Culture

A Case, of Identity Thieving

Update: Totally Megan McKane’s review of Donald Rumsfeld’s autobiography is now available at PJLifestyle here.

Attention, young people!! I am writing, this column to inform you that, there is someone on the Internet who is FALSELY IMPERSONATING me, Totally Meghan McCain. This person, clearly not having been matriculated – from a prestigious university like Colombia, as I had, is making me look like a TOTAL IDIOT.  When I realized this, I was HORRIFIC. (PS – Am I, the only one who realizes, that word is completely sexist? It, was probably invented by some pasty old white male – Republican – instead of being invented, by someone cool like my dad).

I am, so horrific in fact, have taken steps to have my name legally changed. It turns out some jerk already owns the name Totally Meghan OchoCinco, so I have decided to go with Totally Megan McKane, which is how, it should be spelled anyway (the silent “I” in McCain doesn’t make any sense!)

It reminded me of the time I was watching TV one Saturday night, with a Republican insider (being the important person that I am being, I know Republicans insiders, some who I do not like, for instance Steve Schmidt, but some who are also totally sweet like Greg Sargent and Adam Serwer). I was not familiar with the, show on the television, but an old person in their thirties we were watching it with said it was something called “Saturday Night Live.”

Any ways. I was impressed, that this show actually had PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, performing, live in person, on their show, and that it was impressing that Obama took the time out of what must be a busy social schedule (on the weekend!), to help out, NBC with their ratings! Who says Obama does not care about jobs? Not me. However, it was confusing because the things, he was saying made NO SENSE and everyone in the audience kept, laughing at him, and he pretended not to care at all and finally I asked aloud whether no one, cared at all whether they hurt the Presidential feelings, and after about 30 minutes the old person said, “Wait. Do you seriously think that is the REAL President Obama?”

Of COURSE I thought it was the President, he was on TELEVISION. And he SAID he was President Obama. But it turns out it was NOT BARACK OBAMA AT ALL!! The old, person in the room started making excuses about, it being a “joke” and the FAKE BARACK OBAMA being an “actor” but, it did not cut ice with me. People, could have been fooled. In my America, the one the founding fathers like that one Paul Giamatta played in that miniseries (and hey, why hasn’t that guy SUED PAUL GIAMATTA? It is a good thing, I am around to protect the important people of this country from identity, theft) founded, these sorts of things are ILLEGAL, and I know Barack Obama has done the same, thing I have, namingly, to hire a lawyer and demand that this “actor” STOP ILLEGALLY AND FALSELY IMPERSONATING HIM ON TELEVISION or else go to jail.

To continuing my point, this “Meghan McCain” actually had, the nerve to have a lawyer send a letter to, the good people of Red State.org, demanding that I stop impersonating her! Hello! Is my name, Totally Meghan McCain, a part of “Meghan McCain”? No. Is “Meghan McCain” a part of my name, Totally Meghan McCain? I think, as the old people say, that is QDE. Or putting it, in such a manner that independent, young voters who decide the next election, will understand, FACE!

Well guess what, “Meghan McCain,” if allegedly that your name is being, I know lawyers, too, as they are the thing you have to protect your right to tattoo and piercings. And here is the letter he is sending to your “lawyer.” The messaging here is clear, STOP BEING ILLEGAL. Hope you enjoy it!

Editor’s Note: Updated with most recent version of letter available for download as a PDF at the above link. (Don’t worry, this one is just longer.)

Mr. Albin H. Gess, Esq.

Snell & Wilmer, LLP

Plaza Tower

600 Anton Boulevard, Suite 1400

Costa Mesa, California 92626-7689

RE: “Totally”, “Meghan McCain”

Your File: 55278.0003

My File: 1013.0001

Dear Mr. Gess:

The undersigned represents Leon Wolf, the author of the “Totally Meghan McCain” columns at RedState.com. Please direct all correspondence regarding this matter to me.

My client forwarded me your September 23, 2011 letter to Eric(sic) Ericson(sic) concerning the “Totally Meghan McCain” parodies at RedState.com. I confess that I first took the letter itself as a metatextual parody. To my surprise, on a re-reading, I discovered that you were apparently serious.

Initially, on the nominal merits of your letter: As I am sure you know, 47 U.S.C. § 230 completely immunizes any site that publishes my client’s material from Federal or State liability, insofar as such liability is based solely on the fact that such site publishes his material. This would be true even were Mr. Wolf a paid employee of that website, as explained in Blumenthal v. Drudge, 992 F.Supp. 44 (D.D.C. 1998), which is considered one of the great pathbreaking cases in this area of the law. Your threats against the websites that publish my client’s content are completely without legal merit; your only recourse for this content would be against Mr. Wolf personally, under the black letter of Federal law.

Of course, you also have no recourse against my client individually, as his actionswere clearly a parody of your client, a well-known public political figure. This activity is protected by the First Amendment from state law suits, including false light invasion of privacy. See generally, Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988), which is of course directly on point here. See also Horsley v. Rivera, 292 F.3d 695, 701 (11th Cir. 2002) (“the Supreme Court has clarified that the Constitution provides protection for ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ that ‘cannot reasonably be interpreted as stating actual facts about an individual.’ … This protection reflects ‘the reality that exaggeration and non-literal commentary have become an integral part of social discourse.’”) (Citations omitted.); cf., Dworkin v. Hustler Magazine Inc., 867 F.2d 1188, 1195 (9th Cir. 1989).

Of course, the 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://pjmedia.com for your client’s reading pleasure.

On the off chance that your client actually files the baseless litigation you threatened in your September 23, 2011 letter, Mr. Wolf will pursue all available remedies available under any applicable anti-SLAPP statutes, State law malicious prosecution/abuse of process actions, and/or Rule 11 sanctions. Although I do not envy you the Herculean task before you, please make sure your client understands the potential consequences to her personally – in addition to those her attorney would face – for pursuing this ill-advised course of action.

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.

With kindest regards, I remain

Very truly yours,

Christopher Scott Badeaux

Update: Totally Megan McKane’s review of Donald Rumsfeld’s autobiography is now available at PJLifestyle here.