Every so often, I write something offensive. Something that’s just mean, or uncalled for, or whatever. This was not one of those times. No, this time I wrote a review of a children’s book about snowboarding formatted as a third-grade book report and purposely written to sound that way. Well, the publishers of said book apparently didn’t like my review. Rather than just ignoring it, which would have been the appropriate response, they sent me the following email:
Hello Brooke Geery,
I am a legal representative for the Adventure Zoo Crew. Recently we found that you wrote a very dishonest article on one of our books “Sammy the Shredder”.
Not only was your story poorly written, but its obvious you have yet to be sued for defamation of character, calumny, slander, aspersion, or obloquy. We don’t mind internet trolls, but when you blatantly lie, “Also, Sammy’s big bro seemed like kind of a jerk making Sammy hit boxes and ride tree lines on his first day boarding.” that is seriously a cause for concern.
This email is to notify you that your story must be taken down immediately! Once this story is taken down, we will need a “retraction” for your lies.
Please know our attorney’s take this very seriously. If this story is not taken down, and your retraction is not received, we will be pursuing any/all legal measures. Also, we will be notifying ANY company that sponsors or is affiliated with your site (YoBeat) as they are now an accessory to Slander, Libel, Calumny, Vilification, and/or Defamation of Character. Every day this story is on your site, more and more damages occur. It has now been up for over 3 days.
Lastly, we don’t want to be affiliated with you, or a site like yours, we like positive things and positive people. We are a family business. We look forward to your retraction and putting this unfortunate incident behind us.
P.J. Glen (AZC Legal)
While I applaud their ability to use wikipedia and find big words to try and scare me, my own semester of press law (and ya know, logic) makes it pretty clear this is a load of crap. And what the fuck does “legal representative” mean? Anyway, I wrote back:
I’m sorry you did not like the story. It was not meant to offend, in fact, Yobeat is a highly sarcastic site that makes fun of everything and anything having to do with snowboarding. But since you don’t seem to be very familiar with “defamation of character, calumny, slander, aspersion, or obloquy” allow me to explain how it works. First I would have to post an actual untruth. “Also, Sammy’s big bro seemed like kind of a jerk making Sammy hit boxes and ride tree lines on his first day boarding” is actually an opinion statement, not a blatant lie. Even if it was a lie, you would then have to show intent to harm, which judging by the link to download the book at the end of the article, I’m thinking you might have some trouble doing.
So, instead of threatening legal action, perhaps you should appreciate the free publicity (and considering I PAID for the book, the sale) and realize that your book just got mentioned on one of the most trafficked snowboarding sites on the web, with many readers who are parents and may very well be interested in purchasing this book.
However, I will definitely take this into consideration before ever bothering to mention Adventure Zoo Crew again. Don’t worry, it won’t happen.
Now again, you’d think they could just leave well enough alone, but no, I got yet another email.
That is just one falsity in your story. Its unfortunate you have put your pride before your business sense.
Maybe you should speak to a lawyer before you try to act like you know the law? But that is up to you. I don’t know you or your site, but I am happy to hear it is very popular as this will strongly affect the amount of damages you have caused and continue to cause. This actually works better for us! Thank you.
Again, we’ve tried to handle this amicably. I assure you we will vigorously defend ourselves.
We will wait to see if your article is taken down today, if not then we will let your sponsors and the courts decide.
Believe it or not, this was getting a little old. Now I could have pointed out that they would be the plaintiff in this case, not the defendant. Or I could have pointed out that personal attacks are hardly “handling this amicably” but instead I just said fuck it and took the post down. Problem solved, right? Wrong.
Since the article was seen by as many people as you have claimed “your book just got mentioned on one of the most trafficked snowboarding sites on the web, with many readers who are parents and may very well be interested in purchasing this book” we are sure there have been damages caused by your biased article. Its obvious by the comments below, you have damaged AZC, and intentionally stopped individuals from purchasing our product.
Now that this article has been removed, we will need your a written retraction. Once received, we can than decide if we can put this incident behind us.
We expect your “written” retraction within (7) days.
Please send your retraction too…
P.O. Box 1062
Acton, CA 93510
Wow guys. I’m really not sure what value, if any, me sending a retraction to some PO box would do, so instead I figured I’d dial up Yobeat’s legal counsel. He pointed out a few more things I hadn’t even thought of.
1. It’s illegal to represent yourself as a lawyer if you are not one. And if our friend PJ is actually a lawyer, that’s just a scary statement on the California legal system.
2. They are in California and I am in Oregon, making this a federal case. You guys are gonna sue me in Federal Court?
3. It’s called the first amendment.
So, as you an expect, the post is back up and will soon be pushed into Internet oblivion. As for Adventure Zoo Crew. Well, they’ll be receiving a letter from my lawyer any day now.