"Some people just can't take a little bit of constructive criticism. Over the weekend, a PETA supporter took to the stage at the National Space Society's International Space Development Conference to interrupt a speech by NASA administrator Charles Bolden. Today, we received a phone call from Gary Barnhard, executive director of the National Space Society, threatening to sue us if we released details of the microphone takeover to the media. Ground control to Major Tom? Wondering what happened that the National Space Society doesn't want you to see"
Keith's 3 June 12:26 am update: After a phone call from Gary at midnight, I no longer know who to believe. As far as I am concerned both NSS and PeTA are simultaneously telling the truth - and lying - unless someone can produce an audio recording of this phone call. You can read the he said/she said back and forth I had had with NSS and PeTA below.
Keith's note: Gary: Your comments just make the NSS sound increasingly out of touch with reality and utterly incapable of accomodating dissenting points of view. Was PeTA being rude and counter productive by interupting your event? Yes, of course they were. I have yet to see this sort of tactic yield any productive results as far as NASA is concerned. But you are over reacting by threatening to sue them if they talk about events that HUNDREDS of people saw. I probaby would not have posted this video had it not been for your goofy threats. Get a grip Gary. Seriously.
Gary Barnhard: "There were no goofy threats. What they said was absolutely incorrect. I am surprised you did not check your sources. I called PETA and pointed out that the matter had been dealt with at the conference in a professional manner with no charges being pressed to date. In light of the same I requested that they drop the issue from their press release circulation noting that it could indeed create problems for the young lady in question. The 10 seconds of video was in no way stifled. General Bolden's response was most forgiving and professional. Where is the story here? You have been played."
Keith's 6:44 pm update: I owe Gary an apology for sloppiness on my part. I just spoke with Gary by phone. He told me at no time did he threaten legal action - about anything associated with this incident - either at the ISDC in Chicago or afterwards by phone. I spoke at length with Ashley Gonzalez at PeTA today by phone. I asked her several times, specifically, if Gary had "threatened legal action" over the phone to people at PeTA as is stated in the PeTA blog posting. Ashely said "yes" emphatically each time I asked. Someone is not telling the truth - and it is starting to sound like its PeTA.
Keith's 9:27 pm update: PeTA is sticking to their story and I am told to expect a formal statement reiterating their claim tomorrow. I'm starting to get a headache trying to figure out who is - and is not - telling the truth.
Gary P. Barnhard:
"FROM: Gary P. Barnhard, Executive Director, National Space Society
TO: Keith Cowing, NASAWatch
SUBJECT: Request for Official NSS Statement
Dear Keith: NASAwatch carried the following statement this evening . . . Keith's 10:30 pm update: Ashley Gonzales from PeTA sent me this official statement: "NSS CEO Gary Barnhard called an administrative assistant at PETA today and threatened to prosecute us "to the fullest extent of the law" if we sent a news release to the media about a PETA member who to took over the microphone in protest of NASA's cruel animal experiments. ... ." I categorically deny making any such statement. The assertion that I had done so is utter nonsense. The PeTA press re"lease had already been sent out. In fact I discovered it on NASAwatch. - Gary Barnhard"