Charles Carreon And The Streisand Effect

Stacy McCain points out a basic truth of the internet…if you do something stupid that brings satire and insults, the best thing to do is to lie low until people forget about whatever it was you did to cause your discomfort and ridicule.

What you don’t do is to double down on your stupidity as Charles Carreon did, well, for the last year at least. Here’s a bit of an excerpt:

Ken White has built a large and loyal readership, especially among aficionados of legal lore and First Amendment issues. In addition to his vast legal erudition, he brings to his blog a capacity for diligent research and a lively sense of humor. Among the readers of Popehat are other successful bloggers with a legal background, including the very popular Instapundit. Ken White is, we might say, a blogger’s blogger, and this means that if he sets his sights on a vulnerable target, several other bloggers are likely to join the bombardment.

Charles Carreon evidently does not understand this and therefore, when Popehat helped turn Oatmeal’s hilarious beatdown of Carreon into a viral sensation last year, Carreon perceived this as an injustice which he now proposes to make a tort, ”Distributed Internet Reputational Attack.” But who is to blame for this?


Attempting to evade responsibility for one’s own errors by externalizing blame onto scapegoats is at the heart of Carreon’s problems. To describe the auto-douchebaggification process briefly:

  1. Idiot says, writes, or does something stupid.
  2. The stupidity appears on the Internet.
  3. Bloggers notice the stupidity, make fun of the idiot.
  4. “Hilarity ensues,” as they say. People in comments of blogs pile on further insults, blog readers look up the idiot’s phone number or e-mail address and express in vivid terms their disdain for the idiot’s stupidity.
  5. Idiot reacts stupidly, further hilarity ensues.

Charles Carreon’s reaction to his initial Oatmeal-v-FunnyJunk embarrassment was to double down and double down again. He ignored the First Law of Holes and kept digging, because it evidently never entered his mind that perhaps he was in the wrong.

As I said above and Stacy reiterates:

Look: If you are ever in a situation where your stupidity makes you a target, the correct thing to do is . . . nothing.

Don’t react. Don’t try to defend yourself. Don’t lash out at your tormenters. Just ignore it until it is over. Learn your lesson, avoid repetition of the error, and be glad it wasn’t worse.

People who merely describe your stupidity — however mocking and sarcastic their descriptions — have done you no wrong.

Then Mr. McCain goes on to give an example of what to do when you find yourself the butt of internet jokesters and trolls…just walk away:

Consider the example of Jackie Mackie Paisley Passey, who described herself as “a very high-quality woman,” citing the reasons why men should crave her romantic companionship:

I’m sorry if I’ve offended you, but I’m also really sick of getting e-mailed several times a week by delusionally hopeful men who read my blog and think because I am *their* dream girl that I’ll therefore want them too.

Ace of Spades disassembled her with astonishing deftness:

Look, I want to make it clear I’m not saying this girl is ugly, per se. What she is is “plain.” She is what I call “Bad Irish.” The Irish look, but not the Good Irish look. The pasty skin, the elfin features… but not cute elfin, or better yet, hot elfin.
What you’re looking at here is a 5. A girl you wouldn’t notice in the average college or singles bar, except maybe if you had recently quit smoking, and noticed she had a fresh pack of Marlboro Reds held in her (indifferent) cleavage.

And you know something? However humiliated she was by that — and trust me, she deserved the humiliation — Ms. Passey figured out rather quickly that there was no way to “win” it. After an update or two where she tried to explain, defend or justify her stupidity, she walked away and eventually married a guy (“delusionally hopeful”?) and disappeared from the blogosphere.

Smart woman. Too bad Charles Carreon isn’t smart enough to just. walk. away.

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