Thursday, June 25, 2009

Yet more outings(-to-be): the Internet is not an inherently anonymous place anymore, it would seem

A fellow blogger and an RD reader (I told you I – we – have readers here!) recently held an interview with a lawyer from the ACLU, who is busy trying to quash a federal subpoena which is demanding that four anonymous commenters who left "threatening" replies to a tax evasion story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal have their IP addresses and eMail addresses revealed, in yet another phony case of "Big Brother" taking over and crushing Freedom of Speech over ridiculous pretexts. (*Pant*)

For example, here are a couple of examples of these "threatening" comments:

“The sad thing is there are 12 dummies on the jury who will convict him,” one comment stated. “They should be hung along with the feds.”

Another one bet imaginary money — quatloos, from Star Trek — that the prosecutor wouldn’t see his next birthday.

Wow. Yes, I can just picture those jury and prosecutor sweating in their robes, glancing over their shoulders for imaginary threats. Oh, the terror.

Here's some more in-depth detailing of these so-called "threats", and the course of action the ACLU is rightfully taking to deal with this nonsense:

McLetchie contended that neither of these are direct threats, and that the subpoenas are merely a way of attacking free speech and these commenters’ rights to remain anonymous. So the ACLU has filed a motion to quash the subpoena.

“The comments aren’t actual threats,” she told me. “One of them for example says that he’d bet quatloos that the prosecutor won’t make it to his next birthday. First of all quatloos are Star Trek money, so it’s clearly a fantastical reference, and is a website that debunks anti tax myth. So it’s clearly an inside joke, it’s meant to be fantastical and it doesn’t reveal any actual plan to kill the prosecutor. As awful and crude as it is, people can wish bad things about people and wish bad things would happen to people without it being an actual threat. So in our view, the subpoenas are clearly problematic because the government is in essence trying to squelch the criticism — most of the comments were critical of the government in this case, and now they’re seeking their information, including IP addresses, presumbably because they can turn around and go to the ISP and get more precise information about who these people might be.”

In short: gov't trying to silence dissent. Yeah, that's news to me, too. (*Stifles yawn*)

McLetchie said that this case is an important one because it sets a dangerous precedent that would send a message that “if you go on the internet and you criticize the government, the government might start a criminal investigation about you, and we think that’s extremely problematic.”

Chinamerica, anyone?

Since filing the motion to squash the subpoena, the US attorney’s office has filed a motion to dismiss the ACLU’s case, and has done so under seal so that the ACLU doesn’t get a copy of the motion.

Sheesh, what is this? "I'm gonna do something to you, but you can't see it!" For Christ's sake, what are they, 12?

As disturbing as it may be to sensitive souls, people are allowed to wish bad things unto each other. Example: personally, I wish my brother would wake up one night in a jail, with a bunch of weirdos he doesn't know and a hangover to make him want to bash his own head against a stone wall, just so he would grow a brain and drop out of Delinquency High School. I wished plenty of horrible (and I mean horrible) upon my bullies and tormentors when I was in school throughout my life, things I won't even detail here. And yet, none of that makes me a bad, mean, or dangerous person in any way. I'm as big a threat to you or anyone else as the common housefly. (Unless you deliberately piss me off, in which case this housefly somehow lands its hands on a minigun.)

Point is: get over it, oversensitive twits. People can say bad things. It's this mystical "Freedom of Speech" thingy. If there's no intent to actually cause harm to anyone, as there clearly isn't any in those comments, then it's not a threat, but just an expression of their negative sentiments. Deal with it, and grow up.

(Via Simon Owens at Bloggasm)


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