Cro-Magnon Mail! Wikipedia Sockpuppet Theatre

“Hey! I thought this would give me all of Gene Gaudette’s juicy personal info!” See Update 2, directly below.
A “crack” legal genius claiming to represent Free Republic sends us a threatening e-mail. We respond. You get to laugh!

Update 2, March 10: “Hey! I thought this would give me all of Gene Gaudette’s juicy personal info! I been cheated!

Hold your horses, Sparky! We’re going to take a minor detour first. Seems a somewhat wacky poster to Free Republic decided to post a link to our publisher’s business contact information.

(Yaawwwwnnnnn. Old trick, and about as intimidating as being gummed by a newt — or, for that matter, being gummed by Newt).

Now, who could this be?

Well, we found it particularly interesting that the poster mentioned that “since he answers his own phone, that’s probably a one-man outfit as well.” Our public telephone number has received calls from only two FReepers so far this week. The first one made his first call on Wednesday from (312) ?4?-???8 [full number redacted along with address info to protect the privacy of all meatpuppets, sockpuppets, and other puppets yet unspecified that may or may not be linked to said telephone] . He identified himself  as “Dean Hinnen” —  but the caller ID that flashed on our screen read “312 ?4?-???8 | IL – B????????? |  HINNEN, BRYAN.” And by the way, Mike Harwood answered the phone (Gene-o was at Unitel supervising post work on a video) — and did everything he could to keep himself from laughing out loud when he heard the name “Dean Hinnen.” Mike said poor, flustered-voiced “Dean” sounded desperate to settle an outstanding issue — and Mike wisely advised him to write us a letter (as opposed to the e-mail which follows).

Mike’s only regret is that he did not videotape our side of the call.

Now, how many people do you think are privy to Bry… er, Dean having spoken with someone at our headquarters in what many FReepers consider the fourth member of the Axis of Evil®, New York City?

Hold it… forgot about Hollywood! Make that “fifth.”

But I digress. And just how many would think to post their slanted and erroneous version of the fact to Free Republic? Just keep that question in the back of your mind as our editor explains Occam’s Razor to Dean.

And if you really, really need to see Gene’s “personal information,” click here. Besides, his web minion Mike might be able to save you a bundle on your next e-commerce site! Just expect a little more information than you counted on when you click on the link…


Update, March 4: Postscript with clarification for Wikipediacs of all stripes.

Wikipedia Sockpuppet Theatre starts now…


From – Fri Mar 02 11:26:49 2007
X-Mozilla-Status: 1003
X-Mozilla-Status2: 00000000
>From – Thu Mar 01 12:31:54 2007
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X-Mozilla-Status2: 00000000
Return-path: <apache@ctyme.com>
Envelope-to: editors@apj.us
Delivery-date: Thu, 01 Mar 2007 09:29:54 -0800
Received: from 2.ctyme.com ([69.50.231.2] helo=mx.junkemailfilter.com)
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for editors@apj.us; Thu, 01 Mar 2007 09:29:54 -0800
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for editors@apj.us; Thu, 01 Mar 2007 09:29:54 -0800
To: editors@apj.us
Subject: American Politics Journal: Cease and Desist Letter
Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2007 09:29:54 -0800
From: Dean Hinnen <dean.hinnen@us.bosch.com>
Message-ID: <30bad96bb6e8365aa7a5ba38d77658b6@www.apj.us>
X-Priority: 3
X-Mailer: PHPMailer [version 1.73]
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=”iso-8859-1″

This is an enquiry e-mail via http://www.apj.us from:
Dean Hinnen <dean.hinnen@us.bosch.com>

At the following URL address on your website, the following metadata can be found:

==================================

I am a member of the legal team for Free Republic LLC and FreeRepublic.com. An article by [redacted] that you have previously reproduced on this page is libelous. You are responsible for reproducing this libel and disseminating it to a much larger audience for many years, and it was removed very recently.

[Redacted] does not display this article on his website. The only place on the Internet where the article might be found is your website.

Let me clarify that while a few parts of the article are true, others are false and defamatory and we will not tolerate further defamation.

If you restore this article or any libelous part of it for public viewing, I will immediately recommend to our clients, Jim Robinson and John Robinson, that we should consider legal remedies against your site for this libel, dating back to the first day it appeared on your website.

Regards — Dean Hinnen


Dear Dean… or is it Bryan?

You say that you are a “member of [Free Republic‘s] legal team,” or at least claim to be one. I therefore am sure you’ve heard of Occam’s Razor.

So let’s have us a little shave now.{mospagebreak}

Your e-mail, Dean, indicates that you work for Bosch, and it isn’t exactly rocket science to yank the mask off your anonymized e-mail header and trace it through an intermediary to the great state of Illinois.

Now, I’ve been doing a little bit of research, and while it turns out I couldn’t track down a Dean Hinnen living in Illinois, I did find a certain Bryan Hinnen. What do we know about Bryan? Well, he’s a paralegal who played a supporting role in Free Republic’s humiliating civil court smackdown at the hands of the LA Times and Washington Post, he’s in his mid-40s , and he lives in Illinois.*

I did track down a Dean Hinnen — in Arizona. And — would you believe it? — he’s in his late 50s. Much older brother? Young uncle? Maybe. Able to post to Wikipedia from an Illinois IP address? I’d have to say a big “probably no.”

Oh, one more thing, “Dean”: Bryan Hinnen’s middle name is — Dean! What an interesting instance of serendipity.

I was also fascinated by the writing style you exhibit, Dean. Stylistically and heuristically, the utterances of “Dean” reads consistently like that of your “brother” Bryan. So maybe you’re identical twins with precisely congruent political leanings, similar “legal team” backgrounds and near-identical prose styles.

Or maybe you’re one and the same.

One might come to that conclusion based on Bryan — or is it Dean? — having been proven a “multiple user of abusive Sock Puppets” on Wikipedia.

That doesn’t quite square with the sort of ethics and conduct one would expect from the member of a “legal team,” now, does it?

That Occam’s Razor can be a bitch. Don’t cut yourself!

Either way, it’s come to my attention that you are attempting to whitewash some pretty hard facts about Free Republic’s “Wild West” past of some seven years ago on the afore mentioned, highly popular Wikipedia Web site. The matter has been transferred to that site’s arbitrartion process.

Mind you, I have far more productive things to do than get involved in a dust-up on a third-party Web site, but I just had to take a look at the matter in a bit more detail after reading your interestingly-worded email. “Legal team,” indeed. Are you a lawyer? I kinda doubt it; I checked a few of the relevant search engines. Attorney Dean Hinnen? Nada!

I’m tellin’ ya, Bry… er, Dean, it’s not a major effort to tell the actual, duespaying members of the Bar Association from paper-pushers, but it can be quite the task to sort out the sockpuppets and trolls from the self-described “legal team” members, knowudI’msayin? Scorecard, anyone?

Anyway, I just had a look at the “metadata” you reference in your e-mail, and cannot help but note that the name I redacted above is nowhere to be found in the metadata!

Well, golly, why could that be?

Could it be because the original author is no longer in the Internet political arena — and, in fact, has not been for some years — and is, frankly, no longer interested in participating in Internet news/opinion/politics? Could it be that he requested that his identity and all of his articles — not just the one you reference, but others, on this site and others — be removed because he quite understandably considers having to deal with nutcases, bullying cyberthugs and fascistic zealots a complete waste of his time and energy?

Let’s look at your original claim:

::The article at AmericanPolitics.com that was allegedly written by [redacted] does not exist.

You also claim the same in your letter.

FALSE — as anyone familiar with the ins and outs of archive.org can tell you.

….It’s a blank page.

FALSE — does the word “metadata” mean anything? Oh, right — you essentially debunked this claim in your e-mail to APJ! Brilliant!

I believe that Wikipedia has been the victims of a carefully crafted hoax.

TRUE — … if you’re talking about the Amazing Hinnen Sockpuppet Troupe!

I contacted [redacted] and asked him whether he authored the article. He said, “Of course not.” He contacted AmericanPolitics.com and asked them to remove the article from their website. They complied immediately.

BZZZZT — WRONG!! On that latter assertion: said request was made before you insinuated yourself into the matter of one particular article by said author — and that this can be quite easily documented.

But thanks for playing “Dudgeons and Drecking” anyway. it was very entertaining.

And there is one particularly vexing question, Br… er, Dean: if your nose was so bent out of joint when you became aware of the original opinion piece, written some seven years ago — which put perspective on the temperament and attitude of a number of people choosing to participate in the forums at Free Republic (again: seven years ago), at a time when the moderation policy at Free Republic was nowhere close to their current, rigorous standards — an article, protected by both the First Amendment to the Constitution and a litany of judicial rulings, which you so blithely and inaccurately characterize as “slander[ous]” and “libel[ous]’ (a favored diversion tactic of parties who loathe free speech on both extremes of the political spectrum, and ultimately a strawman argument at heart)…

WHY IN THE WIDE, WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS DIDN’T YOU CONTACT US IMMEDIATELY? HUH?

If you had made the effort to contact us instead of clutching your pearls and feigning indignation amidst easily disprovable assertions, you would have been made fully aware of the facts behind the matter — and that, more than likely would have been settled for good.

In fact, in your capacity as a member of Free Republic’s “legal team” — if in fact you really are on their legal team — it would have been in that online entity’s best interest to contact us or our representatives IMMEDIATELY to discuss this matter.

I also notice that you assert that the author in question told you that he had not written the article. Really? Do you have any way to support this assertion? Well, you couldn’t have legally taped your alleged exchange with said author, because Illinois is an all-party consent state.

New York, on the other hand, isn’t. Got that?

One might also assume that your failure or neglect to contact us might be indicative of a conscious effort to sustain your latest slow-burn in the most melodramatic matter possible.

One might additionally assume (damn that Occam’s Razor, already!) that on top of your false assertions, you might be misrepresenting yourself a tad.

Let’s look at the facts: Jim and John Robinson, to their great credit, have made enormous efforts in the intervening years to tighten posting policies at Free Republic. And here’s a Lake Michigan-sized hint, Bry… er, Dean: an updated story on Internet death threats and postal terrorism targeting politicians requires sources, and you have no idea — none whatsoever — of whom we have been working with to write and research this follow-up.

In fact, you probably could have done a greater service to Free Republic by detailing the evolution of these changes at Wikipedia (and Conservapedia) yourself. Free Republic has in fact been a pioneer in the large-scale discussion board phenomenon, and instead of getting your panties all in a bunch over the state of the Interwebs seven years ago, you probably could have written a detailed backgrounder on the site’s present policies with a tiny fraction of the effort you’ve put into your dishonest crusade against the truth.

Also to JimRob’s credit in particular has been his rapid, scrupulous and cordial response to requests over the years to have copyrighted material removed from the Free Republic site — even though he did (jokingly) refer to one of our former staffers as a “socialist.” JimRob probably wasn’t aware that said staffer, like me (and the APJ editors), is a proponent of the Flat Tax. I’ve racked my brains to come up with a living, breathing socialist who backs the Flat Tax.

Alas, I digress.

Given the lessons Jim, John and others at Free Republic have no doubt learned following the bad legal advice they got during the LA Times and Washington Post lawsuit — not to mention the expensive and ill-considered run-in with T. Chappell Aldridge — if I were JimRob or John, I’d get on the phone (as opposed to e-mail) and convey a great big thank you for prior efforts and services rendered in the legal arena, and then tell you that said services are no longer needed — followed up, of course, with a letter sent through the U.S. Postal Service stating the same thing.

And speaking of e-mail, I notice that your e-mail was sent from a Bosch e-mail address. Are they aware that you are using their corporate e-mail account for “outside” business? Do you have their permission to do so? Would not your “legal” e-mail have carried more credibility and weight had it at least originated from Free Republic — assuming, that is, that you do represent their interests — or, failing that, from a private e-mail address?

Moreover, your e-mail is so filled with conventional procedural and ethical lapses from the standpoint of the manner in which members of the legal profession are supposed to conduct themselves that I can only conclude that your action is nothing more than a lame, ill-considered, cheap-shot, free-lance attempt at intimidation — and perhaps even wire fraud. It matters not whether you are in fact an officer of the court or not; your little e-mail diatribe is not the sort of situation you would want the Illinois Bar Association or local legal authorities to get wind of.

And so, “Dino” or “Bryan” or “McShibbster” or other screen names behind which you hide when, as you freely admit, you troll other forums (which in and of itself should give the arbitrators at Wikipedia pause) — it makes no difference which avatar you choose to assume at Wikipedia or Free Republic or the other online venues at which you have chosen to display your overwheening arrogance, unchecked hostility, and, ultimately, callow stupidity.

Because you’ve already buried yourself with your silliness and dishonesty, in a meltdown that is beginning to make even Brian Buckley look good by comparison.

Yours etc.

The Editor

*An earlier version of this article had stated that Bryan Dean Hinnen was in his mid-20s, a slip of the finger while transcribing data. We apologize for the confusion — which is something we’d love to see “Dean” learn to do!


POSTSCRIPT: Greeting Wikipediacs. In order to dispel any questions the skeptical Roger D and others may have, Wikipedia user apj-us-nyc is authorized by our publisher and editor to speak for American Politics Journal from inside and outside our office IP address (the one containing 110 and 233).

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