Yecke update

You may recall that I’d mentioned how Cheri Yecke was hiring a company called “reputationdefender” to expunge unflattering references from the net. One of her targets was Wesley Elsberry, who had reported that she was in favor of allowing local school districts to elect to teach creationism (this is not permissible in Minnesota). She claims that’s false; unfortunately for her, Wesley has found a video recording of her at that time proposing exactly that. Ooops. So Yecke is trying to get her own words removed from the net? How interesting.

In a related issue, I’d mocked the whole premise of “reputationdefender” — they claimed to be able to get any offending article on the web taken down for only $20, using “proprietary” techniques. There’s no word yet on exactly what their techniques were, but another, similar company has had their procedures exposed. They sent letters to the host of the offending article.

This letter is being sent to you in the name of more than 500 businesses. No matter where you go, we will cause you a problem. Your life is in danger until you comply with our demands. This is your last warning.

Your neighbors already know about your criminal dealings and how you are making many people loose (sic) their business. You will soon be beaten to a pulp and pounced into the ground six feet under with a baseball bat and sleg (sic) hammer. You will soon be sorry not just from what I am capable of doing to you, but what other members will do as soon as they know exactly where you are. Its (sic) just a matter of time until I get to you.

That didn’t work, so they sent another one.

We warned you ed magedson. Did you hear the gun shots last night? Because of you innocent people will die. Your tenants, family members and those that work with you. Think we’re joking? I told you that your site will be down and it is. That is all we want and we will not hurt anyone.

This was not the same company that Yecke hired, and I haven’t heard that Wesley received any mail with a similar tone. It’s still about what I expected the only effective way of getting an article removed from the web might be: extortion.


  1. #1 Kseniya
    June 29, 2007

    Nothing screams “proprietary technique” like pouncing someone six feet under the ground with a baseball bat.

  2. #2 Sarcastro
    June 29, 2007

    Pouncing? Methinks they missed a sic.

  3. #3 speedwell
    June 29, 2007

    Sounds a lot like the “fair game” intimidation threats from Scientology, actually. They’re rather fond of accusing someone of their supposed “criminal acts” in a transparent bluff attempt, Hubbard having pontificated that anyone who opposed him and his crew of ship rats must be a criminal at heart, really, a servant of dark forces and a perpetrator of evil deeds who could be “tricked, sued, lied to, or destroyed.”

  4. #4 Dan
    June 29, 2007

    See what happens when you promote the hired muscle to middle-management? You wind up with ineffectually written manifestos such as the above. And, it’s hard to scare people when they’re laughing their asses off at you.

  5. #5 speedwell
    June 29, 2007

    Oh, and let’s not forget that Scientology claims its tactics are protected by copyright. “Proprietary,” hmmmm? (…says speedwell in the tone of the wife of the Calgon-using Chinese laundryman…)

  6. #6 Kseniya
    June 29, 2007

    Simon Tam: What do you pay him for?
    Mal: What?
    Simon: I was just wondering what his job was. On the ship.
    Mal: [pause]
    Mal: Public relations.

  7. #7 Pinko Punko
    June 29, 2007

    If you’ve followed the AutoAdmit story, you can see where a company like “reputationdefender” might be useful. I have no idea what they do, my expectation is they go after people for potentially libelous statements.

  8. #8 Blake Stacey, OM
    June 29, 2007

    A second Molly for Kseniya!

  9. #9 Firemancarl
    June 29, 2007

    Great, this yutz Yecke is making inroads here in Florida? Now I will be on the attack. I do not want my children subjected to nonsense and fairy tales in school-in so far as religion is concerned!

  10. #10 LeeLeeOne
    June 29, 2007

    Threats, implied or real, are legal offenses. As we all know, the Internet can and does lead to footprints that cannot be erased or falsified.

    If I were the recipient of such a vulgar form of E-mail, I would not hesitate to go to the nearest FBI office with notification of such harm.

    This is not FREE SPEECH…… these are THREATS. Libel or not, refuted to be harmless or not, anyone who is the recipient of such threatening E-Mail should report such threats and follow through.

    If left up to their own devices, whether we personally consider these threats empty or not, with these threats, who’s to say the next person to receive them will automatically not be vulnerable to these types of attacks?!

    While we still have some type of “law in this land”, please use the judicial system, if not for yourself, but for the others who are seemingly incapable of defending themselves.

    I find Internet “attacks” or threats to be a threat against the person themselves and would expect no less treatment of those initiating these “internet attacks” to be no less responsible if they had hand delivered or mailed such a threat!

  11. #11 Tim
    June 29, 2007

    I think it’s pretty clear that these incarnations of hired eGoons will die off. Bad writing, misleading claims about what they can do, illegal threats, and a goal that would require a lawyer they can’t afford to pay. Here’s (wistfully) hoping the selection pressure is too high for a marginally successful strain to emerge.

    It just hit me: These people using eGoon services are probably ordering lots of “CANADIAN MEDS CHEAP!!!1!” and “ZOMG PENIS ENLARGEMENT LOL”, if you get my drift.

  12. #12 Kseniya
    June 29, 2007

    *giggle* @ Blake! XD

  13. #13 stogoe
    June 29, 2007

    Ah, the ‘verse. Not a bad bit o’ storytelling.
    Frak those goram purplebellies at Fox.

  14. #14 Chinchillazilla
    June 29, 2007

    Man, that’s exactly what I told my friend yesterday when he backed out of coming to a party with me. “Ben,” I said, “if you don’t come to this party I will come to your house and kill your family.”

    Seriously! Only I didn’t intend for him to believe it. And he didn’t, because he didn’t come. šŸ™

    I would be so, so amused if I got one of those emails.

  15. #15 Christian Burnham
    June 29, 2007

    I expect the Pharyngula site will go down within a few days. PZ will be DESTROYED by a cease and desist letter with no legal status whatsoever.

  16. #16 Jeff
    June 29, 2007

    From their web site FAQ: “Reputation Defender is a strong supporter of the freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Our correction/removal (“Destroy”) service was designed to help private citizens regain control over unintentionally posted or outdated personal information accidentally disclosed to the public Internet, and address potentially libelous, slanderous, defamatory or invasive information about them that serves no public benefit.”

    So, anything about Yecke, good or bad, serves public benefit, since she runs for public office. Therefore RepDef can do nothing for her, by their own standards.

  17. #17 Anna Z
    June 29, 2007

    You’d think the fact that she considers her own words defamatory to her reputation would clue her in. I guess that’s expecting too much from some people.

  18. #18 Wesley R. Elsberry
    June 29, 2007

    I haven’t gotten anything untoward from ReputationDefender.

    I have recently added the following to the bottom of my post:

    Dr. Yecke, if you are reading this, I would suggest that if you have actually changed your mind about the legitimacy of “intelligent design” creationism and other forms of antievolution, you should simply hold a press conference and announce that upon reflection, you have changed your position, and that Florida’s students deserve to learn in their science classrooms only science that has passed the muster of scientific scrutiny, and that narrow religious viewpoints won’t be taught as science on your watch. Do you think you could do that? It would make moot the documented stance you took back in 2003, and it would just be the right thing to do. “Intelligent design” originated as a sham in 1987 to evade the Edwards v. Aguillard Supreme Court decision, and the actions of the professional “intelligent design” avocates since then have not indicated any improvement in its moral character. Consider the company you keep as an unshriven IDC advocate, for instance, that of defender of a Holocaust denier William Dembski.

    (N.b.: “moot” != “harmless”)

  19. #19 Crudely Wrott
    June 29, 2007

    There is nothing like speling errors, unusual sentence structure or jolting word usage and fractured syntax to point the finger at hucksterism. Reminds one of certain Nigerian efforts.

    Imagine a world in which the average person was aware enough to smell this crap coming from miles away. Sounds easy; apparently istn’t.

  20. #20 jimmy
    June 29, 2007

    Perhaps George Bush, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz should hire “reputationdefender”.

    Problem is, if they had to spend $20 on every “offending” article and comment in blogs, they’d go broke pretty quick.

    In fact, I bet there isn’t enough money in the entire galaxy to finance that salvage operation.

    Might make more sense to get a new identity and then hire a service called “reputationinventor” (the Ivy League)

  21. #21 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2007

    Might make more sense to get a new identity and then hire a service called “reputationinventor”

    They did. A long time ago. His name is Karl Rove, and he is the ultimate ‘reputationinventor’.

    He is also very handy at reputationdestroying. Just ask the governor of Texas previous to GW.

  22. #22 Shell Goddamnit
    June 30, 2007

    “eGoon services”

    I love it. Just need a capital S and an Inc. and we have my new business name. It won’t have anything to do with reputation defending or anything…I think perhaps a hobby catering business…but it’ll still be named eGoon Services Inc.

    Call eGoon Services Inc for all your tapenade needs!!1!

  23. #23 Bob O'H
    June 30, 2007

    It’s clear that eGoon services would only last as long as it would take Major Bloodnock to take the funds into “safe keeping”.


  24. #24 llewelly
    June 30, 2007

    It seems ‘reputationdefender’ does their client’s reputation more harm than good.

  25. #25 keiths
    June 30, 2007

    Yecke — what an appropriate last name.

  26. #26 xebecs
    June 30, 2007

    Yecke — what an appropriate last name.

    YECKE: Young Earth Creationist — Krazy Embarassing?

  27. #27 raven
    June 30, 2007

    Not to state the obvious, but the eGoon threats are illegal. There are laws abut death threats, cyberstalking, intimidation, violations of civil liberties, etc. that cover these. Some are criminal felonies. It also would be covered by terrorism statutes as terrorism.

    When something like this is received, common sense indicates that you turn copies over to the cops, local and federal (FBI). The locals might do something but probably won’t. The FBI has a cybercrime division and can trace these through the net. Even a proxy server won’t help if the cops are determined. Every once in a while the authorities bestir themselves to nail one of these cretins and they go to jail.

  28. #28 Luna_the_cat
    June 30, 2007

    Re: the “letters” above, I’m fairly sure that “sending death threats through the post” was a federal offense even before the internets came on the scene. This type of thing should definitely go to the FBI, with a “go have fun“…..

    Re: Yecke — well, she has hardly established a track record for good decision-making or sensible thinking in the past. Why start now?

  29. #29 Pierce R. Butler
    June 30, 2007

    Anyone in or out of the Sunshine State who wants to help do something about Jeb! Bush appointee Yecke and her dubious agenda should check out Florida Citizens for Science; present company might well be expected to gravitate to the FCS blog.

  30. #30 David Canzi
    June 30, 2007

    William Stanley responded to Declan McCullagh’s article, claiming that the threats Stanley sent to Ed Magedson were written by Magedson himself, not by Stanley. It amuses me that Stanley’s message contains a high rate of spelling errors, like “deth threat” and “lie dector”, that would embarrass a person of normal intelligence — the same symptom of a brain not firing on all 3 cylinders as seen in the threats sent to Magedson.

  31. #31 Nix
    July 1, 2007

    Stanley’s a longtime ROKSO-listed spammer: of *course* he’s an unethical shit with contempt for his fellow man and with a brain firing on only one cylinder.

  32. #32 Bonzo
    July 2, 2007

    Seems Reputationdefender has made the big time so to speak

    This can only bode well for them.

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