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"The Jewish Anti-Defamation League... is a dastardly anti-Christian hate group which enjoys pointing its own very dirty finger at innocent people and crying 'hate' in crowded media rooms," Weltner retorted, then proceeded to "set the record straight" about Jewish culpability in everything from Soviet genocide to the management of AOL Time Warner. A barrage of anti-Couch Potato letters ensued, excoriating Weltner for anti-Semitism and the Riverfront Times for permitting him to express it.
Karen Aroesty is hardly sympathetic to Weltner's current plight.
"He must love this. He's getting a lot of publicity out of this," Aroesty says. "I would prefer it if [his site] was not around at all," she adds. "I'm happy if Weltner is off the Internet and I'm happy if Couch Potato is off the air. I think when it comes to hate speech, the ADL tends to take a very strong line, which tends to be less supportive of the First Amendment than some might like."
For Matt LeMieux, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, the issue is not so cut-and-dried. "The ADL has every right to enter the marketplace of ideas, and obviously the providers have the right to control the content of what's on their server," says LeMieux. But he draws the line when it comes to folks like Senator Schumer of New York. "I think it becomes a closer First Amendment call when you have politicians weigh in on this and try to put pressure on private companies like Google," he explains. "I don't think it's a good idea for them to be encouraging censorship."
Picking at a lunch of Chinese food on a recent sunny afternoon, Weltner doesn't seem especially vexed about his site's difficulties. The 62-year-old former high school teacher and librarian, who now owns a small résumé-writing company, would rather talk about his other projects, including the interpretation of the Bible he's writing, "a divine revelation for the white man" in 66 chapters and 360 pages. Weltner, whose gray fringes are slowly invading his red-brown hair and goatee, also takes credit for "outing" former U.S. secretary of state Madeline Albright as a Jew.
Eventually, however, he gets back on-message.
"The Jews have 95 percent of the media and I've got one little Web site. Now the same people who are always crying 'free speech' want to shut me down. Do you think that's fair?"
Weltner contends that excessive traffic is to blame for his ouster from EV1Servers. At the time Jew Watch was taken down, he claims, the site was receiving up to 5,000 hits an hour, owing to interest generated by dozens of stories published in the past few months about the controversy, appearing everywhere from the New York Timesto the Jerusalem Post. (EV1Servers did not return e-mail and phone requests for comment for this story.)
As of April 23, Jew Watch was back up and running with a new host: Time Warner Telecom, according to information from United Kingdom-based Web research firm Netcraft. And as if to confirm Aroesty's fears, Weltner says the controversy yielded a benefactor, who contributed $1,300 to defray costs. Weltner, who declines to disclose the identity of the donor, says he's concerned that he could be pulled off the Web again "any minute." To ensure Jew Watch remains available to Web surfers, Weltner intends to find hosts in other countries. In places like Eastern Europe and the Middle East, he says, administrators will not bow to "Jews who complain" and nix his site.
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