Hey, did you guys hear that rumor? The one making its way around the Internets?
Some people out there are saying that Fox News host Glenn Beck raped and murdered a young girl in 1990!
Not us, of course. We’re just reporting on the rumor.
But it is pretty weird how Glenn Beck hasn’t definitively denied this story. I mean…what does he have to hide, anyway? Why doesn’t he just prove these allegations false once and for all? Why hasn’t Glenn Beck issued an official response to the rumors that he’s a bloodthirsty rapacious killer?
Obviously they COULD be true…
I’m not saying they are — I’m just saying, he should prove these allegations false, is all.
And it’s just a little suspicious that he hasn’t done so.
* * *
Glenn Beck has been on our radar screen for a while.
Beck’s show has become incredibly popular, even as he outrages many and sponsors like Walmart and Best Buy refuse to advertise during his broadcast.
He’s implied that Obama is a Muslim and possibly a resident alien, and he’s outright called the President a racist.
He’s a disciple of W. Cleon Skousen, and claims that America’s creation was divinely inspired by Jesus.
He claims that a Marxist conspiracy to take over the USA must be stopped by any means necessary – by the way, this conspiracy includes the dastardly plan of net neutrality, according to Beck.
He weeps on the air as he freaks out in hysterics over the horrible state our once-great Christian nation finds itself in.
Dude’s a nutcase, and possibly a performance artist. He’s even referred to himself as a “rodeo clown.”
However, there are a lot of political commentators that fit this description; Beck is merely the most outrageous at the moment, which makes me think it’s best just to ignore him.
A legal skirmish has erupted that has now made that stance impossible.
Time for us to dive into the case of Glenn Beck vs. GlennBeckRapedAndMurderedAYoungGirlIn1990.com!
Let’s begin by discussing one of the most obnoxious things about Glenn Beck: his tendency to make outrageous accusations and then act as though the target of his allegations is guilty until proven innocent.
A classic example of this is the “If Obama was born in Hawaii, why doesn’t he prove it?!” demand. The more proof that is provided, the greater the conspiracy allegations and bar of “proof” that Beck and the birthers constantly raise. There’s no way for these people to ever be satisfied, and they relentlessly imply that Obama is an interloper without ever proving that he is one.
Another example of this technique can be seen in Beck’s interview with our only Muslim congressman, Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, in which he couches a ridiculous accusation in classic “concern troll” style:
“No offense and I know Muslims, I like Muslims, I’ve been to mosques, I really don’t think Islam is a religion of evil. I think it’s being hijacked, quite frankly. With that being said, you are a Democrat. You are saying let’s cut and run. And I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview because what I feel like saying is, sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies. And I know you’re not. I’m not accusing you of being an enemy. But that’s the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way.”
So — that’s Glenn Beck’s steez. It’s dishonest and rubbish, but it’s working for him.
Now: enter the Internets.
We’ve all heard of internet memes, right? Stupid, nonsensical inside jokes that spread like wildfire on the interwebs?
Well, someone made one up about Glenn Beck, and he does not like it, one bit.
It was one of those things the kids are all doing these days: a mashup of Glenn Beck’s mucksmearing techniques and a joke by Gilbert Gottfried.
Gottfried once roasted Bob Saget by making up a bunch of rumors of Saget’s murderous ways, and then vociferously denying them. To wit:
Since Glenn Beck loves reporting groundless rumors and demanding proof that they are not true, the good people at Fark.com decided to go Glenn Beck style on Glenn Beck with a little inspiration from Gottfried.
Why haven’t we had an official response to the rumor that Glenn Beck raped and murdered a girl in 1990?
As this meme grew, someone added a great new definition to the Urban Dictionary:
v. To rape and murder someone (especially a young girl in 1990)
Eventually, this meme snowballed until someone — Issac Eiland-Hall, to be precise — set up a parody website celebrating the meme in all its glory.
This website (http://glennbeckrapedandmurderedayounggirlin1990.com) drew the attention of Glenn Beck and his lawyers, and they promptly descended with lawsuits aplenty.
Now, Issac Eiland-Hall is just a guy like you or me. He doesn’t have Glenn Beck money, or Mercury Radio Arts-funded corporate lawyers. He’s just a dude who wanted to start a website parodying Glenn Beck’s nonsense.
To be fair, there is a case to be made that the domain name that Eiland-Hall registered is defamatory of Glenn Beck.
Ars Technica queried a sympathetic lawyer who nonetheless felt the defendant was on somewhat shaky ground:
Paul Levy of Public Citizen routinely stands up for Web users who complain about (or otherwise antagonize) deep-pocketed corporate interests, but when we asked him about the site and the defamation complaints, he was happy to stay seated in his chair.
[T]he possibility of a US defamation/libel suit against the anonymous site operator is a real one. Certainly, domain names alone “can be defamatory,” Levy says, pointing out that the first iteration of the site posed the “rape and murder” claim as a statement—not as a question.
Levy says that such a statement is only actionable if 1) it’s false (and we’re quite sure it is) and 2) it was stated with actual malice. That last bit could be tricky to prove, especially in a case involving an anonymous speaker, but Levy makes clear that the site might well be on the wrong side of a very fine line.
“I don’t think ‘Ha ha it’s a joke’ at the end gets you off,” he says; if the parodic information is defamatory, it’s risky for the defendant in such cases. That’s complicated by the fact that the original domain name made the allegedly defamatory claim against Beck—and of course no one stumbling across the site in a search engine or elsewhere would see any disclaimer. In such cases, the domain name itself is a standalone piece of content; the disclaimer may help regarding the website content, but it won’t necessarily transfer a cone of protection to the domain name as well.
Beck and his legal team would have had a fighting chance if they took on Eiland-Hall in a defamation case in a US court of law.
But that’s not what they did. Instead – they appealed to an international tribunal!
They essentially accused Eiland-Hall of cybersquatting and called on the Euros to sort it out!
Are you freaking kidding me?
Glenn Beck is calling on the international community to arbitrate a First Amendment issue between American citizens?
This is the kind of thing he routinely slams the left for on the air!
Luckily for us, Issac Eiland-Hall found himself one helluva lawyer.
I’m not saying Marc Randazza is a particularly skilled legal mind, or has gathered any legal prestige; I’ll leave those kind of judgments to our wise legal readers. All I know is, this dude is hilarious.
Randazza fired a shot across the bow of Beck’s legal battleship with this letter criticizing the decision to bring the case before the World Intellectual Property Organization:
Dear Mr. Kaplan,
As you may be aware, from reading our Response in this case, there is a split of authority in the WIPO decisions as to how criticism sites should be examined…
View 1 states: “The right to criticize does not extend to registering a domain name that is identical or confusingly similar to the owner’s registered trademark or conveys an association with the mark.”
View 2 states: “Irrespective of whether the domain name as such connotes criticism, the respondent has a legitimate interest in using the trademark as part of the domain name of a criticism site if the use is fair and non-commercial.”
Naturally, View 2 is the prevailing view of American panelists and panels that apply American law to UDRP proceedings. View 1 seems to be more popular with international panelists and panels that apply European law.
Unfortunately, given that UDRP decisions regularly incorporate international legal principles, this case could be assigned to a foreign panelist or to an American panelist who applies transnational principles. I personally would find it distressing if the panel were to make a decision that completely disregards the U.S. Constitution in favor of a foreign perspective that adopts View 1.
To be candid, we found the fact that Mr. Beck filed this action at all to be most puzzling. Although, it was obvious why he did not file in a U.S. court given the law surrounding nominative fair use of trademarks as fully explained in our Brief. Naturally, a defamation claim as alluded to in Mr. Beck’s complaint would be humiliatingly doomed as well in a U.S. court.
On March 30, 2009, he said on his show:
Let me tell you something. When you can’t win with the people, you bump it up to the courts. When you can’t win with the courts, you bump it up to the international level.
Of course, we levy no critique at Mr. Beck for seeking to vindicate his perceived rights in this forum. We do not share his opinion as articulated on March 30, and we respect his creativity in seeking an alternate avenue where his claims might have a chance of success.
Unfortunately, despite the general wisdom among UDRP panelists, we find that occasionally they render decisions that make First Amendment champions cringe. We are certain that despite our disagreement with Mr. Beck’s legal position, that all parties involved hold equal reverence for the First Amendment. Therefore, I have prepared a proposed stipulation that will ensure that no matter which panelist is assigned to this case, the First Amendment will illuminate these proceedings like rays of light from the Torch of Liberty.
I hate to presume anything about anyone, but I presume that Mr. Beck will agree to this stipulation. It would be an interesting day indeed if Mr. Beck preferred to risk that a panelist would apply French law to a case between two Americans over a matter of public discourse.
In reviewing the filings thus far in the case, Rob Heverly at the blog Faculty Lounge noted that when it comes to trademark infringement, Beck really doesn’t have much of a case:
Beck (through his lawyers) argues that the domain name uses his trademark, and as such, should be canceled. Some of the filing’s arguments are logically questionable.
I cannot fathom how…the domain name http://www.glennbeckmurderedandrapedayounggirlin1990.com [infringes upon] Beck’s trademark, “Glenn Beck.”
Yes, the disputed domain name incorporates Beck’s mark, but it does more than that. And no one, and I think it’s probably true to the absolute here, no one would think they are going to a Glenn Beck owned/operated/approved site when they click on that link or type in that URL…So when looking at the filing, I wasn’t sure exactly where the complainant was going.
In contrast, the response does a wonderful job of making the case for a critical attack on someone who is quite capable of launching his own attacks (and of using the power of technology to do it).
Paul Beck and another lawyer Ars Technica discussed this case with described Beck’s WIPO claims as “preposterous.”
Hey, it would be interesting to see the plaintiff and defendant battle this case out on First Amendment grounds. I’d be curious to hear what our legal-minded readers have to say on the subject (hint hint, comment box awaits you).
Can a domain name be defamatory?
We might never know, because Glenn Beck doesn’t have the stones to file an actual defamation case in an American court.
Instead, he went for the international runaround with a cybersquatting claim that’s simply bogus.
What a whiny bitch.
In my mind, the funniest summation of this situation was provided in one of Marc Randazza’s legal filings:
Glenn Beck is the butt of a viral joke. He may not get the joke, but this does not make the joke likely to confuse or subject the domain name to transfer under the UDRP. Glenn Beck’s failure to understand these basic principles of law does not make the joke any less humorous, and does not make him any less of the butt. The First Amendment protects Respondent’s right to make Glenn Beck the butt, and his hypocritical attempts to squelch legitimate free speech criticism do nothing to portray himself in a more flattering light.
Because his arguments do not satisfy Section 4(a) of the Policy, his request should be denied.
Because he has attempted to silence a critic by circumventing (and thereby devaluing) the First Amendment — which he publicly (and in this proceeding) claims to love — he should be deeply ashamed.
So there you have it.
Glenn Beck: hypocritical, rumor-mongering, Constitution-disrespecting, race-baiting, international-courts-loving BUTT.
UPDATE: Marc Randazza for the win! Case dismissed!