Good day, gang! We are going to have an absolute BLAST today. Some of you may know that I follow a great legal blog, www.popehat.com. If you didn’t, you do now. And really, you should read up over there. Ken is a champion of the little guy when, in his words, “censorious douchebags” threaten, or even file, lawsuits to chill free speech.
Some of you may also know that I enjoy LARP, that is, Live Action Role Play. It’s the geekiest of geek, more fun than grownups should be allowed to have playing dress up, and also, when done right, a kind of awesome interactive theatre/gaming experience.
Today, these two interests of mine have a Venn diagram overlap, and that makes for a happy Dangerboy.
There is a man who owns a large LARP franchise, the McDonald’s of LARP if you will. Although there are many, many things we could call him, we’ll call him Joseph Valenti, because that’s his name. This giant among businessmen has a habit of doubling down on bad ideas. Look, if you run/own/participate in a game in which you dress like elves, barbarians, dwarves and orcs and smack each other with foam weapons while casting pretend magic at each other (and I do), you need to grow a thick skin for criticism from other human beings.
When people call you an idiot, a nerd, a dork, or a dumbass, you have to let it roll off. (Fortunately most of our events, when seen by the public, get the “this is kind of cool!!” reaction instead.)
Poor Joe, well, he hasn’t learned this lesson as I have. When somebody slights his name or NERO (the game he owns) he goes a bit off the deep end sometimes. I present here, in its entirety, the latest and best example of said jumping. This was posted on a group on Facebook.
From the Desk of Joseph Valenti - NERO Live Adventure Games, LLC.
Date: June 25, 2013
To All the Internet Bullies Who are Harassing and Bullying Joseph Valenti.
You must Cease and Desist.
You all must stop your internet bullying and harassment of me and the Nero organization.
You must stop stating lies about how Joseph Valenti interacts with NERO Chapter Owners, and how decisions are made – they are not correct and you are harming the NERO Organization by making incorrect statements.
You are depicting the NERO organization and its leadership – not just me but the 35 chapter owners too – using lies, and those lies are harming not only my reputation but the reputation of every NERO chapter owner and the NERO chapter staff.
I am willing to meet with any individual, or group of individuals, to review any statements or topics that anyone would like to review, to insure that you and I both get our say on any given topic, but it must be with the understanding that you will not return to the internet and continue to make derogatory statements, and that you will stop your internet based bullying of me, my staff, my friends and of NERO Chapter Owners.
We all know that nothing good will come from your constant and repeated bullying of me on the internet.
Nothing good has ever come from internet bullying, and in fact, internet bullying has been found to be responsible for multiple suicides.
You must stop your internet based bullying, you must stop stating lies to the public LARP marketplace, and you must no longer make false statements depicting myself or anyone associated with NERO, or you will force me to make a complaint with the courts.
I think we can all agree that this is a fucking CANNONBALL into the deep end, splashing butthurt on everyone at the pool. For a guy who keeps trying to bring our hobby into the mainstream, he sure manages to make himself a caricature of silliness. I picture Joe in this instance as Ken Jeong’s character in Role Models, desperately holding on to his crown.
How darest thou insult mine sacred honor? I shall sue thee!
Look, it is fine n’ dandy to feel a bit of outrage when somebody says you’re an asshole, but you can’t file a lawsuit over it. If someone says “It’s an indisputable fact that you’re an asshole”, you’re still in the world of opinion, and that, my friends, is protected speech. You're on shaky ground if you threaten legal action against one person's opinion. Trying to serve the entire Internet with a Cease And Desist? Well, that’s just dumbfuckery on the scale of plucking a troll's nosehair.
I’ll be honest. As a fellow owner of a LARP myself and Big Damn Geek, I’ve refrained from commenting about Joe, his business, his methods, or anydamnthing else about him. Hell, once upon a time I made some of the same mistakes, trying too hard to “control the message”, as they say it in corporatespeak. But once he tried to use legal threats to quiet his detractors, he crossed the line with me, and I feel it’s time to spread his words far and wide to receive the ridicule they so richly deserve.
You see, the answer to speech you don’t like isn’t lawsuit (unless in those cases where true, actual libel/slander occur), it’s more speech. That’s the whole point of our First Amendment rights and the “marketplace of ideas.”
Besides, there’s no way to quiet the whole internet…wait, wait a minute…
OK, there’s no easy way to quiet the whole internet. Joe, I introduce you to the Streisand Effect. Enjoy it.