Tell Me About The Rabbit, Marc Stephens

Yesterday I shared with our readers the story of Marc Stephens, a bumptious non-lawyer whose fatuous threats dramatically magnified and multiplied the bad press of his putative client, the Burzynski Clinic.

This morning I awoke to a friendly note from Marc Stephens — using the same email address he has when threatening other bloggers, the same address I used to seek comment from him before posting. The note contained what I would characterize as a decent effort, given his apparent abilities, to intimidate me. He sent it to my Popehat address and to my real-world big-boy-pants Ken's-sekrit-identity law firm address. Here's what he had to say:

Hello Kenneth, or Ken @ Popehat,

Please confirm your information below. Please note that the case of Skeptics Society/JREF is under federal investigation for identity theft. I suggest you remove all articles on your website in relation to this email address and/or individuals immediately. Please confirm, at this email address, when you have removed the articles.

Are you associated, or a member of The Skeptic Society / James Randi Educational Foundation? We have noticed on your twitter account that you requested an individual to investigate this email account. All of your actions have been recorded.

If we do not hear from you, your information will be forwarded for further investigation, and a associate will contact you. Please confirm if you are Ken@popehat/Kenneth [SektritIdentity] immediately.

[Ken's sekrit work phone and IP address.]

Marc Stephens also included what appears to me a screen shot of some back and forth tweets from the Popehat Twitter account with another Twitter user.

I've decided to make my response public. Here it is.

Dear Marc Stephens:

Congratulations on figuring out my top-secret identity! Only about a dozen people — falling into the elect group of "those who have tried" — have ever managed to do that. I think the last one was a law student at Tulane who was too drunk to study for Real Property.

Anyway, please rest assured that I am totally all terrified here that you identified me. Really. I have goose bumps. I'd take a pic and post it but my iPhone is dead again.

I'd like to address some of your questions and comments, Marc.

Please note that the case of Skeptics Society/JREF is under federal investigation for identity theft.

Under federal investigation! Fascinating. That's all very foreign and scary-sounding and likely to deter me. I mean, it would be, except that I've practiced federal criminal law for seventeen years, one as a clerk for a federal judge, five as a federal prosecutor, and the rest as a federal defense attorney, not counting various internships. I'm actually kind of familiar with federal agencies and federal investigations. I've both run them and thwarted them. So, Marc, would you like to tell me the federal agency you're dealing with, and let me know the name of the case agent? I'd love to call them and answer any questions they have about the investigation.

Also, your reference to "identity theft" fascinates me, because previously it seems you've been complaining that everyone you're angry at is guilty of defamation and mean-scientist-fraud and stuff. I think the identity theft is new. Can you explain? Is it — could I hope — are you going with the "I've been caught being a total douche to dozens of strangers by email, and have fraudulently posed as an attorney, and now I've been publicly humiliated, so I'd like to get a mulligan here, so I'm going to go with 'oh noes my email was hacked and the hacker did nasty things?'" Would that be the same email account you're now using to email me? So I guess you regained control of it? Yeah, Marc, you've got to let me know how that works out, because I've frankly sent some regrettable emails in my life that I'd like to walk back, and I'm eager to hear if this approach works. The "when you get an email like that from me, a wizard did it" approach hasn't been working for me.

I suggest you remove all articles on your website in relation to this email address and/or individuals immediately. Please confirm, at this email address, when you have removed the articles.

Marc, kindly take this post — the link to which I will email to you — as a formal, legally binding, 100% certified style invitation to snort my taint.

Are you associated, or a member of The Skeptic Society / James Randi Educational Foundation? We have noticed on your twitter account that you requested an individual to investigate this email account. All of your actions have been recorded.

Well, Marc, I'm not sure the Skeptic Society or the Randi Education Foundation would let a former Presbyterian deacon in. Also, I'm not really a scientist. I'm just a humble lawyer and blogger. I'm a loner, Marc. A rebel. So, no.

Also, can you tell me who the "we" is in "we have noticed"? You're correct that I used Twitter to discuss, with another Twitter user, investigating your email account. Oh. Is that what you mean by identity theft? Are you using "theft" in the "casually peruse public records of" sense? Am I breaking some sort of federal law that I've never heard of in 17 years as a federal criminal lawyer by Googling your email address? Wow. I must have missed that one.

Also, when you say "all your actions have been recorded," could you elaborate? Because, I mean, my Twitter actions are still on Twitter. And my blog posts are still up here. Are you talking about nifty screenshots, like the one you sent me in your email? Screenshots rock. I've been trying to figure out how to post pics of my Skyrim character when he's put, like, twelve arrows into a Forsaken's head and the guy is still blundering around like a post-apocalyptic hedgehog. It's hilarious. But I might be straying a bit from my point. Did you record me on videotape? Or audio? Do you still use audio? Did you record me on 8-track? God I loved 8-track. I had a girlfriend in college who had 8-track in this ancient station wagon of hers and we would . . . you know, never mind. Anyway, if you have me recorded on 8-track, could I get a copy?

If we do not hear from you, your information will be forwarded for further investigation, and a associate will contact you.

There's "we" again. Honestly, Marc, you're starting to freak me out. How many of you are there? Is this the same "we" as above, or a different "we"? Also, is the associate part of the "we" or not? Are you talking about, like, a law firm associate? Because if you have a lawyer, Marc, I'd be totes happy to call him right now. Or do you mean an "associate" in the sense of "Wayne, who lets me sleep on his futon when I can't pick up enough shifts at Arby's?" Or is it more malevolent, like in mob movies: "my associate, [name with 'the' in the middle], will discuss this with you"? Or . . . wait a minute, Marc. Can . . . can anyone other than you see and hear this associate? Because if this associate is a giant goddam invisible rabbit, Marc, that's a deal-breaker. I hate rabbits, and a six-foot invisible rabbit would freak me right the fuck out. Are you siccing your invisible rabbit on me, Marc? Because if that's what you're saying, I think we have a problem here and there SHOULD be a federal investigation. Threatening people with giant rabbits through the electronic mails is almost certain a violation of several federal statutes, possibly including wire fraud depending on the existence or non-existence of the rabbit. But a sharp legal guy like you already knew that, right Marc? My God. You're already, like, three steps ahead of me.

Anyway, Marc, I notice that you haven't specified any factual statements in my post that you think are incorrect. Can you? I'd be happy to hear you out. Are you a lawyer, Marc? Is it your intention to convey to people that you are a lawyer? People want to know, Marc.

Must run, have to berate an associate;

Ken

Edited to add: If you liked this tale of an exchange with someone who tries to threaten skeptics, you might like this recent pro bono success.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

Comments

  1. says

    > Marc, kindly take this post — the link to which I will email to you — as a formal, legally binding, 100% certified style invitation to snort my taint.

    It's just as well that I stopped blogging back in Jan – I just can't compete with "legally binding invitation to snort my taint". LLLLLOL!

  2. bill quoted says

    Stephens: I want to bring the heater. Announce my presence with authority.

    everyone: To announce your what?

    Stephens: My presence with authority.

    everyone: To announce your presence with authority?! This guy's a first ball fastball hitter, he's looking for the heat.

    Stephens: So what? He ain't seen my heat.

    everyone: All right, Meat. Give him your heat.

    [Stephens throws it and Ken hits a home run.]

    everyone: Well, Ken really hit the shit out of that one, didn't he?

  3. Tom Hunt says

    Boy, talk about the Streisand Effect! I've picked up references to Marc Stephens and the Burzynski Clinic in 3 or 4 different blogs from different areas. This guy apparently doesn't know when to quit.

    BTW, that should have been "…have to berate a associate;".

    T. Hunt

  4. Pakkinpoppa says

    Maybe he meant the royal "we"? Or, "wee" as in if you don't do what he says, his next 'net action will make you "wee" in your pants from fear?

    Snort your taint… and to think that deserves an out loud howl of laughter but due to me, maybe, being at work, I had to hold back and smile. And not snort.

  5. Phil Alexander says

    Marc, kindly take this post — the link to which I will email to you — as a formal, legally binding, 100% certified style invitation to snort my taint.

    Is that the US equivalent of referring someone to the answer given in Arkell vs Pressdram?

    Thank you for that – really put a smile on my face :-)

  6. Caleb says

    "…if this associate is a giant goddam invisible rabbit…"

    Ken, I think you're tangling with the infamous "Harvey, Stephens & Assoc." You'd better back down, I hear púka are absolute sharks in the courtroom.

  7. says

    I'm guessing:

    "All you actions have been recorded"

    – is a kind of comic threat, along the lines of that internet fave:

    "All your sekrit emails iz belong to us"

    – looks like Mr Stephens got someone to check his syntax this time, though. Kudos.

  8. Randall says

    Ken, you are now my hero.

    May I have your permission to use "formal, legally binding, 100% certified style invitation to snort my taint" in my own legal correspondence?

  9. Shadow says

    Look here, Ken. Many of us are visiting here from the United Kingdom, and are confused by your technical legal jargon. Is "snort my taint" a term of art amongst US attorneys? Could one use it in court? Enquiring minds want to know.

  10. says

    Alan, allow me to help…

    You know what "snort my" means, surely. "Taint", as it is used here, referes informally to a part of the male anatomy… You know, the part between your legs, that 'taint your asshole, and 'taint your balls"…

    The taint.

  11. Chris Berez says

    This is fantastic! I really hope he writes back. Although I have to wonder if the realization that he's now dealing with a for-real lawyer caused the words "Oh shit" to float through his mind.

  12. Rukymoss says

    I just discovered this blog a few days ago, due to following the Burzynski affair on some science/atheist/skeptic blogs–wow, I've been missing out! My own take on the latest from Marc Stephens is that he has just become "aware that some asshole is signing [his] name to stupid letters." But IANAL, so I could be wrong about that.

  13. Shadow says

    Zyaama:
    *sniff*

    That’s beautiful, man, really. Brought a tear to this mean old cynic’s eyes.

    Wrong choice of words in the circumstances, Zyaama.

  14. says

    Ok… with one phrase, you have cemented the lawyer I wish to represent me if I ever need such.

    "… snort my taint" EPIC!

    Need to pop some corn, and wait to see his response!

  15. says

    I definitely detect some Tim Bolen influence in the wording of that note. Sounds like Marc Stephens has either been in contact with Bolen, or at least is reading is screeds and cribbing talking points from him.

    Since I see your blog NOFOLLOWs everything, I feel safe in linking to The Bolen Report. It's hilariously bad. If you have the stomach to dig around, the conspiracy thinking around skeptic activities and SEO in his last few posts.

  16. says

    Ken, I'm sooooo in awe. Stephens has to be the stupidest internet twit I've seen in some time.

    And taking on James Randi? Yep, stupidest internet twit.

  17. says

    "Marc, kindly take this post — the link to which I will email to you — as a formal, legally binding, 100% certified style invitation to snort my taint."

    I am still laughing my ass off and trying to explain to my daughter what Daddy think is so funny.

  18. Laura K says

    Dear Ken,

    O, Master, I acknowledge your greatness. Thank you for setting this beautiful thing free in our world.

    Jb–thank you so much for the Latin. Six years, and I might have still had to look the grammar forms up. This one is right up there with my favorite: Futute te ipsum et caballum tuum. You rock!

  19. David says

    Great article. Who is he going to take on next – the Supreme Court?

    And as funny as it was, I was starting to worry that 'GOVERN YOURSELF ACCORDINGLY' was going to be the most memorable phrase to come out of this affair. Seems it'aint so!

  20. bkd69 says

    I can't help but wonder, in calling Marc Stephens a douche, if you haven't opened yourself up to action from the manufacturer of Axe body spray (and related products).

  21. says

    Oh wow.. still laughing here and had to dash over to Jack of Kent to see if he said the normal "Arkell v Pressdram" reference to this sort of idiocy… he did (http://jackofkent.blogspot.com/2011/11/some-libel-silliness.html )

    Your "snort my taint" is now my new reference phrase.

    I'd go so far as to say its a cross between a Chaucer insult, mixed with some Shakespearian prose with a bit of the Randazza legal chutzpah thrown in for good measure

    Awesomeness

  22. Worm says

    I can't be sure but I suspect the original reference to identity theft in conection with JREF is this, which I believe is now coming close to asettlement, and anyway only involved Randi in a personal capacity, not JREF (as I understand it)

  23. Andy says

    I'm still trying to reconcile "former Presbyterian deacon" and "snort my taint". I guess there's a clue in the word "former".

  24. Laura K says

    G–it is definitley not Chaucer/Chaucerian middle english, and probably not Shakespearean. Don't mistake me; it's brilliant. I'm just a cultural history geek and I can't always fight the craving to point stuff like that out in the interest of sharing usless info.

  25. Damon says

    This is the best reading since the whole series of articles on scamming. Kudos. Nothing better that to see a justifed smackdown in public. What's that line from Kill Bill "come at me with all your strength". Go Ken. Kick his mother loving ass, drive him before you until you hear "the lamentation of de women"!

  26. Paul says

    Classic :)

    "Marc, kindly take this post — the link to which I will email to you — as a formal, legally binding, 100% certified style invitation to snort my taint." LOL

  27. marco73 says

    Pit Bull's new rap album will be titled "Snort my Taint." Ken, I think you are in line for residuals.

  28. says

    No response from Marc. I am disappointed. What the hell am I going to write about now?

    I have decided to put "snort my taint" on the firm's business cards.

  29. says

    Kudos, Ken, for the double theatrical reference to both Mary Chase's "Harvey" and John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men," in the title. Especially apt because the character who utters the line about the rabbits is a moron. Well played.

  30. MeanDean says

    So far as Stephens' use of the royal "we," I believe he may be pestered by the same flying elves that used to torment me when I was a teenager.

    The elves went away when I gave up huffing Liquid Paper for fun; perhaps Marc is suffering from the same malady. (If this is the case, hey Marc! Say 'hi' to Stinger and WoofWoof for me!)

  31. Andrea Knieps says

    Oh my friend – It is a good thing I am working from home today. There is no way I could explain to a client why I am laughing so hard that tears are running down my face. GO GET 'EM!!!

  32. Laura K says

    Scott Jacobs you are my hero for the day! …Ah the pathos of the sobbing inflatable women….

  33. Michael says

    Some friends of mine run a group music review blog that goes by the name of Tickle Your Taint Eclectic Music Reviews, just though I had better share that here. ;-)

    They actually do have some good writing and know a lot about music, triggercut would dig these dudes.

  34. Darwy says

    Priceless. Absolutely priceless.

    I'll be sure to quote Ken whenever I need to use the phrase, "as a formal, legally binding, 100% certified style invitation to snort my taint."

    Although, since I'm female it doesn't quite carry the same effect…

  35. IGotBupkis, Sailing the Economic Seas Betwixt Scylla And Charybdis says

    >>> There’s “we” again.

    Perhaps he's trying for the multiple-personality defense route??

  36. Mark Fournier says

    Beautiful! Your response is almost gonzo. I'm curious, though–hasn't this Stephens guy already crossed a legal line somewhere with all of his threats, pretensions, and cyber-stalking? If not, keep pressing his buttons. He'll cross a line soon enough, because he seems to be genuinely unhinged. And the Burzinski clinic probably nets enough cash to make it worth while for a legal team to pursue this.

  37. Nentuaby says

    Arkell v. Pressdram be damned blasted, it's time to start referring people to Stevens v. Popehat

  38. ItPutsTheLotionOnItsSkin says

    This reminds me of an incident that happened to me a few years back.

    Some local real estate company was 'upset' that it was getting out that they were involved in plenty of small claims cases for fraud(as the defendant).

    They hired a real estate attorney to send me a registered letter claiming I was in violation of copyright laws by posting this information, because I was using their name to identify them as the defendants. All sort of legally threatening phrases, about how I would be charged with multiple criminal counts. And that I was to hand over my domain to them in order to resolve this dispute.

    So, what was I do to? I simply photocopied and transcribed the letter and posted it for all to read.

    A few 10's of thousands of people then got a laugh out of watching a real estate lawyer try to be a copyright lawyer.

    Never heard from him again.

  39. SAWells says

    Interestingly, this one doesn't seem to mention the cancer clinic at all. This implies that Marc Stephens is having his own personal psychotic break here, independent of the ongoing Burzynski debacle.

  40. says

    Oh, Marc Stephens, Marc Stephens. My lonely taint calls out for your quivering nose. Why won't you write back, Marc Stephens?

  41. Erica says

    Ken, you're really a hero of mine. You write like I hope you speak and you speak like I wish I had the guts to! I will always love your column, so please don't ever leave us :)

  42. Luna_the_cat says

    This is the first post of yours I've read, first time visit to the blog, and already I need to go clean the coffee off my keyboard. And out of my sinuses. Ow.

    Brilliant. F***ing brilliant.

  43. VPJ says

    Has Mr. Stephens yet availed himself of the opportunity to get a snortful of taintage? Doesn't seem like him to leave such a prize just laying dormant.

  44. Jess says

    “legally binding invitation to snort my taint” Geez I haven't laughed this hard in years – in fact I think I just peed my pants. Great job carving this guy down to real size – 2 inch pocket size.

  45. says

    amazing!

    I love it! i fallowed a link from Overlawyered.com to here! been reading a few different post. Great site and great response!

    Btw skyrim rocks

Trackbacks

  1. […] UPDATE 07/12/11 – More than a week after the Burzynski Clinic distanced themselves from Stephens (in the press release dated 29/11/11), Stephens unwisely threatened another lawyer, who also writes on a popular blog (Popehat). The problematic post is linked below and the email exchange is here. […]