The RSPCA is rallying support for a campaign to have the Bonsai Kitten Web site shut down, even though it knows the site is a hoax.
Bonsaikitten.com, a site "dedicated to preserving the long lost art of body modification in housepets", has raised the ire of members of the RSPCA, which campaigns against cruelty to animals.
More than 600 people have contacted the RSPCA about the site complaining that it "encourages cruelty to kittens".
The jet-black humour on evidence on bonsaikitten.com may be distasteful to some but is that reason enough to wipe it of the face of the Net?
The RSPCA certainly believes so, even though it knows the site is a hoax, "albeit in very bad taste", and "believes no kittens have actually been subjected to this procedure".
"As the Internet is not controlled or regulated centrally, the RSPCA is unable to complain to any central authority," writes RSPCA Online editor Amanda Bailey. "We have written to the Internet Service Providers (ISP) hosting the site to express our concern and asked them to close the account immediately."
The RSPCA invites concerned parties to write to owners of the domain Ennui Networks and hosters Soylent at the snail-mail addresses it provides.
Email addresses of the parties which have offended RSPCA member sensibilities aren't given - which is just as well given its recent history of Internet-based campaigns.
Last month the RSPCA brought FaxyourMP.com servers to a standstill for 48 hours by emailing people to submit email fax forms, in contravention of FaxyourMP.com's explicit policy. It never apologised for this. Our friends at NTK.net record this unfortunate episode in anti-hunt campaigning.
This month RSPCA apologised onsite for a 'spam' email campaign, on the dangers of fireworks for animals, which it claims was conducted without its authorisation. RSPCA's mailouts were sent unsolicited to numerous addresses via cowboy spammers.
Self-appointed guardians of political correctness
The RSPCA is in many ways a fine organisation but some of its pronouncements demonstrate a questionable rush to censor "offensive" material on the Net, which remind us of the worst excesses of political correctness.
Take what the RSPCA has to say about "offensive material" in general:
It is increasingly easy for individuals to set up websites quickly and cheaply. National authorities are looking at ways of controlling material on the Internet and moves are under way to create legal and practical ways of regulating the Web and cleaning it of offensive material.
The RSPCA is doing what it can to keep watch on material concerning animals on the Internet. It is also examining ways of dealing with the publication of offensive material or any specific events of cruelty which underlie these types of websites.
The RSPCA also co-ordinates its activities with US-based animal welfare organizations and has brought concerns about this particular website to the attention of the Humane Society of the United States, who have been leading the protests in the USA. ®