Thursday, February 23, 2006

Of All People ... Jack Campbell writes a letter to the Mac Community in support of a site that loves to hate him.

Some of you remember my article on eBay dropoff locations from early January of this year ... where I told the completely detailed and documented story of how I gave $25,000+ of inventory for consignment to such a company and I ended up with less than $4000 to split 4 ways equally.

Well, Monday February 27th 2006 I am to appear in front of a local judge to determine if Bidzirk can get an injunction against me and get the article removed from my site. Their claims are defamation ...

This website started around the "drama of Jack Campbell" ... the infamous owner of MacMice/DVForge. I have always maintained this site as a consumer watchdog/provocative thinking website. I don't hold the opinions of the manistream press. I am the biggest supporter of Apple Computer and eBay (the main topics here) ... but I am neither a fanboy nor a fanatic.

In the case of Jack Campbell, I had to assemble facts from various online sources and interject my opinion often to show how I understood the events and details as I uncovered them.

In the case of Bidzirk I was an eyewitness and I had a third party who detailed and journaled all of our events. I have other eyewitness accounts as well. To put it simply ... I have eBay records to prove that my experiences with this particular eBay dropoff are similar to other experiences I have read around the web.

There is no opinion in the eBay Dropoff story ... it is a factual account designed to alert my readers and educate those looking to use eBay dropoffs. The opposing attorney has chosen to harass me and challenge my constitutional rights. The business owner has decided to hide behind an attorney rather than make things right. I will stand by the article and fight for you ... yes you ... the anonymous readers who read this website and enjoy the debate that goes on here. Thank you for your support and comments ... both positive and negative.

Last week, the opposing attorney contacted several of the subjects of my articles asking them to join in against me to get my entire site taken down ... the attorney chose to email Jack Campbell with the following (defaming) letter:

Mr. Campbell: I am an attorney in Greenville, SC. I represent a client that has filed a federal lawsuit against one Philip Smith (a.k.a. Jackwhispers) for trademark infringement. I have learned that Mr. Smith has attacked/libeled/slandered a number of other folks in his blog, you included. I was wondering if you would mind giving me some idea of your history with this individual, what kinds of contacts you have had with him, what you have done about his personal attacks, if anything, etc. A copy of my client’s complaint and motion for preliminary injunction are attached for your review. Thanks for any help.

At my request, Jack Campbell responds with the following letter:

An Open Letter To Jackwhispers Readers
From: of all people... Jack

The past three years has been an interesting time for me, as I chose to move many of my business pursuits from other industries and to focus my efforts in the Apple computer peripherals market space. I have had my ups and downs in that time, and have learned much about the industry, the culture, and the people moving the Apple experience forward these days. And, along the way, I bumped into Philip Smith, publisher of Jackwhispers.

My history with Philip is well known in Mac circles, as most of it has been created in the very bright light of public debate and scrutiny. Philip has disagreed with me almost continually for three years... in almost every way, on almost every topic. We have fussed and feuded over big issues and small. And, he has been a relentless adversary to many of my business activities. At times, clearly, nobody in my life has annoyed me more than Philip, and the merciless attack he launched and sustained against me on both his web site and other web outlets.

I am writing this letter to state my beliefs about the rights of bloggers like Philip to make such public accusations and to foment such public debate as Philip has done with me these years. In a nutshell: Bravo!

Has Philip been a pain in my posterior at times? Yes. Has he infuriated me at times to a degree where I wanted to hurl incendiary devices toward his home in South Carolina? Oh, yes. Do I think Philip should have been gagged and shut down at some point along the way? No way.

We live in interesting times where our definitions of 'media' are being challenged on a near daily basis, where our ideas about the creation and dissemination of information and the rights and abilities of people everywhere to engage in the public activity of doing these things is being expanded regularly. The Web is changing everything at lighting speed. And, in what I think is a wonderful way, it is pushing the way the public can be exposed to and can debate issues small and large back to an earlier time... to a time of the Citizen Journalist.

We are leaving a time when Big Media prints or broadcasts information to us, and we simply gobble it up as gospel, unchallenged. Instead, we are being pulled back to an era -- a great and nobel era -- where citizens were expected to hear the news of the day, and receive it with some skepticism, and to engage their own minds and resources in evaluating the claimed statements and drawing their own conclusions. We are reentering an era where citizens must actually begin thinking about the issues of the day with their own minds, and with their own analytical thinking fully engaged. The God of Unimpeachable Big Media is tumbling down.

Philip and his site(s), and his various causes are but a small slice of this overall return of the world to a time of the Citizen Journalist. Facts are not triple checked, beliefs are not screened with an institutionalized editorial policy... people just say what they believe and report what they see around them. And, we as readers and listeners have a larger responsibility to evaluate and judge the merits of the claims. It is a wonderful system... anarchic, yes... but it is the way a democracy should work. Unfettered public speech, coupled with a demand that citizens actually think... well, that system is the root of an open, unencumbered society.

I would not slow this shift to a more open society no matter what the personal issues I face. It is entirely too important of a larger issue for everyone for it to be stifled for the convenience of one person. So, again, I fully support Philip's right to publish what he sees and to publish his opinions on the web... or anywhere else.

Philip recently had some interaction with a South Carolina based eBay third-party auction services company. And, he has published reports of the things he saw in that process. It seems that the person who owns that company does not believe in the higher values of the Citizen Journalist, as he has not only filed suit against Philip asking to enjoin Philip from publishing Jackwhispers, but has reached out to pull other people into his case... people including me.

To Mister Complaining Business Guy in South Carolina, I say this: If you cannot stand public debate of your actions and operations, you are hiding something. And, by legally attacking anyone who disagrees with your beliefs and practices you are simply bullying a small guy, in an effort to continue hiding whatever the details of your business might be that you believe cannot stand the scrutiny of public debate. If you think Philip is wrong, there is a Comments system alive on this site where you enter the debate for yourself. Present your facts and claims against his, and let the public use their own minds to draw their own conclusions

Mister 3rd Party eBay Auction Services Guy, if you are a big man, you will be big enough to face criticism openly, and to face it with your own defense. If you are guilty or are too small of a man to do this... well, you will resort to hiring a team of lawyers to bludgeon the little Citizen Journalist into silence.

That said, I am publicly declaring my support of Philip Smith and Jackwhispers in this matter. He is within his rights (as they should exist in this country) to report what he sees, what he believes, and what he thinks. If someone does not like what is said, they have just as much right to counter publish their positions, or to even participate in debate right here. That is pure democracy at work at the grass roots level. And, I support Philip's unequivocal right to be here.

Jack Campbell


The oddest thing about this issue ... if i win ... Apple loses it's case against bloggers or at the very least ... this will hurt their case. If I lose ... well ... I won't.

The Nisus Thesaurus definition for journalist is:

journalist (as in "writer") n. : a writer for newspapers and magazines

journalist (as in "diarist") n. : someone who keeps a diary or journal

reporter n : a person who investigates and reports or edits news stories

There is no mention of "peer review" as the opposing attorney plans to argue in my case.

The Bill Of Rights doesn't say "certain kinds of publication are excluded" ... no law of clarification says I am not allowed to publish my factual account of a story containing information that I have eyewitnessed or obtained legally in a non binding ungagged manner. Notice how the Bill Of Rights says freedom of speech OR of the press. Is the internet not the modern day press? The word "press" does not refer to a human being with a degree; it refers to a printing press and now refers to the internet ... the new instrument for putting words on a format for distribution to the public.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."


Anonymous said...

After all you two have been through, Jack is an awful big man to offer his support; you should buy him a beer.

And in support of your cause I echo Jack's sentiments: "Bravo!"

FYT said...

Thanks ... and I agree ... it was honorable to say the least!

Anonymous said...

W o w. I am...speechless. Seriously, give me a minute.

Actually, maybe I'm not that surprised. At some point during the whole Jack saga, there was some letter he'd supposedly written to a guy who was or had been in jail...the letter was supportive, encouraging, and seemed...I dunno, to give a tiny glimpse of a guy with a heart, a guy publicly hiding behind blustery prose and hollow legal threats.

Anyway, I'm happy to have been given another glimpse.

Anonymous said...

I loved Jack's letter. Well written, supported, logical and easy to follow his thinking. I wish more people wrote with clarity and could promote dialogue, as he did.

Anonymous said...

It's nice to see some people care more about the important things in life than they do about "getting back" at someone who has been an obstacle on their road to success.

Kudos to both sides for standing behind principle and not expediency. So rare... but hopefully growing less so?

Anonymous said...

The last two comments just have to be written by Jack himself ... both posted just hours apart, a year and a half after the next comment ... with great praise of his own writing.

FYT said...

Actually no ... I reposted this letter and a link to this article almost exactly one and half years after the article was posted because my trial ended 16 months after this was written.

The link to this post also made the slashdot front page.