Don't Hug Cacti sends cease and desist to furry; alleges defamation
Disclaimer: This article will not take a side in this matter and is merely a publication of the events leading to the public conflict in question, thus falling under “Neutral Report Privilege”. People’s comments below are their own, and do not contribute to Flayrah’s position on any pending legal matter.
In the first week of February, furry twitter lit up as a furry fan by the name of Qutens posted a GoFundMe page to raise money for a legal defense against the fursuit creating business of Don’t Hug Cacti LLC. The LLC sent a cease and desist to Qutens that stems from the publication of witness testimony of alleged sexual misconduct behaviors of the business’s founder Lucky Coyote that was published in September of 2020 on the below tweet:
I am posting this document on behalf of the victims.
The following is a collection of testimonies from concerned fandom members regarding BlondeFoxy / Lucky Coyote and her pattern of grooming & abuse.
We ask that you please read it.https://t.co/Z0P3mZO4RY pic.twitter.com/jlUbroR9qT
— qutens (@qutens_) September 25, 2020
Preparations for possible court battle
Boozy Badger, a furry who happens to be an attorney, indicated that, while the cease and desist letter was not shared with the public, he has personally seen it and referred Qutens to legal consultation in preparations for a defense. The fundraiser which was posted on February 4th, had already met it’s $10,000 goal within 2 days of its posting.
The party to send the cease and desist on behest of Lucky Coyote is a law firm called Minc Law. The firm’s specialty is defamation cases, and has a long page going over how these function on a page called The Complete Guide to Defemation Law. Within it, there is the warning of litigation causing undue attention to the original defamatory statements, something known to the general public as the “Streisand Effect”.
Minc Law itself goes over this possibility in the aforementioned guide:
The Streisand Effect is a key consideration that defamation plaintiffs should keep in mind when filing a defamation suit, as it could ultimately render your defamation lawsuit ineffective before it even begins. Let us first explain how Barbra Streisand and the attempted suppression of a photograph paved the way for a critical pitfall for defamation plaintiffs to avoid.
The Streisand Effect refers to a viral phenomenon and PR disaster where famous singer and actress Barbra Streisand attempted to suppress aerial photographs of her Malibu home by suing the photographer behind them. However, instead of successfully suppressing and removing the images from popular photo-sharing website Pictopia.com, Streisand’s suit drew considerable attention and caused the images to go viral, resulting in the aerial photographs of her home being viewed more than 420,000 times.
The Streisand Effect is now a popular term used to describe situations involving the attempted suppression or removal of content, which accomplishes the exact opposite result and causes the information to receive widespread publicity and attention. In the context of the law, the Streisand Effect typically occurs after the filing of a frivolous and meritless lawsuit or sending of a cease and desist letter.
The Streisand Effect is even used as an aggressive defense tactic by prospective defamation defendants to draw viral attention to a matter so that a defamation lawsuit’s goals are rendered ineffective because the complete removal and suppression of content is impossible (or near impossible).
There are several ways to safeguard against you or your client’s online defamation issue going viral and falling victim to the Streisand Effect:
- Narrowly describe the scope of claims and parties involved;
- Do not cross the line from aggressive representation to bully;
- Strive for confidentiality when applicable;
- Research the website or ISP where the defamatory content is posted.
Defamatory online attacks and content can be a highly sensitive matter and there is a lot that can go wrong before and when filing an online defamation lawsuit, so it is of the utmost importance to make sure not to “poke the bear.”
The Streisand Effect
Furry community has its basis on the internet, which may be something that Minc was unaware of, so word spread pretty quickly of their letter. For better, or worse, furs are very quick to inform the internet as a whole about the conflicts they are dealing with rather than behind closed doors. So, it should be noted, the risk of the Streisand Effect occurring should be seen as almost a certainty if you are a lawyer taking on a furry client.
Not only did Qutens reach their fundraising goal within a few days, the over 90 page Google document of witness testimony of Lucky Coyote’s alleged misbehavior reached a point where Google Drive was indicating that tools and features were limited due to the amount of traffic that the document was receiving.
Fursuit creators were posting to social media that they would take on clients who had purchased Don’t Hug Cacti suits if they wished to have their features updated so that other furries would not tie them to a creator that would be seen as a fursona non grata. A noted irony here is that the previous time Flayrah covered Lucky Coyote was when she was offering to do tutorials on how to do facelifts to Wal-Mart Maskimal heads.
Some taking it to an extreme had started questioning those following Don’t Hug Cacti LLC on Twitter. In the spontaneous world of the internet, people are sometimes quick to judge instead of educating others on what they are judging them over and providing information. Furries are especially prone to this. While we live in a world of near instantaneous information, it can be easy to make quick judgement calls based on believing that others know what you know, but it’s important to note that no one is omnipresent.
But this does work both ways. While it may be tempting to file a lawsuit because you think everyone has heard the bad stories shared on the internet, pressing the issue to the legal stages may only ensure that more people know about them. Hopefully the Minc Law Firm informed their client of this risk before she went for it. Now that defense funds have been raised, it may be plausible that this defamation suit will go to court. And if so, some of the witnesses in the Google document may come forward to indicate that their stories were indeed true before the official proceedings to help the defense of the person who published their stories.
The case would certainly be a first for the fandom of defamation being pressed into the actual courts, and if it catches on, Minc may be seeing more clients yet. If any group of online users get obsessed over internet reputation, furries are certainly a target clientele.