Oatmeal to Charles Carreon: calm down before you get yourself into trouble

Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal has written an open letter to Charles Carreon, the lawyer who threatened to sue him on behalf of FunnyJunk, and has since sued him, online fundraising site IndieGoGo, the American Cancer Society, and the National Wildlife Federation. Inman advises Carreon to take a deep breath and count to ten.

So when did this transform from Oatmeal VS FunnyJunk to Carreon VS the internet? I'm going to take a wild shot in the dark here and guess that it's when you announced to a journalist at MSNBC that you were trying to shut down a charity fundraiser which would benefit cancer victims and endangered wildlife. THAT was the moment when the tide of public opinion focused on you instead of FunnyJunk. I never encouraged anyone to attack, harass, or otherwise contact you. In fact in my original letter I blurred out your contact information and I linked to your Wikipedia page instead of your website. If I've directed energy anywhere it's been to the fundraiser page.

And to anyone else who is reading this: it goes without saying, but stop harassing Carreon. Be lawful and civil in your interactions with him. If you want to help, go donate.

You're upset, I get it. My original response to the FunnyJunk letter was probably humiliating, and following your comments, I gather that you allegedly received a slew of nasty emails and phone calls. People who are upset often say and do very stupid things, and perhaps that's why you told the journalist at MSNBC you were attempting to shut down my fundraiser. Perhaps that's why last night you went ahead and filed a lawsuit against myself, the National Wildlife Federation, and the American Cancer Society.

Your lawsuit is meritless and it'll probably just get dismissed, but I'm guessing you're just going to keep trying until you find an angle that sticks with a judge. My advice: take a few weeks off, stop saying crazy shit to journalists, and come back when you've calmed down. Write an apology to whomever you feel is appropriate, or just don't write anything ever again.

Maybe start your own charity fundraiser as way of apology. I'd donate.

Charles Carreon is officially suing me and and the charities I'm raising money for


  1. This Matthew Inman guy seems like a nice guy.  He’s probably upset that this actually got out of hand and has gone beyond just being a funny prank.  I do have one suggestion for him to further improve his situation and standing.  He should remove the artwork with that guy’s mother trying to seduce the bear.  He’s made his point and it’s no longer necessary.  Scrap that from the fundraiser and definitely don’t send it along to anyone with any kind of purpose. 

    1. But AFAIK, that cartoon was a depiction of a real event and I see no reason for him to remove it. The world deserves a glimpse of his troubled family. It might be the only chance for sympathy he has, and it might explain why he’s after the National Wildlife Federation.

    2. He didn’t draw a picture of “that guy’s mother”. He drew a picture of FunnyJunk’s mother. You can’t really blame Matt Inman for Carreon’s poor reading skills.

      1. Wow look at all the replies I got.  Yay!  

        I meant FunnyJunk’s mother when I wrote “that guy’s mother”.  To remove the artwork was just a suggestion.  Hey, does anyone know if there are BearLove Good Cancer Bad t-shirts?  I know some bears that would love that t-shirt. 

    3. The joke is so blatantly silly that there’s really no reason for anyone to take offense from it.  It’s not like he drew a cartoon about YOUR mother and those  gross slippers she makes from opossum carcasses.  That would be very different.

      This scenario with the bear is obviously fictional.

      1. This is the way I take it, and I’m hyper-sensitive to that kind of thing. It’s unclear whose mother is being talked about, and it’s obvious that it is a sort of meta joke on the “your mamma” type insult. 

      1. I’m slowly changing my mind.  He should send the FunnyJunk guy the postcard of the bear and his mother.  It might be worth something.  In fact, he could probably auction it off and maybe get $20,000 for it. 

    4. I’d say that urging the guy who managed to fall in a hole during his unprovoked attack on you to stop digging gives you enough moral high ground to store a tasteless cartoon or two(especially given the perspective provided by the rest of The Oatmeal canon, which isn’t exactly Sunday morning cartoons material).

      Just in the service of moral clarity and perspective here, let’s remember that Carreon started this with a functionally-extortionate demand for $20,000, lest Legal Bad Things happen.  

      Thankfully, Carreon’s attempt at a shakedown seems to have failed utterly; but let’s not forget who the victim in this case is, or what the stakes that Carreon voluntarily brought to the table were. 20k is serious cash, and defending yourself against even a flimsy lawsuit is very serious business.

    5. The picture as Matthew Inman has stated, and as anyone who reads the response blog as it was meant (directed at FunnyJunk not Carreon, hence him saying “Your Lawyer”) knows the picture was of FunnyJunk CEO’s mother. Carreon is trying to make the whole thing about himself, which is tragic, and sad. http://charles-carreon.com explains this.

      1. OMFG.  (which means, for ‘teh intarnet-not-quite-abled’, Oh My FUCKING God!)That is awesome!!!!!!!!!

        -abs is in awe of your awesomeness, he can’t think of words to describe how awesome Chris Recouvreur is, though he can easily point to Http://charles-carreon.com/ as an example of said awesomeness

    6. I see where you’re coming from, but if we start removing images from the Internet that might offend people I’m not sure what we’d be left with.

      1. I see where you’re coming from, but if we start removing images from the Internet that might offend people I’m not sure what we’d be left with.

        We could replace image pages with a goatse 404. I’m sorry. The page that you’ve requested is missing and has left a gaping hole in the internet.

        1. Give it a day at most, it’s gonna start getting silly:

          The page that you’ve requested is missing and has left with tubgirl to a lemon party in the internet.

          1. The page that you’ve requested is currently eating blue waffles with its mother. Please try again, and bring one cup.

      1. Agreed. Let the functional lawyers take out the dysfunctional lawyers. Really, this is how it should be.

    7. Why are you trying to tell Matthew how to improve his standing?  He’s an internet hero, he’s in the right, he’s logical and supports his facts, and he’s been reasonable and witty throughout.  Oh, and he’s raised close to $200K for charity.  

      1. You know what I find funny?  I’ve been following this from the beginning.  I know the postcard was meant for the FunnyJunk guy.  My whole point was that since he has raised 200K for charity – it makes the the whole bear love postcard irrelevant (and you wouldn’t want to send him anything he could make $$ off of, right?).   In fact, instead of sending the postcard to the funnyjunk guy he should auction it off and donate those proceeds to charity.   I think this has evolved from his original intention (or maybe it was his intention) and therefore it alters his original plan.  But then again, all those people probably gave him $$ partly because of the postcard.  So, Oy Vey!

        1. I suspect if Inman doesn’t do exactly what he said he’d do, Carreon (who has donated) will sue him for not following through.  I think Inman should follow what he said he’d do to the letter to make sure Carreon doesn’t accidentally walk into a case he could actually win.

  2. The Oatmeal is an asshole and it upsets me that this fact is getting lost in all of this.

    1. It’s getting ‘lost in all of this’ because it is orthogonal to the point(as well as not necessarily the case).

      Being an asshole is in poor taste, and may cause your friends/family/etc. to justifiably avoid you; but it isn’t tortious per se

      There are plenty of circumstances where the fact that somebody is an asshole is relevant. This isn’t one of them. Whether he’s a damn saint, or whether he punches disabled children for fun, he’s still being threatened with meritless lawsuits for acts of protected speech.

          1. It’s reverse sexism, doncha know?  Poor first-world Internet-using white men can’t catch a break these days.

            EDIT: Enki points out that iaintthick is apparently referring to a completely different comic. The one he likely meant is indeed sexist and ignorant. And as Jer_oo pointed out, when its sexism and ignorance was pointed out to him, he listened, accepted that he had be seriously wrong, and apologized meaningfully and with considerable humility. That’s no mean feat – anyone can accept in the fullness of time that they were wrong; it takes some serious moral fiber to publicly admit you were wrong in a very short time of having it pointed out to you.

          1.  Jeebus – if that’s what the original poster meant then I wish we had more assholes like The Oatmeal on the Internet.

            I mean confronted by the fact that he was not only wrong he was SERIOUSLY WRONG – that he actually had gamer culture exactly backwards when it came to women gamers – he didn’t double down he actually apologized.  And he didn’t not-pologize in a “I’m sorry you were offended” type of way, he actually acknowledged he was talking out of his ass about something he didn’t know about and ponied up a donation to a charity to help abused women.

            If all assholes on the Internet were that kind of asshole, this whole place would be classed up by about a thousand percent.

          2. Oh, that’s such a load of bullshit (the accusation of sexism, I mean). So it’s a “stupid” gamer. And that gamer happens to be a chick. So what? Aren’t chicks allowed to be stupid any more? Only guys get to be stupid? When did this happen? I know some men and some women. Some of which are gamers. And some of which are stupid. Their sex isn’t really the deciding factor there.
            In my opinion the comic isn’t sexist (though maybe stereotypical). The accusations are sexist, though. Not to mention the rank aftertaste of PC.

            Edit: oops, seems I missed a part of that comic…never mind me. I’ll get my coat.

          3. Yeah, he was wrong… and insensitive… and he admitted it, apologized, and reconsidered. That kind of makes him look like the opposite of an asshole to me.

        1.  If a cartoonist did not, occasionally, create an image that offended me, I probably would start losing interest in that cartoonist’s work.

          1.  If somebody’s cartoon offends me because they’re trying to say something important and I disagree with them, that’s fine.  Oatmeal’s often crude just because he thinks that crudeness is funny, and doesn’t have South Park’s level of skill with it. 

            On the other hand, he can also be really really good.  There’s enough good stuff on his site to make it worth wading through the offensive crap.  And while the cartoon about FunnyJunk’s mom was offensive, Carreon and FunnyJunk did deserve to be offended.

        2. Maybe take this as a learning moment: people are neither entirely heroes nor entirely villains.

          Except that guy who’s suing that cancer charity.

        3. To be fair, he apologized for that comic later. He also admitted that his experience of the situation was based primarily on Steam gaming where, it’s true, the idiocy does tend more toward the “OMG marry me” rather than “OMG die whore.”

        4. He apologised – meaningfully apologised – and flat out said his comic was wrong and then donated to a domestic violence charity to add to his apology.

          All people make mistakes. Not all people apologise for their mistakes.
          You might want to mull that over.

        5. My definition of hero doesn’t include “…and they never offended anyone, even once”.  You might consider that when you look at your own collection of heroes.  If you have any.

    2. He is a bit of an asshole, but Carreon is goatse[.]cx, and yeah, you can completely get lost in that.

  3. Grammar fix for clarity’s sake: remove the comma after “FunnyJunk” or change the subsequent clause to “and *who* has since sued him.” As-is, the first paragraph parses as though it were Inman who were following up with some lawsuits. It’s clear from the wider context, but I had to reread after gasping in shock at the apparent news.

  4. I’m not convinced that politely asking an irrationally angry person to calm down is going to have the desired effect in this instance. It is nice that he’s tried though.

    1. Sometimes being “nice” is just a way to taunt someone. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem to take much to taunt Charles Carreon into a lawsuit frenzy.

  5.  @iaintthick:disqus How is the Oatmeal an asshole? He got upset when someone stole his material and got more upset when they decided to try to extort $20000 from him for calling them out on it. How dare he???

  6. I’m wondering if someone representing FunnyJunk can ethically sue Matthew Inman on his own behalf–isn’t there a potential conflict of interest? What if it isn’t in FunnyJunk’s interest to do so? I wonder if there could be any potential malpractice involved? It just seems wrong on so many levels.

  7. One interesting facet I didn’t notice til reading it at Ars (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/06/angry-internet-lawyer-sues-the-oatmeal-bears-and-cancer-research/ ) is that IndieGoGo takes a 4% cut of the raised money.  So Carreon’s charge that they’re improperly running a commercial fundraiser, while misguided, may technically be correct.  And how many donors realized up front that 4% of their money is going to IndieGoGo, while they could’ve just donated 100% directly to the charities instead?

    1. Hmm. I’d think that the mythical “Reasonable Person” would assume that they were taking *some* percentage, even if it was unknown (as they aren’t primarily a charitable fundraising foundation, but a for-profit crowdfunding site). I doubt that IndieGoGo goes out of their way to hide the fact. Sure, they probably don’t put it on the front page but it’s probably pretty high up in their T&C. Whether that has anything to do with Carreon’s charge or not is a completely different matter, he might be able to convince a judge that in this instance they’re operating as a commercial charitable venture even though they’re not participating in the charity itself.

    2. I’m pretty sure that any third party donation tool takes a cut, otherwise how would they exist? You can’t pay rent and bills with love and cuddles.

    3. EVERY fundraiser costs money. Whether run directly by a charity or otherwise, EVERY fundraiser consumes resources. The only way to approach near 100% efficiency in your donation dollars is to hand money directly to the charity yourself, unprovoked. If you saw a commerical or an advertisement, they spent money to get your dollars.

      How is he going to collect that money in order to give it to the charities? Every money transfer service takes a fee. Getting it all in the mail requires the donors to pay to ship it, then will take a huge amount of time to coalate it all (and document it, because the government will rapidly become interested if that much money moves around without documentation) and then he has to still transfer it to the charity.

      Fund raising doesn’t happen magically. 4% is actually an astoundingly low level of administrative overhead. Every charity I’ve worked with would weep to have administration costs that low.

      1. IndieGoGo themselves are not a charity, though, so their 4% administrative overhead has no bearing on the admin overhead of the charities themselves.  He could have told his readers to simply donate directly to the charities so that 100% of their money would have gone to the charities, and none of it into some third party’s coffers.

        On the other hand, one could argue that the use if IndieGoGo encouraged far and away more donating than would’ve happened had he asked for donations directly to the charities.  It still seems like IGG taking a cut should’ve been mentioned somewhere, though.

        Back to the point, though, Carreon may be correct:  this is a fundraiser which is netting pure profit for some non-charitable organization (IndieGoGo), and the fundraiser/organization may not be correctly registered in California to do so.

        And yes, I agree that it is extremely petty.

        1.  It’s also netting profit for PayPal or whatever credit card you use to donate money.  Not a problem there either.

          1. The services of Visa/MasterCard/PayPal aren’t being used to advertise fundraisers.  It’s a completely different thing, altogether.

            “It’s a completely different thing.”
            – Everybody

  8. The problem with this letter (if Carreon is anything like I suspect) is that it makes it impossible for Carreon to step down. Inman has solidified himself as the bigger man, so no matter what course Carreon takes he’ll either look like a coward, or an idiot.

    Not that he didn’t bring it on himself.

    1. Litigate, Litigate, do it for the blogs
      Empty suits make the most noise
      You’re always on the move
      You’ve always got something to prove

      What the fuck are you writing for?
      Is it because you’re five foot eleven?
      You better be happy with what you’ve got
      You’ll never get any more

      You laugh at a man when he tries
      You’re trying to make up for your size
      To you life is a rivalry
      Keep a step ahead of me


  9. charlie sheen was interesting right up until he went too far with source material that was of limited interest to most people… don’t make the same mistake, oatmeal guy.

    1. Do you think the Oatmeal is the batshit, crazy lawyer? Because, while wrong, that’s the only way I can get your sentence to make sense.

  10. Dear Mr. Carreon,

    Seek professional help.  It’s time to get your meds adjusted.

    1. I understand that pancuronium can do wonders for people who don’t know when to shut up.

  11. in the sewer of American celebrity “culture”  there are many eddies and currents.  This particular bit of carrion is a floater at the end of an undistinguished career. What to do? Aha! In the Westborian tradition of any publicity is good notoriety, handfuls of dung are thrown into the windmill – people notice, existence is validated and perhaps money later made in the book and  movie (there IS one born every minute after all).

    Best it just be flushed and forgotten, let the court shysters deal with it, flush it now and wash very thoroughly.

  12. BearLove Good/Cancer Bad just topped $200,000 in money raised.  Ten times Inman’s original goal.

  13. All this nonsense would’ve ended if the Oatmeal guy sued Funnyjunk for copyright infringement right from the start. 

  14. I’ll be disappointed if The Oatmeal doesn’t actually take a photo of himself on top of the money.

    Though I guess a drawing will do.

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