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Suing the Bear that You Fed

The rest of this post contains language like this, so walk away now if you’re faint of heart.

Here’s the simple story.

  1. The Oatmeal writes funny/offensive stuff
  2. FunnyJunk reposts other site’s funny stuff, often without attribution
  3. The Oatmeal doesn’t like this
  4. Stuff was taken down, but FunnyJunk bitched
  5. A year later, FunnyJunk sued The Oatmeal for $20k (official lawyery reply here)
  6. The Oatmeal said ‘Fuck that’ and raised (at this point) over $180k for charity
  7. The Internet went wild
Pterodactyl Head – Visible in source code of The Oatmeal

Now this is when it gets weird. The lawyer, Charles Carreon, dipped his balls in honey and waggled them over a beehive by escalating this. See, first he whined to MSNBC that he didn’t think the internet would be mean to him. It’s important to note that Charles made his ‘reputation’ as an Internet savvy lawyer and brags about it. He ‘made his name’ on the Sex.com case(which I can tl;dr as ‘a dude stole a domain name and it made the news because it had the word ‘sex’ in it’). This guy claims he knows the net. Clearly he doesn’t.

“I really did not expect that he would marshal an army of people who would besiege my website and send me a string of obscene emails,” he says.

“I’m completely unfamiliar really with this style of responding to a legal threat — I’ve never really seen it before,” Carreon explains. “I don’t like seeing anyone referring to my mother as a sexual deviant,” he added, referencing the drawing Inman posted.

The Oatmeal is popular. It’s often vile, graphic, and offensive, but it’s funny. For some of us, that makes it perfect. Certainly I follow it. But with popularity comes great power. Matt Inman, the brains behind it, was public in saying he thought the lawsuit was bullshit, and naturally his followers took action, to the point that Carreon had to turn off his website’s contact form saying “Due to security attacks instigated by Matt Inman, this function has been temporarily disabled.” They weren’t security attacks, it was a de facto DDoS by pissed off people who thought he was an idiot.

Oh and then he proved he was.

First he donated to the fund, then he sued it.

On June 15, Carreon filed suit in United States District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland against IndieGoGo (where Inman is raising the money), the American Cancer Society, and the National Wildlife Federation. In the suit Carreon is listed as as “attorney pro se,” which means “I am attorney but am representing only myself” and “I will continue to wreak havoc until forcibly medicated,” which doesn’t need further explanations, I think.

PopeHat explains it all in gory details. I love this part:

38 Plaintiff is a contributor to the Bear Love campaign, and made his contribution with the intent to benefit the purposes of the NWF and the ACS. Plaintiff is acting on his own behalf and to protect the rights of all other contributors to the Bear Love campaign to have their reasonable expectation that 100% of the money they contributed would go to a charitable purpose […]

Which basically means ‘He donated, now he sues.’ And this is a guy who has pretty nasty cartoons about GWB and Condalezza Rice on a site he and his wife run. Also you can find some awesome tidbits about how much he doesn’t get it if you poke around. Here’s the WaPo:

“Carreon tells Comic Riffs one of his goals is to become the go-to attorney for people who feel they have been cyber-vandalized or similarly wronged on the Internet.”

I’ll bet.

Naturally The Oatmeal has an opinion on this. I, like Inman, wish they’d go away so he can get back to insulting everyone’s mother in his comics.

Even if Carreon wins the suit (which is always possible), the public perception of a guy willing to sue charities over what is, essentially, a butt-hurt, is going to follow him forever.