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Stephen And Virginia Pearcy Threaten Bloggers With Lawsuits

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stephen_virginia_pearcy.jpg You remember the Pearcy's, the ones who hung a soldier effigy from their second house in Sacramento while they ran off to Berkeley forcing their neighbors and tenants to deal with the fallout of their political hate speech. Well I have been informed that they are now calling bloggers and threatening them with lawsuits for covering the story.

While I personally haven't been contacted this just shows the further dastardly nature of these two. While they feel they can hang soldiers in effigy with a noose from the side of their house in an act of "free (read hate) speech" when others use free speech they intend to shut them down.

Read a first hand account of a phone call one blogger received from Stephen Pearcy over at Mark Butterworth's blog Sunny Days In Heaven. Here's an excerpt, go read the rest.

I have just received a phone call today at about 12:15 pm from Mr. Stephen Pearcy regarding this blog which I wrote March 9, 2005 about Mr. and Mrs. Pearcy who hung a soldier in effigy (twice) from the eaves of their home in Land Park in Sacramento. I also noted with links vulgar statements posted on Mr. Pearcy’s car.

In the call I received from Mr. Pearcy, he informed me that I am guilty of a "tortious interference with a business relationship" because I suggested that people who didn't like her private actions could email her employer.

He admitted in our conversation (which I'll admit to being more animated in response than he in his assertions where he played the typical passive/aggressor) that his wife had suffered no harm from my blog or that of anybody else's (yes, he disclosed that he is contacting a number of other bloggers in the same way as he was doing with me) in her business relationship and had in fact seen an increases in business since they went public with their sick actions (the Michael Moore effect I guess you should call it).

I asked him if he was contemplating a potential cause of action against me. Yes, if warranted, he responded in approximate terms.

Mark Butterworth also informs me that Eugene Volokh has personally given him some advice and help via email and that he has contacted Stephen Pearcy in regards to his threats of a lawsuit.

Other Commentary:

Ace of Spades who thinks urging people to call someone's employer over their political actions is wrong
Six Meat Buffet who likes to comment on Mrs. Pearcy
It's A Pundit who asks where effigy is.
California Mafia who doesn't agree with the "contact the employer" thing either.
The Blue State Conservatives
Baldilocks thinks contacting their employer went too far as well.
xrlq over at Damnum Absque Injuria makes Mark Butterworth his "Martyr of the Day" saying he's crossed an ethical line by publishing Virginia's employers email address and urging others to contact them.

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Posted by Digger on April 18, 2005 09:38 AM (Permalink)

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I think the internet would change for the better if people were held accountable for the things they write.

Posted by: Ralph on April 18, 2005 10:23 AM

Ralph, get back on the playground with the rest of the mealy-mouthed middle-of-the-roaders.

FYI, I think the internet would change for the better if companies would stop charging for porn. It's just not in my budget.

Posted by: Preston Taylor Holmes on April 18, 2005 10:30 AM

There's nothing wrong with holding people accountable for what they write on the net as long as it doesn't infringe on their freedom of speech. Suggesting others call someone is not protected speech as far as I know.

His main issue is that her employer specifically states their expectations for their employees. Calling them and letting them know you feel one of their employee's is not living up to the standards of the company's model is in no way illegal as far as I'm concerned. It's the same as calling a radio station and telling them you are offended by something a DJ said or played.

Posted by: Digger on April 18, 2005 10:40 AM

Butterworth is out of line. Protesting the Pearcys' ugly speech is fine, but urging anyone to contact either of their employers is beyond the pale. It probably is illegal; tortious interference with contract/business relationship is a real cause of action, not a figment of the Pearcys' imagination. Even if it's not illegal, it's definitely a slimy thing to do. If Buttersworth loses his shirt over this, my heart bleeds for him.

And no, contrary to your prior comment, this is nothing like calling up your favorite radio station to complain about what the D.J. played. It's more like calling up a station you've never heard of and would never listen to, pretending to be a fan, and feigning shock over something his real fans were OK with.

Posted by: Xrlq on April 18, 2005 02:14 PM

I think I have to agree with xrlq here, to a degree. The Pearcys are hypocritical, of course, since they ahve no problem harrassing tenants for the political views. But calling their employers to rat out their private indescretions is worrisome. Lots of bloggers would NOT want that happening to them.

The Golden Rule may not be a legal principle, but it sure is an ethical one, and Butterworth seems to be over the line on this one. (As are the Pearcys who have committed other tortous interferance).

Posted by: Kevin Murphy on April 18, 2005 02:37 PM

Kevin, it's not clear they harassed their tenants, either. According to Stephen Pearcy, who also contacted me but for some reason did NOT threaten to sue, the tenants were evicted for trashing the place, not for their political views.

But even if we assume the Pearcys are lying and the ex-tenants are telling the truth, that doesn't justify what Butterworth is trying to do. If you think it's OK because he's going after the S.O.B.'s who hung the soldier effigy, think Martin Niemoller.

Posted by: Xrlq on April 18, 2005 03:04 PM

Like so many of the "anti-war" protesters* the Pearcy's seem to forget that Freedom of Speech applies to EVERYONE in the United States.

* I put that in quotes because so many times these folks have a different agenda - I've seen it too many times with the protesters I've encountered. Perhaps the Pearcy's aren't of that ilk, but based on their reaction, I get the feeling that they are more anti-Freedom/Democracy than they wish to appear.

Posted by: Da Goddess on April 18, 2005 07:44 PM

Digger asked me to comment here on my idea which I emailed him that other bloggers should join the club and publish Ms. Pearcy's employer's email address, and then inform the Pearcys that you have done so (through her email address at Orrick where she works).

If you hate the Pearcys and what they do, this is one way to take a stand against them. Two, you will not suffer any liability because what you do is legal.

The Pearcys are trying to silence me and have succeeded with one other blogger they told me of who did change his blog because of their intimidation. (And he was a lawyer!)

It is as if Ludicrus sued Bill O'Reilly for urging his viewers to tell Pepsi (or whoever he worked for) what they think of their campaign featuring the rap artist, and lost his employment as a result. Except Virginia Pearcy hasn't lost anything. (Sleep, I hope.)

Pearcy intends to chill speech and there is a law in Cal. about SLAPP suits. BTW, my homeowner insurance protects me, and I have been advised by Eugene Volokh, leading expert on Constitutional law at UCLA, along with the Electronic Freedom Foundation which has offered a number of links, resources, and help in case I can't get representation.

The ACLU might also defend this case since they have already done so in a recent case in Seattle on this very issue in which I have done much less than the defendant there.

I'm not saying anyone ought to do as I have done, but for those who want to strike a small blow against hateful fiends like the Pearcys, this is where the rubber can meet the road. When I think of what our guys and gals are doing in Afghanistan and Iraq, what they suffer, this is the least I can do in the way of risk for their honor.

Do you want these folks to come home, hear about the Pearcys and ask, "didn't anybody fight back at those people?"

Posted by: mark butterworth on April 18, 2005 07:46 PM

Damn straight. Mark didn't do anything that anyone couldn't have done. He figured out an email address for a person who's values he didn't agree with, and he sent a well composed email. Now, I wouldn't have sent to the CEO, but that's just me.

Mark could have published their home address, phone number and liscence plate number. It's all public information.

Anyways, the more bloggers that rip on these losers, the harder it will be for them to fight back. They spit on America, so let's return that loogie with a tidal wave of free speech. The more of us that 'give back' to these retards - the better. They can't sue us all. Soon, they will be cowering in a cave in the Ozarks, living in cabin and wishing they weren't such horrible hate filled human beings.

Posted by: Hector Vex on April 19, 2005 05:44 AM

"Ripping on these losers" is fine. Going after their jobs in response to something they've done off the job is not. Butterworth may think he's doing some great deed by going after America-haters, but you know what? Some liberals are just as offended by ordinary, middle of the road conservatism as most conservatives are by flag-burning, America-hating ultra-leftism. That may not be fair, but it's reality, and once a precedent has been set that it's OK to go after people's jobs if they say or do something that offends you, the entire Blogosphere is in trouble. Maybe not recipeblogs or other online diaries, but any blog that deals with topics like politics or religion, or even compares Macs to PCs, is pretty much guaranteed to offend somebody. If the "Butterworth way" ever gains general acceptance, I'm shutting down my blog, and anyone who knows what's good for them will shut down theirs, too.

This is a slippery slope we can't afford to start down. The Pearcys aren't worth it.

Posted by: Xrlq on April 19, 2005 09:27 AM

Xrlq, I don't fully agree with Mark in the sense that the CEO should have been contacted, but I'd have probably been more discreet with an annoymous letter or something like that. Sometimes people need to know what their people are doing. Now, that being said, they are worth a good rip and what the hell else do we have to do anyways? I've offended plenty of people in my time (read my blog - you'll see) and I expect to be offended just the same. That give us something to talk about, discussion and arguments. The blogworld would be no where without people getting pissed at something and wanting to vent about it. Free Speech baby. If that makes you want to shut down, that's too bad. When someone offends me, directly or indirectly - I'm gonna let 'em know - directly or indirectly.

But, it's not OK to attack someones livelihood. But I see Marks' POV, as the Pearcys were not exactly in line with Orricks community values - and THAT is what he wanted to bring to their attention.

Posted by: Hector on April 19, 2005 12:19 PM

NAACP vs. Claiborne Hardware demonstrates that you can use free speech to attack someone's livelihood, so all those folks feeling "chilled" by the idea of being similarly "outed" to their employers for their politics -- you are right. You are at risk for what you say and do.

If you read what SCOTUS allowed in that case, you would shake in your boots since the free speech most likely resulted in beatings, threats, shots fired, and so forth in order to maintain a boycott.

Even if this had any "tortious interference" truth in it, you have to prove damages, and that the interference was "unjustified." The first has not occurred as the Pearcys admit. The second needs more definition, but informing an employer of public conduct which may be detrimental to the company is not unreasonable or unjustified.

The idea that it's not okay to go after people's jobs is absurd. Free speech doesn't mean consequence free speech. More free speech and making it consequential is what helps to hold down actual violence. Instead of tarring and feathering, riding people out on a rail who egregiously offend the community, making someone lose their job or livelihood is a better outcome.

Posted by: mark butterworth on April 19, 2005 03:02 PM

As usual, Butterworth is full of crap. NAACP vs. Claiborne Hardware is about blacks boycotting businesses; it has nothing to do anyone intruding on someone's employer-employee relationship over protected, albeit offensive political speech having nothing to do with the performance of one's job.

Note also how this would-be legal eagle talks of "no damages" and then brags about the possibility of "making someone lose his job or livelihood" as the intended outcome of his mischief. He then plays semantic games about the meaning of the word "wrongfulness," as if to suggest there is nothing "wrongful" about inducing someone to breach a contract, let alone to violate multiple provisions of the California Labor Code. (See., e.g., Cal. Labor Code Secs. 96(k), 98, 1101, 1102).

Posted by: Xrlq on April 19, 2005 03:32 PM

Butterworth is truly an idiot! He's one of those pathetic soles who rotely repeats that same old cliche, "Free speech has consequences." He expects that statement to end the discussion.

Well, Mr. Misguided-Issue-Spotter-Butterworth, if something said is "free speech," then, by definition, it is "protected speech." That means it's supposed to be protected from UNLAWFUL consequences.

When the Pearcys placed the dummy on their house, they engaged in protected speech. Your defamatory speech and tortious interference with Ms. Pearcy's business relationship--your so-called "consequences"--were not protected speech. Your "consequences" are exactly the kind of thing from which the First Amendment is intended to protect us all.

Butterworth is an idiot who gives conservatives a bad name.

Butterworth, and Diggers Realm for that matter, would be wise to remove all defamatory content from their blogs.

Posted by: corruption exposer on April 19, 2005 07:20 PM

At this point Mr. 4 Consonants (xrlq) has become so unhinged and painted himself into a corner that he's completely lost perspective. It's become emotional for him. He hasn't read the NAACP case very well. It wasn't about a boycott. The boycott was legal. It was about the NAACP interfering with individuals (other blacks) who wanted to continue to do business with the boycotted store but were frustrated or intimidated from doing so through violence and threats (and they were serious, nothing to sneer at).

The precedents that the case set go beyond the context of the case into other areas. It has to do with causing even severe damages to a business under the flag of free speech.

4 Consonants also mixes apples and oranges. The Pearcys have no damages, thus they have no cause for a suit. Simple. If my informing the CEO could have gotten the missus fired, and thus seemingly justified a suit against me - I would still claim my first amendment rights. Nothing inconsistent here.

It's simple. I have a right to say, "If I were you, I'd fire that rotten so and so. And I hope a million more people give you the same advice."

Mr. 4 Consonants fears someone like me might go after him. It's possible. If you're afraid of that, get off the web and be careful who you talk to. Freedom. Deal with it.

Posted by: mark butterworth on April 19, 2005 11:22 PM

see http://corruptionexposer.blogspot.com/ for reasons why Butterworth's argument fails.

Butterworth is wrong: one can't simply claim "free speech" and say, "If I were you I'd fire your employee." There are countless cases involving plaintiffs who sued defendants for tortiously iinterfering with plaintiffs' employment relationships.

Also, Butterworth didn't just tell the employer, "You have a bad employee."

Butterworth told the employer that the employee was bad AND he directed the employer to a Website with defamatory content about the employee and said that the site was "proof" that the employee was bad.

Posted by: corruption exposer on April 20, 2005 09:59 AM

Now there's a single-issue blog I'll be visiting over and over again! So interesting!

Posted by: Preston Taylor Holmes on April 20, 2005 10:26 AM

I agree with anyone saying it's not appropriate to publish the work address and phone numbers of these folks. That warrants a potential harrassment lawsuit, not to mention the fact that this type of repsonse is a facist one. In Nzi germany, citizens were onely encouraged to turn in their neighbors, friends and even relatives if said people spoke up against government policies and pratices.

As for the effigy itself, I see it as a demonstration of how ridiculous, inappropriate and wrong this war really is. It says nothing against the soldiers, except that the illegal and immoral war being waged by a few, for the benefit of a few, is costing america its children. If it was truly against the soldiers, the sign would have said more like "baby killers" or "criminals", instead of 'your tax dollars at work".

If companies such as Halliburton make billions off this war and soldiers come home to bankrupt houeholds, little or no health care for them, or even a decent job, how can anyone say the war is for protection of our freedom? It's not and it never has been.

If this war was truly about freedom, Usama Bin Laden would have already been captured, and we would still have 1400+ soldiers alive and tens of thousands more not permanently disabled. All of this without invading a country which NEVER posed a direct threat to us, or any other country in that region.

Posted by: deccles on April 20, 2005 07:10 PM

"Freedom of speech" means that the government is not going to come after you because of anything you say. It does not protect you from the conqesuences of being spotted as an idiot.

Posted by: pdq332 on April 23, 2005 08:13 PM

Or he's an Anti-American Anti-War Anti-military Anarchist who goes on television talking about GREEN causes. hehehe

Tens of thousands? You're a crackpot who needs a reality check. Halliburton has been doing this work since WWII. I haven't heard a thing about this crap until the extreme leftists like Nancy Pelosi (House Progressive Caucus, [started by Bernie Saunders, Democratic Socialists of America]) started bitching about it.

Look up Halliburton. Cheney isn't making money off of Halliburton, he gave that income to charity. But Cheney isn't the issue anymore, it's just those little convenient slogans that people bring up against the war.

This is exactly the same as the anti-war demonstrations around the Vietnam war. We can't give up. We can't stop. The terrorists aren't going to stop just because we decided to change the channel; they want to kill us!

Notice how Nick Berg's father working for International Answer helped Nick stay alive while he was in Iraq? They're going to kill every last one of the infidel, whether you worked on their behalf or not.

And bottom line, that's why we have to shut these people up and get them out of the country before they win this war at home for the terrorists like they did for the communists back in the days of Vietnam.

Too many of us remember what the leftists accomplished back then. What we're facing is more far reaching and more serious than "blood for oil" and all the hogwash that the idiots repeating like a bunch of stepford wife robots. They want to raise the flag of the moongod over the whitehouse, and idiots like this are helping them do it by undermining our accomplishments.

There is nothing wrong with the war; what's wrong is the anti-war movement and its connection with extremists back home.

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