Charles Carreon Discovers the Streisand Effect in 3..2..1...

I hate excerpting Ken at Popehat in times like this, because I simply love reading all his prose and hope you will do so as well rather than settling for the excerpt only.  I love Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon not because it is his best story (it's not) but because it has some of his best prose.  Six pages on eating Cap'n Crunch and ten or so on getting a wisdom tooth extraction, and I was left begging for more.  Ken is my blogging equivalent.  I could read a whole book just with Ken calling out censorious lawyers for threatening bloggers to try to shut them up.

That said, he has been writing of late about a site called Funnyjunk sending a lawyer-cum- Tony-Soprano after the Oatmeal.  Today he really rips into said lawyer, named Charles Carreon:

See, a legal threat like the one Charles Carreon sent — "shut up, delete your criticism of my client, give me $20,000, or I'll file a federal lawsuit against you" — is unquestionably a form of bullying. It's a form that's endorsed by our broken legal system. Charles Carreon doesn't have to speak the subtext, any more than the local lout has to tell the corner bodega-owner that "protection money" means "pay of we'll trash your shop." The message is plain to anyone who is at all familiar with the system, whether by experience or by cultural messages. What Charles Carreon's letter conveyed was this: "It doesn't matter if you're in the right. It doesn't matter if I'm in the wrong. It doesn't matter that my client makes money off of traffic generated from its troglodytic users scraping content, and looks the other way with a smirk. It just doesn't matter. Right often doesn't prevail in our legal system. When it does, it is often ruinously expensive and unpleasant to secure. And on the way I will humiliate you, delve into private irrelevancies, harass your business associates and family, disrupt your sleep, stomp on your peace of mind, and consume huge precious swaths of your life. And, because the system is so bad at redressing frivolous lawsuits, I'll get away with it even if I lose — which I won't for years. Yield — stand and deliver — or suffer."

Our system privileges Charles Carreon to issue that threat, rather than jailing or flogging him for it. And so Carreon supports bullying like that. He's got a license to do it. He knows that his licensed threats — coming, as they do, on the [slightly odd] letterhead of a lawyer — inspire far more fear and stress than the complaints of a mere citizen, and by God he plays it to the hilt.

By contrast, Charles Carreon doesn't like shows of force that you or I can muster. "I'm completely unfamiliar really with this style of responding to a legal threat," he sniffs. There's a whiff of Paul Christoforo of Ocean Marketing in there — the sentiment "how was I to know that I was picking on someone stronger than I am? Is that fair?" But what he means is "if the people I threaten don't have to dig into their pockets to go hire a lawyer, and spend unpleasant hours with that lawyer, and lay awake at night worrying, and rely on a lawyer who is part of my privileged culture, but can stand up for themselves . . . how can I intimidate them so easily?" Perhaps some rude Oatmeal followers did actually send true threats or abuse to Charles Carreon's office — which I condemn. That's morally wrong and not helpful to the cause of free speech; it's harmful. But I fail to see why Charles Carreon sending that threat letter is more legitimate, admirable, or proper than ten thousand Oatmeal fans sending back the message that Charles Carreon is a petulant, amoral, censorious douchebag. It doesn't take lawyers, it doesn't take law school, it doesn't take any special privilege conferred by the state — it only takes a robust right of free expression — sending it back by blogging it, tweeting it, posting it on Facebook, and posting it in comments on forums. Charles Carreon has power derived from an inadequate legal system and letters of marque from the State Bar; The Oatmeal has the power of goodwill and community respect earned by talent. There's no reason to exalt Carreon's power and condemn The Oatmeal's.

Read it all.  The Oatmeal's response is also classic.


  1. Colin:

    I think it was right after reading that Captain Crunch bit, which went on for pages, that I decided to chuck the book into the dumpster. That book was the most tedious, pointless story I have come across in quite some time.

  2. Ken:

    You are far too kind.

    Also, thanks to the Cryptonomicon, I'm going to hell, because I can't look at a crucifix without thinking of his idea of what INRI means.

  3. KR:

    Everyone talks about the Captain Crunch thing, and it's certainly memorably, but I thought the best bit of Cryptonomicon was Avi's "generic business plan".

    "We will increase shareholder value by $[a large number] unless [hell freezes over in midsummer]", etc.

  4. perlhaqr:

    Ken is the bomb. If I ever get sued, erm, in California, ah, in something Ken specialises in, I'm totally going to hire him. And I will re-read his post about cold-calling a lawyer before I do so. ;)

  5. Don:

    I think Ken and others spreading word about this is the twenty-first century equivalent of, "don't piss off people who buy ink by the gallon."

  6. IGotBupkis, Poking Fun At President Downgrade For 4 Years and Counting...:

    I've dropped Popehat from my reading. During the North Carolina Gay Marriage thing, Ken and Patrick both posted a very pro-GM pair of articles. Decent pieces, but they pretty much only reflected the liberal side of the issue, largely claiming "GM hurts no one, why do it?".

    On Patrick's piece (the first one), I made a polite and thoughtful discussion of the issues which I believed they were ignoring.

    They censored it, never let it get posted. I thought I might have made a mistake and not posted it somehow the first time. It didn't make it through the second time, either, which lends me to presume it was intentional, and not a machine glitch or inadvertent action. I'd posted there a number of times before, and it's inarguable that they recognized my nym.

    Moreover, another, prior, polite comment in the same thread elicited this {sarcasm}well-thought out reposte{/sarcasm} from Patrick:
    "Bupkis, you admit that you don't know much about North Carolina politics. That's a start."

    No effort to dispute anything I asserted in the first piece, just a snide blow-off.

    The second part wasn't a diatribe, it didn't say anything particularly bad about gays as gays, did nothing but point out what I believed were aspects of the issue which Patrick, as a liberal, missed, as typical liberals do. It certainly contained no vitriol or harsh language, no name-calling. One or both of them apparently didn't like what it said, though, and never let it get past their moderation.

    I don't tolerate sites that censor posts if they are polite and reasonable in both tone and content.

    It's their site, they can do what they want to. I just won't visit any more.

    Anyone wants a copy to see for yourself if I was offensive, msg me at

    I haven't been back there since it didn't get posted, other than to check and see if it had been cleared. It wasn't, and still hadn't as of this moment.

    In the end, Either Patrick or Ken (or both), is just another dishonest, censorious liberal when it comes to cherished issues. I can find that level of "honesty" anywhere on the web. I keep hoping to find someplace different, but it just doesn't seem to exist. AFAICS, liberals apparently can't NOT censor things they don't want to hear.

    I repeat: "It's their site, they can do what they want to. I just won't visit any more."

  7. Delia Partridge:

    If you come across as much the pompous whiner at the other blog as you do here, it's no wonder they deleted your comment.

    Grow a pair.

  8. Mark2:

    Seems like no longer exists in its former form. Looks like a parking page now.

  9. IGotBupkis, Purveyor of Fine Cynicism Since 2008:

    Delia: Blow it out your ephing rectal orifice, *bitch*!

    That "unwhiny" enough for you?

    Obviously a brain dead supporter of ultragay left policies.

    If you have a problem with something I say, fine, call attention to it by detailing it. Go EPH yourself if you haven't got anything but insults to make.

  10. Delia Partridge:

    I apologize. Obviously, your comments at the other blog were polite, respectable, and fair. It's a shame that narrow-minded people seek to censor a modern day Voltaire such as you.

  11. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States:

    Delia: I'm not going to repeat myself, no need. Consider it done, though.

    You asked for a rude comment in reply by being pointlessly insulting to someone who had never said a SINGLE WORD to you one way or another. I gave you exactly what you deserved.

    You are WELCOME to quote ANYTHING said there -- particularly in anything associated with the topic at issue which was rude to anyone there or anyone even associated with the matter.

    YOU got back nothing but what you gave in a personal, direct response that was utterly uncalled for in the first place. You neither defended his actions nor offered any actual criticism of anything said or done by me, you just threw out rude and condescending epithets.

    So your snark needs to be directed back at yourself.

    You're the only rude, impolite, disrespecting, or unfair person associated with this little back and forth.

    The only reason I can figure offhand is that you are, as suggested, another braindead libtard supporter of the extremist gay agenda, and find the very idea of anyone being allowed to say anything against that agenda to be inherently offensive, and, more critically, valueless (something can offend and still have value, though I doubt YOU can grasp that), and thus eligible for legitimate censoring.

    Most of the people here would disagree with you. Aside from personal attacks (like yours, and, in response, mine) there are virtually no legitimate reasons for censoring anything stated which is On Topic and not a simple repetition of things already stated or acked.

    That's not to say the website owner can't do that, only that it's not generally justified to do so. And I can't say I've ever seen or heard of anyone getting that treatment at any of the websites I frequent... partly because if I encounter them doing it, I stop visiting.

    Some of us care about intellectual honesty in discourse.

    Others just want to hear their own ideas reflected back at them and affirmed. Most of them (not all, I grant) are political liberals and lefties of every stripe.

  12. Charles:

    Delia: If you're ever in New York, I owe you a beer.

  13. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States:

    Charles, be hard for either of you to drink with your heads up your rectums.

    Nice factual responses from both of you. Exactly the kind of responses I'd expect from liberal tools.

    Yep, that's rude... because neither of you has shown any respect and made actual issue with anything said or done -- you've just insulted someone who has made an observation. Delia directly, you indirectly.

  14. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States:

    P.S., it's pretty obvious you're both regulars at Popehat and not here. That's one of the obvious clues that you're liberal tools.