Frank proposes that Ben be banned
from public SAIC meetings

Introductory Note by Ben, July 2008:

As SAIC was being organized in 2005, I refused to become a member because I did not want to give the organization that level of endorsement unless it was committed to political transparency.

I attended meetings of the organization and I supported it in various ways but I made clear that I would not help distribute its leaflets unless SAIC:

(1) posted the leaflets on its website in a form where activists could post public comments
    (ie: like a blog) and
(2) announced this on the bottom of its leaflets.

Frank's response, when he heard about this, was to propose that I be banned from all SAIC meetings (including public meetings).

Frank later retreated from his proposal when I posted news of it on Indymedia and presented my argument for why it would be stupid to ban me from SAIC meetings. At that point it became clear to Frank that it would be difficult to give activists a "convincing explanation" for why it was supposedly necessary to ban me.

And, about a year later, SAIC met my "demand" and created a blog where readers of its leaflets could post comments. Since that time I have assisted SAIC in leaflet distribution on occasions (such as large mass actions) where my help would actually make a difference.

However, since that time there has been a dispute concerning whether it is true that Frank proposed banning me from public SAIC meetings.

Because of this dispute, and because Frank's letter was circulated to a number of activists, I am taking the unusual step of making public the relevant excerpt (see below) from Frank's email.

It is a rare event for me to made public excerpts from a non-public email without first asking permission. Because I am a strong advocate of "political transparency", and because some people are confused concerning what is meant by this phrase--I thought it would be useful to explain that political transparency has nothing to do with posting private emails.

I have added (see below) color emphasis.

-- Ben

-----Original Message-----
From: (Frank) 
Sent: Thursday, October 13, 2005 10:51 AM
Subject: Re: Draft leaflet

[...]
 
I think that we all want the SAIC to be a pretty loose
grouping, i.e., one generally agrees with its politics, 
and works to build the movement around them.  To do this, 
some people will be enthused to pass out its leaflets, put 
up posters, give speeches, etc., whereas others may confine 
their activities to bringing people to events mainly through 
verbal agitation, letters to contacts, Internet work, etc.  
But (if I have it right) Ben absolutely refuses to pass out 
the committee's literature because it's not signed in a way 
that pleases him, that is, it doesn't list the membership 
and/or point to some kind of  interactive website.  Until 
this is done, no Ben.  He calls this standing for principle, 
but I think the principle is sectarian and anarchist---
especially since the SAIC hasn't yet discussed what 
membership consists of.  His way or he takes his ball and 
threatens to go home.
   
Now I think Ben has the capability of contributing to the 
building of a grouping like SAIC.  He played a good role in 
the first meeting, and our SAIA experience with him is that 
he can often make valuable comments when leaflets are being 
written, etc.  But our own integrity demands that the present 
situation not go on.  If he refuses to distribute our 
literature and considers himself an "informal" member, he's 
no member and shouldn't be allowed into meetings of members 
(i.e., working meetings), or meetings of members and people 
looking to perhaps be members (publicly-announced meetings).  
He can make his contributions from the outside.

[...]