In the circus that just won’t leave town, things just got a bit weirder.
In an interview with MSNBC, Charles Carreon takes partial credit for the substantial amount raised for charity by Matt Inman’s Oatmeal, and suggests upping the ante:
“While it’s not the largest sum of money I have ever had a substantial role in raising,” [Carreon] wrote to me, referencing the $211,223.04 collected by Inman’s fundraiser, ”it is the first time I’ve seen it go to charity, and I think it’s great.”
“I had no idea being a cartoon villain could be this rewarding,” he added. “I think Matt and I should team up for a mud-wrestling match and see if we can top a million. Being the Mexican, I get to wear a mask.”
This is quite a turnaround from Carreon’s previous position, wherein he attempted to convince Indiegogo to stop the fundraiser entirely while it was still ongoing, on the basis that it was “harassing, humiliating to other people (publicly or otherwise), libelous, threatening, or otherwise objectionable” — a point he reinforced in his amended Complaint (hattip: Popehat). He then asked the court for a Temporary Restraining Order (after the fundraiser was over) which would have prevented the raised funds from being transferred to anyone — including the charities — on the unsubstantiated suggestion that Inman might pocket the money (among other theories).
So, yes, Carreon’s antics of threatening to file a frivolous lawsuit contributed to the public focus on the fundraiser. Taking the subsequent step of actually filing the lawsuit resulted in the donor-funded, non-profit EFF stepping in (presumably at their own expense), as well as the charities hiring their own counsel — the American Cancer Society’s attorneys entered their appearance on the same day Carreon dismissed his lawsuit, and I assume lawyers for the National Wildlife Federation also spent some time considering their own response after wiping tears of laughter from their eyes.
While Carreon’s johnny-come-lately, “look, ma, I helped!” strikes me as disingenuous, if he’s really willing to take the circus ring into the wrestling ring to raise more money for charity, then good for him. Does it absolve him of trying to use the legal system to deter or silence critics? No. But it’s at least a slight step in the right direction — and one that Inman had already suggested. Given that Inman appears unlikely to seek legal fees from Carreon for defending against his frivolous lawsuit, perhaps Carreon could start by raising funds for the EFF.
There has been a third DOS attack against my websites this morning. Let’s get one thing clear: THESE INMAN HACKERS ARE DEFINITELY NOT FOR FREE SPEECH! Their First Amendment concerns are TOTAL BULLSHIT. They want to be free from the law that prohibits them from viciously attacking their business competitors and deprive me, Charles and anyone who associates with us the right to speak freely about social, political and legal concerns. And isn’t it lovely that Public Citizen has put their weight behind this anti-free speech hate campaign?
Color me skeptical that an actual DOS attack has occurred, considering the previous charge of ‘cybervandalism’ Charles Carreon alleged, consisting largely of someone clicking “remind me of my password” and subsequently not getting a password. Assuming Mrs. Carreon is referring to their new site, “Rapeutation.com“, perhaps it went down under the load of visitors arriving on the scene of that trainwreck to gawk at the insensitivity of comparing sexual assault and criticism. The site did receive, after all, considerable media attention.
In the unlikely event that this is a case of the boy finally being eaten by the wolf and someone is launching a DOS attack, that’s detestable. Sway people with the power of your argument — even if they’re apparently incapable of understanding it — not by silencing them with the power of your packet.
Update, July 12, 2012: Mr. Carreon follows through on his promise to provide data evidencing a DOS attack. The limited logs provided show that there was some substantial amounts of data being downloaded by individual IP addresses, each using programs designed to download and archive entire sites.
While it’s not a traditional DOS attack (where tools are used to send meaningless data to a web server in order to overwhelm it), it could evidence poorly-executed attempts at a DOS attack designed to either hog the bandwidth available to the server or to simply run up the bandwidth costs to Carreon.
On the other hand, it’s possible that the amount of data was the result of the normal, intended use of site-scraping software. Carreon says the traffic was directed at “my network,” which could encompass a number of sites containing a great many files — in which case, downloading the entire site might naturally result in a lot of data transfer. Or, to echo what Nicholas Weaver pointed out in a comment over at Popehat, the normal use of site-scraping programs could lead to the program repeatedly downloading the same file because it keeps finding new links to the same (possibly quite large) files.
As Mr. Weaver points out, the data is a start, but full logs of the files accessed by the software would better evidence the intent of the people using the software. If the programs are simply downloading from “Rapeutation.com” (and not other sites) or are downloading a few large files over and over again, then, yes, that would be a pitifully-awful attempt to DOS his sites.
I also find it suspicious that access by SiteSucker/2.3.6 used an IP tracking back to a datacenter in Brazil (or perhaps is a static cable IP), which IP has been reportedly used by a forum spammer in the past, suggesting that it might be a proxy. My suspicions are increased by the fact that other IPs using SiteSucker/2.3.6 were also reported to be used by the same forum spammer, and one also originated from a datacenter in Quebec. The use by the same program from suspicious IPs suggests to me that it was one person running the program through multiple proxies. Still not enough for a smoking gun — that would require more complete logs — but definitely suspicious.
As an aside, it’s fairly easy to block use of site-scraping tools, either through a robots.txt file directing them to buzz off or an .htaccess file that redirects requests from particular user-agents (or IP addresses) to, say, TimeCube. Don’t read that site if you value your sanity, by the way.
So, overall — maybe a pitiful attempt at a DOS attack. But if it was intended as such, as pitifully weak an attempt as it was, it still wreaks of censorious thuggery (to steal a phrase from Ken at Popehat — your check is in the mail). We might not like what Carreon says, but the proper response is criticizing and mocking what he says — it doesn’t justify squelching his speech.