Meghan McCain Slapped Down; Will It Be A SLAPP Down?

from the awesome-lawyering dept

Meghan McCain is angry. Apparently, Leon Wolf at Red State, who previously wrote a hilariously scathing review of her book, also wrote two obvious parody posts under the name "Totally Meghan McCain", which didn't sit well with Meghan. Of course, she then did what any rational person would do when confronted with someone making fun of them on the internet: she sent in the lawyers.

Specifically, she had her lawyers send a cease and desist (pdf) letter to RedState, claiming that "these fake front page posts place Meghan McCain before the public in a false light which is highly offensive to a reasonable person," and that the RedState community "acted in reckless disregard as to their falsity and the false light in which Meghan McCain was being placed." Unfortunately, RedState announced that although they believed they were legally in the clear, they would take down the posts anyway.

That, in turn, didn't sit well with Leon, who reposted the parodies to pajamasmedia.com and had his lawyer send his own response. The response letter is, in a word, epic:
[T]he subject matter of your letter is a fairly obvious parody to any person of even barely functional literacy. Thus – and your client probably didn’t tell you this – even she recognized that the posts were parodies (or “parody’s,” as she put it). At approximately 8:25 p.m. EDT on September 17th, your client posted to her Twitter feed, “I don’t care about parody’s(sic) or fake names – but falsely putting my name on someone else’s writing is illegal.” She then subsequently deleted this Tweet, presumably when someone told her that “parody’s” were constitutionally protected and it might look bad in a subsequent lawsuit if she were caught admitting in public that these posts were obvious parodies. Not to worry: My client has screenshots.

(I treat as obvious humor the assertions in your letter that the parodies in question were appropriations of your client’s likeness for advertising purposes, and that persons with no minimum contacts at all with California would in any way be susceptible to jurisdiction there. It is my sincere suggestion that your client do so as well.)

My client will not be bullied out of exercising his First Amendment right to make clear his belief that your client is a spoiled, brainless twit who is cheapening the political discourse in this country. Therefore, henceforth, the “Totally Meghan McCain” series may be found at http://pajamasmedia.com for your client’s reading pleasure.
Normally, after such a slap down, I would assume that Meghan's lawyers would wisely decide not pursue the matter further, but these days, who can say? If it does go further, at least the rest of us can cross our fingers for more letters like the above.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 8:47am

    Mother of God....

    Do we have this lawyer's name and contact information? I would immediately call him/her if I ever needed legal assistance....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 8:48am

    "these fake front page posts place Meghan McCain before the public in a false light which is highly offensive to a reasonable person,"

    As a non-reasonable person, I am not offended at all, and wish to continue to read his posts. Don't I get some rights under the law too?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Lord Binky, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 9:04am

    The Fun Never Ends....

    I think this reeks of stock form. I think his notes looked like this.
    "
    Adjective 1 Spoiled
    Adjective 2 Brainless
    Noun 1 Twit
    Verb 1 Cheapening
    Noun 2 Political Discourse

    My client will not be bullied out of exercising his First Amendment right to make clear his belief that your client is a [Adjective 1],[Adjective 2] [Noun 1] who is [Verb 1]the [Noun 2] in this country."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Loki, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 9:08am

    I would assume that Meghan's lawyers would wisely decide not pursue the matter further

    Err, we're talking about lawyers who represent politicians (and other self-entitled elitists). I think you bumped your head if you'd assume either reasonableness or wisdom would enter into the decision making process here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Yogi, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 9:21am

    Streisand effect in effect

    Reading all about it now - The book review is awesome.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 9:26am

    McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    This "review" actually says that, eventually, after several paragraphs of empty blathering invective. I skimmed the whole "review", While I don't at all care for McCain, the "review" is little more than Grammar-Nazism -- maybe less, as I wasn't shown any egregious examples.

    Now: '[McCain] posted to her Twitter feed, “I don’t care about parody’s(sic) or fake names – but falsely putting my name on someone else’s writing is illegal.” '

    I stand with McCain on THAT -- as the victim of someone right here having used my screen name or handle in attempt to ridicule and discredit me.

    Any Techdirt member -- with a handle -- who disagrees with me and McCain about the use of /names/, I assume will have no objection if I or others spoof their handle or real name and post under those here. -- Remarks /here/ to ridicule or various negative comments MUST in this context be interpreted as disagreeing with the above, and so I'll consider that /permission/ to post under /your/ handles.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Yogi, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 9:35am

    Money quote

    The final paragraph from the book review:

    "On the whole, I am simply not a talented enough writer to express how truly horrible this book was. The last line of the book implores readers not to let Meghan “pick up this torch alone.” I can honestly say that I was encouraged throughout to pick up a torch in order to burn my copy of Dirty, Sexy Politics, even though I was reading it on a Kindle. There is no reason that anyone who is not getting paid to review this book should ever, ever spend money on it. If you simply must have large doses of poorly-written fictional tripe written by a narcissistic person who hates conservatives and everything they stand for, read Mike Lupica instead. At least he’s smart enough to know which side he’s on."

    Suing the guy perfectly demonstrates everything he wrote about the book and its author.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    Atkray (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 9:35am

    Oh look blue has a TOS in his post!

    Re: Grammar Nazi

    I think it is reasonable to expect a book that is published to be reasonably free from basic grammatical errors. A book that is not, reflects poorly on both the author and publisher.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 9:37am

    Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    I have no objection.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 9:39am

    Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    "Now: '[McCain] posted to her Twitter feed, “I don’t care about parody’s(sic) or fake names – but falsely putting my name on someone else’s writing is illegal.” '

    I stand with McCain on THAT -- as the victim of someone right here having used my screen name or handle in attempt to ridicule and discredit me."

    I fear you're shockingly missing the point. The very name they used was parody, something which would be clear to any reader with a modicum of sense. If someone posts a comment under "Like totally Dark Helmet" and satarizes my common language or arguments (I'm picturing tons of Chicago references here), that is certainly not illegal and would be considered a parody.

    In addition, the stupidest thing I could do would be to go legal on such a parody. It'd only draw more attention to it. Now, if someone attempted to paint me as something egregious (say, posting hateful racist stuff and seriously attempting to pass it off as me), there are defamation laws in place to handle that type of thing. It'd have to be REALLY well done for it to be worth going legal, though...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 9:53am

    That's a rather verbose form of Arkell V. Pressdram.

    But inquiring minds want to know, if Meghan's lawyers were to indicate the damages would be based on the nature of Leon's reply, what would be her reaction if she were to be informed that the nature of Leon's reply is as follows: "fuck off."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 9:54am

    Dang. Made mistake of reading more, now McCain looks reasonable!

    McCain: "Somehow, being a Republican isn’t a political decision anymore. It is a lifestyle choice. You have to look one way, think one way, and act one way. Wear the uniform! Embrace groupthink! And for goodness’ sake, no strangers allowed! Somehow it is wrong to consider modern life and the complications and innovations and changes the last thirty years have brought."

    [reviewer's next paragraph]: "Who the hell is saying these things, Meghan? Perhaps no baseless accusation is repeated more frequently in Dirty, Sexy Politics than the allegation that conservatives advocate and demand “groupthink”; never once is this allegation supported by even the faintest shred of evidence."

    First off, reviewer notes that McCain disclaims that the book is impressionistic -- that's the only way I know she does, so his nitpicking for references is out of place. 2nd, McCain's notions are fairly self-evident: at the very least, dissent about the ongoing wars bring accusations of "soft on terrorism" from the fascists who put an "R" after their name. Been no place for me in Republican circles since 1988 at most -- and was out of Democrat circles long before that, though advocate returning to Roosevelt policies. Anyway, the "conservative" reviewer is just an ass, and lousy writer himself: it's NOT a "hilarious" review.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 9:54am

    Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    "I assume will have no objection if I or others spoof their handle or real name and post under those here."

    Give it a try, lets find out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    Exactly! Let's ALL post under each other's names!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Dark Helmet, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 10:05am

    Re: Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    On second thought, I now agree entirely with out_of_the_blue!
    He can totally use "Dark Helmet", no "totally" needed.


    [While you see here the gravatar to identify me, the very existence of those gravatars is sign of how pernicious mis-use of name is. Anyone posting on other pages under my handle can't be detected that way.]

    And Dark Helmet, it's YOU who TOTALLY miss that McCain says parody is okay, but the exact name is NOT.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 10:10am

    Re: Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    @ "Chronno S. Trigger": NO, it's a hypothetical question for YOU to answer, not for anyone to risk. I've illustrated it, though, for "Dark helmet", as he's already a cartoonish parody of an evil villian from a movie -- I can't see how anything using that already doubled parody could possibly be construed as actionable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 10:12am

    Re: Re: Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    "And Dark Helmet, it's YOU who TOTALLY miss that McCain says parody is okay, but the exact name is NOT."

    Sweet! I've always wanted to argue w/myself.

    That said, where does McCain say "parody is okay, but the exact name is NOT."? Can you point me to where that is said?

    And, more importantly, they DIDN'T use her "exact name". The used "Totally Meghan McCain", an obvious joke and parody. In addition, the posts were made to be over the top rebukes of her intelligence and writing ability. These were so clearly parodies, even McCain recognized as such.

    Look, let's boil this down to a simple question: why is she going legal? Is it because she thinks people are going to actually think this stuff was written by her? Or is it because she's angry at what's being written.

    If it's the former, she's an idiot, and this isn't illegal. If it's the later, she's petulant, and this isn't illegal.

    Either way, she'll lose AND she just drew more attention to these posts she hates so much....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    zegota (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 10:12am

    The only things that are "hilarious" at RedState are unintentionally so.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 10:14am

    Re: Re: Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    "I can't see how anything using that already doubled parody could possibly be construed as actionable."

    It isn't actionable at all. No one is suggesting otherwise. Go ahead and use/mock/whatever the handle all you wish.

    You seem to think we disagree an awful lot more than we actually do, your blueness....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 10:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    Hmmm, your comments so a lot of intelligence. I respectfully rescind my hypothesis. Now please excuse me while I go put some penises in my mouth.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 10:46am

    Re: Streisand effect in effect

    I had no idea this existed, until now. "Me & all My Rowdy Friends" (ha) will be reading the review as well…

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    bjupton (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 10:56am

    Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    "I stand with McCain on THAT -- as the victim of someone right here having used my screen name or handle in attempt to ridicule and discredit me."

    This is sad. You were doing such a good job of ridiculing and discrediting yourself with your own posts.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 11:33am

    Perhaps Meghan's cease-and-desist letter was itself intended to be a parody?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Chris Rhodes (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    Feel free to parody me then, if you like.

    Might be funny, actually!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 12:18pm

    Re: Dang. Made mistake of reading more, now McCain looks reasonable!

    There is quite a difference between qualifying thoughts as impressionistic and simply spewing unlikely and unrelated propositions that are never substantiated or supported. If you want to support a proposition in prose, you build a train of coherent reasoning that leads from proposition to conclusion. The review amply provides numerous cases where the book fails to do this.

    I definitely loved the review. A convenient measure of good writing is that it may entertain, educate, and edify. The review did all three in great measure, and also contributed to more than one hysterical laughing fit that earned me odd looks throughout the office.

    Because of your hilarious writing and non sequiturs, I thought you were some sort of meta-parody of McCain at first. The idea that you might be serious is frightening.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_Dark_blue_Helmet, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    Plagiarism AND remix all in one user name! This is fun.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 1:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    If you're piling onto MY name you're a freetard. (AmidoinItrite?)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 1:02pm

    Re: Re: Dang. Made mistake of reading more, now McCain looks reasonable!

    If I, turned out to be, Meghan Mcain, I really wouldn't be, THAT supri,sed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Chris Maresca (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 1:35pm

    Who on earth is Meghan Mcain?

    Never heard of her, can't be anyone I should care about. She should be happy a parody is giving her some attention...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 1:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    @ "Dark Helmet": You wrote:
    "That said, where does McCain say "parody is okay, but the exact name is NOT."? Can you point me to where that is said?"

    READ the piece above, McCain is quoted as saying:
    "I don’t care about parody’s(sic) or fake names..."

    Whether she's wise "going legal" I didn't address. I'd advise no. But she IS said to have written what I interpret as not caring about the parody as such, and I think that fully answers your mistaken question.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    The sure sign of a freetard is copying. Have at it, all!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    I think you misunderstood that statement. It seems to me that she was saying she thinks it's illegal EVEN IF it's parody, which is why she then deleted it when someone clearly explained to her that parody makes it NOT illegal....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    @"Dark Helmet": "You seem to think we disagree an awful lot more than we actually do, your blueness...."

    I'm GLAD you admit it! Hope you see this one: I'm late. If not, I've got the link and can send people here to prove that you and I largely agree.

    This tactic of duplicate names is already getting confusing. A few posters could really make hash of an open site like this, eh? Mike / libertarians never allow for bad actors...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 2:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    I SAID that I interpret it. You're just quibbling. She's not necessarily linear or consistent, though.

    While I have your attention: I'll go so far as to suggest that this name confusion tactic, and other disruptive techniques would be good start for a piece, except that even I'm not sure I want to put such ideas out...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 2:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    The name confusion thing can be irritating, but I think you overestimate its effect and how much anyone really cares about it. For most on this site, comments on a particular thread are fleeting at most. No one is going to hold the words of some obvious jackass to me or you or anyone else.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 2:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    Woot, I am going to put this on your permanent record and take one sentence out of context to say you support my crazy ramblings! Remember the internet never forgets and I am not afraid to pull one of your sentences to make my disjointed unclear point.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_loo, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 3:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    You bastard freetard!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    icon
    FormerAC (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 3:20pm

    My Favorite Part!

    On a personal and professional note, I am of the firm conviction that the world is a worse place because of unscrupulous lawyers who force people and companies to forego their legal rights simply because they don’t want to pay the fees lawyers to defend themselves – even from suits that are meritless on their face. It is particularly obnoxious when it is used as an effort to chill free speech – political speech, no less – as has become all too common in response to unflattering internet postings.

    This sort of activity is condemned by the every State Bar association of which I am aware, and is contrary to both the letter and spirit of the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

    Made into a lawsuit, it is also a ground for sanctions.

    Govern yourself accordingly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Travis, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 3:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    I don't think the gravitars are for detecting someone posting as someone else. They're based off the posters IP which is easy to change. They do make it easier to link posts by the same AC if they aren't specifically trying to trick the system.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Aerilus, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 8:59pm

    "Not to worry: My client has screenshots."

    best lawyer quote ever!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Dark Helmet, Oct 11th, 2011 @ 3:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: McCain's "entire book is riddled with inappropriate comma use"!

    I agree.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This