Respectful Insolence

Congratulations to Robert Lancaster, purveyor of the fine website Stop Sylvia Browne, a site dedicated to documenting the misadventures and misdeeds of the phony “psychic” known as Sylvia Browne. Apparently she has noticed him. In fact, between Robert, The Amazing Randi, and Anderson Cooper piling on to document her errors and downright callousness towards the people for whom she claims to exercise her “psychic gift,” she’s clearly feeling the heat. Her screw-up over Shawn Hornbeck, where she told his parents that he was dead only to have Shawn discovered alive recently and her telling the fiancee of a firefighter who died on 9/11 was “in water,” only to keep insisting she was correct when informed that the firefighter in fact died in the Twin Towers.

Now she’s reduced to legal threats and intimidation against a website she doesn’t like. Read the cease-and-desist letter from the Hodgson Law Group. It’s utterly hysterical, claiming that, for example, StopSylviaBrowne.com’s “domain name incorporates our client’s trademark and name at the URL. Since your use is without permission or consent of the trademark owner, this use is an infringing use of the mark SYLVIA BROWNE. Your use of the domain name creates initial interest confusion as it misleads the consumer as to the source or affiliation. Your use is also a Dilution of SYLVIA BROWNE, which has become famous through years of advertising and usage by our client.”

As if anyone reading StopSylvia.com would confuse it in anyway with Sylvia Browne’s actual website. The letter also misrepresents fair use of an image as being an infringement of copyright. Notice that no mention was made of libel. You can bet that, if any of the factual content of Robert’s website were in error, there would have been a threat of a libel suit included for good measure.

Instead, obviously, stung by a string of embarrassments that show the world that she is nothing more than a cold reader, and a pretty bad one at that, Sylvia Browne’s now reduced to threats and legal bullying. Even though it’s painfully obvious that these threats and legal puffery are ludicrous, Sylvia Browne has the money to pay high-priced lawyers like Cheryl Hodgson, the attorney who drafted the letter, to churn out such vacuous legal threats. Robert Lancaster has nowhere near the resources to match her. Even so, this to me is an indication that Robert is doing great skeptical work; he’s clearly stung the vile “psychic” hard. Truly she has earned the name bestowed upon her by vampire406 at Mondo Skepto: Darth Sylvious (a.k.a. Sith-ia Browne).

Here’s hoping Robert keeps up the good work.

Comments

  1. #1 Blake Stacey
    February 6, 2007

    I love that the second page of the cease-and-desist letter says the following:

    We hereby demand that you immediately cease and desist from any use of SYVLIA BROWNE in this or any other URL forthwith.

    Can’t use “SYVLIA BROWNE” in a URL? Well, that shouldn’t be too hard to avoid.

  2. #2 Joe
    February 6, 2007

    @ Blake Stacey- I suggest “Stop Sylvia ‘the S**th**d’ Browne.”

    In Penn and Teller’s show BullS**t, Penn expalins that they are using a lot of profanity because they can. If they call someone a “fraud”- they will spend the rest of their lives in court defending that claim. If they call someone an a-hole, it has no legal meaning and they can do that with impunity.

  3. #3 Blake Stacey
    February 6, 2007

    Joe:

    The joke is that the lawyer can’t spell Sylvia correctly (and actually gets it wrong twice).

  4. #4 Joe
    February 6, 2007

    Blake Stacey:

    I knew that, errr … uhh, maybe that’s another joke?

  5. #5 TheProbe
    February 6, 2007

    The lawyer was trying to avoid the rath of Sylvia. Now you guys know what Jews write G-d.

  6. #6 Antiquated Tory
    February 7, 2007

    Exactly! I wouldn’t mess with a psychic. I’ve read the Handbook; I know what they can do.

  7. #7 Richard
    February 7, 2007

    a site dedicated to documenting the misadventures and misdeeds of the phony “psychic” known as Sylvia Browne.

    You are being just a little redundant. By definition all psychics are phony. The only way that a psychic could be genuine is for he or she to be able to violate the laws of physics.