On its front page today, FoxNews.com featured a story about the Cathy Seipp cybersquatter I mentioned this morning. I think my idea of denying the guy publicity is officially deader than a doornail.
Just hours before her death, “Cathy Seipp” suddenly seemed to undo decades of hard work with an oddly written letter posted on the Web site, www. cathyseipp.com. In what came off as more bizarre rant than heartfelt apology, her supposed “very last blog entry” called her years of journalism a “shoddy,” “despicable” and “irresponsible” career as a “fourth-rate hack.” Her political stance? All a mistake.
The fiery, unwavering supporter of George W. Bush supposedly said she’d done a complete 180 in the past year and was now an implied supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. What was even more perplexing was that “Seipp” was taking mean-spirited potshots at her own daughter, Maia Lazar, whom she called an “obnoxious” and “arrogant” wanna-be “skank” who was “mentally ill.” Throughout the letter, the one person whom “Seipp” seemed most sorry for ever having offended was Maia’s 10th-grade journalism teacher, who had frequently clashed with mother and daughter. Finally, “Seipp” said she was probably to blame for her own illness — the “venom” she’d spewed for years was responsible for her terminal cancer.
Friends were horrified. They quickly realized that the letter was the work of an infamous character known as “Troll Dolls” who’d positioned himself as the blogger’s archenemy and bought the domain name www.cathyseipp.com years earlier (Seipp’s real Web site is www.cathyseipp.net). Troll Dolls is really Eliot Stein, a 54-year-old former online talk-show host and stand-up comedian who hadd taught Maia in a journalism class for a brief period in 2004, and who blamed Maia and Seipp for his departure from the school after only five weeks.
As I mentioned this morning, Cathy’s friends banded together to try to do something about it. I got a call from one of them, and had him talk to Justin Levine — who advised Cathy’s crowd to draw up a cease and desist letter, and to concentrate on the cybersquatting angle to the exclusion of defamation claims. (Justin, who is a Seipp fan, would have done this himself, pro bono — but he had prior commitments that day, and Cathy’s defenders had to move fast.) Justin’s advice was apparently very helpful; our mutual friend told him: “Your lightning-quick advice was crucial to this process; 100 people thank you vociferously.” From the article, it appears that the ultimate course of action taken by Cathy’s defenders mirrored Justin’s advice:
Seipp’s friends marshaled their resources, creating an impromptu Internet chat room to make their plans, fingering Stein as the culprit, enlisting the help of a lawyer [Kimberly L. Thigpen of Pfeiffer Thigpen & Fitzgibbon] to serve him a cease-and-desist letter, and successfully lobbying Stein’s Internet host to take the Web site down permanently.
Congratulations to Justin for the role he played in this. And cheers to Kimberly L. Thigpen of Pfeiffer Thigpen & Fitzgibbon, who got the job done.
What does Stein have to say for himself, after writing a fake letter from a woman dying of cancer which portrayed her as having been a hack and a terrible mother?
“I’ve got an incredible sense of humor,” Stein said. “I’m an expert at Photoshop.”
Dude, I saw your site on more than one occasion. You’re a moron. Even if I had hated Cathy Seipp, I would have had no trouble concluding that you are a petty, little, mean, nasty man with absolutely no sense of humor whatsoever.
Stein continues, speaking of Cathy’s friends:
“They thought that because this is the Internet they could say whatever they want whenever they want, but they met someone with an expansive education, a pioneer of the Internet with an incredible sense of humor,” Stein said. “They picked the wrong person to mess with.”
If there really is a Heaven, it will come equipped with a Hellcam, so we can at least check in on this guy from time to time — and clink our wine glasses together in celebration as we watch him slowly roast.