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If Thou Be’st as Poor for a Subject as He’s for a King…

Way back in 1995, Wired reporter Simson Garfinkel gave Jeff Slaton the name “Spam King.” Less than a year later, Sanford Wallace earned the title—and soon had to share it (and his upstream provider) with Walt Rines. Others have come and gone; Sanford and Walt reappear every few years, together or separately, only to be sued away again.

In 2004, Brian McWilliams’ book Spam Kings described that era’s spamming industry in detail; his blog of the same name closed in 2006. Since then it seems as if any spammer noticed by law enforcement is immediately crowned “the Spam King,” even when there are multiple such crownings happening at the same time.

Calling someone a spam king lets us apply a name, a face, and an outrageous salary to the spam we receive. “See how yond justice rails upon yon simple thief.” It gives us someone to hate, even if that person was only responsible for a few small spam attacks a couple years ago (justice is slow.)

Furthermore, the spamming activities of these so-called kings has often been a symptom of larger, more disturbing sociopathic tendencies. To paraphrase Yoda, “spam does not make one great.” These are people who were anti-social to begin with, so they didn’t care how hated and reviled they quickly became—and then they seem to enjoy the notoriety they achieve, embodied in that “spam king” title. Why do we reward these people? “That way madness lies; let me shun that; no more of that.

The Box of Meat humbly proposes that it is time to retire the title. Let the late Eddie Davidson be the last Spam King. Let his fall to the unfathomable depths of the human psyche be a warning to all who would aspire to that throne. Let the notoreity die off: spammers are low-end white-collar criminals, nothing more—unless, of course, they commit other crimes.

Let us call upon the journalistic community to “mend your speech a little, lest you may mar your fortunes .No spammer, no matter how prolific, is a king.

Tthis article was previously posted on Box of Meat

By J.D. Falk, Internet Standards and Governance

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