Some reasonable discussion ensued. Rich “TheEngineer” Muny offered his thoughts on the subject. The subsequent back-and-forth between the two then moved onto some other PPA-related subjects, and while Frisina and Muny disagreed on several points, there was a genuine dialogue going on between them. Incidentally, Muny is actually one of those PPA State Directors (he represents Kentucky). He’s also a PPA Board member, and made clear to Frisina that his responses to him were as a board member, not as a state rep.
The thread died down after the first week or so, but in February another State Director, Randall Castonguay (of Massachussetts), chimed in to point out some of the good things the PPA has been doing.
In fact, earlier this week the PPA helped stage a rally across from the Mass. State House to oppose a recently-proposed casino bill that included a clause making playing online poker a felony for which one could get two years in prison and/or pay a $25,000 fine. The turnout for the rally was apparently light -- Foucault was there (see his summary). In any event, the protestors’ efforts were not in vain as the bill was thankfully voted down by the committee considering it, so it never went to the full MA Congress for its consideration.
Anyhow, after lauding the PPA’s efforts in his state, Castonguay ends his post by censuring Frisina for having raised his criticisms. Writes Castonaguay, “So, you wanna b%$#@ and moan because you think the PPA isn't doing enough of this or that...then look in the mirror and ask how much action YOU have taken to support the cause.”
That’s how one PPA State Director responded to Frisina’s criticisms. Not the sort of tone one would like to see from someone charged with leading others, but there it is.
Then another State Director, Steve Brubaker (who represents Illinois), added his two cents yesterday. After dismissing worries about Ultimate Bet -- Brubaker says he continues to play at UB because he sees the current troubles there as an “isolated incident” -- he echoes the sentiment of some others by saying that the PPA doesn’t need to publicize any given online scandal since “most people know about it and can make decisions based on their trust of the site.” A few debatable claims in there -- that UB is A-OK, that “people know about” the scandals -- but Brubaker is certainly entitled to his view.
However, his post doesn’t end there. After making his point and defending the PPA, Brubaker saw fit to add this bit of paranoia-fueled vitriol:
“Now - a word on ‘trolls’. In any open forum, trolls (haters that only want to stir up problems) abound. I think Lifesabluff [i.e., Frisina] is a troll. Perhaps he's an employee of casinos or others that want to see the PPA or online poker fail. I think he should be blocked from posting.”
Again, this is a State Director of the PPA, here characterizing a member who has raised questions about the organization as an enemy combatant who needs silencing.
Can’t say I blame Frisina for cancelling his PPA membership. I realize those who have volunteered to serve as State Directors are especially passionate people who believe not only in fighting for citizens’ rights to play poker but in the PPA’s strategy for accomplishing that goal. They have to be that way -- the organization would be ill-served by State Directors who didn’t feel so strongly about the cause.
Even so, I find the responses of Castonguay and Brubaker to Frisina to be appalling. State Directors simply cannot come onto the PPA forums and address members in this way, no matter how much they might disagree with the opinions to which they are responding.
As the PPA’s recently-altered mission statement claims, the organization allegedly “consists of enthusiasts from around the United States who have joined together to speak with one voice” in the effort to preserve our rights to play poker. How can that happen if issues raised by members are met with derision and/or calls to suppress those offering a dissenting view?