Cross: Marc Randazza, First Amendment Badass

Feb. 17, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — Ed. Note:  Scott Greenfield crosses Marc Randazza, practicing nationwide out of Las Vegas, Nevada, and writing for Popehat and the Legal Satyricon.

Q. Before you decided to wreak havoc upon the law, you were a journalist coming out of college. What made you turn to journalism? How did that work out for you?  What about your journalism career made you say to yourself, “for a journalist, I’d make a damn good lawyer”?

A. In high school, I only had one teacher that I really got along with – my writing teacher. So that gave me an instant interest in journalism.  I thought that Hunter S. Thompson and Ernest Hemingway were great role models.  So, I majored in journalism because I thought it would be a good major for someone who liked to write and drink gin.

There was one problem, though. There was a mandatory class in J-school that met on Friday mornings at 9 AM. That was incompatible with my lifestyle, which commanded that weekends began on Thursday and ended on Tuesday – and no classes before noon.  So, I took a detour, changing my major multiple times.  At one point, I majored in “Social Thought and Political Economy.”  This was a major that only existed at UMass.  Today, you’d call it, “SJW studies.”  As much as I liked the revolutionary aspect of it, even back then, I started to realize that these people were fucking nuts.

I didn’t really learn much in the first few years of college. I was there to drink, do drugs, and chase girls. Despite my requests, UMass wouldn’t give me college credit for that though, so I flunked out.

When I managed to come back, they got rid of that 9 AM course in the J-School, so I went back to journalism. Then, I took a course, Journalism and Law.  That was the first time I was academically exposed to the First Amendment.  And, that was the first time that a professor showed any interest in me, or told me that I had any promise.  Karen List.  She saved my life.  From there, I thought “I want to be a First Amendment lawyer.” I buckled down, and was an A student from then on.

Once I graduated, life took me on a few detours. I decided to work in journalism a bit, writing for Italian newspapers, doing some correspondent work in Rome and Palermo.  I couldn’t really make much of a living at that though, and started writing and working on fishing boats, merchant marine ships, all over the world.  I actually started mailing out applications when I would hit port calls.

So, it was more that I considered journalism to be my pre-law experience than I was a journalist who decided to become a lawyer.

Q. One of your inspirations for going to Georgetown Law was the movie, The People vs. Larry Flynt, which explains far more about you than anyone likely cares to know. What is it about Larry Flynt that caught your attention? Would you rather be the Hustler or repesent him?  Did you have a particular interest in obscenity law?  And with that in mind, a Jesuit school?  Was Georgetown amenable to someone with your interest in the First Amendment?

A. Remember in undergrad that I spent some time in that “SJW studies” major? As a college left-wing radical, we all knew that the Right wanted to take away our free speech rights.

But, around that time, I learned how vicious anti-free-speech feminists and the left could be. I learned that I believed in the First Amendment as a value in itself, untethered from any political polarity.

I saw how the lawyers who represented Flynt, and Flynt himself, stood up for freedom of expression against the left and the right. I also noticed through law school that the cases that were the most constitutionally interesting happened to be ones dealing with erotic expression.

Georgetown was not a place I would call friendly toward the First Amendment. However, that had nothing to do with the Jesuits. In fact, the Jesuits were great – I became quite good friends with those that I spent any time with. The real problem at Georgetown was that it had “social justice warrior” mentality as well. The prevailing view there was that if it was speech that made someone upset, it should not necessarily be protected.

For example, I was drinking in a bar one night with some classmates, and one of them suggested that I run for the Student Bar Association. I had zero interest in the SBA, but he pulled out a copy of the Washington City Paper, and there was an article about penile implants. There was a picture of a guy with a quote that said, “you could hit my penis with a sledgehammer, and I wouldn’t even feel it. – Fred C., unsatisfied penile implant customer.” My buddy tore that page out, slapped it on a sheet of paper, and underneath wrote “Vote for Marco, 100% real, No insensitive dick.”   He said, “there’s your campaign poster.”

I agreed. We put the posters up everywhere on campus, and the Women’s Legal Alliance went around and tore them down, because they were “offensive to women.” Then I got called down to some dean’s office, where I got scolded for being “offensive.” And, in my mind I was thinking, “you were lucky to get in here, just go along to get along… say you’re sorry, and move on…” But, what came out of my mouth was “are you fucking shitting me? This is the eve before an election, and because these harpies are pissed off at their fathers, my political speech is being censored, and you want an apology from ME?” I was asked to leave the room, and I heard the sounds of a pretty heated argument inside, and then the WLA cow had to apologize to me. And, I got my posters put back up.

That’s when I started to realize that I really did want to be a First Amendment lawyer… and that I was likely to have clashes with the left-leaning anti-speech forces as much as I might have to confront the “religious right” as portrayed in the People v. Larry Flynt.

Q. After you got your law degree, you chose to head down to Florida for a masters in mass communications. Were you having second thoughts about law? You wrote your thesis on “vote pairing,” which turned out to be enormously timely in the 2004 elections. What did that do for you? Was it worth the time after law school to get a masters degree?  Has it helped you as a lawyer?

A. Actually, I decided to do the masters there because I wanted to do more academic work in media law – and UF had a great program for that. My undergraduate mentor suggested that I might enjoy working with Bill Chamberlin, a great communications law scholar who was there at the time.   I got offered a fellowship, and thought it would be a lot of fun – and it was. While I was there, I joined the bike racing team. I also got a big grant from the student government to revive the UF skydiving team, so I spent a lot of time jumping out of airplanes, reading First Amendment law, and riding bikes. Who the fuck wouldn’t want to do that for a few years?

I did find that UF was a lot more tolerant than Georgetown. I took a few classes in the law school there, and I was struck by how much better the classes were – professors who actually wanted to know you, and professors who wanted to teach you. The contrast was day and night.

The success of my thesis was shit luck. I started writing my thesis on how evil the RIAA was for trying to enforce copyright law. But, as I did my research and writing, my position on that changed 100%. As I kept looking at the problem, I realized that my view boiled down to what a lot of people think — “boo hoo, people don’t want me to steal.” Once I realized how full of shit I was on that, I lost my passion for the project after a year of working on it.

At about the same time, the “Vote Swapping” thing popped up. I thought it was interesting as hell. It was political speech and coalition building online. It had everything except porn, as far as a fun First Amendment topic. So, I called my thesis advisor and told him that I wanted to change my topic, after a year of work, and three weeks before a major draft was due. He was pretty exasperated with me, for good reason, but told me he would bless the change.

So I hunkered down for three weeks in the J-school computer lab, and ate every meal from the vending machines there. I did not sleep much, nor even see the outside world, but I got a really good draft done. Then, it was perfect timing, because I figured that the 2000 election results would mean that I could just slap on one of two pre-written conclusions.

And then we sat there all night long waiting for the election to be called.

And then the legal challenges started. I was just in the right place, at the right time. All the usual suspects who were going to write about the election ran like moths to the flame on the core issues, leaving a big issue like this as unoccupied territory – allowing a new scholar like me to write and publish on it. I got my thesis published.

Then, in 2004, it looked like this would be an issue again. I updated the thesis for 2004, and got another publication out of it.

The publications I got from that got me on Fox News. And one thing led to another, and the attention from being the “Liberal foil” on Fox plus the publications (one of which got cited by the 9th Circuit) led to me establishing an early name for myself in First Amendment law.

So yeah, I would say it was worth it. The Masters was worth it for a few reasons. Mostly, I learned more about writing and First Amendment law in that program than I did in law school. Bill Chamberlin really took me under his wing, and taught me more about scholarship than I ever thought I could know. I made great friends and connections there. I thought the legal education at Georgetown was mediocre. But, the UF faculty, both in the J-School and the law school, was much more focused on developing us as students, and creating community. I wouldn’t have given that experience up for anything.

And, funny enough, as much as I shit on law professors without legal experience, the best law professor I ever had was Bill – who didn’t even have a JD. But, he is really the one who taught me legal writing, and he was the one who inspired me to publish scholarship for the sheer love of it, and who gave me the skills to keep doing so.

Q. You were an adjunct professor at Barry School of Law for a while, teaching First Amendment, Copyright and Trademark law. How did you like teaching? Did you consider going the tenure route? What was your sense of others in the legal academy?  You’ve been critical of academics for keeping to themselves and engaging in a “circle jerk,” refusing to engage with people outside their clique. What is your problem with scholars?  Are they as smart as they think they are? Are they in touch with reality?  Do they use their scholarly credentials to serve less than savory purposes with their social and political agendas?  And how did they react to your challenges?

A. I loved teaching. But, I knew that teaching at Barry, I was looking at a class full of students who were not going to be treated kindly by the shrinking job market. So, I did everything I could to give them practical training – I wanted them to have an edge. I remembered the contrast between my professors at Georgetown, who seemed to only teach so that they could promote their publications, and my professors at UF who seemed to really want to be “teachers.”

I tried my best to emulate the latter. And, I tried my best to help my students not only learn the theory, but to learn the practice. For example, I made them all bill for their time on their papers, so they could learn how to actually practice law.

Another thing I enjoyed was actually fostering debate and challenging ideas there. I taught a seminar on the Free Exercise clause, and I had a student in there who was an Evangelical Christian – I made no secret of the fact that I am a militant Atheist. When that kid booked the class, he came to me and said he was shocked – that he was hoping for, at best, a B-, because I never agreed with anything he said. I explained to him that he wasn’t graded on how much he agreed with me – but by how well he articulated his own position and how well he knew the material.

I did consider going the tenure route. In fact, I went through the interview process for a few rounds, until I finally decided it wasn’t for me. Two things made me change my mind: First, one of the professors on the committee told me that using current events and a sense of humor in teaching was a bad idea, because I might “trigger” someone. The example she used was how she knew someone who had used the O.J. Simpson trial as an exam question, and a woman in her class who had been abused by her husband ran out of the room in tears – so you never know when you might “trigger” someone.

My response to that was, “give me a break.” Yes, you should care about your students’ experiences and value them. You don’t make rape jokes or jokes about the Holocaust, but that’s because that’s just douchey. But, there is a point where we can’t just say “never include current events” and “never make a joke” because everything will flip someone out.

With a media event that is on every network, every radio station, every website, for all that time – and you can’t handle an exam question that mentions O.J. Simpson? That says something about your mental health. If we are going to temper our sense of humor to that low of a risk tolerance, we might as well hang up any hope of trying to communicate at all. Maybe we should be more careful about who we let in to law school, if someone is going to run out of an exam hyperventilating if we mention O.J. Simpson on an exam.

Second, they told me that they didn’t like how much practical experience I had, and they wanted me to cease practicing if I was going to teach. I said “what sense does that make?” They explained that the preference was for professors who had not been “tainted” by more than three years of practical experience – and I was already past that. I told them that there was no way I was going to cease practicing, because that was the greatest source of teaching material you could ever have. That did not go over well with all of the committee.

I found my colleagues at Barry to be pretty cool, but in general, I think only about a quarter of full time academics have any business teaching law students anything. The whole academy is built on bullshit. When you have law professors who never took the bar exam, and the average actual experience practicing law is less than three years, what is this entire institution based upon?

Q. You are renowned for your cautious use of delicate language, particularly the word “fuck” wherever possible. Some have called you vulgar, but others say that you’re making a point, that words are just words, and you’re doing what Lenny Bruce tried to do in the ’60s, to inure people to words they find offensive rather than to censor words. Which is it? Are you a foul-mouthed cretin, or is there method to your madness?  Is it helping, or are things getting worse with the efforts to silence “hate speech,” micro-aggressions and offensive language?

A. Lenny Bruce said “Take away the right to say ‘fuck’ and you take away the right to say ‘fuck the government.'” I love that.

And, I know that I am often using “salty” language. I did not grow up “upper class.” I grew up in a fishing town, the son of a guy who fixed air conditioners, the grandson of fishermen, in a very working class town. “Fuck” is punctuation for us. I love how these soft-handed academic pussies have a big problem with me speaking in my home vernacular, but they’d call anyone racist who complained about someone from a black neighborhood throwing in a little bit of their vernacular. Or if someone shit on someone for tossing in a little bit of Yiddish into their speech. You say “shmuck,” I say “fuckhead.”

I wish I could say that I’m half the fucking visionary that Lenny Bruce was, but I just speak from the heart, and sometimes that heart says “fuck you.” I spent a few years trying to be someone I’m not. I tried using soft academic language. I tried “code switching.” I didn’t like it. I’m a working class Sicilian from a fishing town in New England, suck my salty cock if you want me to talk like some fucking pussy from wherever the fuck land.

Does it help? It helps in some ways. For example, I have never met anyone who said, “I’m ambivalent about Randazza.” Yes, it turns some people off. Well, I think those people would be turned off by me after they got to know me better even if I toned it down. I know it turns some people off, but I’m pretty sure that there’s nobody in the world who dislikes me who would like me if I’d just stop using indelicate language. I don’t know anyone who is ambivalent about me.

At the same time, I get mail from people who appreciate that I bring the law down to a more proletarian level. You know, there was a time when they burned people at the stake for translating the Bible into English, because “the people” shouldn’t be reading the word of god – it should be given to them by the priests.

So, I understand that the academics think that maybe only their over-privileged pussy students should learn the law from their over privileged namby pamby mouths. But, “sir, I am incredulous as to your disingenuous notion” is how they say it. “You’re full of shit” makes a lot more sense, and gets right to the point.

Q. As a lawyer, you’ve been on both sides of the copyright debate, going after copyright trolls like Righthaven, but also seeking to enforce copyright on behalf of your clients, most notably in the porn industry. Is this just a lawyer doing his job, or is there a principle at stake here? Which side do you back, the enforcers of copyright or those victimized by the trolls?

A. I don’t think that copyright is a “you’re with us or you’re against us” formula. I realize that there are a lot of fucking idiots out there who are religious zealots when it comes to copyright. Remember my original thesis? I thought, “copyright bad.” Why? Because I loved downloading gigabytes worth of “free” music from Napster, and I was pissed when it had to shut down.

And so as I attacked that issue, I realized that the “freetards” are really full of shit. Yeah, copyright maximalism sucks. I hate the fact that copyright terms are so long – I think they should be subject to a 25 year term and a 25 year renewal term, which can’t be bought or sold until after the renewal. I think Fair Use should be beefed up to a real goddamned right. I think that orphaned works should automatically drop into the public domain.

At the same time, I think that rampant piracy sucks. It hasn’t just hurt the big companies, who I give no fucks about. Its hardest impact has been on small producers. Ultimately, it means less small producers, less small productions, less diversity of thought. So, every time some fucking asshole steals and redistributes a small-batch film, its not like they’re stealing a hamburger from McDonalds, its like they’re stealing an artisanal dry aged Elk steak from some one-location restaurant. You shouldn’t do either, but if the food industry had a 20% chew-and-screw rate, do you think we would have anything but chain restaurants?

That’s going to be the ultimate result from unchecked piracy. Big companies will still be able to extract money from their businesses – but new entrants and diverse entrants will be locked out.

When it comes to copyright, I refuse to take a “side” on the enforcement vs. defense divide. I see no “divide” there. The law is the law. I think that some aspects of the law should be changed, but I’m not the legislature. I enforce the law on my clients’ part when I am called upon to do so, and I defend my clients when called upon to do that.

In Righthaven, I thought what they were doing was wrong, and a perversion of copyright, so I greatly enjoyed defending that set of cases. On the other hand, I understood that the news business is tanking because it can’t monetize the way it could before.

I’ve encountered plenty of crybabies who cheered when I defended Righthaven victims, but got very bent out of shape when I enforced copyrights on behalf of porn companies. What they didn’t see is that I actually defended a number of “torrent” cases too – when I thought there was an important principle in play, or just when a client called upon me to.

For example, in one case, a defendant called me because he knew that I did a lot of these cases for the plaintiffs. He presumed that since I did the plaintiff side a lot, I’d know the playbook well. He was right, and I defended him quite well. I can’t discuss the actual settlement, but lets just say that he was quite grateful. In another case, I took on a client pro bono because I thought that he had a very interesting argument. The defense lawyers all thought that dividing defendants on improper joinder arguments was the best strategy – I thought that keeping defendants together allows them to join forces. That worked well in that case as well, as it wound up getting my client out for nothing.

On the other hand, I brought lots of torrent cases on behalf of a client because, as I said in the press at the time, that client was losing money left and right because of widespread piracy.  The company demanded that I put an end to it. I did my duty, and did it damn well, and it laughed all the way to the bank. They’ve subsequently said that they didn’t want to do those cases, and that it was all my doing – now that this narrative suits them. But, I’ll say here and now that this is total bullshit. In fact, I’m the one that shut them down, when I felt thought it was a bad idea.

Q. You were general counsel to a gay porn filmmaker for quite a while, until the relationship went south when you complained about their shooting a movie in your law office. Any qualms about your choice of client? In dealing with First Amendment law, there is certainly a concern in assuring that broadest possible use of free speech and expression be maintained, but that doesn’t mean you have to get too cozy with the porn industry. In retrospect, would you do it again? Is there anything you would do differently?  You got very close, some would say too close, to your client. Have you learned from that?

A. Yes, I was. I have no qualms about having chosen to represent a porn company. That company in particular? Yes. I recall wanting to fire them as a client before being their GC, but before I did so, they made me a very lucrative offer to come in as GC. I was a new dad, and the offer was too good to turn down.

Then, I actually got to be very good friends with the CEO, which put me in a bad spot. I tend to have personal friendships with my clients, and that led me, at least then, to not do “cover my ass” letters on every conversation. When you eat 5-6 meals a week with someone, you tend not to then run back to your desk and write a letter confirming the conversation. It just comes off as you’re spending more time covering your ass than actually doing work.

Of course, sometimes you have friends who you see acting like complete douchebags, and you think, “I’m different, I’m his friend.” That’s delusional. If they act like douchebags to everyone else, it will eventually be your turn.

Since that experience, it doesn’t matter to me if I’m representing a family member – they get CYA letters. Also, I’ve decided that the moment I realize that a client is trouble, I get rid of them. And when I have friends who act like douchebags toward other people, I get rid of them – because I don’t want to wait for it to be my turn again.

Q. You’ve handled some very well-known internet cases, including one in which I was a defendant, Rakofsky v. Internet. But that has also put you in touch with some of the internet’s craziest denizens. Were the cases interesting? Was it cool to become an internet legend as a First Amendment Badass? What about the crazies? Did you realize just how many crazies would go gunning for you, and to what extremes they would go? And not just you, but your family. Are the crazies on the internet out of control?

A. The cases were really interesting. I loved the Rakofsky case, not so much because I liked what was happening, but it allowed me to represent a bunch of people who I really respected. When the “gang of 15” or however many of you hired me, most of that group of defendants were people I looked up to, mentors of mine. When people who you admire say, “I want you to be my lawyer,” it really gives you a lot of confidence. But, it also kicked me in the ass to be a lot better. I didn’t have the luxury of not being on my A++ game every day in that case.

The other high profile cases I’ve done have really been enjoyable, not because of the attention, but because I get calls from young lawyers who say, “can you spend some time teaching me?”

Being an “internet legend?” I don’t even know what that means. Sure, I think it is funny when I do something like the Glenn Beck case or the Julien Blanc takedown or sticking up for Amy Alkon against the TSA. But, remember that for every bit of attention you get, you get negative attention too. So, yeah, being well known means being well known by everyone – not just people you like.

Along the way, I picked up stalkers, one of whom famously tried to extort me, and that lunatic is still in my life. I’ve got a few others who are obsessed with me. Eventually, you just let it roll off your back. It does suck when desperate lowlives target your family, and I realize that I’ll have people like that around for a long time. It isn’t just the well known ones either. When you work as a high profile lawyer, there are a lot of desperate losers out there who would suck poison from Hitler’s dick to be in my position, and they get jealous and bitter when they see you successful. Then they start attacking you.

I won’t say it didn’t bother me at first, but eventually it sorta just becomes background noise. In fact, sometimes it even helps your career. For example, recently someone wrote a hit piece on me, hoping to hurt me. Then, I got hired by a really great client. I asked them what made them call me, and they told me, “I read this really stupid article about you, where the author clearly had sand in his pussy about you, so it made me do more research, and I decided that we wanted you on our side.” So, sometimes I have to thank the douchebags in my life.

Q. You were involved early in the move to end revenge porn, by going after Craig Brittain and Chance Trahan, who ran the notorious website, IsAnybodyDown. Since then, a cottage industry has arisen, led by a couple of law professors, together with a small organization called the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. As someone who started the fight, where do you stand on their goal of criminalizing revenge porn? They also argue that male bullying and harassment silences women’s voices, so it too must be stopped. How does that square with your view of free speech?  They’ve also called for the elimination of Section 230 of the Communications Act, the “safe harbor” for websites, so that they can penalize websites for content posted by others. Do you agree that it’s time to end the safe harbor?

A. Regarding revenge porn, I took down three of the biggest purveyors of that shit. I made nothing on the cases, and never expected to. I have given hundreds of hours of pro bono time to the victims, and I’m really proud of that. I really don’t think that the “Cyber Civil Rights” crowd has their heads on right. They do have some brilliant women in that group, some of whom I call friends. I really admire Erica Johnstone, for example. But, I think collectively, that group is awful. It is more of a group devoted to hating on men than solving problems. For example, one truth they refuse to acknowledge is that most revenge porn gets posted by women. Most online harassment comes from women. But, they have a few dipshit academics who taught them to just re-define words to mean what you want them to mean, and then an email that says “hi” turns into “harassment.”

As far as bullying silencing women’s voices? I’m not entirely at odds with that notion – but what I disagree with is the lie that this is a male vs. female thing. Come on, the biggest fucking lunatics on the web are women. Men get bored really fast. Women will focus on a target for years. I’ll say this, I haven’t had a straight male stalker. It isn’t men who attacked my wife and my three year old daughter. And it sure as shit wasn’t any “cyber civil rights” harpy that spoke up and said it was wrong when it happened. Not one of them. So, while I do like a few of its members, I think that organization has no credibility, and no honor.

That all said, I do think that Section 230 goes too far. I defend the living shit out of my clients who depend on it, but before I take a 230 client, I have a talk with them – I make sure that I am convinced that they don’t just say, “fuck you, Section 230,” when they’re confronted with real abuse. Unfortunately, a lot of the Silicon Valley companies refuse to have that principled of a position. And, when they just didn’t give a shit, it was bad enough. But, they’ve lately started taking the Cyber Civil Rights position – meaning, if it is a woman complaining, they’ll shut it down.   But, when it’s a woman or a minority doing the harassing, that’s just “redistributive justice.” So, now 230 went from a shield for companies that didn’t give a shit, to an actual political tool. That’s not a good thing.

Q. Your litigation approach comes from Caesar’s maxim, murum aries attigit, “the ram has touched the wall.”  One might call that a scorched earth approach, that once someone has pushed the button, there is no backing off and you go for broke. Where did that come from? It’s a bit of an inflexible approach to litigation, but one that could well scare the crap out of your adversaries if you’ve got the chops to pull it off. Has it helped or hurt you? Do you sometimes wish you had taken a softer, more flexible approach to litigation? Has your “tough guy” approach to litigation ever turned around on you and bitten you in the butt?  Do you have any regrets for going out on a limb to be that First Amendment Badass that the internet loves (or hates)?

A. Murum Aries Attigit. That phrase gets batted around a lot with my name attached to it. But, what does it really mean?

Caesar described the concept in Commentarii de Bello Gallico. It literally translates to “the ram has touched the wall.” The “ram” meaning a battering ram, and “the wall” meaning a besieged city’s outer defenses. Under Roman Law, a general had the right to offer any terms to a besieged city. As long as the city submitted, the terms could be quite favorable. The Romans were quite civilized in this regard, and dispensing quite favorable, even beneficial, terms was not uncommon. Why destroy a city if you can turn it into an ally?

Of course, these terms were not available indefinitely. Diplomacy ended once the first battering ram touched the city’s walls. Then, the general was legally prohibited from offering any terms except complete destruction.

It is well known that this is my personal motto in litigation. I announced it in Righthaven, for example. And, the rest is history as the company now no longer exists.  I announced it in the Roca Labs case.  It didn’t work out well for them.

If only they had accepted the really reasonable terms they were offered before the ram touched the wall.

But my most proud achievements while employing Murum Aries Attigit are those that nobody will ever hear about. They are cases where my clients authorized me to offer ludicrously generous terms, the other side accepted, and no metaphoric blood was shed. I wish I could talk about those, but usually they come along with confidentiality agreements. Suffice to say that I love those. Client gets a four figure bill instead of a six figure one. About half the time, the opposing party winds up calling me to represent them within a year or two.

As an example, I once represented a party that got a ridiculous defamation demand. My personal desire was to utterly destroy the other party — and I had all the tools with which to do so. The allegedly defamatory statements were quite problematic for the plaintiff, but I had a full report from an official source proving each of them exactly true. The report was a public record but not one that the plaintiff thought we could find. We found it. Nevertheless, I am proud to say that we ultimately settled the matter, with my client even writing a check to the plaintiff. Why? It was smart. The client paid less than the cost of a motion to dismiss, or even a small discovery skirmish. The plaintiff’s lawyer could not believe his good luck in not getting dashed against the rocks. Client thanked me.

Of course, there is always the fool who thinks that favorable terms are a sign of weakness, or that some terms are not favorable enough. “Just walk away” is often something that gets put on the table. But, we always have a Stercus Caput who will think that Murum Aries Attigit means blind aggression, or even that it contains a component of anger. Nothing could be further from the truth

Murum Aries Attigit is an excuse for diplomacy and mercy, not a philosophy of “take no prisoners.” Anyone who sees it that way is an idiot.

As far as going out on a limb… I have mixed feelings. The moment I became a somewhat public figure, I realized that it would be hard to go back. Back in 2013, I moved to Italy for a while. All of a sudden, nobody knew who the fuck I was, nobody was impressed by me. I was anonymous again. And, I sort of liked it. But, I look at what I do as a calling, and I don’t get to choose whether I’m in that gladiatorial sand or not. This is the path that fate put me on, and I’m not likely to get off it any time soon. Do some people hate me? Sure, so what? Fuck them. You think I give a fuck about some cowardly little shit who hides behind a VPN to say snarky shit about me?

You know what I like about my life? There’s not a motherfucker in this world who ever says, “I’m ambivalent about Marc Randazza.” That is what scares me… people being ambivalent about me.

Has it bitten me in the ass? Sure. You can’t win every case.

The first time I had a big loss, a friend sent me this quote by Theodore Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

That really resonated with me. Even when I’ve taken a beating, I remember that and I know that I’m not ever going to be the sorry sonofabitch who knows neither victory nor defeat, and I won’t ever be called “timid.”

9 comments on “Cross: Marc Randazza, First Amendment Badass

  1. CLS

    I honestly want my next tattoo to read “Murum Aries Attigit”after reading this.

    Question to Marc: When you write your response letters to the idiots you’ve had to deal with, they’ve always been entertaining to read but eventually reach a very salient point that needs discussing within the context of the letter.

    How long did it take you to mix your personal blend of humor, legal analysis, and artful use of profanity to get to this point?

  2. Marc Randazza

    CLS,

    How long did it take you to mix your personal blend of humor, legal analysis, and artful use of profanity to get to this point?

    Thank you for the question, but I think it presupposes that I’m “doing it right.” Some might say, with a very valid point, that I am not.

    Also, you’re talking about the response letters you’ve seen. Think about the hundreds I write where that is not appropriate, for whatever reason. I can do “quiet mode.” Sometimes, those are the best ones — the ones where the matter ends because I get the parties together.

    So, bottom line is, don’t be so impressed by the crazy fun ones.

    But, the answer is, “my whole life so far.”

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  4. Cornflake S. Pecially

    Did you have a chance to ask that Greenfield guy why he doesn’t groom his upper lip, and you seem pretty young to have been overwhelmed by John Lyndon during your formative years. What gives?

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