Catherine Yronwode edited Eclipse Comics when they published "Reid Fleming, The World's Toughest Milkman". In 1996 she sparked near-war on the internet.

"The following exchange of e-mail exposes misuse of public funds at a State University," Yronwode wrote in news.admin.misc. A "gateway" that re-sends e-mail messages to newsgroups was blocking anything from Catherine's service, America Online. When she inquired why, she was informed abuse of the system caused the operator to ban all messages from AOL.

Ironically, Catherine had signed her message "Any reply would be appreciated." Instead, alleging discrimination against the poor, rural, and "independent-minded" non-college students, she wrote "I am taking it upon myself to expose your unfair practices," urging readers to contact the media. "Change your policy or read about yourself in the newspapers", Yronwode railed. Subsequent messages, however, revealed the facility was not a public forum, but a volunteer project. In a flourish of irony, the Texas operator remarked, "I probably would have lifted the block on AOL if you had asked nicely rather than attempting to bully and intimidate me," adding "Back in the old days, folks were polite about using resources which did not belong to them."

Instead, he closed the facility altogether, becoming a kind of net martyr. And to some Yronwode became a symbol of the encroachment on the internet. "You are the NetLeech poster girl," one reader noted.

The episode became a paradigm of the Internet's clash with "commercial" online services. Though profiting from millions of users, they put a strain on smaller internet facilities.

(In a kind of acknowledgment AOL annouced a "Give Back to the Net" campaign, but it has the earmarks of a PR-ploy--the help screen announces "For a chance to win a free Give Back To the Net(tm) T-shirt (featuring our official logo), fill out our online survey.")

Meanwhile, the Texas gateway operator posted a farewell after ten years of operation (adding, "And thanks for all the fish"), then left for vacation. And ironically, Catherine's user profile still lingered on AOL, including its original quote: "Measured by the golden rule; not found wanting."