On September 1st of 2009, in a nod to a joke made by comedian Gilbert Gottfried in which he repeatedly asked the audience not to spread a previously non-existent rumour about Bob Saget, Isaac Eiland-Hall launched the satirical website GlennBeckRapedAndMurderedAYoungGirlIn1990.com; its aim being to parody pundit Glenn Beck‘s often controversial style of political commentary. A subsequent complaint by Beck about the much-visited website only made matters worse and, by November of that year, with the Streisand effect in full force and more people than ever aware of the website, the World Intellectual Property Organization ruled against Beck and his production company, Mercury Radio Arts, in the highly-publicised case Beck v. Eiland-Hall. According to the WIPO, the website could now remain online.
But it didn’t.
To explain, below is the closing letter sent by Eiland-Hall to Beck, after said verdict was reached.
Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Wikimedia.
Dear Mr. Beck,
As you are now aware, I have prevailed in the WIPO action that you filed against me. I write now to voluntarily relinquish the disputed domain to you, even though you did not win the case. My criticism of you has been amply made—in no small part, with your assistance in this case—and I have no desire to attempt to punish you personally beyond the levying the criticism itself.
It bears observing that by bringing the WIPO complaint, you took what was merely one small critique meme, in a sea of internet memes, and turned it into a super-meme. Then, in pressing forward (by not withdrawing the complaint and instead filing additional briefs), you turned the super-meme into an object lesson in First Amendment principles.
It also bears noting, in this matter and for the future, that you are entirely in control of whether or not you are the subject of this particular kind of criticism. I chose to criticize you using the well-tested method of satire because of its effectiveness. But, humor aside, your rhetorical style is no laughing matter. In this context of this WIPO case, you denigrated the letter of First Amendment law. In the context of your television show and your notoriety, you routinely and shamelessly denigrate the spirit of the First Amendment. The purpose of the expressive freedoms embodied in the First Amendment is not to simply permit the greatest possible scope of expression, but also, in so doing, to also strive for excellence on the conveyances of ideas. Rather than choosing to strive for excellence and civic contribution, you simply pander to the fears and insecurities of your audience. And in the process, you do them, and us all, a great deal of harm.
Shame on you Mr. Beck.
Now that this case is concluded, I want to demonstrate to you that I had my lawyer fight this battle only to help preserve the First Amendment. Now that it is safe, at least from you (for the time being), I have no more use for the actual scrap of digital real estate you sought. I will voluntarily transfer the domain name to you now. The username is [redacted] and the password is [redacted].
(Signed, ‘Isaac Eiland-Hall’)