I've never really spent time at MomLogic. As a rule (of behavior, not of action; that is, analyzing my web-usage behavior will show a pattern that might indicate a rule, but I don't say to myself "Self, here's a rule we're going to follow") I tend not to read the more magazine-style parenting sites, even those with generally good reputations like Parents or Offsprung. I had never heard of MomLogic until a sweet, charming, witty, and potty-mouthed (she says things like "fuck" on her site) blogger I read, Stefanie over at Baby On Bored, regaled her readers with a story about her interactions with MomLogic.
The story she told painted MomLogic in a pretty unflattering light. But, it was her story to tell and heaven forbid bloggers stop telling the stories they have.
Apparently MomLogic didn't like the story much, and according to Stefanie they, in an act of what I can only call supreme douchebaggery, got some first-year flunky at a law firm to send out a cease and desist letter. (I'm just guessing that it was a first-year flunky. But I doubt a partner would waste their time drafting that sucker.)
They sent this letter to a writer. To a blogger. So, she blogged about it. She took down the original post, because in the end MomLogic seemed to be willing to spend the money to threaten, and she was in no financial position to hire someone to tell MomLogic to fuck the hell off. But she did let her readers know that she had received this When-you're-a-dick-everything-looks-like-it-ought-to-be-screwed letter.
Mysteriously, the post indirectly letting her readers know that someone had sent a letter and that that's why there was something missing from the site, is also gone. I don't know why. Maybe she felt genuine remorse over the whole thing. Maybe dragons stole it.
But imagine that she took it down because some website decided they didn't like it when bloggers wrote down anything bad about them. How would we know? She would feel like she couldn't write about it, so there'd be no history on her site. And without a post on her site, there'd be no linking, so no word-of-blog about it. I really don't know why she took it down, and she may have a very amicable relationship with them all of a sudden and she may not be able to talk about it because she's been offered partnership in the company along with a non-disclosure agreement. I don't know why a blogger would take down a post about a cease and desist letter just days after receiving it. But I have a vivid imagination, and the rest of this post is inspired by that quite possibly overactive imagination.
I had a conversation with an attorney on the plane from JFK to SFO last night. She practices family law for gay and lesbian couples in San Francisco, and as part of our lovely conversation we talked about things like Cambodia, health care in Canada, dissertations, residencies, and the Holocaust. You know, 'getting-to-know-you' conversation. :} At one point I was reminded of the following piece by Martin Niemöller:
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
It may be using too large a hammer on too small a nail to invoke this kind of imagery in a discussion about blogging, and cease and desist letters.
But censorship-via-lawyer remains censorship. Was Stefanie lying about MomLogic? It's possible, in which case MomLogic would be well within their rights to challenge what they might have taken as libel. I don't know Stefanie at all well, so she might be an incorrigible liar. I have my doubts, but they're worth about as much as a cease-and-desist letter from a first-year flunky.
If she wasn't lying, though, then why send the letter? Because she said bad things about them on her blog? Tough. Lot's of people say lots of bad, and true, things about companies and individuals in lots of media. Having a lawyer at your disposal to draft letters to shut those people up is a convenient, and bullying, way to engage them. And once you start bullying people into silence you've crossed a line that is difficult to uncross.
It's funny to me that I wrote a guest post for Carmen about bullying a couple of months ago. I'm not sure what kind of schoolyard bully a company that deployed lawyers to silence a blogger would be most like. Not that MomLogic is necessarily a bully about this. I mean, as I said, Stefanie could be an inveterate liar and her stories should all be read as little fictions, in which case maybe sending the lawyers after her was the only option MomLogic had. I could totally understand that.
It's really hard to just talk to people. It's better to intimidate them with illusions of civil liabilities and threaten them with the cost of fighting off the lawyers in court.
I don't have a sarcasm font. In unrelated news I wrote that last paragraph in regular ol' Times New Roman.
P.S. I was inspired to write this post in the first place because someone who, according to MyBlogLog, authors MomLogic visited my blog today. That was nice. I like having new readers. I wondered how she came across it, though, and the only information Statcounter could give me was that she came via my Blogger profile. Well, coincidentally, I've been commenting on Stefanie's blog for a while now, using my Blogger profile, and I've been heartily in favor of her standing up to them if she's feeling unfairly intimidated by them. Also, coincidentally, Statcounter told me that someone visiting the blog around, oh, exactly the time that my MomLogic visitor came by happened to do a search of my site for the term "momlogic". I don't think she found anything. But, because I don't like to disappoint people I thought I would write something that would show up in future searches.