you will find that I will respond in kind, even if I may disagree with you.

Unless you wish to discuss anything further, I consider the matter settled.
___________________________________
Disclaimer: This post represents my understanding of the facts and my interpretation and opinions thereof. They do not constitute declarations of fact in and of themselves and should not be interpreted to be libelous. If any errors of fact are discovered, I am more than willing to review my words and change them as appropriate.

Copyright disclaimer: The images and names of Mike Wazowski, Sullivan and Monsters Inc. are property of Disney and Pixar. I make no claims to them and use them only to illustrate my points.

13 comments:

  1. Todd:

    Dr. Offit is lying, as usual. On may 3rd, Dr. Offit received an email from register.com offering the transfer of the site to him. After 72 hours, Dr. Offit had not claimed it and the site was available to anyone to register. The email where the register.com transfer was sent was provided to me by Matt Carey, who directed me here to find it:

    I even sent Mr. Carey a note on May 6th advising him of that and offering to interview him for AoA, in the spirit of closing the gap between us, to which he has never responded, here's the contents of that email:

    Just an fyi that pauloffit.com was unlocked and an email sent to Dr. Offit making it available to him was sent Tuesday afternoon this week. Case closed. The offer stands for an interview to be posted at AoA, thanks, JB

    Someone is lying to you, JB Handley

    ReplyDelete
  2. Todd:

    Dr. Offit is lying, as usual. On may 3rd, Dr. Offit received an email from register.com offering the transfer of the site to him. After 72 hours, Dr. Offit had not claimed it and the site was available to anyone to register. The email where the register.com transfer was sent was provided to me by Matt Carey, who directed me here to find it:

    www.paul-offit.com

    I even sent Mr. Carey a note on May 6th advising him of that and offering to interview him for AoA, in the spirit of closing the gap between us, to which he has never responded, here's the contents of that email:

    Just an fyi that pauloffit.com was unlocked and an email sent to Dr. Offit making it available to him was sent Tuesday afternoon this week. Case closed. The offer stands for an interview to be posted at AoA, thanks, JB

    Someone is lying to you, JB Handley

    ReplyDelete
  3. JB,

    Thank you for your comment. I would invite you to forward to me the e-mails that you sent, including the headers. You can send them to todd (at) flurf (dot) net.

    As a side note, the information that is currently there, I assume, is published by you, since you currently own the site. That also violates part of your promise to not write about Dr. Offit again.

    I will kindly await your forwarding of the e-mails.

    (As a side note, Dr. Offit had left a comment here, but with the blogger outage on Friday, it was temporarily lost. Hopefully it will be restored soon.)

    ReplyDelete
  4. So, because Dr. Offit allegedly did not take ownership of the site, it was fair game to re-launch the attacks (in violation of the agreement). Sorry, Mr. Handley. I'd believe you more if you had not put up all that information and just left the Sullivan cartoon.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I believe in the future, Mr. Handley, you will click the little bit in your email program to request notification that the message has been received.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Todd W:

    It's funny, I really can't win with you idiots. The only reason I posted on AoA is because of this post attacking my integrity, written by YOU.
    The register.com email that Dr. Offit responded to was sent to him on May 4th. If he was remotely honest, he would acknowledge that's when the site was offered to him.

    I'm sure its disappointing for you that I did exactly what I told Matt Carey and others I would do, but you'll find some reason to make me seem dishonest, because, well, I guess your just an asshole.

    JB Handley

    ReplyDelete
  7. JB,

    I would've been more forgiving of you if, instead of being a jerk, you had simply used Dr. Offit's name, instead of using pejorative terminology. In fact, I wouldn't have mentioned your writing about him at all if you had actually been civil about it. Instead, you chose to be crass and insulting. You'll find that when people behave in a respectful manner, I treat them with respect. When they engage in conduct such as yours, I respond in kind.

    If you cannot handle being called out for that, then perhaps you should try being a little more gentlemanly and handling your mistake with grace and style.

    ReplyDelete
  8. One other thing, Mr. Handley. As I mentioned in my reply to your first comment, all you needed to do was forward to me (or cause to be forwarded to me) the e-mail that was sent to Dr. Offit, including the headers, indicating when it was sent.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Mr. Handley, your integrity was questioned when you first started to cybersquat. If you wish to be considered honest you would return all of the cites that you registered, like http://oracknows.com/ (which still goes to Generation Rescue).

    ReplyDelete
  10. Mr. Handley,

    you appear to be claiming that Dr. Offit used the email you claim was sent in early May, 12 days before the 15th to make the domain transfer change.

    The emails that register.com sends out are only active for 8 days.

    Here is a chat session I had with them on this topic today.

    Jon H.: Hi, my name is Jon H.. How may I help you?
    Matthew Carey: Hello--a question about transferring a domain out of register.com
    Jon H.: Hello Matthew
    Matthew Carey: If I initiate a transfer, an email is sent. According to the tutorial, this email is valid for 24 hours. Is this correct?
    Jon H.: The email for confirmation on a domain transfer lasts up to 8 days. After that, the transfer automatically cancels due to lack of confirmation.
    Matthew Carey: OK, so if the person who is receiving the domain waits over 8 days, the transfer is canceled and I have to start over. Right?
    Jon H.: That is correct Matthew.
    Matthew Carey: Thanks, that solves my question. I appreciate your time.
    Jon H.: No problem at all. Was there anything else I could assist you with?
    Matthew Carey: No. You have been very helpful and I think we are done.
    Jon H.: You're welcome. Have a good evening and thank you for contacting Register.com
    Jon H. has disconnected.

    ReplyDelete
  11. More cybersquatting by Mr. Handley or his employees or associates:

    http://everychildbytwo.org -- goes to a post at Age of Autism criticizing the Every Child By Two organization, whose real URL is http://www.ecbt.org/

    ReplyDelete
  12. *sigh* I have to say, that cybersquatting is such a childish, lame thing to do. It's the "I can't adequately address the science, so I'm going to s*** in the sandbox instead" tactic. There are children more mature than that.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I've been thinking the same thing through this whole issue: The site shouldn't have existed in the first place. The offer to give up the site on the condition that an identity could be (dis)proven, was not the offer to do something kind, it was the offer to undo something "nasty".

    A clear theme running through the whole saga is ad hominems - first against Offit, then against his wife and Sullivan with the claims about Sullivan's true identity - when in both situations the respectable response would have been to deal with what Offit and Sullivan were claiming; not with who they were.

    Regardless of your views on any link between vaccines and autism, the whole situation makes Handley look bad.

    ReplyDelete

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