Three years ago, I asked the question, whatever happened to Tommy Puett?
I got my answer. He’s Googling himself, and demanding that any unflattering material be removed.
Here’s the email I received this morning:
From: Tommy Puett
Subject: This is Tommy Puett sitting with our in house lawyer. Please remove this comment you posted on your blog page. I was NOT canned for bad business practice. I left to start my own company. I would like this misrepresentation of me removed or I will take the next step. Thank you.
Date: May 23, 2008 7:35:24 AM PDT
To: Gene Cowan
The body of the email consisted entirely of some kind of derogatory comment about business practices and personality issues. At first I was wondering what kind of spam this was — the whole thing was wacky and bizarre and written in the way most spam is, like the person wasn’t familiar with the conventions of email (such as, oh, putting the content in the body, not the subject).
I began to realize that the writer was referring to something on my blog — I had never written anything like that, and it dawned on me that this must be a comment someone wrote.
I searched through the blog for the comment in question which I deemed to be… well, rude. I don’t know if it rose to the level of libel and I generally write plenty of derogatory comments myself here. But I limit my attacks to those who, through fame or power, invite such attacks. In my opinion, a former child actor turned businessman doesn’t rise to that level. Back in 2005, I didn’t have a moderation function in place to weed out such comments. In addition, the commenter did not give a name or email address. Accordingly, I removed the comment as an unfair personal attack.
This was a difficult decision. If the comment had been called to my attention in some other way, I’d have definitely deleted it without a second thought. But now I’m afraid that the deletion will make it look like I caved in to some silly demand and the threat of “the next step.”
I have to say now, at the risk of another ridiculous takedown demand, that Mr. Puett, by taking this action, certainly didn’t quell the allegations made by the commenter. Googling yourself and then demanding removal of any criticism out there on the internet is just sad; doing so with the threat of legal action is patently ridiculous. I have no doubt that the allegation in the original comment was unfounded. Of course, by responding in such a direct way to an allegation — in this case, in the subject of his email — he’s simply making it worse than if he’d simply ignored it. If his lawyer really was there and approved such an email, he should be looking for another lawyer.
How much more impact would he have had if he had simply responded to the comment like a rational person, winning friends (and possibly new customers for his company) in the process?
(As an aside, I should note that I have removed entries or comments in the past because celebrities have contacted me cordially and in a friendly way, explaining that sometimes my blog comes out on top in Google searches rather than the official sites; it’s not my responsibility to fix their SEO issues, but they were so nice about it and asking nicely is far preferable to threatening legal action, especially where there is no legal leg to stand on.)
Anyway, although the comment has been removed as I deemed it a personal attack, he is now presented with the publicity that results from a heavy-handed threat for which there is no justification. It seems to me that the email he sent to me is my property, and I am under no obligation whatsoever to keep it confidential; my own policy requires that I explain why something was redacted from my blog.
Oh, and what is Tommy Puett doing?
He runs a cap company called “LilBrims,” which I must admit look pretty cool. I’m thinking birthday gifts for some kids I know. Wow — a potential new customer even after this. Imagine if he’d been nicer about it?
So, now we know.