Regarding the Popehat Signal: You People Are Awesome

Every time I'm down on humanity, I think of this: whenever I put up the Popehat signal seeking pro bono help for people whose freedom of expression is threatened, I get a wave of responses. I get many from lawyers, even from lawyers in other states offering to help however they can. I get responses from web mavens and technical experts and just plain folks asking if there is any way they can contribute their efforts. I get offers of funding for the defenses.

And it's not just with the Popehat signal. When I write about evil people victimizing innocents, people write in doing their own insightful and skillful investigations into the baddies and seeking to help. When I straight up ask for people to contribute to worthy causes, they do.

For everyone really awful on the internet, there's someone really great on the internet. This helps me get through the day. Thank you.

If you're one of the people who needs help, please keep asking, and I'll keep trying to tap into this network of awesome folks. Sometimes I can't answer immediately, and sometimes I'm a little busy — truth be told I got six different requests for help or advice this week. (The latest — if anyone out there is admitted in Virginia and would be willing to write a pro bono scary response to a very stupid threat letter, please drop me a line.) But keep sending them, because all these people have our backs.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. says

    Ken – I wrote you briefly but in the course of trying to help out one of the victims, found out about two other sites that as bad as InAnybodyDown, arguably worse. Hosted on shady servers out of the country, the MO is the same but at least one has a Twitter account and they tweet out to victims rubbing it in – almost positive from the language and all that they're US based. Many IAD victims are on these two sites – and to give you the sense of magnitude and reach – for my later high school years I had to live iwth my grandmother in a tiny little podunk town in western PA. As I was running some bots trying to help the first victim – I come across several girls from my HS town. When you just take a random look and come across several people you know, it's really off the charts bad. What's worse, there's one lady that's a marketing executive, must be 40+ and has a position of responsibility. They used her email address to determine what her boss and corp president's emails would be and were aggressively pushing people to contact them. Another case, a teacher was on there, and they tracked down her school and encouraged people to contact the school, her principle, the school board – and YES, her students.

    The one thing I've learned through this – and I thought I had a pretty good grip on internet culture – even the shady side – is that you simply can't underestimate the downside of how rotten some people are – and as you point out, the goodside of how good many are. The sites I've found though really need some attention if possible and I think they're honestly more harmful than IAD just b/c they're going after people's employment, people who've been employed for several years and ostensibly providing for a family – Ii'll fill you in offline but just saying – might need the popehat signal to come out again b/c these ones are bad (coming from a guy loves /b/ and has the same beliefs in censorship that Randazza does)

  2. Mercury says

    HELP! I live in a large, “first world” country that has been hijacked by the government and their financial allies. Although they assure me that my rights to sex and shopping will never be infringed they clearly intend to take what else remains of my personal liberty and wealth in exchange for various flavors of “security” and official certificates of “fairness”. After a tremendous amount of protest and effort I was recently offered a choice between “New And Improved More Of The Same” and “More Of The Same-Lite”…but these abuses continue. Do you have any experience with hostage negotiation tactics? I don’t have all that much to offer in exchange for services but I am a generally a productive and useful citizen who minds his own business. I'm literally sweating like a hostage. I'm Mexican roadblock nervous. I fear time is running out…

  3. Joe Pullen says

    Glad to help any time. It's amazing how much intel can be uncovered by crowdsourcing thru the Popehat readers. I'm reminded of a quote from Ann Bransoms blog that says it perfectly:

    There is a reason that the oft repeated Jelly Bean counting studies have proven that while individuals are miserably bad at guessing, as a group we are frighteningly accurate. We may disagree on which jelly bean tastes the best, and this disagreement is what leads to innovation and growth, which is a very good thing. But the number of jelly beans in the jar is not open to debate, and as a group we are very good at assessing what the facts are.

  4. Davey says

    That's sort of a bitter-sweet posting. There ARE a lot of great people here. It is refreshing to see after the electioneering of the last few weeks. Unfortunately, the Venn Diagram showing the set of those great people and the set of elected officials doesn't seem to show a lot of overlap.

  5. Captain Obvious says

    This is your captain speaking. Just in time for your weekend enjoyment a short 5 minute video poking fun at some of these bad guys.

  6. says

    Does Chance Trahan give anyone else a really strong Buffalo Bill, of Silence of the Lambs fame, vibe? And has anyone listened to his music? I'm not a musician so can't do any better, but holy fuck is it terrible and I'm not just saying that b/c he's a completely asshole. In fact, I think part of what he's got coming is a barrage of people telling the truth about his band, KatShit, I mean Kataishin. He claims it's his true passion and love in life. Not in any way saying people should trash his band for its own sake – legitimately listen to 30 seconds of it if you can and comment accordingly.

  7. says

    @CaptainObvious – If ou don't mind me asking – where did you get the content about them and the federal agent? If that's their actual content, I need to start spreading it around and make sure it gets as much Google mojo as possible – might need to include several meta tags with Big Brother Friendly search terms just for good measure.

  8. Captain Obvious says

    @Bill from their actual tweets – found some old ones archived under another service. This is the least of the problems they have – I can't say more at this time except these guys are not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier – obviously.

  9. Joe Pullen says

    Chance also commented on the video on YouTube. Something about some clowns and the "f" word . Dude seems to have a clown fetish.

  10. says

    @CaptainObvious – if it's anything you can share – I assure you it will go to good use – if not, I should be able to find it if it's still around.

  11. says

    @CaptainObvious – understood – works for me. Just for anyone's general edification – I have several spiders running right now trying to accumulate everything associated to these guys and going about it to make sure all the evidence is recorded properly and maintained properly. A lot seems to be disappearing down the memory hole. While they talk a big tough guy game and like on youtube, thanked the Clowns for the promotion, it certainly looks like there's a ton of retreat going on. Just want to make sure they get 'credit' for every one of their deeds.

  12. says

    @Tali – just one more example of where he pretends to be a tough guy but simultaneously acting like a scared kitten. Oh well, I can't think of a better guy to see it happening to.

  13. Marius says


    To me you are one of the (few) people trying to make the world a little bit better. It appears that like-minded people congregate here and they / us want to help you help others.

    I came to this site during the Oatmeal saga and since then I have learned a lot about freedom of speech, various legal issues and more!

    …and my general opinion of humanity has improved thanks to you and all the wonderful commenters.

  14. Dan Weber says

    When I see that Katashain site with the gun for the K, for some reason I think of a white-power movement. I don't know how accurate I am with that. Are there other groups that love to fetishize the letter K?

  15. Jess says

    @Dan Weber – it looks like there is a lot of white-power racist stuff posted out there by both Craig and Chance. Plus apparently they discriminate against clowns.

  16. says

    Like @Jess said, there's a lot of stuff out there with Craig in particular making White Power comments. However, (and God, I can't believe I"m even remotely playing devil's advocate with this douche), it's very likely that he makes them just to try to get a response and get attention rather than any sort of true racial hatred. Chance is a pretty creepy looking dude by design – really reminds me of Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs for Some reason b he may just be trying to act tough. If you listen to any of his music though – the vocals are just awful. The music itself is tolerable, then he starts signing and well, spare yourself. Those guys are a few years younger than I am but I'm quite sure times haven't changed that much – it really takes a lot of effort to stay single past your early teens. Barring some physical deformity, not being able to land a girlfriend by freaking 18 is troubling but by early-mid 20s? And how on Earth do you have a band and managed to stay single/celibate? In these guys case, it's a 5 star lock it's a combination of being loathesome and lacking any semblance of some game. Christ even if a girl wanted to sympathy date/screw them, they'd have to be horrified of these clowns putting a camera in the crapper, dumping some roofies in her drink and taking pictures while she's passed out or stealing soiled panties and sell them on some website. Considering any woman/girl that went out with them or gave them the time of day would immediately render herself the 2012 Eva Braun, I'm sure these two are quite frustrated and angry. ONce I started spidering what I could find on these guys, it's clear that in any Venue, Chance goes out of his way to be an asshole. Whether its a discussion about freaking smartphones or software development, he manages to royally piss people off. It's one thing to stick your finger to the world in a few online posts when you're 13, it's something totally different to continually do that shit for years, well past adolescence. Similarly, Ken described the TrollDown post more eloquently than I ever could, but I challenge you to read even 1/2 of it without thinking you're talking to someone seriously disturbed. Even if he was smashed when he wrote that – it oozes of someone who has spent a lot of time being the object of scorn from everyone they meet. Throw in the emails to mark with the silly Irish/Italian stuff – you realize these are some seriously disturbed people (and I know, that's often thrown out to dismiss people over the smallest of disagreements, but this is the real deal). So if you can't fit in anywhere else, the bar for entry in the Skinhead crowd is pretty low – all you have to do is be angry and spout the party line and you'll find a peer group. I'd honestly ask though – what on Earth must have happened to these two as kids to get to this point? Other kids are off busting their asses (and sure, doing some partying) trying to make their parents proud, and these two are putting up a website trying to utterly destroy girls and women – girls and women incidentally that wouldn't give them the time of day IRL.

  17. says

    I wish that I – a non-lawyer – could help.

    If there's ever any way that bowl turning or blacksmithing skills could be useful, tell me.

    Hmmm…I could go all old-school Road Runner and drop an anvil on someone…

  18. Analee says

    @Bill I grew up in a tiny little podunk Western PA town and finally got out in fall of 2006, right after I graduated. Wonder if it was your tiny little podunk town too.

    In any case, it's so refreshing to see people who are willing to help strangers with nothing to gain. Hats off to everyone who responds to the Popehat Signal, and keep up the good work!

  19. DMC-12 says

    Although nobody has asked me, I'll be heading up to the 'Springs tomorrow afternoon, hitting some small bars in a certain area, showing some photos of Chance and (redacted) printouts of his website to the locals… which is OK, right? I mean, he isn't doing anything wrong by his own assertion.

    And, you know, if they ask me to leave this information with them to post in their bar, I'll probably have extra (color) copies on hand so that wouldn't be a real problem for them to nail it up at their own volition. Just happy to bring more viewers to his website, really!

  20. Jess says

    @Ken, Marc and all the people who I’m sure are helping behind the scenes. Many thanks to all of you. I can imagine this means a great deal to the victims of the IAD site.

    While working on my Masters degree, I had a friend in college that was interning with my then current employer. She took a few pictures when she was messing around with her boyfriend. She didn’t think much of it at the time. Six months later, the pictures ended up on a site very much like IAD. I can’t remember the name of the site, it no longer exists.

    The fall-out was devastating. She lost the internship and for a while myself and her family were in constant fear she would commit suicide. She dropped out of school and moved to another city and changed her name. While she has gradually gotten her life back, she has never completed her degree and lost her dream job. She lives in constant fear the pictures will resurface and destroy the life she has so carefully built again.

    The people who do this kind of thing have no idea of the damage they do to others, and if they do, then they have no fucking soul. While Craig Brittain may have had some bad influences in his life, I place a good part of the blame for his attitude towards life on his parents. They may be nice people, but frankly they didn’t do their job. The overinflated sense of self entitlement and lack of empathy exhibited by Craig is something that is taught by parents to their children at an early age.

    I commend Ken for his compassion but I cannot find that I will be the least bit sorry for Craig or Chance if they finally do get in big trouble for what they’ve done. In my opinion they both have it coming.

  21. says

    @jess. My contact info is in my name. If she still has worries, I can't promise anything without first looking into it, but generally we can get the stuff buried on page 35+of most engines, get most of it delinked and help throw up enough fog that even if someone saw it they'd be inclined to believe it's a fake. Its mostly the same work each time and I have bots doing all the heavy lifting. At some point I'll have more needy people than resources but for now, I can easily take on another person. My costs are pretty much $0.00so I've been doing it for free, mainly c I have a daughter and something like despise ththat would really be awful beyond words and mostly to try to show them there's men out there whodespise this stuff and willing to help them. If she's interested, have her contact me and I'll do what I can. Note that I'm not a lawyer, court officer or in any way affiliated with law enforcement so can't help there other then get lawyers as much solid evidence as possible…so she should talk to marc r or Ken. But I can help clean the mess up and minimize the exposure she has to it being discovered. The offer is open to any such victim until I get more than I can handle at one time, if that happens I'll still do what I can, but there

  22. Jess says

    @Bill – thanks Bill that is very nice of you to offer. I'll let her know. So far it looks like her name is not on the first few pages anymore and she's going under a new name so has been lucky so far.

  23. Tali McPike says

    @Jess this tends to be a common occurrence. All the websites on the server (Including Chance's music page and Sparky Droid page) tend to go down on a surprisingly frequent basis. I expect they will be up again soon.

  24. Nicholas Weaver says

    Tali McPike: Who knows? The server is down, but the server next to it in IP space is up, which suggests it isn't a DOS (Craig has notoriously pissed off Anonymous on at least one occasion before).

    It could be it crashed, or it could be the dynamic duo got scared because NPR started poking around, and so pulled the plug.

  25. Tali McPike says

    I'm doubtful that they pulled the plug, although I would LOVE for you to be right. We've thought that before, and its came back up.
    Also its isn't 404ing, just timing out, so I'm not thinking they've pulled the plug. Plus, they strike me as the type that are too arrogant to turn tail and run like that.

  26. AlphaCentauri says

    @bill — is search engine de-optimization something that would lend itself to the rest of us crowdsourcing it?

  27. Joe Pullen says

    @Bill – tried to find your contact info via your name link but maybe I'm missing something. Would like to touch base with you RE a project. You can ping Ken for my direct email.

  28. NL_ says

    Have you explored options for partnerships with existing public interest law firms? Maybe some referral relationships with groups like IJ, ACLU, FIRE, Pacific, and so forth, sending them cases that might align with their niches. If you wanted to get really serious about it, you could start a Popehat public interest firm to coordinate the issues, but that would take all sorts of fundraising.

  29. Lola says

    This warmed the cockles of my heart when it was posted the other day, but I didn't take time to comment. That warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you realize the good that geographically and culturally distant people can accomplish together thanks to the series of tubes is remarkable, and not just in facing the threat of of scammers and bullies. One of the coolest experiences of my life started with a bunch of hockey fans joking online about flying a Brazilian fan to a game and ended with us all sitting with him in a Detroit bar and handing over a giant check to the Children's Hospital of MI.

    It's easy to get distracted by nostalgic navel gazing and fail to appreciate the Popehat symbol's calls For Great Justice.

    This afternoon, my 18-year-old cousin said something both imprudent and impudent (but entirely true) on Facebook about a school administrator's extramarital affair with a subordinate. Within 30 minutes, an elementary school employee called my aunt to demand she make him remove it. My aunt didn't make any promises, but he chose to take it down.

    Maybe nothing will happen when he goes back to school on Monday. Given everything I've heard about the district and the administrator's response to the impropriety, though, I suspect he's going to be disciplined for talking about it. At the very least I expect them to call him down and question him about the source of the information (which wasn't anybody employed by or within the schools.)

    So I feel like a bit of a schmuck for not commending you yesterday, because this post was the first thing I thought of when I heard what happened. Even if nothing comes of this, I'm glad the Popehat Signal is here.

  30. says

    Be advised that these actions, your slander and screen shots can and will be used as key factors should a case be pursued against you. Your posting, advertising, marketing, dissipating and otherwise disseminating the slanderous materials constitute actionable violations of Mr. Trahan and Mr Brittain's rights of privacy and publicity.

  31. Captain Obvious says

    It appears Chance does not appreciate my sense of humor and has commented on my video as follows:

    Be advised that these actions, your slander and screen shots can and will be used as key factors should a case be pursued against you. Your posting, advertising, marketing, dissipating and otherwise disseminating the slanderous materials constitute actionable violations of Mr. Trahan and Mr Brittain's rights of privacy and publicity.

    Perhaps he should find his lawyers somewhere other than from “Lawyers-R-Us”. Apparently David Blade doesn’t understand that slander is the spoken word, libel is written – obviously.

  32. says

    Be advised that these actions, your slander and screen shots can and will be used as key factors should a case be pursued against you. Your posting, advertising, marketing, dissipating and otherwise disseminating the slanderous materials constitute actionable violations of Mr. Trahan and Mr Brittain's rights of privacy and publicity.

    Uh oh… Marc "Big Porn" Randazza, Ken "The Fat Trendkiller" Popehat, and Adam "The New Guy" Steinbaugh should be afraid… very afraid.

    It looks like Craig and Chance have retained the legal services of Yahoo! Answers.

  33. says

    @alphacentauri – absolutely. As in , no freaking doubt about it. Right now the plan is to get this crap pushed way back but i'm still being contacted by victims, several of whom were under 18 at the time the pictures were harvested – that presents all kinda problems – on the one hand it's easy to get google/bing et al to play ball. But (and again, I'm no lawyer) from what I udnerstand, prosecutors have been known to hit the victims as well which complicates things. In any case, yes, yes and more yes. The more people we can get to bury this stuff the better.

    Additionally, I'm internally going through a small battle of conscience. As Ken has repeatedly admonished, we're the good guys so should act like it. Someone who i know from 4chan made a recommendation that I'm really battling with – it's so brutal that I'm pretty much positive it'll have them running for cover as fast as they can. And it's also legal as far as everything I'm aware of. But it's the internet equivalent of getitng vice grips and a blow torch (if that were legal). Suffice to say they really have pissed a lot of people off, especially aforementioned group anon. There's a very common phrase there "not your personal army" which is said to people trying to get everyone to gang up to help with some personal vendetta. Chance and Craig crossed all sorts of lines and I'm sure probably don't need much more to pile on. Pink Meth though – got to figure out what to do there – they are doing some really evil stuff, every bit as bad as these guys if not worse.

    Email me if you want to help de-SEO this stuff. My email is linked here.

  34. says

    Joe – you can use bill @ william g ryan dot mobi or WGRYan at live. I pissed off a lot of people back when the DB stuff happened by contacting many of the people before the bad guys even got control of their email accounts – got all kinds of harassment and death threats and all sorts of other crap so my was demanding that I keep a few degrees of separation between my name and all of this – but I guess the cat is out of the bag.

  35. DMC-12 says

    Oh Chance, "can and will"? Please. You can't and won't because you are inept and a n00b in the practical execution of life.

    My time with your regional bartenders was more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. Though I do have to admit getting their attention was an uphill task, as apparently they are quite numb to, as they phrase it "douchebags" of which you appear to squarely fall. But after discretely showing them printouts of your website and offering a large Avery label with your smug face on it, 12 of 16 were happy to slap that puppy up behind the bar. The label also says "Toxic. Avoid!" And in color!

  36. says

    Right here, at the suggestion of Popehat commenter "Landru", is the moment when the Popehat Signal graphic was born, 28 October 2011.

    Yes, it's deliberately primitive. Woodcutty, if you will. But thanks to those of you who have sent fancier graphics to replace it!