On Zebras, lawsuits, and mobs

First off, this is my opinion. It may or may not be anyone else’s here. So don’t go off the handle if you disagree.

You know about the whole "Zebra" lawsuit thing, right? Real estate trainer Denise Lones (who publishes "The Zebra Report" and the "Zebra Blog") is suing our own Daniel Rothamel ("The Real Estate Zebra") over the use of the striped animal.

A lot of folks think Lones is wrong — that is, that she shouldn’t win such a suit. There are a lot of reasons for this: they don’t compete, they’re on opposite sides of the country, etc. And I agree with that. I think she shouldn’t win the suit.

But you know what? Just because I think she’s wrong doesn’t give me the right to try to destroy her business in retaliation for filing the suit.

Now, if she was trying to ruin Daniel’s business, or hurt his family, or do something truly mean, maybe you could excuse an online lynch mob. But — and I apologize if you disagree — the penalty for "filing a lawsuit against someone you like" shouldn’t be "destruction of your business."

I’m not saying people shouldn’t refuse to use Lones’s services (although the people boycotting seem to be the people who said they never heard of her). And I’m not saying you shouldn’t encourage others to avoid her. Or even create a Facebook page in his defense. But there’s a limit.

Even NAR’s Todd Carpenter called Daniel’s defenders "an angry mob" — and then admitted? bragged? that he was a part of it.

Here’s an excerpt from an Inman "soon-to-be-behind-the-paywall" News story:

On the Google place page for The Lones Group, one anonymous commenter also threatened to boycott other companies that hire Lones.

"Want to be boycotted? Hire them," an individual stated. "There is currently a boycott of them and anyone who hires them being planned by the most influential real estate professionals and consumer groups."

A Denver-based consultant who offers website design services to real estate professionals, Knox Richards, created a fake Lones Group website that featured zebra imagery and used the URL of one of his own businesses.

Try to convince me that either of these demonstrates professional behavior.

Ditto this, if it’s true:

"Several pages of (search engine) results are stacked with toxic, defamatory, misleading, and incorrect information about this woman and her business," said Frances Flynn Thorsen, a former Realtor who who now works as a real estate writer, educator and consultant.

Denise Lomes is a person. She hits her snooze button in the morning, and goes home at night for dinner; she pays bills, wonders if the noise her car is making will be expensive, and probably laughs at some of the same jokes you do. And yeah, she filed a lawsuit that many of us think she shouldn’t have.

And no way does she deserve what she’s apparently getting.

Here’s the bottom line, far as I’m concerned. Daniel’s a great guy. He oughta win this court case. He should get compensation for all that’s happened. But the over-the-top reaction of the crowd — the mob — is inappropriate, unjustified, and unprofessional. If you’re part of that crowd, maybe it’s time to get a little perspective.

Once again, this is MY viewpoint, not necessarily anyone else’s. I welcome your comments — heck, I encourage them. But please, can we be civil? To paraphrase Jon Stewart, "Even if I disagree with you, I’m pretty sure you’re not Hitler."

About Andrew Kantor

Andrew is VAR's editor and information manager, and -- lessee now -- a former reporter for the Roanoke Times, former technology columnist for USA Today, and a former magazine editor for a bunch of places. He hails from New York with stops in Connecticut, New Jersey, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Roanoke.
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2 Responses to On Zebras, lawsuits, and mobs

  1. I agree the villagers with their pitchforks have probably done enough damage to this woman. I am sure she has learned her lesson and I expect she will drop the lawsuit shortly. The angry mob online is getting out of hand.

  2. You’re right. This is ridiculous. They don’t compete!

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