A while back, I wrote a blog post about a national company that shall remain nameless. It was a fishy situation the way they went about getting me to join their organization. What I felt to be hardcore sneaky sales tactics and a bait-and-switch, offering something for free and then launching a weighty sales pitch for something costing quite a bit of money for what seemed to me like empty benefits. Looking it up online I saw I wasn’t the only one. I didn’t like it, I thought it was fishy and dishonest and underhanded, and I called it a scam and urged folks to steer clear.
The reason the company remains nameless? I was contacted today by a lawyer and asked to take it down. That I would be sued for it. Because the word scam is not covered under the first amendment. It’s not something you can say. Especially if Google picks it up.
I’ve never felt more hog-tied in my life. I want to fight back against the man, but not at this expense. I’ve looked around the internet and I’m seeing that they are accomplishing their goal – blog posts on this subject have been taken down left and right. I feel muscled out of my own opinion. Me versus corporation. The law loves the corporation. Not the little guy. I don’t have the money to fight this. I no longer have the freedom to use my words to fight it. If anyone in the comments names the organization I have to delete it. I have an agreement that I will “refrain from making defamatory comments” about them.
This isn’t a defamatory comment. It’s me writing about feeling helpless. The only small thing I can do, other than refuse the free membership they wanted to give me — at least, the only thing I can do without sacrificing my livelihood and getting into a load of legal fees.
This isn’t a post about that company. It’s a post about the law that makes it possible for lawyers to call up little people like me and tell them what they can and can’t say. Now, I understand how devastating it would be if I had a crummy online reputation. But I can’t help but think that there’s a way (short of lawsuits!) to control that reputation if you are really a good and honest company.
The internet is not a free place, people. You can’t speak your mind when it uses a hot-word like scam.
America is not the land of the free.
It’s the land of big business. And that just really makes me sad.