People confuse me. Ok, that is not exactly the most earth-shattering of revelations out there, but consider: if one were starting a brand-spanking-new social media / social networking site that no one had ever heard of before, would you run around, insulting and demeaning those very people you are hoping to recruit to your system; or would you choose… a different path?
Yeah, me too. However, if one listens to the visionary genius (*cough*) behind "Smoke and Thunder"*, it would appear as though we are wrong.
You see, in the just-over-24-hours since the story originally broke, the administrator of SmokeandThunder.com – supposedly the up-and-coming social network for firearm owners – has been scampering hither and yon, copy-pasting pretty much the same anti-gun-blogger diatribe everywhere he goes, and throwing in additional personal attacks and bonus insults whenever he gets the chance.
No, seriously, I am not making this up.
In fact, here are some wonderful examples of the "touch of class" that "Smoke & Thunder" wants to bring to the gunblogger ‘verse; I would stress that all of these are written by someone claiming to be "Smoke & Thunder" or "Smoke & Thunder Admin" – I have not included screencaps because I am lazy, and these quotes come from sites I know not to engage in Reasoned Discourse.
You would not know a functionally sound website if it slapped you in the face. Some websites are more and do more than just blabber/blather for self admiration.
I find this one particularly amusing, given that it was addressing Erin Pallette, whose site actually loads (unlike SmokeandThunder.com, which frequently hangs on every browser I have attempted to view it in) and whose content is publicly available without idiotic login requirements. Even better, the irony of the last sentence when compared to the non-step self-fellation of "Smoke & Thunder" is almost too much to bear.
Go back to sleep, in your nice comfy coffin before the sun comes up.
Again, this comment was addressing Erin, who has made it clear in the past that she leads an "alternate" lifestyle ("’Alternate" to what?" is my typical response – who wants to be normal?), but do I really need to explain just how childishly moronic this kind of behavior is?
Don’t be ridiculous. TTAG is written in plain english by real writers, not half-cocked bloggers. TTAG is actually attractive to regular people and newbies, who are the future of gun ownership. I can’t say that about most blogs.
Ah, yes, us "half-cocked bloggers" who maintain sites that are not "actually attractive to regular people and newbies". Y’know, compared to a half-cocked idiot who is frantically trying to insult damned near everyone in his intended customer base and who maintains a site that looks like it was designed by a mentally deficient woodchuck on cocaine. Also, gunbloggers / gun owners are not "regular people"? Way to perpetuate a stereotype, jackass. (Oh, and you do have to love the sucking-up to The Truth About Guns; if that is not damning, I do not know what is.)
Several of the comments above are a sad commentary on many (but not all) of the personalities in the online gun “community”. Pissy, quick to judge, little or no understanding of what “fair use” is, and perhaps most importantly, little or no appeal to newbies and young people who are the furture of gun ownership.
Robb Allem… Can you see your hand when you wave it in front of your face?
I simply do not know where to begin… the typos, the scare quotes around "community", the complete disconnect from reality, the inability to see the growth in the firearm market and the fact that new gunblogs are springing up almost every day… "What is this I don’t even" seems wholly appropriate in this case.
And, finally, bonus threats!
Nobody is immune from being profiled, linked, reviewed, praised, or villified. You are next to be profiled on Smoke & Thunder.
You just have to love the ominous sound of that, do you not? ‘Cause Barron is so very worried about being "vilified" on a site that no one has heard of and few people care about in the slightest. Yeah, I am sure he is.
However, let us take a moment and put "Smoke & Thunder Admin"’s words into practice… on… say… him. Courtesy of Alan on Gunblogger Conspiracy, I was informed that some folks did, indeed, have a phone conversation with SmokeandThunder.com’s owner/operator, an individual by the name of Michael Frank. His phone number** belongs to a cell phone out of Manchester, New Hampshire, and a very simple Google search gives us an all-too-interesting first return:
Michael Frank filed this action against the City of Manchester and two City officials after he was denied a peddler’s license. His principal federal claim is that the defendants violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to procedural due process by failing to give him a constitutionally adequate post-deprivation hearing. As I explain in greater detail below, Frank’s claim fails because he does not have a protectable property interest in a peddler’s license.
Frank first sought a peddler’s license on May 8, 2009. His application seemed doomed from the start, however, because the certified criminal record he produced with his application included a disqualifying conviction for simple assault.*fn2 Frank attempted to address this difficulty on May 21, when he succeeded in having the assault case dismissed. City officials, however, would not accept the court records showing that the conviction had been dismissed because it remained on his certified criminal record.
Frank’s problems were compounded when Gary Simmons, the assistant police chief and one of the defendants in this case, learned that Frank had two charges of possession of child pornography pending against him in Massachusetts.*fn3 Because of these pending charges, Simmons refused to sign Frank’s application on behalf of the police department.
To steal a line from Robb Allen (I really need to get that guy some pants, especially since I do not think he has had a chance to use this line yet), no wonder this guy is peddling his bulldren all over the intertubes – he cannot peddle it anywhere else! …*badum-tish*.
Seriously, though, is this the same guy who is behind "Smoke and Thunder"? Honestly, I have no idea, and no way to prove it either direction – as I said before, the WHOIS listing for his site is very thoroughly blocked, and he has not at all indicated who he is or what affiliations he may or may not have***. However, per Michael’s own statement, no one is "immune from being profiled"… and he said nothing about that profile being accurate.
(To be absolutely clear, I am in no way implying or stating that the "Michael Frank" listed in the above court document is the same "Michael Frank" behind "Smoke & Thunder", neither am I accusing the latter of simple assault nor child pornography. I am, however, pointing to an interesting coincidence, and observing that they could be one-and-the-same.)
So why is all of this important? To put it simply, we have no idea who the owner of SmokeandThunder.com is or what he is going to do with our information; however, to quote Hsoi, we do know what they are doing right now:
But let’s set aside the legal questions. Let’s just look at what they’re doing.
They’re being dicks.
Look at the postings on their own site. Look at the comments they left on Miguel’s site. Their attitude is that if you don’t like what we’re doing, then YOU are the asshole for not allowing them to piggy-back off what you’ve built (e.g. the name, likeness, and thus reputation of folks like Oleg Volk, Tam, Breda, Unc, Caleb Giddings, and so on). Their handling, their “public relations” skills really leave something to be desired.
So you have to wonder… are they just assholes? are they just stupid? Or is there something uglier going on? Who knows.
And, as Barron observes, the conclusions one can draw from this behavior are not heartening:
You’re actions thus far provide me no reason to trust or believe anything you do or say. You have done nothing but be rude, abusive, and abrasive to a group of individuals you claim are doing nothing but damaging the right to keep and bear arms community. If that’s the case, why is it that you’re the only person who makes that claim while over and over we hear about how supportive and kind the gun blogger community is? Further why are you fighting so hard to retain the profiles of high profile gun bloggers who you say are useless and not helpful to the gun rights community?
In other words, I would strongly recommend against affiliating yourself, in any way, with "Smoke & Thunder", found at smokeandthunder.com. We do not know who they are, we do not know what they are up to, we do not know what their endgame is, their site appears to be one hell of a security hazard, and they sure as hell are nowhere near "friends" of the firearm community, the gunblogging community, or the firearm industry. Additionally, just to make myself abundantly clear, neither I, Linoge, nor this webpage, "walls of the city", have any affiliation, account, membership, or association whatsoever with the new website "Smoke & Thunder" found at "smokeandthunder.com", nor will I or this site ever have such an affiliation (link intentionally omitted). Any attempt to portray me or my site having an account at that webpage is a blatant and absolute lie, and should be regarded as such.
Finally, Hsoi and Michael Frank are both correct – there is no such thing as bad publicity, which is exactly why I have refrained from directly linking to SmokeandThunder.com (and fair warning, Michael – if you post here, I will nuke the link from your username), though I have been liberally using the name and web address throughout my two posts on them… Google likes keywords, after all. However, in light of "do not feed the trolls", hopefully this will be my last post on the matter, barring any unforeseen developments or changes. Now that I have disassociated myself from it as best I can, I am willing to let the site fade into the obscurity it so deserves.
(* – I feel rather sorry for the folks at this other Smoke & Thunder. Through no fault of their own, a complete jackass has gone and named his insulting and highly misleading site the same exact thing as theirs, and this unfortunate decision will unquestionably tarnish their public image and perception, which is rather disappointing, given there are not many sites out there that can claim to be "specialists in muzzle loading supplies and accoutrements of the Fur Trade Era". Hopefully SmokeandThunder.com’s idiocy will blow over (pun intended) in short order, and they will be none the wiser.
** – I do have his phone number, though I see no reason to post it publicly here; I will, however, say that if you were to run another simple Google search for it, this would be one of the first returns you would receive:
How… interesting. Ultimately meaningless, given the nature of the site and the anonymity of the comments, but… interesting.
*** – This, alone, puts me on edge. Granted, we all start out as nobodies, and most of us employ some kind of online moniker; however, none of us have started their time in the gunny community by aggregating personal and internet information on other writers, webloggers, and companies, and then holding it as some kind of bizarre hostage. If someone like Robb or Uncle were to launch this kind of thing, after first checking with their desired players to see if they were onboard, that would be one thing, but I do not know the administrator of "Smoke & Thunder", and I have absolutely no cause or reason to trust him or his motives.)