From Peoria, Illinois—a city that will always be synonymous in our minds with Jack Brickhouse and Mudbone—we have this: Yesterday, a private investigator representing Globe Energy—a U.K. transplant that set up shop in Peoria to make energy-efficient industrial heating systems—paid a visit to a local blogger named Billy Dennis. The local head of Globe, David Jones—described variously as "a nice man" and a "foul-mouthed individual"—got some critical attention back in March when he announced in the Peoria Journal-Star that he was less than enamored with the labor force in the Land of Lincoln: "The work ethic in this state is awful. …r It's difficult to find good people."
The online version of the Journal-Star article drew a comment from a reader who identified himself as a former Globe employee. In essence, he described his ex- boss and other managers at the company as bigoted jerks. That comment was quoted in its entirety on a Peoria blog and thence on a citizen journalism site called the Blog Peoria Project, which Billy Dennis manages. And here's where we get back to the private investigator.
The PI showed up at Dennis's door Saturday morning–nearly three months after article and comment were published–with a letter from an attorney. The missive demanded that Dennis remove the former employee's comment from Blog Peoria because the statements therein breached a Globe confidentiality agreement. If the offending comment was not taken down by Monday, the letter warned, the company would sue. Dennis has not posted the full contents of the threatening letter, and I won't guess under what laws or on what grounds the company believes its demand is enforceable. But in the meantime, the letter has had an effect: The blogger who originally posted the comment has removed it. It has reportedly disappeared, too, from the Peoria Journal-Star site.
Dennis's response was to re-publish the comment on his own blog, Peoria Pundit, while he considered whether to knuckle under to the company's threat. He has until tomorrow to decide, but he says he's already made up his mind: "F*** 'em." Maybe the Peoria Pundit Defense Fund is next.