Charles Carreon seems like a fun guy. Just a week ago, in a bizarre and nearly incoherent ramble on his website (which I won't link to here) he said that I deserve to be savagely physically tortured (while at the same time comparing himself to Rodney King). Specifically, he stated that it would be "appropriate" if someone (from which it is implied himself) were to do "what that gangster at the end of Pulp Fiction has in mind -- gettin' Medieval on his ass." Why do I deserve this fate? Because I happened to coin the term "The Streisand Effect" and, in doing so, I "stole" her name, and he doesn't like that, because (it turns out) Carreon is a fan of Streisand's "stirring love songs" which he sang along to "with great enjoyment" as "an adolescent." And yet, he still insists that somehow it's unfair that everyone else is "attacking" him and trying to destroy his reputation. There's a level of self-awareness that appears to be nearly entirely missing from Carreon (and his wife, who has referred to Techdirt as "Nazi scumbags" in one of her more lucid attacks).
So I find it amusing that about a week later, Carreon is now talking up how he is a Buddhist who agrees that he made some poor decisions in his legal strategy. It would appear, however, that he does not seem to believe that his calls to have me tortured "medievally" are a part of those regrets.
Of course, Carreon has been involved in a lawsuit involving his astounding threats against a satirical blogger, Christopher Recouvreur, who was mocking Carreon for his somewhat incredible overreaction to Matthew Inman's response to a different questionable legal threat from Carreon. If you haven't been following the story, feel free to go back through the archives. While Carreon eventually dropped his lawsuit against Inman (which had no chance in the first place), the nature of his threat against Recouvreur really called for a declaratory judgment (in part because Carreon specifically threatened to wait until pro bono legal help wasn't interested in the case any more before he'd sue). Carreon eventually settled, but made a strategic error in believing the settlement precluded him having to pay legal fees. It did not. Eventually (through a long and convoluted process made much worse by Carreon's own actions), Recouvreur's lawyers Paul Alan Levy and Cathy Gellis were awarded $46k in legal fees that Carreon needed to pay. The court noted that Carreon's own activities in making the process more difficult played a role in deciding to award the legal fees.
Carreon had appealed, but this week dropped the appeal -- meaning that he has to pay the $46,000. Paul Levy has made it clear that he intends to collect, telling Ars Technica:
“Given the amount, it’s hard to walk away from it,” he said. “We’re not willing to let the money just sit there. I really don’t know at this point what assets [Carreon] has. He has a law practice. Presumably he’s getting paid at his law practice—but you hate to think about that.”
However, what is even more interesting is Carreon trying to rationalize what happened. While he admits he was "dumb" and waded into something he didn't understand, everything he does still frames it as if he was the victim, rather than the aggressor. This fits with his usual style -- setting up an entire site with vicious non-sensical attacks on his critics (see above) while complaining when journalists
basically point out that what he's doing on the legal front doesn't make much sense. There's a combination of ignorance, lack of self-awareness, and a bizarre belief that because lots of people loudly criticized him (with strong reasons) that makes it fair game to lash out at everyone such as wishing them to be tortured.
In his interview with Ars, he again suggests the whole thing is the fault of online "mobs" and suggests that the real problem is that the law is not set up to handle such "mobs."
“So when you take a situation in which the legal rules don’t impose any effective sanctions on people for that kind of behavior, mob behavior on the Internet, then a legal analyst like myself should look at that situation and say: ‘You can’t fix everything that’s broken,’” he said. “There is not a proper legal remedy for it. I attempted to do something and I made it worse.”
“It’s an insoluble problem,” he continued. “It’s is not remediable. As long as you keep punching ‘Charles Carreon’ into Google, there’s just more stories about this nonsense. How can anyone get their message through? I’ve written hundreds of works. You can’t find them. Is that helpful? No. Now it’s difficult for prospective clients to see that I’m a relatively erudite person. Since then, some Amazon reviews of my books have, in bad faith, been given one star—I don’t sell many books anymore. Now it’s highly unlikely that anyone would say that Charles Carreon is a pretty bright guy.”
The more you read Carreon, the more you realize he puts himself at the center of every story. In the torture story above, he compares himself to Rodney King. In his blog post-"conceding" this situation, he again makes the story about him first, comparing the experience to a Ramones concert (he is frequently pictured wearing Ramones t-shirts). He claims that the lesson he learned is "never get involved in a game in which you do not know the rules" and then goes on to complain about those awful "online mobs." While I imagine that's a fairly valuable lesson, I'm not sure that's the actual lesson here, nor do I think he's actually learned very much.
He doesn't seem to recognize that his initial legal threat letter was way over the top -- accusing Matthew Inman of "defamation" for pointing out that Carreon's client Funnyjunk (who quickly faded into the background in all of this) had been reposting Inman's comics. He doesn't seem to recognize that he falsely thrust himself into the middle of this by incorrectly interpreting Inman's silly cartoon to be about Carreon's mother
(it wasn't, at all). He doesn't seem to recognize that suing charities
like the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Foundation based on a ridiculous legal theory because Inman was helping raise money for them might be viewed as a massive legal overreach. He doesn't seem to recognize that threatening not a mob, but an individual who was having some fun by satirically mocking Carreon (and then trying to get that blogger fired from his job) might be seen as an overreach. He doesn't seem to recognize that setting up an entire site in which he attacks reporters, lawyers and basically anyone who has tried to publicly discuss his various overreaches as "rapeutationists" might also be seen as incredibly over the top.
No, instead, he sees this as a story where he's the victim of a legal system that apparently doesn't provide him the tools to stop people from publicly discussing why they think his repeated overreactions are overreactions. The posts that we and others have done about Carreon are not attacks of a mob, contrary to his beliefs, but rather discussions about someone who has consistently sought to use the legal system to stifle the speech of others. He is, of course, free to disagree and discuss his position, but the near total lack of self-awareness about his own actions in all of this is really rather impressive. I may not know much about Buddhism, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't mean putting yourself at the center of every story and blaming everyone else for nearly all of your actions. I'm also curious about the Buddhist position on torturing people with ancient torture tools, because they coined a phrase that you feel unfairly maligns a singer you like, because she (like you) overreacted via the legal system.