The Oatmeal v. Funnyjunk, Part XI: What Remains
[All of our coverage of Charles Carreon's journey from relative obscurity to fading infamy is collected under this tag.]
It's been a while since we visited the strange world of Charles Carreon's claims against Matthew Inman and The Oatmeal, hasn't it?
There's been nothing new on the direct confrontation between Charlie the Censor and Inman since Charlie slunk away braying that he had prevailed. Inman has done his level best to troll Carreon by raising more than $1.1 million for a Nikola Tesla Science Center, but Carreon has not risen to the bait. There hasn't even been so much as an effort to tie Tesla to the Freemasons or Rosicrucians or something.
If the Carreon/Inman battle has ended, Charlie the Censor's battles with his detractors have not. You may recall that in Chapter Seven I described how the author of the satirical blog Censoriousdouchebag, aided by Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen and attorney and blogger Cathy Gellis, took the initiative by filing a declaratory relief action against Carreon. This allowed the blogger to preempt Carreon's contemptible and censorious threats against him by asking a federal judge to rule upon the threats without Carreon himself filing suit.
The suit proceeds — more about that later — but the most notable action has been outside of court. As the blogger himself describes, in July Carreon sent a letter to the blogger's employer, Walgreens. Ostensibly the letter asks Walgreens to preserve digital evidence based on Carreon's unsupported presumption that the blogger must have used Walgreens computers or internet connections to blog about Carreon. The context and content of the letter, however, suggest that Carreon's true motives are retaliation and intimidation. Carreon hopes to get the blogger in trouble with his employer and thus impose a high cost upon his decision to exercise his First Amendment rights to criticize and ridicule Carreon. Remember — Carreon has spent much of his career styling himself as a free speech lawyer.
Now, "please preserve digital evidence" letters can have a legitimate purpose, and are not uncommon. I've sent a few myself (for instance, when a stalker used CraigsList from work to post fraudulent "looking to trade sex for a room" advertisements in the name of a romantic rival.) But they are also a favored tool of legal thugs. Charles Carreon is not himself a convicted domestic terrorist, but by sending this letter he's using a tactic akin to what convicted terrorist Brett Kimberlin used in an effort to intimidate critical bloggers. Carreon's history of conduct in this case suggests his purpose in writing the blogger's employer in this manner. Stay tuned.
[Disclosure: I provided limited legal assistance to the blogger, mostly including helping him find suitable pro bono counsel. Since then, though I have not appeared in the case, I have continued to offer limited pro bono advice. Consider my words accordingly. Nothing in this post reveals attorney-client communications between the blogger, the legal team, and me.]
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- Texas Court Makes Upskirts Mandatory, Outlaws Kittens, Hates Your Mother - September 21st, 2014
- American Spectator Surrenders To Vexatious Litigant and Domestic Terrorist Brett Kimberlin - September 20th, 2014
- A Grumble: United States Courts Website Misinforms About Free Speech - September 18th, 2014
- Follow-Up: U.C. Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks Gets Free Speech Right This Time - September 12th, 2014
- The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strained, But It May Have A Litmus Test - September 11th, 2014