Bizarre Legal Threat Of The Day: Confused Zoo Owner Threatens Popehat Over… Well… Just Read It

from the i-don't-think-it's-legal-help-that-he-needs dept

Almost exactly three years ago, we wrote about a ridiculous situation down in Louisiana, where the “Global Wildlife Center” was able to get a judge to issue an injunction against an obviously satirical site that had written an obviously satirical article about “killer giraffes” and a “recent attack” at the Center. The article was poking fun at recent violent attacks at other zoos, normally involving animals like tigers and bears. It was amazing that a court issued the injunction, and thankfully, less than two weeks later, the injunction was removed and GWC was told to pay the legal costs for the site. And that was the last that we had heard of the Global Wildlife Center… until now.

On Friday, the Center’s President apparently threatened to sue lawyer Ken White, better known as Popehat, defender of internet free speech. You see, Popehat had covered the original story too, and for some reason, the President, Ken Matherne, isn’t too happy about that (even though it’s three years later). Perhaps it was this tidbit in Popehat’s original post (which was actually quoted from a local news site):

In addition to filing this lawsuit, via email Global Wildlife Foundation president Ken Matherne threatened to file criminal charges, FCC charges, fraud charges, an IRS complaint, a governor’s office complaint, and a federal lawsuit against Brilleaux. Matherne’s email did not explain any basis for the additional threats.

If that gives you a sense of Matherne’s grasp on basic legal concepts, and his willingness to assume that he can use all sorts of totally unrelated laws against people he doesn’t like, well, you’re just getting a tiny little sense of what Popehat went through on Friday. You kind of have to read the whole thread on Popehat to get the full effect, because each time you think “this can’t possibly get more ridiculous,” it does exactly that. Assuming Matherne really did send the emails in question, he would appear to have almost as much trouble with the English language as he does with the legal concepts he uses to threaten White. Here’s a snippet from the first email:

My last case to decide the Apple vs Microsoft case. I am not joking – you can send this email to the judge and soon as I file suit. I will ask you as I asked that kid to take it down, if you think your malice to to our Foundation is free speech – let’s get real lawyers and hosted judges to find out! It scared teachers, parents and the general public. They were canceling trips, it was malicious, and the evidence given to court was a fraud. I did not say anything at the time. But, I think he would get dis-board by the falsified documents he presented to the judge. His father was a friend or I would have had he dis-board.

Everyone will see the truth of you and your boyfriends. You can print this – You do not have a clue what you did to damage my foundation I created for my daughter. And when you wake up in the morning – hoping you have kids- I want you to think about what you have done. Your site has done more damage than the issue and my guys think your damages will be worse the any free speech issue. And we are ready!

We are going to dp this all legal – get ready – I will have one of your partners, associates , friends , spouses, in dispositions for the at least the next 6 – 12 months. Minimum – 1 lawsuit lasted 12.7 years, the next only 6 . I have the means – so write me back or get ready. This again is no threat. Simply a promise. It is no longer about what the kid did – it is about what your company did! And I promise you we will win = you have damaged my daughters trust for at least 50 years. You are about to meet the best attorneys on the planet.

There’s also a discussion about Matherne’s belief that White is apparently a dope smoking drug fiend who is having sexual relations with the partners at his law firm (or maybe on Popehat, it’s not clear). White, quite calmly, asks Matherne if there was anything specific in the original post that he felt was a false statement of fact, and offered to review such claims and “make adjustments to the post if appropriate.” Matherne’s response was to just demand that the original Popehat article was taken down “or believe I will do everything for my daughter that you would do for your children !”

And then it got wacky.

Just send me you attorney of record – you will not hurt my daughter – I do not care what it cost ! Ken It was a BS move – and I appreciate that you do that for the best of people – but you always know our kids are first – and I don’t care how many $ it takes – my daughter will not live with this – so I will ask you one more time to pull this down – as a gentleman – or I will come to you! My airplane is only 10k an hour – have more cash & Gold in the bank than you can imagine – but if you hurt my daughter through this – my executives has all authority to go until all is done – I only have 1 daughter and it breaks her heart to see this! I would not do this to you or your family!

I really love this line: “My airplane is only 10k an hour – have more cash & Gold in the bank than you can imagine.”

White points out, in response, that he is still waiting for any specific inaccuracies, and notes that he’s willing to speak to any attorney representing Matherne — to which Matherne initially sent a simple “Game on!” email, followed by this (not the full email, which has more where this came from):

Get your check book out – and unless you can buy every judge to the State Supreme Court – you will pay damages = not about freedom of speech –
Oh, And I will follow up with everything I said I would do. Ken White, You better have an attorney or get one .

Cannot wait to meet you – You are and I can “quote again” a piece of shit! You do a disservice to mankind. I hope the judge we come before understands what a parasite you are and does not want his kids or grandchildren to be exposed to someone like you!

And I do not care about are inaccuracies about was said or texted. You are wrong and you are libel. Again, I do not lose lawsuits, and I do not think to can pay off the judges!

If I’m reading this right, and I believe that I am, Matherne is not only threatening to take White to court under some ridiculous legal theories, but he is flat out admitting that he does “not care” about “inaccuracies.” He also seems to be admitting throughout that he’s doing this to tie White up in court. I would imagine that if this ever actually got to a court and wasn’t thrown out immediately, these admissions would not help his case very much.

Randomly, out of curiosity, I went to check out the website for the Global Wildlife Foundation, and discovered that if you have Javascript turned off, you can see that they’ve got a ton of “payday loans” spam links hidden on their page. Either they’ve been hacked or they’re selling link spam. Maybe they should take care of that before issuing bogus legal threats trying to censor a lawyer known for vocally defending the First Amendment.

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Companies: global wildlife center, global wildlife foundation

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Comments on “Bizarre Legal Threat Of The Day: Confused Zoo Owner Threatens Popehat Over… Well… Just Read It”

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Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That sounded like a quite funny book.

That shade thing can be addicting:
– 50 shades of Bible (sponsored by your nearest Christian “church”)
– 50 shades of green (sponsored by Chris Dodd paycheck)
– 50 shades of airplanes (sponsored by TSA, cavity searches included)
– 50 shades of sharing (sponsored by TPB, polar bears, a lot of pirate parties and booze)

Note: the polar bear part came from one of TPB’s replies to takedown requests. Those are hilarious and available in their page if memory serves.

lostalaska (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I read it the same way and all I could think is wow… i sure hope I’m never DP’ed by legal council… does not sound like a good time, lets hope he doesn’t up the threat to legal DVDA.

Also, if this guy has sooOOooo much money why wouldn’t he have a lawyer on retainer that could write out these threats in a way that look legit instead of the angry ramblings of another clueless internet bully trying to sound big in an email to get people to back down and do as they will without any actual legal merit?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: THe payday loan links...

Hum…let’s assume that they were, indeed, hacked.

Couldn’t the hackers have gotten hold of their email server or email account/credentials and started sending these stupid emails “for teh lulz”?

Bad grammar + random threats matches with the “script kiddie” profile.

/a theory

anonymouse says:


I am starting to believe that techdirt made a mistake in writing this story and it should be taken down as soon s possible, remember this is a guy that will sue you for the damage you have caused his daughter, and nobody is more serious than someone who is blaming you for causing his daughter pain?????

But seriously if this is a hack of his website surely it would be better to wait until he confirms it is him emailing. If so then this story is doing him a disservice by reporting on something that was not true and making him lose face around the world. If true then he deserves everything he gets.

Vidiot (profile) says:

About that daughter

Yes, I would feel badly if it turned out that his daughter had some affliction and needed care for the next 50 years. But wouldn’t her care be better addressed by “…more cash & Gold in the bank than you can imagine”? Whom would he sue if her zoo-owning prospects were dimmed by, oh, say, waning popular interest in zoos? Or aggressive wildlife regulatory enforcement?

Further Proof says:

Power/Wealth Disconnect

It just strikes me as another wealthy businessperson who is so woefully disconnected from reality that he actually BELIEVES this crap. Somehow, since he is “rich and powerful”, this allows him to just make up legal ramifications and threaten those “less powerful”, regardless of facts, proof or justification. Just more of the same…

AB says:

Re: Power/Wealth Disconnect

Unfortunately, thanks largely to the insane efforts of the mafIAA in changing the laws, this kind of thinking is not only becoming more prevalent it is rapidly becoming the new reality. I don’t think things are bad enough – yet – for this case to succeed, but it is a lot more likely then any other time in the last 200 years.

And was I the only one who thought it sounded like he was threatening to buy off the judges.. cough Not that I think any judge anywhere would ever accept a bribe. Just saying.

AB says:

Re: Re:

I actually have more sympathy for Slytherin – it must really suck to have so many major asshats that you’re name becomes synonymous with the term.

I think he’s trying to claim that this is taking food out of his daughters mouth. That’s just a guess you understand since if that’s what he really is saying it would make a lot more sense to invest the ‘cash & Gold’ then to waste it on frivolous law suits. But nothing else he said makes much sense either.

Lord Binky says:

I’m really confused. He speaks as if the foundation IS his daughter. Then he further states he has “have more cash & Gold in the bank than you can imagine”, and when I try to imagine that I wonder why he is wasting his very expensive time on this instead of using his unimagineable amount of cash & Gold to fix his daughter, I mean foundation.

Spyder says:

Lets step back 3 years, where the whole issue could have been nipped in the bud.

A simple message to the author of the satirical article saying something along these lines could have put the issue to bed nice and quickly.

“Hi there, I read your article about our zoo and the ‘killer giraffes’. Very funny and clearly satire. However, some people out there who have read that actually believe it to be real! Hysterical, I know! Sadly, though, this is now having an impact on my business, with several visitor group cancellations, citing your article.

Could I ask that you somehow make that article even more ‘out-there’, so farcical, that there would be no possible way people could actually think it was an actual statement of fact?

I know I’m asking a lot, but hopefully you will understand that my business is being impacted here, and I hope we can align between your First Amendment right to post satire, and the health of my company.

Please give me a call if you want to discuss further. Yours sincerely, (blah blah)”

Murray (profile) says:

What is his position with Global Wildlife?

The Global Wildlife Center is part of the Global Wildlife Foundation which is a public charity. Their IRS Form 990 (a charity’s version of a tax return) is a public document. Checking the 2011 Form 990 (the 2012 isn’t online yet) reveals the directors, officers and key employees. And Ken Matherne isn’t listed. He may have formed this entity, but he isn’t listed as having any power there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What is his position with Global Wildlife?

Well, according to a press release I Googled:

“Ken and his brother, Lee Matherne Jr., expanded the family?s oilfield service company. Ken started Global Resources Inc., with offices in Lafayette and the Middle East. Matherne retired in 1989 in his early 30s to become ?chief baby sitter? of Global Wildlife. As president of Global?s advisory board, Matherne receives no salary.”

I’d also add that, unlike most of the people who make absurd legal threats, Matherne actually seems to have been active in court cases before; see, for instance, SUCCESSION OF MATHERNE 472 So.2d 240 (1985) or MATHERNE v. GUILLIOT 551 So.2d 633 (1989).

Anonymous Coward says:

Apple vs Microsoft

My last case to decide the Apple vs Microsoft case. I am not joking ? you can send this email to the judge and soon as I file suit.

Granted, trying to pasre this is probably futile, but what exactly is he talking about here? Is he talking about the Apple v. Microsoft suit over GUI features that ran from 1988 to 1994 and got settled a few years after that? Is he conflating Microsoft with Samsung and/or Google and talking about the ongoing smart phone fracas? Is there any sense here at all?

In any case, I’m sure that Ken White would love to show that email to the judge as part of his legal defense. I’m always amused by people who make threats about “getting a lawyer”, when any real lawyer would immediately tell those people to stop talking.

Lisa Westveld (profile) says:

Google: "Applications can offer almost always late fee when life payday loans"

I’ve Googled the part of their spam links and noticed that GWC fills the first 15 to 25 entries with this exact text.
But the explanation is simple. The spam has a “nemonn” class name, which has been identified as a hack. At WordPress support (see URL) they have mentioned it and basically it seems to be an additional PHP file that’s included in their website which will insert the spam in this specific paragraph.
The purpose of this all is a bit unclear to me, although I suspect the hacker wants to get a higher ranking in search engines for these specific websites. I don’t think the hacker would like to draw much attention to it…

Bob Hansen (profile) says:

Poor Form

This is the kind of light reporting that is fun to read at TechDirt: smirky, tongue-in-cheek head-shaking at the world. Matherne set himself up, decided to forgo spell-checking, and to assert his own bizarre legal system on the rest of the world. A perfect bump and set for widespread mockery on the internet.

After 16 paragraphs of well-deserved ribbing of his theories and correspondence, however, you decided to shift gears into an ad hominem attack of the structure of his website. Perhaps it was just to besmirch his character as a link-spammer, but I think it degraded your rhetoric on his ideas by going there. You can’t do much about what people below the line right, but as a supporter, I’d ask that you keep it classy on top.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Poor Form

After 16 paragraphs of well-deserved ribbing of his theories and correspondence, however, you decided to shift gears into an ad hominem attack of the structure of his website.

I don’t think “ad hominem” means what you think it means.

Separately I’m not sure I understand your complaint here. There was nothing gratuitous about pointing that out. It’s highlighting additional issues with the way this organization goes about its business.

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