"Free speech without responsibility is none other than moral chaos. Worse, it is a form of hell on earth. The right to express unpopular opinions and to criticize others ever so forcefully is one of the great gifts of democracy. So it is, however, only if this takes place against the backdrop of responsibility. Thus, there is a very straightforward sense in which I have more respect for the white KKK person who calls me “nigger” to my face than for the black who calls me “brother” to my face but who systematically and viciously sullies my character behind my back.
I may not like where I stand with a person. Just so, there is ever so much to be said for knowing where I stand with a person. Public criticisms of another that hide behind the cloak of anonymity constitute none than a perversion of the idea of free speech. Accordingly, it is a great victory for free speech that Judge Joan Madden ruled in favor of Liskula Cohen. Judge Madden ruled that Ms. Cohen is entitled to know the identity of the blogger of “Shanks in NYC”.
The judge correctly grasped that the issue was not whether the author of “Shanks in NYC” is entitled to her opinion. Indeed, the author of the blog most certainly is so entitled. The problem was simply that if one is going to criticize another routinely and publicly, then the person whom one is criticizing is entitled to know who one is. The fact that one’s remarks are merely personal views is entirely irrelevant. Why? Not simply because mere personal views can be mistaken and entirely uninformed. Rather, it is because merely personal views can be—and often are—taken quite seriously by others. Thus, mere personal views can have enormous influence.
Nothing, then, precludes mere personal rantings on a blog from having enormous influence. This simple truth is the basis for Judge Madden’s ruling in favor of Cohen. Her ruling is perfectly consistent with free speech if one bears in mind that free speech at its best is necessarily linked responsibility. And responsibility carries in its wake accountability.
At the very minimum, accountability requires that we have made a good faith effort to get the facts right. This does not mean that we cannot get things. We all make mistakes. We all misunderstand from time to time what we see or hear. In one of my classes, I regularly have music that accompanies my lectures. Having played a clip from a song by Barry White, I remarked later in lecture “So, is my voice not Barry White enough for you?” Alas, there was some static in the microphone and what many people heard is “So, is my voice not white enough for you?”
Fortunately, I was able to clear up that confusion. But that would not have been possible had a student not asked, why did you say “So, is my voice not white enough for you?” A misunderstanding was eliminated. Among other things, free speech should contribute to that end.
When the Founding Authors introduced the idea of freedom of speech, they never so much as even imagined a world in which people could routinely express their views anonymously in a public forum. Quite the contrary, the world as they saw it was one in which it took incredible ingenuity to express one’s views anonymously in a public forum. The absence of anonymity readily carries in its wake responsibility and accountability. This is why in times past people endeavored to base their most biased views in biology or the truths of religion. This was an endeavor to be, at once, both responsible and accountable.
Responsibility and accountability are the handmaidens of free speech.
This brings me to one of the most fundamental issues with which I shall be wrestling in my forthcoming book The Fragmented Self: Technology and the Loss of Humanity (Cambridge University Press).
In the past, the environment and the state of technological development imposed serious constraints upon what people could get away with doing. Accordingly, there were natural constraints of self-discipline.
A defining feature of the present, thanks to the extraordinary developments in technology is that the natural constraints of self-discipline are disappearing. In so many areas of life, self-discipline is an option in a way that it was not at all an option just a few years back. We can easily express our views anonymously. Judge Madden’s ruling has not precluded that at all. Although the owner of the blog “Shanks in NYC” apparently used a real email address based upon her actual name, the truth of the matter is that anyone can sign up for an email account using a made-up-name.
What is more, while the author of “Shanks in NYC” regularly maligned a specific individual, it is obviously possible to do much harm without ever mentioning a given name. Judge Madden’s ruling does not at all undermine general hostile and anonymous venting against groups. Her ruling does not preclude derisive and venomous venting against groups—venting that is anonymous all the same. Blacks against whites. Whites against Blacks. Non-Jews against Jews. Jews against non-Jews. Non-Arabs against Arabs. Arabs against non-Arabs. And so on.
If in the name of freedom of speech, we should lack the self-discipline to refrain from engaging in anonymous viciousness, then democracy as we know it shall cease to exist. Either the universal affirmation of our equality shall cease to exist or the freedom of speech that makes democracy such a mellifluous ideal of excellence shall cease to exist. In either case, our humanity shall be diminished."
UncleDoug, your "guess" is insulting and uncivil and it completely ignores the fact that I have been speaking against this kind of thing for decades, with no regard for party and to the irritation of many with whom I share views on the issues. I am impassioned about process values, but I can not honestly be described as "partisan" by any reasonable person.
BTW, since WhoIsStaceyLawson represents an act of Democrat-on-Democrat violence, the term partisan doesn't even make sense here. Maybe you mean ideological or doctrinaire.
UncleDoug, you missed the point completely. I don't believe there should be restrictions on anonymous speech, I am speaking to the perception it creates and the consequence for the quality of democracy. It is hypocritical and belies a commitment to the values of transparency and accountability.
Your comparison of WhoIsStaceyLawson to the Federalist Papers is absurd. The Papers were a sophisticated argument in defense of a new government, they weren't targeted personal attacks on an individual. The Federalist Papers authors published as "Publius" for solidarity purposes. Very different from the motive of the person in question here, whose objective is to divide. That is not the behavior of a civically virtuous person. Not to mention, also, that Publius was promoting enthusiasm for the new government, while WhoIs simply wants to degrade. The former was constructive, the latter is destructive.
And lastly, Publius wasn't truly anonymous.
I simply don't trust that there isn't a federal crime happening here. So I dig... The "major" press agencies aren't going to do it for us, so anything You can do to help... by all means:
Domain name registrar records are compelling.
What do these domain names have in common?:
staceylawson.com (no joke)
They share the same registrar: enom inc.
What's that mean?
I simply don't know. But it certainly qualifies as something that should make you go hmmm...
If I was a betting man, I'd be willing to bet one of these gentlemen might know: http://www.activatedirect.com/about/
Ummm... Dr. Boaz is a political science professor? And she's complaining about anonymous political speech? In America?
Is she not familiar with the Federalist Papers, the quintessential anonymous political writings that predate the nation itself?
Perhaps this will ring a bell:
"Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society." McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm'n (93-986), 514 U.S. 334 (1995).
Just guessing, but it seems rather likely that Dr. Boaz' objections are partisan rather than ethical.
Who Is Stacey Lawson website is at http://staceylawson.info
Technically I said that the person is likely associated with a campaign (not that a campaign is behind it). Otherwise the anonymity makes no sense. A small but important difference.
That's nice! Instead of stunning them with an electric prod, choke them to death by starving them of oxygen! What happened to the good old-fashioned chopping off their heads?
I hope that the author of this article gets a chance to read Rosa's terrific book... "Behind the Green Mask: UN Agenda 21" ... she knows a lot and has put herself fully into this liberty-minded advocacy.. I think we might do well to stick together and consider that this is an orchestrated Agenda bigger than Americans could imagine .. not a conspiracy because when haven't the 'powers that be' tried to manage and control the population?
Wonder how many books can fit in a 24 foot truck with daily trips. Does trip mean round trip? If I were in the area I would be at the hearing speaking against this effort. My other thought is that if book publishing is intrinsic to Buddism, why are there not publishing presses at every Temple? Does anyone anywhere care about preserving rural life?
The egg industry's Rotten Egg Bill (HR 3798) certainly would introduce labeling. For the very first time, the fraudulent term “enriched” cages would begin appearing on egg cartons nationwide – in order to deflect public concern – and to increase egg sales from CAGED hens. Check out http://www.StopTheRottenEggBill.org to learn the truth about this law that would nullify Proposition 2 -- and keep hens IN battery cages forever.
Thanks for your comments on the article. You state that you've been "losing faith in some of the Bohemian's research and bias, but I suppose you've found your audience." Actually, everything in this short, informative news blast about the upcoming Bohemian Grove meeting is backed up with either direct quotes or solid research.
I mention the conspiracies about the Bohemian Grove because flyers made by a very specific group of protestors did appear in 2011, and they did make claims about child sacrifice, etc. Nowhere in this short, informative piece do I say that I personally believe that child sacrifice, etc. is going on at Bohemian Grove. If I did, that would certainly show bias, but if you go back and read carefully through the piece, you will see that I never personally state an opinion either way.
Chris Smith of the Press Democrat wrote about these protestors last year. The article can be found here: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20110….
Never in this piece do I say that the protestors claiming Child Sacrifice are right or wrong, only that they exist, which is my job as a journalist.
The Bohemian Grove conspiracies are ridiculous. Ask anyone who has worked there, they hire in the Press Democrat classifieds and on Craigslist every season. If they're trying to keep it all a secret, they aren't doing a very good job. It makes for good intrigue but it's a giant boy scout camp for big boys. And last I checked it was $10,000 to go to the camp, after the membership fee of somewhere around $50,000. most of our student loans are tens of thousands more than that, hardly the "One Percent". Having money is not a crime, neither is spending it.
I have been losing faith in some of the bohemians research and bias but I suppose you've found your audience.
This is how you can support the struggle to keep the Community Counseling Clinic open!
Bohemian Grove was targeted by filmmakers and activists from Anonymous last year as part of Occupy Bohemian Grove. The result was a documentary by Anthony J Hilder, "Illuminazi: Bilderberg West Bohemian Grove" which has been going viral on YouTube.
Hilder and others plan to return to the Bohemian Grove this summer to further expose the ritual sacrifices, underage male prostitution rings, depopulation schemes, and global agenda-setting by the elites.
Friedman's was supposed to be at the Target Center, which turned out to be one big lie. I am done with this. No more "Friedman's bait." No more selling out Petaluma. The Target Center should go back to the drawing board, and add Friedman's... except they never intended it to be there.
Councilman Mike Healy is a big supporter of this giant shopping center project, not too long ago I saw him talking to Bill Friedman on the street in downtown Petaluma. Surprise! Surprise! now Friedman's shows up again as a tenant to get public support for another bigbox project. Petaluma is a small community, it does take a genius to figure out how the political manipulation works here.
So I guess this means, the issues surrounding these large projects aren't really about "shopping" or having a new Friedman's, is it? I heard that this is the fourth project in the past several years that Friedman's was said to have been a tenant. After pulling out of the Target project over at Kenilworth, it's pretty obvious that this is more politically driven than anything else.
here are the links to two of the other locations:
Without citing sources, it's hard to agree or disagree. So I'll chalk this up to sour-grapes and continue to give Rohnert Park my home improvement tax dollars.
To Asher Miller -- I would rather live in a "Post Sustainable World" any day than to live with this "Sustainable" Crap. I'll tell you what a Post-sustanable world would look like since you wanted to know. It would look like what we had in the 40s, 50s, 60s , when the U.S. was the one of the strongest industry in the world. We had more jobs , more local production then ANY Other country. Other countries, the "sustainable" types, were so impoverished, and that is why we have so many people flocking here form other countries. they came here for a reason - to get away from that type of restricted living. Now we are subjected to be the same"sustained" or "restricted" with huge job loss due to our industries being shipped overseas by the same Corporations that are pushing this "Smart Growth" to an uninformed society they helped create. The fact that we have an international group making plans and decisions for how the USA is supposed to be run? Doesn't this sound off any alarm bells to you at all? I repeat, an INTERNATIONAL group, that means "foreign" not domestic , interfering with our National Nation State's policies, implementing laws in our Government. Well if you don't know It is unconstitutional on principle alone. Please do some research on history, and see what it took to gain our independence and to whom from. I have nothing against protecting natural resources and finding ways to lessen pollution, but not like this.
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