Tech Columnist Calls Model 'A Hero' For Exposing Anonymous Blogger

from the someone-should-explain-the-first-amendment dept

Last we checked in on David Coursey, a long-time tech columnist, he was claiming that The Pirate Bay made money selling subscriptions to users and didn’t seem to understand the difference between “theft” and “infringement” or the difference between a search engine and a user. So… I guess we shouldn’t really be all that surprised that he’s about the only person around who seems to think it was a good thing that a court forced an anonymous blogger to be revealed for referring to model Liskula Cohen as a skank. Apparently, Coursey is unfamiliar with the fact that the US has a strong history of protecting anonymous speech as a part of our First Amendment rights, and this ruling seems to go against that entirely. And, yes, you can be unmasked for truly defamatory speech, but calling someone a skank hardly qualifies. And, of course, he doesn’t even acknowledge the fact that almost no one would have seen that particular anonymous blogspot blog if Cohen hadn’t freaked out and sued.

It’s difficult to see how that makes her a “hero.” Thin-skinned? Short-sighted? Perhaps. Hero? Please.

Oh yeah, Coursey then goes on to suggest this should be a warning sign for Google to start censoring the blogs it hosts:

It should also make Google take a hard look at the kinds of sites its Blogger service is willing to host. A “Skanks of NYC” blog may give jealous people a chance to vent their frustration, but hardly seems to ennoble the human spirit.

I don’t know. I think Coursey’s column should make PC World take a long hard look at the kinds of columns it’s willing to host (and, one imagines, pay for). A David Coursey column may give a clueless tech columnist a chance to state his opinion with little knowledge of the facts or history, but hardly seems to ennoble the human spirit. (And, yes, I’m joking, but the point is that this is almost, but not quite, as ridiculous as Coursey suggesting Google needs to monitor and censor blogs).

By the way, the Coursey column does reveal that the anonymous blogger was revealed to Cohen, and it was some woman she didn’t know (big surprise there). So, I’m curious how this is a good thing for anyone involved or how Cohen is somehow a hero. If she ignored this site, no one would have seen it or cared (and those who saw it wouldn’t have thought that it was some sort of NY Times report on the skankiness of Liskula Cohen). They would have dismissed it as a lame venting from someone who didn’t like Cohen for whatever reason. But, now with a lawsuit, lots of people aren’t just questioning whether or not Cohen is “a skank” but about her rather sensitive reaction to the slightest criticism from a nobody. How does that make Cohen better off?

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Comments on “Tech Columnist Calls Model 'A Hero' For Exposing Anonymous Blogger”

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130 Comments
Blargy says:

Re: Huh

@ Steve: Shall I link “First Amendment to the United States Constitution” or can you manage to Google that yourself? You really must try reading the whole thing sometime.

@MM: Maybe Coursey meant that exposing oneself to the added publicity and inevitable blogger cheap shots was heroic. Just sayin’.

Free Capitalist says:

Re: Re: Huh

@MM: Maybe Coursey meant that exposing oneself to the added publicity and inevitable blogger cheap shots was heroic. Just sayin’.

Interesting theory. I’m more inclined to think she acted with impulsive self-interest, determined by a solipcistic world-view and a puerile, undeveloped outlook on self-respect and dignity. All this precludes any consideration or knowledge of ‘the outside world’, any sense of self-awareness, or, least of all, an understanding of the First Amendment and its relevance in society today.

Or is that how skanks act?

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Huh

“Shall I link “First Amendment to the United States Constitution” or can you manage to Google that yourself? You really must try reading the whole thing sometime.”

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Yep, Google’s fun. This has since been interpreted to protect quite a few freedoms of expression and prevent any government body from infringing on those expressions. This has also been interpreted to extend to anonymous expression. This is the exact reason that GTA, a game that quite a few people find obscenely offensive, cannot be banned despite Rockstar adding things just to piss people off.

The First Amendment is more than just words, it’s the definition behind those words. We cannot let that definition die because people feel offended.

“Maybe Coursey meant that exposing oneself to the added publicity and inevitable blogger cheap shots was heroic. Just sayin’.”

Only if we take the “Fable” approach to the definition of Hero. Where you could be a tyrannical dictator who kills everyone that looks at you wrong and still be called a hero. Where a hero just has to change the world for better or worse.

JessicaMichaels (profile) says:

free speech

The “bloggist”….could have been a psycho who was stalking the model, honing more sinister intentions then being a rumor spreader.
Free speech should be for those who identify themselves. Not the “Wizard of Oz” behind a closed door or some creepo from another country throwing out propaganda under false pretenses.
People believe what they read. The model is A-OK and did the right thing. She didn’t start it, thought hopefully she will finish it.

@freespeech_dumbass says:

Re: free speech

Thanks to dipsh*ts like you, we are losing personal freedoms.
We wouldn’t have had this country without anonymous free speech. Idiots like you have no knowledge of why anonymous speech need to be protected, and you insist that free speech only be allowed to those who identify themselves.

Here is a short list of history changing anonymous documents:
Pentagon Papers, Federalist Papers, and Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense”. So if was up to, I guess we would still be under British rule.

BTW: Cohen and Coursey are skanky whores.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: free speech

Or better yet I’ll make you do what myspace does. Get a piece of paper, write your full name and your registered nick on techdirt below your name and that you’re a registered user on techdirt below that, hold it up and have someone take a high quality picture with your face in it from straight ahead so everyone can see your face. Post it here. Then we can verify who you are, at least with a picture. Also, put your drivers license or State ID in the picture as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: free speech

The fact is we live in a state of tyranny where retaliation may very well exist if we exercise our free speech. The whole point of free speech is to be able to exercise our free speech without retaliation, otherwise it defeats the purpose. If retaliation truly doesn’t exist for free speech then there should be no reason for us to identify ourselves being that you claim it doesn’t make a difference. The only reason an entity should want us to identify ourselves is to give some entity the opportunity to retaliate against us if we disagree with it, which defeats the purpose of having free speech laws. People can have free speech in any country, even without free speech laws, but the point is that retaliation may exist. They may lose their jobs, be thrown in jail, killed, or otherwise. So by that logic everyone has free speech everywhere, even in oppressive tyrant states. But the point of free speech is to give us the opportunity to express our free speech without retaliation. and why else should we have to identify unless the purpose is to give others an opportunity to retaliate.

Peregrine says:

Re: free speech

The problem with that is that there are some circumstances where you would be fired or possibly killed if it was known that you were the one who said something, yet it was important that people knew about it.

Sure the internet is full of trolls and name callers blah blah blah….. But that is really the price you have to pay.

What we should be doing is gathering up the IP’s of everyone who take this kind of shit seriously blocking their access to blogs or any kind of open forum.

Problem solved no more offended people, no slandering.

Every Blog is not an official news cast many are simply diaries or journals. They can be left open to the public because they are anonymous.

If you find one where someones calls you a mean name don’t panic. Don’t call your lawyer. Don’t call your mommy(unless you are a kid). Maybe try being a grown up and remembering the old sticks and stones.

Scaper (profile) says:

Re: free speech

@JessicaMichaels

Our American Revolution would not have happened if not for the ubiquity of anonymous pamphlets being distributed throughout the colonies, uniting the people and bringing to light the injustices of taxation without representation (among other things). Without the freedom to speak anonymously, half of journalist’s sources disappear. There is no Watergate. Nixon uses his corrupt tactics to hang onto power, and we get a different future.

Etc., etc. Protected anonymous free speech is a vital part of free speech in the US. Not to understand this fact is a dangerous ignorance.

you are an idiot jessicamichaels says:

Re: free speech - Are you a skank?

It has become quite clear that free speech isnt free. In some countries you get killed for attempting to voice your opinion especially if it is not one that goes with the party line. The model is a nobody and is most likely using this to bring attention to herself. I will go as far as to say she is now an attention whore. Its OK TD, you can give me up. I have lawyers in the family that would love to tear this whore apart.

“could have been a psycho”
You “could” be psycho
You “could” be a pedophile
You “could” be a stalker
You “could” be an ass
You “could” be a nice person that has a gripe with an individual and needs to FREELY EXPRESS YOUR DISLIKE in a healthy way by posting your frustration on a blog.
Coulda, shoulda, woulda.
Asses like you accept treating someone like they are guilty before proven innocent. That’s not the way it works in this country. Go somewhere else, you do not deserve to be here.

“Free speech should be for those who identify themselves.”
Why? Because YOU say so. Privacy is an important part of free speech. Would whistle blowers come out if they had to identify themselves? You just don’t get it, and never will.

“People believe what they read”
No, dumb asses like yourself believe everything they read. Most intelligent rational thinking people would realize it was a rant for whatever reason and see it for that. The “model” in question is looking for publicity. Se really has no career, not one worth mentioning.

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Re: free speech

Damn good thing the Founding Fathers (sorry…but they were all men) were able to use pseudonyms and operate the Committees of Correspondence using false names else we wouldn’t have that-there Constitution. Anon posting can be crap, I agree, but protected crap unless it is defamatory, incites a riot, threatens the life of the President and a very few other patently illegal cases.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Did you see

“Cohen said she apologized if she had done anything to the culprit, whom she said she has forgiven–but still plans to sue for defamation, though she hinted that an apology from the woman could change that.”

So, she forgave the person but still is going to sue. That’s not forgiveness, that’s a grudge.

“This case reminds us that First Amendment or not, malicious speech is not protected speech.”

I think Coursey is a damn idiot. Probably got picked on too much in school and never got over it.

I read this yesterday, I don’t plan on going back to PCworld.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

And, yes, you can be unmasked for truly defamatory speech, but calling someone a skank hardly qualifies.

Mike I’m so glad you said that. The mistake the judge made was not to expose an anonymous defamer. If you defame someone anonymously, Courts can and will “unmask” you. There is simply no right to anonymously defame someone in the US.

The mistake the judge made was in finding that the word “skank” could be defamatory. That was ludicrous. Mere insults and name calling are not defamatory because they’re mere opinions.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Attention Masses

It has been a while since you’ve been blessed by one of my decrees, but here comes #3 like a nut in the eye:

“Tech Columnist Calls Model ‘A Hero’ For Exposing Anonymous Blogger”

It is a little known fact that I, Lord Helmet, happen to believe in the basic concept of karmic energy. By that, I’m not referring necessarily to the whole “good people are rewarded, bad people are punished” concept. No, I just believe that there is a natural balance to things and that, eventually, all things will even out, like the yin and the yang.

Which brings me to my new policy of the active evening out of hyperbolic language. Today’s media and politicians, and to a lesser extent everyday people, have allowed hyperbole to get completely out of control. As a result, it is up to the Spaceballs to even things out.

So here’s the deal, if you publically state something so hyperbolic that a judging panel of 12 monkeys, one elephant, and a goldfish all instantly shit themselves simultaneously in a choruss of poop, then you will be dealt with. How will you be dealt with? Well, with the opposite of hyperbole, of course. We’ll over-punish you as severely as you committed hyperbole, and understate it just as much.

-Overstate the effects of global warming in order to sell newspapers? You get a swift kick to the nuts that we’ll refer to as “Lower torso hangitude readjustment”.

-Say that either President Bush or President Clinton were the worst presidents in the history of America? You’re going to have to spend six months in solitary listening to ABBA in what I like to refer to as “Auditory attitude adjustment”.

-Actually have the balls to refer to an idiotic woman so devoid of self-esteem that actually spending time searching out and reviewing hate-blogs that no one actually reads as a HERO? When there are service men and women, honest cops and firemen, social workers trying to make a difference, animal rights activists, an entire LEGION of volunteer workers who don’t have the time or money to give but still do? Well, you my friend get the chair. Or as we’ll be calling it “Bringing CHARGES Against You”.

As Lord Helmet has written it, so shall it be done.

Jason Kostempski says:

I'll do it.

Assuming this site lets my comment through, I’ll call her a cunt right now, and not anonymously. Liskula Cohen is a cunt.

As a side note, free speech won’t need to be taken away by the government if people keep censoring themselves. It’s ‘cunt’, not ‘the “C” word’. I’ve heard this word on TV plenty of times in recent years, I don’t think you would find much 15-20 years ago. Free speech is getting better, not worse. Any censoring going on these days is largely enforced by the company that runs the TV station, movie studio, radio show, or website that creates and/or broadcast the content, in addition to what relatively little the government enforces. Cohen may have succeeded in scaring this one person, and maybe a few other bloggers that read this article, into censoring themselves out of irrational fear, but most people will not even flinch at this.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Chan Dirt

“Tech Columnist Calls Model ‘An Hero’ For Exposing Anonymous Blogger”

Only in England. Around these parts, we pronounce the letters in our words.

…except sometimes silent vowels. Oh, and sometimes a “C” sounds like an “S”. Uh, and “CH” can sound different as well.

…You know what, never mind.

ChimpBush McHitlerBurton says:

Re: Re: Chan Dirt

Sorry, I can’t let this go. Sorry Dark, but you brought up one of my pet peeves. So here we go:

People, there is a rule for using “a” or “an” in cases like these. The rule is: Use “a” if the following word starts with a consonant, use “an” if the following word starts with a vowel (or vowel sound).

Vowel sound? What’s that?

Glad you asked. The word “Hour” starts with an “H” which is a consonant. But we don’t say “a hour”, do we? No, we say “an hour”. Why? Because the “H” is *silent*, giving way to the “o” which follows it. Therefore, we are using the “o” for our rule.

Now, some people have gotten confused by this. They somehow think all “H”s are silent. How, I can’t imagine, but it has happened nonetheless. These people say things like “An Historic Moment”

FAIL!

“A Historic Moment” is the correct pronunciation. Why?

Because the “H” isn’t silent, you skank!

Class dismissed.

CBMHB

P.S. – The only people I let off easy on this rule are those silly little cockney boys who say shit like:

“‘Ello, mate – Crikey, that was an ‘istoric moment, wunnit?”

R. Miles (profile) says:

You all are damn idiots!

Entertainingly so.
😉

On topic:
I read the “apology” statement this morning and was a little stunned at her final words as describing this poster’s life as “sad” for having nothing better to do.

Granted, I’m going from what was presented to me in “news”, but this is now a cat fight.

Both these girls have thin skins. One can’t take an insult and laugh it off while the other hides behind the anonymity of the internet to make said insults.

The internet is wonderful.

Stupiduser (profile) says:

maybe it is 6th amendment

The 6th amendment – “The right to confront your accuser in court of law” has been recently reinterpreted to mean that is you are accused (slandered) outside of a court then you can sue that person to have them appear in court. This interpretation is being used to make reporters provide their ‘confidential government” sources in some instances.

But also it is being used to have annonymous writers ‘outed’ because of their writting. In most cases the “victim” doesn’t have to prove the writting is inaccurate/liable/slander. They just imply that it could be inaccurante (and thus not protected speech) so the writer must show themselves to prove ‘she is a skank’.

Maybe bringing down the first amendment makes you a skank!

I think the blogger, a person she knows, has an easy defense since Skank has many definitions. So so the inference fould have been misinterpreted by the “victim”. Maybe the blogger was suggesting that she was a rythmic reggae dance. But even if the term was used as otherwise defined, who better than someone who knows the person to define them as a Skank.

If an unknown writer said that then I might agree, but when a former friend says something abd about you, maybe they know the truth. And truth is protected by the first amendment.

Pangolin (profile) says:

Something inconsistent at Techdirt

Techdirt posts continually tout safe harbors and indicate – on more than one occasions – that persons suing should sue the INDIVIDUAL USING the services and NOT the service providers.

This Cohen DID.

Why are you complaining that the bloggers ID was revealed – NOT PUBLICLY – but to COHEN? She can’t sue if she can’t find out who posted the allegedly offending post. She followed the rules – even the rules that Techdirt advocates – yet now is the product of derision over that choice.

Free speech isn’t affected. Anonymous posting has been used as a SHIELD against SLANDER and LIBEL. One could argue that the postings WERE Slanderous and the lawsuit justified and the methods used PROPER.

Why all the fuss?

iNtrigued (profile) says:

Re: Something inconsistent at Techdirt

“Techdirt posts continually tout safe harbors and indicate – on more than one occasions – that persons suing should sue the INDIVIDUAL USING the services and NOT the service providers.”

Hence why nobody has brought that argument up. They aren’t faulting her in that regard. The whole argument is on the first amendment, value of anonymity, and Cohen’s actions.

“Why are you complaining that the bloggers ID was revealed – NOT PUBLICLY – but to COHEN? She can’t sue if she can’t find out who posted the allegedly offending post. She followed the rules – even the rules that Techdirt advocates – yet now is the product of derision over that choice.”

First, its a slipper-slope argument. Second, the problem is she shouldn’t be suing in the first place. She has most definitely brought this to many more people’s attention by doing so. If anything she should be suing herself, since she is the one spreading the rumor. I doubt more than a dozen people would have even read the blog, let alone took it to mean Cohen really was a skank. After her actions though, she will forever be tied to the word “Skank” regardless of whether she is one or not. Its a prime example of a SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY if you ask me. Third, I would like to know which “rules” you are referring to.

“Free speech isn’t affected. Anonymous posting has been used as a SHIELD against SLANDER and LIBEL. One could argue that the postings WERE Slanderous and the lawsuit justified and the methods used PROPER.”

Many people are missing the point, it is not about free speech, as a re:free speech from an AC pointed out, but the retaliation for that speech. In that case, the judge’s ruling most certainly has an affect. Don’t get me wrong, both Cohen and the blogger/”supposed ex-friend” are at fault, but that does not mean the courts need to get involved.

Lisae Boucher (profile) says:

Just wondering...

The case wasn’t about if “Skank” is too offensive or not. The case was that someone made a remark that this model took as a serious offense. And I do think people have a right to know who is insulting them. You can’t sue an anonymous person so to take further steps, you need to know who did the insulting.
I can imagine the judge to force Google to provide the identity of the person who did the insults so another judge can decide if the remarks are defamatory or not.

Free speech doesn’t allow people to freely insult others without further consequences. Free speech is mostly so people can tell their opinions freely to others without any fear. But insults aren’t opinions and that makes a big difference.

But Liskula Cohen is no hero.

Lisae Boucher (profile) says:

Re: Re: Just wondering...

Yes, and no! For a criminal court, an insult is just free speech. You won’t get convicted over it. However, persons can still decide to sue the person who insulted them and demand damages. This is a bit similar to the O.J. Simpson trial. O.J. was cleared in a criminal court, yet found guilty and forced to pay in a Civil court.
Look at http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/analysis.aspx?id=18508 for example. It’s more about profanity but it does say that insults can be considered criminal, if they were meant to be hurtful. (It’s called “Fighting words”.) The case “Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire” confirms that insults can be punishable by law, though.

So technically, the person insulting Liskula Cohen could be tried by the Criminal system for breaking the peace with her insults, which were used as fighting words. And she could be tried in Civil Court for defamation and damages to the reputation of Liskula Cohen.

Another case at http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org//commentary.aspx?id=2213 shows that insulting someone doesn’t automatically make it criminal. “Criminal Libel” barely exists anymore because the law that supports it is a bit outdated. It’s still there, though. But insults can still result in civil cases and the case the article links to mentions that the case failed in Criminal court but it was settled before it got in Civil court, resulting in the insulting party being forced to pay damages and costs.

Don’t overestimate the things Free Speech will allow you to say.

Finally, http://www.article19.org/advocacy/defamationmap/map/?dataSet=defamation_legislation provides a good map of countries where certain kinds of defamation are a criminal offense and how insulted parties can deal with these.

Scaper (profile) says:

Re: Just wondering...

An insult is an opinion. Period.

Besides, in a court case of libel or slander, it has to be proven that the insult has harmed the victim in a meaningful, quantifiable way. That means sales have dropped, medications have been administered, etc. — there has to be proof that the insults were truly harmful in reality to that person. NOT just that “her feelings were hurt”. Defaming someone has to hurt them somehow in a way that can be shown by evidence. How did Cohen prove that this level was reached for her? She didn’t.

The fact that a judge (or group of judges) allowed this case to even be heard stuns me, because such a case cannot deliver the aforementioned proof of real harm.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Just wondering...

Even if there was real harm, big deal. If I disagree with someone and I tell everyone why I disagree with them and everyone agrees with me so they stop buying merchandise from that person/entity or not hire them that’s no big deal. Say I bought a product and it turned out to be defected. I call techsupport and they’re useless. I blog about it. The company loses millions. TOUGH. The company should have acted responsibly instead of ripping off its customers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Mike, the first amendment is a two way street – you have freedom of speech, this is true, but you also have responsibility that comes with it.

Freedom of speech isn’t the freedom to hide. Even as an anonymous coward, I know that you are carefully tracking IP addresses. When I say something, it isn’t just lobbing a word bomb into a crowded room and running. I have liablity that comes with what I say.

Nobody should ever feel that they can say the type of crap this guy (or girl) said online and expect to not be liable. Unmasking the individual is a huge step in establishing the other half of the game required for internet bloggers to be taken seriously: responsibility for your words.

iNtrigued (profile) says:

Re: ...the first amendment is a two way street

Nobody should ever feel that they can say the type of crap this guy (or girl) said online and expect to not be liable.

Actually, its a free country, at least in the US, and you are free to feel however you want regardless of how wrong it is. Just don’t expect people to take you seriously, but Cohen apparently took them very seriously and in there lies the problem. She should have realized that this blogger was just a ranting, raving troll and gone on with her life, like any other grown adult would have done. But instead, brought it to the attention of a much bigger audience forever linking her name to the word “Skank”. As brought up many times on TD, this is a clear example of the Streisand Effect.

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Re: Re:

A sense of responsibility (which I applaud) is different than legal culpability. I’m not a lawyer, but I do know that free speech can only be curbed under a very limited set of circumstances in the US. Defamation, incitement, public threats in some cases, etc. The question ultimately here is whether the Writer of Skank’s comment is defamatory. Since the plantiff is probably considered a private person not a public figure, the standard for proving defamation is much lower than if she were, say, Madonna or other high-profile skanks. Even with that, I seriously doubt this speech will be considered defamatory.

Anonymous speech has a deep history in the US and plaid a material role in our founding. Though it is, perhaps, used too often for stupid or annoying purposes today, it should not be tossed out in a caviler fashion.

Trust The Gordon's Fishermen says:

Re: Re: Re:

Correct. But I get a bad feeling when the press (if you can call CRN “the press) comes out and showcases talking heads who take a very interesting view of the internet, reducing “Google, Facebook, and Twitter, they’ve actually enhanced what I call the ‘electronic sewer'”

Follow the money.

If you see Ms. Cohen, ask her to send some panties to me. I want to verify that her farts smell like roses on a mid spring’s day, her cooch can remind me of sugar cookies being served on the Cornelia Marie.

Sheinen says:

What a hardcore fucking skankorella, and I’m talking about the judge. Serious cunt-biscuit right there!

I call people all sorts of stuff all the time. Their usual response is to come back with an equally witty retort, like ‘your mum!’ or ‘Suck my big fat and hairy labia!’

That’s how freedom of speech really works, you speak about shit freely, with eachother.

Run off to a judge you dirty bitch, but be prepared for the whole world to start calling you twat-muncher and get on with it.

I love free speech!

zellamayzao says:

Re: Re:

Yeah all she really did is open the door to a whole slew of new insults and people calling her worse names than before from the actions she took.

I work in a body shop and we had this high school kid working part time who was a pretty boy so he got the nickname “sunshine”. He hated it and made the mistake of letting us know he hated it and wanted us to stop because he didnt like it. Guess what….he got it worse and a few others on top of it. He probably should have just kept his mouth shut and acted like a big boy or maybe made fun back at us?

They started calling me “Cindy” my first day there and I said if thats what you guys are gonna call me then so be it. They saw it didnt hurt my feelings and lost interest.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is so much bullshit……

Lets see….
Blogger anonomously calls Model skank, un-acceptable.
Papparazzi flys helicopter over house for 168/week, acceptable.

WTF? are we exchanging the constitution/ bill of rights for….toilet paper?

it seems like the Jerky Boys are runnin’ the courts, while Bill and Ted run the congress.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Free Speech Is Not Free

The constitution says that we may speak freely with out fear of reprisal from our government. However, it does not say that we have the right to do so anonymously.

This is so wrong on so many levels that it would take an entire semester of Constitutional Law to sort it out. Sadly, yours is probably the majority opinion in this country now – that we have no rights unless those rights have been expressly granted by the government.

Of course, this is good news for those in power, as it blinds you and just about everybody else to the rampant abuse of your natural rights. Why would you overthrow a government if you believe that government is the source of your rights, rather than an infringement against those rights?

Anonymous Coward says:

Anonymity is important. For example, when some company or group of people or the government or people work for the government do something wrong people should have the right to report it without having to face retaliation. For example see

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080213/225240253.shtml
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090429/0244064692.shtml
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090616/1608505257.shtml
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20081217/0233353149.shtml

Also there is the case that was posted on Techdirt (can’t find it right now) about a cop blogger revealing somethings about his department and someone figured out who they were and told everyone. I can’t find it right now but Mike even said he thought it was OK if someone finds out who you are via other means (ie: deduction) and exposes you because that’s just part of the Internet.

Also take things like wikileaks should have anonymity. and there is the issue of journalists not revealing their sources as well, there is good reason for anonymity.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

BTW, can someone find me a link to the cop case I’m referring to, maybe Mike knows who I’m talking about. About the cop who posted a comment revealing information about his police department and someone figure out who they were and made it public, it wasn’t through a court injunction or anything like that, and Mike said he was OK with that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Here’s the difference: If the information is not true, they are liable. It’s always that way. So you can by anonymous as you like as long as you are telling the truth. Make stuff up and drag down someone’s character and image in the public eye, and you don’t deserve to be anonymous.

It’s pretty simple stuff.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Not only must the information be not true, the person must know it’s not true. If they thought it was true it’s not defamation.

Secondly, in this case, the person wasn’t making things up. The person didn’t mean the word literally. I can say a politician is stupid and that’s my opinion. If I said the politician broke into my house and stole something and I saw them do it and I know better that’s defamation. There is a difference. Stating something about someone, like calling them stupid or some other word, is fine. In this situation it’s clear the person didn’t mean the word literally so it’s not defamation in the sense that they were making up false facts. They were coming to a conclusion based on the same facts that everyone else knew. A politician might make a publicly known decision and based on that I may say he’s stupid, you might say he’s brilliant. Same data, different interpretation. That’s fine, it’s not defamation.

Anonymous Coward says:

If she plans to sue for slander then she better make sure that is not in fact a Shank.

skank (skāngk) n.
1. A rhythmic dance performed to reggae or ska music, characterized by bending forward, raising the knees, and extending the hands.
2. Disgusting or vulgar matter; filth.
3. One who is disgustingly foul or filthy and often considered sexually promiscuous. Used especially of a woman or girl.

Hummmmmm…. might be true if the anonymous commentators have high moral standards.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The blogger in question didn’t just call her a skank, he referred to her as (if I remember correctly) “the biggest skank in new york”. So even if she is somewhat of a skank, it is very unlikely that she is the biggest skank in new york.

Further, he stated as a fact she was in her mid 40s, when she is in fact in her mid 30s. If any potential employer might have seen the post and decides not to use an “old lady” for their campaigns, harm may have been done.

In the end, the information this blogger published was incorrect, a lie, and appears to have been done to be hurtful and to cause harm. The same words in a newspaper would cost millions, why should a blogger be held to a lower standard? After all, Mike has assured us that bloggers can replace journalists. Well, then, they can eat the consequences as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“The blogger in question didn’t just call her a skank, he referred to her as (if I remember correctly) “the biggest skank in new york”. So even if she is somewhat of a skank, it is very unlikely that she is the biggest skank in new york.”

In other words, by the context, it’s clear that it was just an expression, not to be taken literally.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“It was entirely in context.”

People use these sorts of terms all the time figuratively, not literally. You have provided zero evidence that the term was meant to be used literally and even you admit that “it is very unlikely that she is the biggest skank in new york” in other words it is very unlikely that the phrase was to be taken literally. So even you provided evidence that the phrase was to be taken figuratively with zero that it should be taken literally. So given the context it’s not defamation being that it was not to be taken literally.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Actually, based on some of the quotes I read from this link, http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/01/skanks-in-nyc-blog-post-leads-to-lawsuit-against-google.ars , I’m beginning to think the term might have been meant to be literal. Still doesn’t mean I necessarily support the judges decision though, just a bit confused now.

Anonymous Howard, Cowering says:

Re: Re: (#70 - AC)

References?

You state as fact that she is in her mid 30s. Link to her birth certificate? A “professional” model, in a youth-hungry business, isn’t likely to be tempted to shave a few years off her publicized age. Riiiiight.

It’s nice to know that potential employers in New York make a habit of checking the “Biggest Skanks of NYC” blog before offering work. Perhaps you can offer verification of this statement?

Where has Mike assured us that bloggers can replace journalists? I can recall a number of instances where he has averred that journalism and/or investigative reporting is not going to die simply because traditional newspapers are on their way out, but not one where he said bloggers would “replace journalists.”

In the end, the information you published is incorrect, unverifiable; in short, a lie. Newspapers publish opinions, both popular and unpopular, all the time. It’s called an editorial. In fact, even in news articles, there are often direct quotes attributed to “unnamed sources,” which may do economic damage to someone else. They still get published.

If you are afraid of being called a skank, don’t do skanky things.

Duh!

Anonymous Coward says:

I still think that its a publicity stunt on her part. She is getting her name out there when previously most (if not all) of us would never have heard of her.

I think it is very important to keep this story rolling indefinitely so that everyone remembers why we know her name. If we forget the story but remember the name then she wins as it will likely aid her career.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Unfortunately I think the opposite is true. I have forgotten her name five minutes after reading it every single time, since I’m really not interested in her but in the legalities surrounding the story. In the future, if someone mentions her name to me in another context, I am unlikely to even recognize it, and if I do, I will probably say “oh was that the skank that sued Google?”

taoareyou (profile) says:

Want to know how this could be "chilling"?

So, now if you publish a negative opinion, there is precedent for not only publicly identifying you, but taking legal action because you made your opinion known.

It seems trivial. A model and a blogger.

But what happens when you publish your opinion of a business? If it is negative, but and opinion (and by opinion, I mean something subjective, like “skank”. You cannot prove a subjective opinion is untrue, especially when the person who makes it claims it is true to them. Actual untruths are obviously not protected), any entity can take you to court (although if they make any statements of opinion about you, such as you are a “sad” person who has nothing better to do, you should certainly take offense and sue them for publicly expressing their negative opinion of you).

Negative movie review? Court. Bad restaurant review? Court. You didn’t like my plumbing service and posted it on Angie’s List? COURT! When individuals and companies can use the courts (aka. Government) to stifle if not actually penalize publicly expressed negative opinions, that is definitely a “chilling effect” on our rights to express how we feel.

On some other notes. Stating an negative opinion is not an “accusation” in any legal sense and does not give you the right to force a person to identify themselves (opening themselves up to all sorts of retribution).

Freedom of speech allows you to make any negative opinions you want (“Lady X is a Skank” is opinion. “Lady X is a child rapist” is not. One cannot be disproved because there is not a set legal definition for “skank”, while there certainly is legal definition for the latter) and not be prosecuted by the government.

Anonymous speech is not singled out as prohibited so by default it remains under the blanket of “speech”. You cannot arbitrarily select certain types of speech and declare them unprotected.

Chris says:

Lincoln's "Skanks of Springfield"

Many people don’t know that Abraham Lincoln anonymously wrote something similar to “Skanks of Springfield” under the pseudonym “Rebecca.”

Lincoln quoted an adversary as having made this skanky remark to the women of Springfield;

“Dear girls, it is distressing, but I cannot marry you all. Too well I know how much you suffer; but do, do remember, it is not my fault that I am so handsome and so interesting.”

Of course, during much of our history, the offended person’s only defense would be to challenge their suspected tormentor to a duel. And both might then ‘suffer’ the ensuing publicity.

If there had been YouTube back on September 22, 1842, we might have video of Abraham Lincoln fighting a hilarious duel with cavalry broadswords.

Can we hope that Ms. Cohen, and Mr. STNBAB will entertain us with a duel, maybe cream pies at 50 paces, instead of a boring lawsuit?

http://www.historynet.com/abraham-lincoln-prepares-to-fight-a-saber-duel.htm

Philippa McKee says:

Absolution from "Feeling Offended" is in the Bill of Rights for Canadians?

I laughed when I read that representing counsel stated “her client’s defense is based on the Bill of Rights.” Source

So I read the Bill of rights, and was unable to find anything that applies.

In fact, I believe she’s a Canadian. Do rights cross borders and Canadians get transferable “Rights” under the Bill of Rights?

Perhaps this is offense she feels.

Offense is often considered an emotion. I’m also pretty sure it’s not written in the Bill of rights or Constitiution that you are granted life, liberty, freedom, and absolution from offense.

The judge was obviously very wrong in his ruling. Does ignorance feed this “offense” sensation? Or was it the desire to hold this woman’s body?

Bruce says:

Re: Re: Re: Absolution from "Feeling Offended" is in the Bill of Rights for Canadians?

More t-shirt ideas:

Put them both on a T-Shirt that says:
“These ladies know Skanks better than I.” or just simply “These Ladies know Skanks” or
“Define the word ‘skank'” or

Just Cohen’s picture, with the words “Use the word ‘skank’ in a sentence.”

Clueby4 says:

Factual statements are a defense, right?

Can’t wait to see the hostile wittiness testimonies. The phrase can of worms seems appropriate.

A simple google image search will confirm the diagnosed skankiness.

The more likely situation, Cohen is using the blogger as a target of her displacement for her issues with aging. Sad really.

@Jessica thankfully your perception of what free speech should be isn’t how it is written or interpreted. Also, intelligent and reasonable people don’t believe what they read, most actually seek out other independent sources to obtain a more balanced understanding of what they read. There’s a saying; “Believe nothing that you read, and half of what you see”

Morisato (profile) says:

Hah

Any coward cowardly enough to hide obviously should be brought out. Those folks are usually the ones having something mischief to hide thereof. In any case the whole case was mishandled and now she may get sued even with an apology. Case closed. Anonymity imo should only be used to actually protect you from harm/government but the need to hide yourself just so you can defame others… well you get the idea. Not that I care myself since sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. This is the internet after all. Too many low lifes online needing to prove a point or prove themselves. Just let them be and do what you do best in the real world 😀

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Hah

“Any coward cowardly enough to hide obviously should be brought out.”

So what’s your first and last name. Tell me your IP address too and I want Mike to confirm it since you claim you should obviously be brought out. Furthermore, I want a high quality picture of you with a note that says your IP address and with a drivers license or state ID in the picture.

Anonymous Coward says:

Driving Traffic

The David Coursey blog is not there to be factual, good journalism, or anything of the sort. It’s called the Tech Inciter for a reason. He just says stupid, ill-informed, and often completely false things (which he may or may not believe, I don’t know). That said, he serves a purpose for PC World. He says stupid stuff, people get angry about it, and it drives traffic to PC World’s site. He’s not a good journalist, nor a good writer, but he gets them money, and that’s what matters.

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