The Business of Character Assasination

For Chapter 14: "Nobody is Safe From Everybody"

By Published on .

In the previous post, we visited a website called, which encourages anonymous whistleblowers to post gossip and allegations against others.

"It's something I kind of thought would be a little bit different. It's more venting than anything else," says Howard Baer, the Scottsdale, Arizona, entrepreneur behind both and the equally mean-spirited (suggested message: "You're so ugly you need to sneak up on a glass of water to take a drink").

Baer -- who until recently was a purveyor of mail-order immune-system supplements and, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission a "recidivist securities law violator" in manipulating his.pill-pushing firm's stock price -- contends that his services give a voice to the hitherto muzzled, those with legitimate gripes prevented from expressing them for fear of retaliation. But what about illegitimate gripes? What about spurious claims? What about intentional smears? What about innocent victims?

"That is a problem," he tells me. "These things happen. I think it's going to bring out a lot of bad, but it's not going to stop us from being in business. It's a business, and a business is a business whether it's good bad or indifferent."

Cloaking himself in freedom of speech, Baer is fond of issuing press releases casting himself as a first-amendment crusader. But, of course, the first amendment is a refuge for all manner of jackasses sitting on toilets. To get a bit of insight into the worldview -- and ideological consistency -- of this freedom fighter, here's an excerpt from his 2003 interview with Greg Tingle of the Australian website

Baer: I think any American burning the American flag should be jailed. I think other countries that we support with food, money and military protection that burn the American flag or allow their citizens to do so should be shut off automatically. These people go out and burn the flag, burn mock ups of our presidents, then go home and eat the food we put on their tables. Bullshit, that is wrong. All Americans work their asses off for their wages and should not have their tax dollars support the animals in some of these third world countries.

In other words, repugnant speech should be illegal -- unless it's good for business.
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