Q: Who are you?
A: I am the owner of this tribute to Subrah Iyar and his friends. My name is Michael Zeleny. I was born on 26 February 1958 in Moscow. I was raised in Odessa, attending High School No. 116, appearing on the stage of the Opera Theater, and winning the regional Olympiads in mathematics and physics for three years in a row. My family followed me out of the U.S.S.R. in 1977. Since then I have lived in Rome, Chicago, New York City, Cambridge, and Los Angeles. I attended U.C.L.A. between 1986 and 1990 and graduated from Harvard in 1993 with the highest honors in formal philosophy and assorted humanities. I co-edited a collection of papers in memory of Alonzo Church and serve as an editor of his Collected Works. I am a lumpen-intellectual Usenetter designated as a Net legend in the category of Lesser Lights. My pedantic humor is collected in a LiveJournal blog. My assault philosophy has caused the allegedly voluntary exile from the U.S.A. of incestuous child rapist Min Zhu, co-founder and former President and CTO of WebEx, and father of my former partner in business and romance, Erin Zhu, who is currently married to Blixa Bargeld, the leader of German pop group Einstürzende Neubauten. You are faced with my performance.
Q: What have you got against Min Zhu, his family and friends, and his company WebEx?
A: A company that I founded and operated with Erin Zhu did business with the rest of the Zhu family and their ventures since before their founding of WebEx Communications, an online conferencing company. In 1999 New Enterprise Associates, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, funded WebEx, which was eventually acquired by Cisco for $3.2 billion. Min Zhu, the founder of WebEx, remains listed on the NEA roster as a "Senior Venture Advisor". His company, Cybernaut Education, collaborates in operating private schools in California and Canada. Min’s yearning for fresh meat continues unabated.
In 2001, after my partner Erin Zhu stole the stock shares that WebEx owed to my company, I asked its CEO Subrah Iyar to set matters right. In response, I received anonymous death threats made in the names and on the behalves of Min Zhu and WebEx. The language of these threats echoed the terms with which Min Zhu had indimidated his fourteen-year-old daughter Erin into yielding to his sexual advances thirteen years earlier. After I filed my lawsuit, the Zhus’ lawyer, who had previously represented Min Zhu against his daughter’s claim for childhood sexual abuse, threatened me with the destruction of people’s lives. Three years later, while my lawsuit was pending, my father Isaak, plaintiff in a related lawsuit against Erin Zhu, was killed by an apartment fire. I hired a retired LAFD captain to investigate the cause and origins of this fire. He told me that it appears to have started in several places.
After my father’s death I went public with my story. On May Day of 2005 I staged a protest at the WebEx User Conference in San Francisco. In response, WebEx shut down its conference and announced Min Zhu’s “retirement” and departure for China. Several months later, NEA’s General Partner Scott Sandell funded Min Zhu’s new business in his homeland. Min Zhu continues to work for WebEx under the table. That is what I am protesting with my personal appearances and this website.
Q: Why should we believe that Min Zhu or WebEx threatened your life? Aren’t you making it up to make your “enemy” seem evil?
A: The death threats made against me in the names and on the behalves of Min Zhu and WebEx since 25 December 2001 have been independently witnessed and well documented. Their documentation sufficed for Judge Adajian of Los Angeles Superior Court to acquit me on 11 April 2003 of weapons carry charges on the grounds of necessity, in a bench trial of case No. 2CR11665. In accounting for his acquittal, he said about me: “I think he had a good-faith belief in the threat. He did go to the police. He did do the right thing.” That is the only kind of credibility that I care to project.
Q: So your “assault philosophy” involves publicizing unsavory rumors about the Zhus and their entourage? Why are you doing that?
A: Because everything I say is true and readily verifiable, and because all facts that involve human rights deserve publicity.
Q: Even if the outrageous claims that you make here are true, how can you justify making all these scandals public?
A: If I had no legs and a place to go, I would hope for someone unencumbered by my handicap to help me in reaching my destination. If I had no shame and a cause for remorse, I would hope for someone unencumbered by my handicap to help me in making my contrition. As I hope to get, so I give.
Q: So you are a chumped ex-boyfriend posting this naked picture of Erin Zhu to shame her? Shame on you!
A: Therein lies a tail. For three years prior to the time that picture was taken, Erin and I had been nothing but friends and business partners. Most of the interim she spent sharing my living quarters with her boyfriend Brannon Wright and his stinky kitties, fantasizing about the business we were always about to build together. The picture shows her on the road, engaged in the twin pursuits of “cold cash”, true love of Bargeld and fuck-you money of her parents, funded by loans from my father and our friends. The camera that she holds in her hands belonged to our company, and Erin returned it with the photo inside, just before she welshed on her loans. I concluded that she wanted to share, and I am sharing alike.
Q: So you hate her for cheating you more than you hate her father for threatening your life?
A: Do not mistake contempt for hatred. I hate neither of them. That said, I have more understanding for a crime of passion than I do for cold-blooded fraud. A child rapist acting on impulse retains more humanity than the victim who uses her childhood suffering as a setup for a serial con. But a man who rapes his own child commingles fraud with sexual violence by exploiting his authority as a parent. Notably, around these parts, it is possible for a well-seasoned man to use his position of power and authority in foisting himself upon a thirteen year-old without committing “rape-rape”. In the final analysis, it is not my position to judge Oriental child-rearing techniques. All I am after is just amends for offenses visited upon me by the Zhus and their entourage.
Q: But why do you bring in Blixa Bargeld? We don’t care that his art is funded by Erin’s blood money. We just want to listen to his music, which only she made possible.
A: You are as free to listen to anything you want, as Bargeld is, to produce it to your liking. This is my performance. Unlike Erin and her consort, I am not reaching into anyone else’s pocket to fund it. If they had wanted to keep their funding private, they shouldn’t have involved my family and friends in it. As Immanuel Kant quipped: “All actions relating to the right of other human beings are wrong if their maxim is incompatible with publicity.”
Q: Wasn’t your lawsuit was settled to your satisfaction? If so, why do you carry on your vindictive crusade?
A: I never settled any claims against Min Zhu or WebEx. Aside from that, American courts are loath to deal in moral satisfaction. The individuals who betrayed my trust and made terrorist threats against me and my family have an outstanding opportunity to perform an act of contrition. Unless and until that contrition takes place, I am determined to shame them by all legitimate means at my disposal.
Q: But why not let it go, relax, and be free?
A: I am free here and now. Standing up to the powers that be is what got me here in the first instance, so the rest of my life must warrant that choice one way or another. As another alumnus of my alma mater put it, “there is some shit I will not eat”. In game-theoretic terms, players with pure strategies can be hawks always fighting to prevail over their opponents, at the risk of suffering injury to themselves, or doves merely displaying their colors but never engaging in real fights. Neither strategy is optimal, because hawks tend to suffer more damage than necessary, whereas doves tend to forgo too much of the available resources to more aggressive competitors. But a mixed strategy can trump hawks and doves alike. One such strategy is that of a bourgeois making like a hawk with respect to any contest in which he is the owner, and making like a dove with respect to any contest in which he is the intruder. A bourgeois population cannot be invaded by hawks or doves because its members avoid more damaging encounters than the pure hawks and win more lucrative encounters than pure doves. As an anarchist, I have little sympathy for bourgeois values. But I have no trouble making like the owner of my life against any intruder who would pose a credible threat to it. That is the kind of shit I will not eat.
Q: Don’t you have anything better to do with your life than fomenting this negativity?
A: I understand my opportunity costs and actual prospects, and plan my actions accordingly. In my thesis, I argued against John Rawls postulating a linear scale of primary human goods. I believe that human preferences cannot be so ordered. This lack can be illustrated by comparing three principal causes of quarrel that Hobbes found in the nature of man: first, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory. As Hobbes observes: “The first maketh men invade for gain; the second, for safety; and the third, for reputation.” There is no reason to assume, and no ground to conclude, that gain, safety, and reputation can be served simultaneously, to the same extent. On the contrary, wealth and fame go hand in hand with exposure to the assaults and depredations of the envious, whereas a primary concern for safety debars the timid from taking risks required for attaining wealth and fame. In turn, servility of the greedy often parts ways with flattery of the vain, as the currency prized on Wall Street differs from the kudos sought in Hollywood. The existence and nature of these differences can be shown with the greatest clarity by interrogating vital preferences under extreme circumstances. When I told my thesis examiners of my confidence in empirical confirmation, they challenged me by pointing out that effective experiments in vital human preferences under extreme circumstances would be debarred by ethical considerations. So here I am handed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity pose an exclusive choice between mutually incompatible goods of greed and vanity to eminently deserving experimental subjects. What’s not to like?
Q: How can you stage your public protests on private property?
My associates and I exercise a right to free expression on private property readily accessible to general public, pursuant to the rulings in Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins, 447 U.S. 74 (1980) and progeny. It is our belief that the strip of private property directly in front of the main entrances to the sites of our protests falls within the purview of Pruneyard in virtue of housing several unrelated businesses and being readily accessible to the general public. My associates and I are pledged to abide by all applicable laws. Our prior events since May of 2005 were unmarked by any disturbances, and we hope that the same will be the case in all future jurisdictions. We intend to enforce our right to free expression to the full extent of the law, against any illegal infringement. We do not interfere in any way with the operation of the businesses located at the sites of our protests, or any of their employees, associates, or visitors, including, but not limited to, their intended subjects. Concerned parties may address their communications to my lawyer David W. Affeld, 12400 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1180, Los Angeles CA 90025, phone: (310) 979-8700, fax: (310) 979-8701. I may be reached at 7576 Willow Glen Road, Los Angeles, CA 90046, phone: (323) 363-1860.
Q: But why do you carry a gun while protesting?
A: Because I am protesting death threats against me and my family. And because I can. “You can get further with a kind word and a gun than you can with just a kind word.”
Q: Your armed protests may result in legal repercussions against other gun owners. How can you put your own interest in futile tilting at windmills above the common good?
A: That is not how I see it. I am putting my Constitutional rights ahead of other people’s wishes. This sort of arrangement is implicit in the very nature of rights and wishes. Contrariwise, I would never put my wishes ahead of other people’s rights. Men need no special justification to look out for their interests within the bounds of their rights. I never claimed to speak on anyone else’s behalf or dictate anyone else’s course of action. I will not suffer anyone debarring me from lawful conduct, directing my personal efficiency, or posing as my spokesman for the common good. My public performance has caused a child rapist to get fired from the company that he founded and flee the United States. I claim that this alone makes my country a better place.
Q: Is the exercise of Constitutional rights just about you? Isn’t it about us?
A: This is a catchy Communist slogan. I am also a communist, of the Platonic variety. The day science discovers a formula for calculating the immanent value of labor, is the day I shall endorse the revival of Gosplan, expropriation of the expropriators, and submission of every individual will to the common good. Till then I shall persevere in my naive loyalty to our Constitution and grudging deference to the despotism of marginal utility.
Q: We cannot find any media coverage of your alleged exploits. Why should we believe you?
A: The press sucks up to wealth and power. But the facts speak for themselves. Stephanie Downs, scheduled to speak at the 2005 WebEx User Conference in San Francisco, has reported its cancellation in response to my protest. Look here for WebEx’s SEC filing of Min Zhu’s resignation, dated 16 May 2005. You can connect the dots.
Q: Aren’t you taking your grudge too far?
A: I reserve the right to be the sole judge of how far to take my grudges within the bounds of law.
Q: Even if you have that right, this is not a matter of life or death, is it? Or are you claiming to be in fear of your life?
A: My father was killed by an apartment fire that appears to have started in several places. But that evidence is inconclusive. I wish it were dispositive one way or another. Unfortunately, that is not the case. As for the threats against me and my family made in the names and on the behalves of Min Zhu and WebEx, I cannot think of any moral inhibitions that might hamper the man capable of serially raping his fourteen-year-old daughter. If Min thinks that he can get away with any wrongdoing in the furtherance of his will, nothing will hold him back.
Q: So what do you stand to gain by your protests?
A: A heartfelt apology from each of my offenders, delivered before a judge.
Q: What if they refuse to apologize?
A: Shame is a powerful tool. The law affords me no lack of venues for shaming my adversaries into performing a genuine act of contrition. Expect to hear my name in the dying breath of each of them that fails to do so.
Q: You are a whiny assclown. Why bother with all this verbiage?
A: Even whiny assclowns have their rights. You should be grateful to me for not allowing them to wither away.