Japan exchange teachers (JETs) and their double lives as internet commenters.

This is a bit of re-using research from the project to make a post!

If you have discussed issues on the internet for any length of time, you inevitably attract a class of people who [you] really wonder what goes on in their head.

Some time ago, I had blogged about a former teacher of the Japan Exchange Teachers program, a/k/a JET, who got into trouble in Maryland for doing indecent things. Apparently, this had been going on even in Japan while the gentleman was a JET in the early 1990’s. So, something like a 20-year run before he was caught.

The reporting pointed out that the rock-star culture that surrounded JET in those days provided the gentleman with a certain amount of cover for his bad deeds. It was no reflection on all the JETs, but that the program has had its flaws.

I am for JET reform. I think it is a weak program that sets Japanese kids behind in English studies compared to young Chinese and Koreans. Ideally, it should be scrapped in favor of a “Teach for Japan” program.

When I first posted the post, it was the sort of thing that brought some constructive criticism and an opportunity to make friends and contacts with contemporary JETs. If you notice, I post less and less about the program, because I don’t want to say something that may indicate that I “know” anything about goings-on right now in JET. I may say something, and then the other people will think I got it from them. Remember, as I was saying the other day, confidentiality means that you even can’t let on that you know the confidential thing. (These people who go, “I can’t say because it’s confidential!” really peeve me sometime.)

One JET, though, did something really strange: he took my writings and twisted them to say that I had said that everyone in the JET was like the Maryland felon. Well, I never said that.

Then, what was worse, is that he further rummaged through the summer 2010 postings, and misrepresented other things that I had written. Some of the comments he made have to do with the project in White Plains, New York. Now, I sit here wondering if he intentionally misrepresented what I had said, or whether he was seeding the internet with falsehoods for another purpose. I really don’t know.

Finding out which JET was really easy. The screen name and blogger name he uses is the same as his handle for Facebook. His picture appears in each, as well as on the new Google Plus. I am assuming he has enough control over the Blogger account to be the person who wrote the entry, and not his co-partner, “Krampus“, a former JET with her own story. (I have screen shots of all of this, so they might as well stay up.)

Rene Juan Jerez, writing as “Senor Science” has kept it up for quite some time–even after leaving the JET Program in September 2010 and becoming the head of the scholarship application committee of the JET Alumni Association of Northern California. “Krampus”, who is Vassar alumnus [alumna, if still OK] Laura M. Cardwell of either Schenectady or Colonie, New York–and most recently a 2008-2011 term JET—may or may not have participated hand-in-hand with Rene Jerez’ writings. But I wonder: Why would you ever use the internet to do this kind of thing, when you are in the very program you are making look bad?

I’ve blogged under a pen name, but I have never been anonymous. I get the strong sense, though, that these JETs thought they were anonymous. But I found out both their identities through a major search engine, and you know how they say on other blogs, that “pride goeth before the fall”. What gave both of them away was some connection their handle had to a real person, who they also connected to using their real name and picture.

If you read through “Billowy Kimono”, does it really make you feel positive about JET? If you’re a graduate of Vassar, looking to get a job in Atlanta and a start at life, does it really seem wise to have your “Krampus” handle legitimately and provably tied to the writings and commentary of someone that . . . well, look.

Rene and Laura, I’ve known your actual identities for some time now. But I have better things to do than write about your goofiness on the internet. You’re being done a favor here, whether you appreciate it or not.

[Update 9/29/11: Laura M. Cardwell’s Twitter feed.]

[Update #2: I appreciate those who have commented about the Japan Blog Review writer’s style, and a certain one of these two ex-JETs. But style is not enough. I would need to show that the IP address of the posts is more likely than not connected to the real writer. There is no Dominique Flemings, that’s for sure. But that doesn’t mean that you can just say it’s someone else. It is step-by-step, and you must put each piece in place.]

[Update #3: XXXXX Airlines on the Twitter feed is really Delta Airlines, in Atlanta. Earlier tweets were about the interview in ATL.]

[Update #4 9/30/11: Some of Laura Cardwell’s writing in “The Refill”, a publication of the Fukuoka JETs. People, thanks for the leads, but I am now focusing on the identity of “Dominique Flemings” of Japan Blog Review–and I’ll post more about why at a later date.

[Update 4/16/13: I understand that “Billowy Kimono” is no longer available—unless you have PDF copies of it. I also know when and why it went down, which was some time ago. Deletion, though, is not the same as apology.]