Lessons Learned From Roasting Social Autopsy

Fault Lines has been generous enough to let me take a story and lampoon it or come up with some comic laden angle every Friday.  On the 15th we ran with a story on Social Autopsy where I “roasted” them with insult after insult.  For further giggles, I anchored every paragraph with a hook developed by comedian Carlos Valencia: “It Gets Worse.” What ends up surprising me is over the weekend people started picking up the post and taking it seriously!

One person picked up the post and twitted it as analysis of Social Autopsy’s problems.  Then people started applauding it as a “refreshing take” on the site’s attempt to end cyber bullying by actually cyber bulling people.  Yet another person got in touch with me on Twitter and argued that in our current climate of butthurt it might turn into a viable business model, comparing it to Peeple, another failed attempt at trying to smear character in a thinly-veiled attempt to spread “positivity.”  There’s lessons to be learned from this exercise I think worth sharing.

  1. People don’t care for the online “naming and shaming” or “call out culture” anymore.

We used to take this approach and laud it as a means of “eradicating” certain wrongthink or shun peoples’ ideas we found offensive or hurtful to others.  Now it’s something recognized as a bad idea in a country that values free speech, and people who attempt to use the technique and turn it into a business model are going to see some inevitable blowback if they try to reinvent the “reputation” wheel.

2. There is a blowback against monetizing reputation or attempting to run people out of a job in the name of “inclusivity” and “diversity.”

Justine Sacco lost her job over a tweet.  Pax Dickinson can’t get a job in tech because of a proclivity to be “trolly.” People now don’t accept this as a proper way to handle conflict, and they’re calling out those who justify this sort of idea as a means to promote a narrative of “words hurt and harm.”  It’s the inevitable response to years of using these tactics to cost people their jobs, reputations, and more.

On a recent episode of The Rubin Report, Paul Joseph Watson of Prison Planet and Infowars called the rise of this cultural libertarianism inevitable because “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  I tend to agree with him.  The push against Social Autopsy, and Peeple before it, is now largely reflective of a contrarian approach to the victimhood mentality or the “call out culture” propagated by the regressive movement that tells us “You can’t say that.”

3. The moment towards making free speech cool again is gaining traction.

Companies and conferences that “no platform” speakers or executives are getting outed for their work.  Protesters that try to silence others are getting resistance.  Even the recent trends of “Chalking” areas with messages others find “offensive” or “unsafe” are beginning to see some blowback with people deliberately using “The Chalkening” to promote free speech instead of stifling it.  The reactionary, provocateur approach is slowly building up a wonderful trend of giving others a chance to speak, and real discussion to begin.

4.  Change in thought concerning speech can happen, even if it’s painful.

There are a few people who gave up on the approach that society would ever shift back in the direction of our old “Marketplace of Ideas” mentality towards free speech.  It’s understandable, and the numbing view is a cultural marker in communication.  When the shift to limit speech and shame people into groupthink began the first trend was deliberate self-censorship.  People just bought into the idea and refused to speak on topics of interest, or even just engage in a back and forth to have fun.  They knew this because of the “social consequences” model justifying this manner of behavior.  No one wants to lose a steady source of income over a few words.

As time passed the approach just became numbing to people.  We knew this cultural shift occurred, and became largely indifferent to it.  The naming and shaming life was the New Normal, and we simply analyzed it and called the practice what it was.  We didn’t really do anything about it, because the idea of shifting cultural practices didn’t seem possible.  The movement was just that powerful.

Now we’re seeing a movement begin that’s changing the way we view speech.  It’s the result of people getting sick and tired of being able to discuss real issues and real problems in our country without getting labeled “racist, sexist and homophobic.” Those terms still get thrown around, but they’ve been used so much the new movement of cultural libertarianism’s response is “you’ve used those terms so much to describe people those words lost their meaning. We’re going to continue the discussion.”

It’s a great time to be alive.  The lessons learned from the blowback over Social Autopsy prove that we’re headed in the right direction again.  Eventually we’re going to return to a cultural future where we value open, plain, honest discussion of issues instead of buying into group narratives where people stay silent at the risk of personal and professional loss.

That’s when the real discussions over issues of concern will begin.  That’s when we’ll make real progress.  That’s when we’ll see real racism, sexism, and societal concerns addressed through open and honest discussion.

Get a chance to embrace the “Wrongless Approach.” It’s a great way to live.

Want to learn persuasion and suggestion skills?  We can make that happen.

Calling All Cops (No, Seriously)

One of the best projects I’ve ever gotten to work with is Fault Lines, an online legal magazine run by Scott Greenfield and Lee Pacchia.  At Fault Lines, we cover all aspects of the criminal justice system from every perspective.  Our work includes a former prosecutor, an active prosecutor who has a penchant for pissing readers off by being smart and reasoned when he writes, criminal defense attorneys, a Senior Federal Judge, someone who works with prisoners, and an ex cop turned lawyer.

There’s one perspective that we’re missing at Fault Lines, though, and that’s the perspective of an active-duty cop.  If you’re reading this, and you fit that description, and you’re interested in providing the world the viewpoint of someone who straps on a service belt every day, then we’re interested in hearing from you. Give us the cops’ perspective.

You’re going to need to be able to write at least two posts per week.  You will need to be able to meet deadlines consistently.  You must be able to write in a thoughtful, reasoned, articulate fashion.  Your posts will get edited, so don’t worry about sounding erudite from the get-go.  If you’re not confident in your ability to write, Scott Greenfield will kick your ass into being one of the best writers you can possibly imagine.

We’d love to hear from you, so if you’re interested in becoming a part of Fault Lines, read the directions on how to apply and give it a shot.  The worst that will happen is Scott will say “no thanks,” and life will go on.

It’s a great platform, it’s a good cause, and you’ll be a better writer for your efforts.  If those reasons don’t make you want to give it a shot, then Fault Lines isn’t for you.  If you’re keen on bring your perspective to the table, then step up to the plate and take a swing.

While you’re reading this, take a moment and sign up for the Fault Lines newsletter.  Just enter your name and email address in the box on the right-hand side of the page and we’ll email all the good stuff we pump out to you daily.  There’s no spam, no BS, no marketing gimmicks, just 100% pure awesome legal analysis.

The Art of the Pipe Bomb Promo

Let’s discuss the communication tool called the “pipe bomb.” 

I’ve been discussing promos quite a bit.  The “pipe bomb” is the singular highlight of a promo.  It incorporates audience rapport, the performer’s own dialogue, and raw truth to create that singular suspension of disbelief: “Wait a minute, that wasn’t supposed to happen, was it?”

Pipe bomb

A worked shoot promo where the wrestler giving the promo appears to break kayfabe. The wrestler, usually scripted to be extremely frustrated, can rip anything from their own circumstances, fans, other wrestlers, backstage personnel, even the company itself. Usually the wrestler dropping the pipe bomb will incorporate what fans are already thinking and complaining about. While appearing to be unscripted, backstage personnel are usually aware of them ahead of time and can be used to dramatically alter story lines. This was a term first used by CM Punk.

Phil “CM Punk” Brooks was the man who made the “pipe bomb” famous with this bit.

That bit caught the attention of ESPN’s Jim Rome, who offered Punk time on air to voice his grievances with WWE anytime he wanted.

That led to this segment.

It took people some time to finally figure out that this was a “work,” but CM Punk’s invention of the “Pipe Bomb” became something for which he would be remembered for generations to come.

Want to create a larger audience for your message?  Want to make sure you have them in the palm of your hand?  Master the art of the “Pipe Bomb” promo. 

“In anybody else’s hands, this is a microphone.  In my hands, it’s a pipe bomb.–Phil “CM Punk” Brooks.

Learning how to unleash a “Pipe Bomb” on his foe gave Punk an edge.  It made him the “go-to” guy for WWE when they needed something fresh and different.

The pipe bomb promo made WWE shell out royalties to the band Living Color for the song “Cult of Personality.” Vince McMahon doesn’t pay royalties to bands unless he has to. 

The “pipe bomb” didn’t just get Punk his requested theme song and deal.  He got a run as WWE champ that was one of the longest in history.  He even got Living Color to play him to the ring at Wrestlemania 29.


If you learn to communicate your message through the “pipe bomb,” you’ve mastered the art of language.  You are an expert communicator.  You can get to people at any level, no matter the message that you want to convey.

Prior to this moment, Brooks had a time where he was leading a group called the “Straight Edge Society.”  He played the role of a “cult” leader to people who swore an oath to him.  One night he was in a certain town and did his thing, and a grandmother slapped him and said “You’re not God!” as Brooks walked to the back.

When he got to the back with his partner, Luke Gallows, Brooks said “We did it.  We finally got to them.”

Phil “CM Punk” Brooks made the “Pipe Bomb” promo famous because he didn’t care what others thought of him, and he wanted to create something extraordinary.

Here’s the big question.

When you transmit your message to your audience, are you able to create your own version of the “pipe bomb?”

If you’re at that point, you get the “wrongless approach” to life.

When you’re ready to transmit your message to the world, figure out the art of the “pipe bomb.”

This page delivers written “pipe bombs” to your inbox during the work week from the best legal minds in the world.  No spam, no marketing, and no gimmicks.  All you have to do is sign up.


Faces, Heels, and Fault Lines

I’m proud of the work we’re doing at Fault Lines.  It’s become a place where all sides of the criminal justice world are voicing their thoughtful, intelligent perspectives.  That being said, I consider some of us “faces,” and some of us “heels.”

babyface (n.) — A heroic or good-guy wrestler. (Also known as: face; baby [archaic].) (Antonym: heel.)

heel (n.) — A bad-guy wrestler. Antonym of babyface. A monster heel is a massive, frightening villain.

Being a “heel” requires you to master the art of pissing people off.  Before certain people decided to expose the business, heels would have to carry guns with them from town to town in order to avoid getting killed for some of the things they said or did.

I consider guys like Ken Womble and Josh Kendrick in the “face” category.

We’ve got a guy who’s a hell of a heel at Fault Lines.  His name is Andrew King.  He’s a prosecutor, and I’m damn glad we’ve got him at Fault Lines.

Andrew King isn’t heel because he’s a prosecutor, he’s a heel because he’s mastered the art of pissing people off.   

I know this because his latest Fault Lines post managed to piss off my mentor, Scott Greenfield.

Andrew writes today about the antipathy toward Black Lives Matter.  I hated his post. Not because of the writing, which was strong, or the reasoning, which was supported by others who share his perspective. No, because it is diametrically opposed to what I believe.  And the subject is so inflammatory that it’s the sort of post that makes you want to scream at the screen.

If you can master the art of pissing people off, you’ve got an edge people don’t normally have.  The thing about Andrew King is that he’s a Paul Heyman level heel.  He can make you love him or hate him depending on how he chooses to transmit his message.

The post today on Fault Lines  Andrew wrote about Black Lives Matter pissed me off.  He’s heeling it up like nobody’s business, and he’s doing it in the same level that Paul Heyman does: with smart, reasoned, intelligent work.

You’re going to get a lot out of Fault Lines.  It’s going to piss you off, and it’s going to make you love what is written there, and you need to read all the posts daily, be it from a “face” or a “heel.”

We’ve actually made it really easy for you to get the content from Fault Lines.  There’s a new subscription service that’s just been launched.  Go here, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and enter your email address.

You’ll get a daily dose of incredible content that you can tailor to suit your needs.  But take Scott’s advice. Read the heels first.

But I urge you to read and think about perspectives with which you disagree. Not because they will necessarily change your mind. Let’s get real. Minds don’t change all that easily. But because they will expand your mind, open your thoughts to a better and deeper understanding of what you’re beliefs are up against.

If you don’t know the arguments against you, you will never be able to test the validity of your beliefs.  And if your beliefs can’t withstand scrutiny, then you’re living in a fool’s paradise.  Many on the internets do so, reading only those who validate their love and hate, their bias.  If that’s not good enough for you, if you are tough enough to challenge your bias, then read ideas you despise.

Study the heel just as much as you would the face.  Study the heel more.
They’ve mastered the art of pissing people off, and you need to know how to counteract that.  If you don’t, then go play in Facebook.

Again, I’m going to make this ridiculously easy for you. Enter your email address, first and last name, on this page, and hit “subscribe”.  There’s no bullshit, no marketing gimmicks.  Just quality content to your inbox every day.

And I may just have to go cut a promo on Andrew King for his Fault Lines post.