The Devil later took down his post without explanations. I reposted it here, for no reason other than, as I said at the time, I dislike memory holes. I would never have posted it if it seemed that there was anything untoward about the note.
A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail (5 mb PDF) that opened with a letter from Derwick’s lawyers:
The lawyers write about Wiki Anti-Corrupción (WAC), a website I have previously recommended as having a lot of interesting if ill-supported information about corruption in Venezuela. Derwick has sued WAC for defamation in local court in Miami, demanding “not less than $200 million.” They kindly included a copy of their suit (here is the lawsuit on its own, without attachments). They say WAC defamed Derwick and its leaders with claims of money laundering, fuel smuggling, coltan trafficking, and a whole list of other claims. To be clear here, nobody claims that WAC has anything to do with Devil’s Excrement or with me. The lawyers continue, referring to the Devil’s Excrement story I reposted:
The Article — which contains certain of the false and defamatory statements concerning Plaintiffs that appear on the WAC Website and are the subject of the Action — remains accessible on your website.”
But they don’t tell me what those false or defamatory statements might be. They go on:
The original author of the article has removed that page from the [Devil’s Excrement] website after being informed that the page was littered with false and defamatory information about Plaintiffs. Accordingly we request that you also remove the Article.
So there you have the background to my very simple, and I think diplomatic, response:
I received your note of Sept. 21. If you see something on my website that you think is false or defamatory, please identify the problem as specifically as possible and support your position.
We — you and I, together — will then work out how to deal with the problem. A quick correction or a public chance to reply is often a better solution. Deletion is a last resort, and one that often doesn’t work anyway.
So for starters, just send me a copy of the letter you sent to Devil’s Excrement, ok?
For my earlier, rather less diplomatic response, see Twitter.
UPDATE: I hadn’t seen Alek Boyd’s much more complete article about the nice people at Derwick.