US Marshals Service Asks Us To Remove A Comment

from the is-this-the-best-use-of-their-time? dept

Last week, we had a post about a ruling from Judge Beryl Howell, concerning awards on default judgments. Judge Howell has been a controversial figure in copyright circles over the last few months, because prior to becoming a judge, she was an RIAA lobbyist, and prior to that, she helped write the DMCA and a variety of other really bad copyright laws. Not surprisingly, her rulings on copyright issues have gone strongly in favor of the copyright holder — even going against the rulings of many other judges. At the very least, it’s difficult to see her as an unbiased member of the judiciary on copyright issues. A general sense of fairness would suggest that, given her role in the laws she’s now asked to rule on, she should recuse herself from copyright cases. I don’t believe that Judge Howell is corrupt. In fact, I find charges of corruption towards judges thrown around way too frequently. But I do think she has an obvious and clearly stated bias on copyright issues, and thus is not an impartial judge in such cases.

Given the controversy and the nature of the open forum we provide, some folks took to the comments to criticize Judge Howell — and some took it to ridiculous lengths, by making suggestions about Judge Howell that were way beyond inappropriate. This happens sometimes in comments sections on the internet. People often make extreme and ridiculous comments out of frustration. We see it all the time, and whether we agree with the comment or not (and usually, we don’t), most people chalk it up to what it is: someone venting frustration by making an extreme comment. No one takes such comments seriously.

Well, there are always some exceptions, of course. And in this case, someone did apparently take one of those ridiculous comments seriously. The one that said:

Is it time to start murdering the corrupt yet?

This is, undoubtedly, a stupid comment. Because the answer is obvious to pretty much anyone: NO. It is not appropriate to murder the corrupt, no matter how corrupt they might be. There are all sorts of ways to attack corruption, but murder is not a way that should ever be on the list, let alone anywhere near the list of possibilities. Of course, as is the nature of online communities, even people who disagree with Judge Howell seemed to think this comment was a bit over the top — even though it doesn’t advocate anything specifically (it just asks a question) and doesn’t name anyone in particular.

Again, most people would see such a comment, recognize that it was someone venting frustration, just as others have vented frustration in the past in inappropriate and extreme ways, that never lead to any action.

However, a few days later, the US Marshals Service contacted us, saying they were investigating this particular comment, and asked us to remove it. I actually thought this was odd, because the method for removing such a comment would be to delete it, which would delete with it any information associated with that comment — and nowhere in the request was there any mention of us being told to retain the data. However, our general viewpoint is that we don’t remove comments, even offensive ones, other than comments that we deem to be spam. We certainly deem this comment to be offensive, stupid and counterproductive, but we saw no reason to remove it. Indeed, it spurred a long thread of discussion.

It’s likely that someone else in the comment thread (and it’s not difficult to guess who from the thread itself) reported the comment to the Marshals Service, believing that it’s a fun thing to do to cause trouble for us. The truth is, this individual is almost certainly wasting the valuable and important time of the Marshals Service, who have significant and important work to do, but instead are “investigating” a stupid comment written in frustration on a blog.

We are not removing the comment, and we’ve explained this to the US Marshals Service, who noted they understood our reasons. The Marshals Service indicated that its first course of action in such situations is to seek the removal of such content — which strikes us as a little odd. In this case in particular, the comment did not advocate anything. It certainly didn’t mention or name a judge. It did not even suggest doing anything. It asked a question. A stupid question — we agree — but still, it was just asking a question. The US Marshals Service has every right to investigate threats and to do what it needs to do. Certainly judges have been targeted by crazy people at times, and I appreciate the work that the Marshals Service does in protecting judges. But I am still troubled that the US Marshals Service would contact sites in such a manner, certainly implying that the US government and the Justice Department might somehow take action if you did not remove the comments. In this case, the Marshals Service has assured us that no action will be taken against us for leaving the comment up, and they even recognized (and apparently expected) that we would write about this whole thing.

But, for everyone in our comments: let’s try to keep a little perspective. One idiot making a stupid comment does not amount to a credible threat. We keep our comments open so we can enjoy the benefits of a wide range of opinions, insights and experiences. And while sometimes the comments descend into petty name calling, much of the time, they’re awesome. Making idiotic comments about murder is completely counterproductive, as is reporting such obviously non-specific comments to the US government. Let’s keep a little perspective here and focus on debating the issues.

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Comments on “US Marshals Service Asks Us To Remove A Comment”

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295 Comments
Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

If the comment in question here counts as advocating violence, then the constant hyperbole you trolls spew certainly counts too. And if you don’t want to be lumped in with the worst of the worst, but you still want to lace every comment with dismissive/aggressive slights about techdirt and its community, then it’s time to consider a handle.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

“How can I address the contents of your post beyond the handful of sentences that are in front of me? “

This is all I ask. Address the handful of sentences that are in front of you (including those attributed to the same snowflake when that’s readily apparent, if you’d like), rather than what some other AC said some other time.

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Addressing what content?
“Is this the first/only comment on Techdirt advocating violence?” Are you using the same ‘question mark misdirection’ you accused Mike of?

Fine… allow me to address your post:

What’s your point? Are you asking if the registered community and/or supporters of TechDirt have posted an advocacy of violence? The answer to that is “I have no idea”. I haven’t read every single comment made on every single post.

However, that’s all a mislead. The ‘advocacy of violence’ here was made by an anonymous poster (you? ~shrug~) for the obvious purpose of causing a reaction. Considering everything posted in that original thread and in this one, I’d say that was one of the best examples of trolling we’ve seen in a while around here.

So that brings me back to my point: make your point better. Clarify: what are you implying by your original question? If you’re not implying anything, why ask such a ridiculous question… of course there’s been some nutjob jackwaggon posting violence around here somewhere… TD has been around for a while now…. law of large numbers and all that.

And now, let?s address your post as a response to Dark Helmets. DH was addressing the ridiculous comment that Mike and TD broad-brush the whole TSA system because of the actions of one TSA agent. I say ?ridiculous? without fear of contradiction on this one. Considering the many MANY examples we?ve seen of the system being abused, mislead, and just simply useless? there?s no way ANYONE can say that the foul opinion of the TSA in general is a misapplication of the traits of a single agent.

So your response to that is to ask? what? Is this one example of ?advocacy for violence? somehow one among many that illustrates some theme in TD? It sounds like you?re agreeing with the original AC that the ?many advocates for violation? illustrate some kind of legitimate threat. Just trying to clarify what you meant here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

DH seemed to suggest that the characterization of the TSA was justified because we are talking about not just one agent.

On the other hand, there has not been just one instance of a TD commenter advocating violence (seems like someone starts getting all “second amendment remedies”-y in just about every thread).

If multiple examples is enough to characterize the TSA as a whole, is it not enough to characterize TD commenters as a whole? I’m not saying it is or it isn’t, but I’m questioning the implication from DH that these examples are so easily distinguishable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

a whole bunch of stupid unrelated comments referencing violence(some serious some joking)by mostly anonymous and mostly stupid people on website does not equal a credible threat to anyone

a whole bunch of stupid unrelated crimes perpetrated by members of a government task force with authority over millions of people a day, authority which does not serve the greater good, is kind of a bigger fish

HothMonster says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Re:

no but you seemed to be trying to imply that because the there are more than one comment with violent tones on techdirt and as we point out more then one bad TSA agent makes the TSA bad then therefore Techdirt must be violent.

again apples!=oranges. I disagree that the two examples are not easily distinguishable, public forum VS government organization, anonymous posts VS administrative decree, ect ect

if that was not your point im not sure what was

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

My point was the opposite, actually: that it might not be justified to characterize the TSA as Y based on X number of instances(not that it IS justified to characterize Techdirt as Y based on X number of instances).

More generally, my point was to call attention to the standard used to render judgment on all sorts of things, since it seems that different standards are applied depending on what judgment the judge feels like rendering.

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

“DH seemed to suggest that the characterization of the TSA was justified because we are talking about not just one agent.” (emph. added by me)

Nice… I see what you did there. “not just one”… tricky tricky!

Nice try tho. We’re not characterizing the TSA based on “not just one” agent… we’re characterizing the TSA based on many actions taken by multiple (more than ‘not just one’) agents, the agency’s responses to those actions and the fact that it is completely useless.

If you want to try to apply that same rationale to the comments section of TD, you better have more than just two (you know… “not just one”) examples of advocating violence.

I agree with DH that these instances are easily distinguishable… the VAST majority of TD’s comment section- insiders and outsiders… those who agree AND disagree… ALL- are reasonable and don’t resort to threats of violence or start advocating the murder of people who don’t agree with whatever it is we’re making a stand on. On the other hand, we?ve seen repeated examples of the TSA being exactly what we?re saying they are? some of the offences a repeat of the same damned thing to the SAME DAMNED PEOPLE (urine bag, anyone?).

The difference here should be as visible as the difference between getting bit by a mosquito (something that when it happens, you notice, scratch a bit, and move on)… and getting hit in the face by a baseball bat with a nail in it.

What you were supporting was a troll popping up to sling a bit of muddy shit at the community here in a half-assed attempt at some ridiculous straw-man and red-herring misdirection.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

I wasn’t trying to be tricky. I was trying to be accurate. Look at DH’s comment.

“If you want to try to apply that same rationale to the comments section of TD, you better have more than just two (you know… “not just one”) examples of advocating violence.”

Did you not read the part where I explicitly said I’m NOT trying to apply that same characterization to Techdirt?

If you’re not going to read what I write, and just have an argument with some imaginary troll that lives in your head, I’m going to bow out.

HothMonster says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Re:

the only DH comment i see is:

“One TSA agent? ONE!!!???

You haven’t been paying attention again, Beuhler….”

am i missing something? either way DH’s comment ^ was only suppose to (imo) call out the ridiculousness of the statement above him. You are the one who, directly below him, tried to say that the TSA having multiple bad apples is like Techdirt having multiple stupid violent posters. Of course the actions of a government body and their employees and the actions of a bunch of random people on the internet are not really comparible, which I think is what you have been beating at.

but this thread has fractioned off one too many times, i think we may all be lost

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

I can’t tell you how funny this all is. All I did was call out the silliness of pretending a single TSA agent did wrong. AC then built up a strawman, followed by attributing all manner of interpretations to me to suit his need. Techdirt faithful responded with their own interpretations. You guys are arguing over your interpretations of something I said a long, loooong time ago.

End result? I’m fucking Jesus, and all of you know it….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

If the comment in question here counts as advocating violence, then the constant hyperbole you trolls spew certainly counts too. And if you don’t want to be lumped in with the worst of the worst, but you still want to lace every comment with dismissive/aggressive slights about techdirt and its community, then it’s time to consider a handle.

So you equate the rhetorical question about murdering the corrupt in a discussion about a judge largely condemned as corrupt by many of the Techdirtbags to be on par with the violence advocated by saying that certain Techdirtbags are mindless lickspittles, toadys and failed creators? You lost me here.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
You swooned at “freetard”, you marveled at “FUD”, you giggled at “kool-ade”
-AND NOW-
…in the most anticipated release of the season,
the trolls have unveiled their new buzzword…
It brings me great pleasure to introduce to you:
“BROADBRUSH”
[Coming soon to every fucking comment thread on the site]

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Ooh, I like how this has grown into me getting laughed of stage. I don’t remember that part, but I’ll take your word for it, since you have obviously spent WAY more time watching and thinking about my performance than I have. You really are building quite the mythology about me in your head, aren’t you?

You’ll fucking LOVE this: there are about 7 new videos out there of me performing a much larger event last Thursday. They should give you endless fodder for your pathetic ad hominems. Go do a YouTube search, this is going to be like fucking christmas to you buddy.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

See, I knew you assholes would eat that up! Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

Personally I agree with you – I have no idea why I was invited to perform at that festival or why a whole bunch of people showed up to watch. They must be fucking crazy. Lots of fun though, so I’m not complaining. Not that I expect you to know what applause feels like.

HothMonster says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

no need to broadbrush the ACs because of the actions of a few. And don’t broadbrush all the catch phrases there were some good ones. Jeese marcus because of your actions today i might just have to paint you with a broadbrush and consider all you posts as bigoted.

broadbrush broadbrush broadbrush
(can we add this to the spellchecker? if i have to use it in every article these red lines will drive me crazy)

proposal for next catch phrase: lambaste or we could follow the media and go with: class warfare but thats not as much fun imo

AdamR (profile) says:

“Is it time to start murdering the corrupt yet? “

This comment was simply moronic but nothing compared to political and religious zealots trout out when talking bout abortion rights,immigration, stem cell research, evolution or many of the social programs that many lower income people depend on.

I didn’t see and direct threat to the judge there and the person who did seems that all they wanted is to rattle this site and its contributors. Nice try, now focus on moving outta your mom’s basement and get a real job.

Anonymous Coward says:

Oh come on, Mike. Just because you put a question mark at the end of a string of words does not mean you’re not suggesting something.

At the very least, you’re suggesting it’s a legitimate question to ask/course of conduct to consider.

Consider the following question:

“Is it time for Mike Masnick to stop being a disingenuous little shitbag?”

It merely asks a question, right? Wrong! It, at the very least, suggests that Mike Masnick is a disingenuous little shitbag and it’s about time he being such a disingenuous little shitbag.

I want to note that I am using this comment/question for illustrative purposes, and it is not an accurate reflection of my feelings.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes without specifically naming a name, it’s impossible to infer the true purpose of a statement.

For example when I wonder aloud what kind of a moronic, ass-licking Masnick fanboy would suggest that a comment about murdering the corrupt after an article and series of comments that suggest a particular judge was corrupt was somehow mis-posted or related to hard drives or penicillin specimens. Of course, I’m not mentioning any names here so please don’t read anything into this. I’m just saying that if someone were to make that kind of assertion they’d have to be a desperate loser, pathetically seeking attention.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The guy is asking if it is time to start killing the corrupt, nobody answered probably because most people don’t think it is serious or don’t want to start murdering the corrupt, although in particular I believe people should shout and insult that bitch every time they get a chance to show how well she is perceived in a larger social group.

Do you have a problem with that?

Fuck you!

Cowardly Anon says:

Re: Re:

I know that reading comprehension is difficult, and it was a very long post so saying RTFA might not really work for you…

But, Mike didn’t post that question. It was written by a anonymous coward. It could have even been you for all we know.

What Mike is saying is that it’s a stupid thing to say. He doesn’t agree with it. But he’s not going to delete it b/c he values the community, stupid comments, personal attacks, trolls and all. You should be happy that Mike takes this stand point. Not many other blogs or forums do.

Also, your example is a bit off. I would suggest you consider the following question: “Is it time for anonymous cowards to stop being stupid little shitbags?”

See how I made it a general question about a group of people and you made it specific to one person?

Reading comprehension my friend…. it’s all about reading comprehension!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“I know that reading comprehension is difficult”

Not really, but I can see how you might think that, given your apparent failure to comprehend my post.

Nowhere in my post did I suggest that Mike wrote the question we are discussing. I realize that he did not. However, he did write (in TFA) that the question did not even “suggest” doing anything.

Regardless of whether the question identifies a particular person or not, that does not control whether the question suggests doing something.

For example, given the context of our discussion, if I were to now ask “isn’t it about time for tech bloggers to stop posting ridiculously disingenuous articles?”, I think it would clearly suggest that the particular tech blogger we are discussing about DOES post ridiculously disingenuous articles and it’s about time he stopped.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Way to play disingenuous semantics. And congrats on demonstrating the point EXTREMELY WELL in your own comment: if everything was taken literally and at face value, you might be on the hook for libel and defamation since you can’t prove Mike is literally a bag full of shit or “shitbag”

Sorry buddy, speech laws don’t work on your “gotcha!” approach to reading comprehension.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

What on Earth are you talking about?

I never suggested that all speech must always be interpreted literally.

Moreover, you seem to be acknowledging that my question can actually reasonably be taken as a statement of fact.

Seriously, Marcus, your contributions to this thread are below par for you.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yeah, sorry, perhaps I am not being clear. Those of us who don’t set the bar at ground level occasionally dip below it. Allow me to clarify:

You are trying to turn this into an argument over a question mark. It’s not. It’s about what any reasonably intelligent person can interpret about a given statement, e.g. that the original comment was expressing frustration not advocating murder, or that your choice of words was expressive and not literal.

This has nothing to do with a question mark or any other specific structural patterns.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“This has nothing to do with a question mark or any other specific structural patterns.”

Except for Mike’s statement that he was “just asking a question,” I might agree with you. I don’t believe he was “just asking a question,” but rather expressing a viewpoint. I take no position on whether that’s some sort of “credible threat” or not, or in some other way legitimately concerning.

I just think the particular point Mike made in his article (I’m explicitly addressing and criticizing one element of Mike’s article, and not *everything* in Mike’s article), is a total crock.

It annoys me to no end the frequency with which people decide on an ultimate point, which might be totally correct, and then throw all sorts of unsupportable and ridiculous argument in support of that point (perhaps in addition to legitimate argument and support), and then get people who agree with the ultimate point to defend the BS argument that’s really unnecessary to begin with.

HothMonster says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

your point is that there is a greater implication in the question that it is not merely a question. Right but is it still a threat? is it worthy of the time of the US marshals? Does it really imply that this man is dangerous or that anyones live is in danger? Do the implications, the tone, the place of posting, and the follow up comments make this a real and credible threat? Yes the post implied something, that is obvious seeing as it was a rhetorical question. No one thinks he was honestly asking a question and his future actions would be based on the responses. That would be more frightening than any implications the rhetorical question made. I believe mikes point in, its just a question, was that its not a call to arms, a threat, a promise, propaganda, or a link to a website with pictures of dead baby skulls and the judge in her bathroom. It was just a question, a pointless stupid question stated by a man probably disenfranchised and frustrated with the system and those holding the reins.

your other point of course is that Mike is being purposefully misleading like all the other disingenuous little douches that post articles which while certainly not an original or innovative idea is probably why the responses directed at you tend to be a little short of patience and rude.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

We seem to interpret Mike’s “it’s just a question” language differently. Given that he clarified that language with a statement that it doesn’t even “suggest” doing anything, I don’t think I buy your interpretation.

That doesn’t necessarily make it a credible threat, and I never said it was. But why does it take a million posts calling me an asshole (not in so many words, though I think some came close) to get to a post that acknowledges, “well, sure, it’s not JUST a question.”

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

But why does it take a million posts calling me an asshole (not in so many words, though I think some came close) to get to a post that acknowledges, “well, sure, it’s not JUST a question.”

Because there are a bunch of giant and prolific assholes who comment here, and they all do it with the same name as you. Look, I know it’s not fair, but once in awhile you ARE going to get mistakenly lumped in with them – especially when you make no effort to distinguish yourself (like say not opening with “oh come on mike” or using “mike is a shitbag” as your example – a pretty trollish approach if you ask me)

Is it really so surprising that myself and others saw your comment and assumed you were an asshole based on your tone and your examples?

I honestly don’t see why you’re so surprised. You’ve been commenting pretty rationally for the rest of this thread, sure, but the comment that started the whole thing sounded pretty damn trollish to me.

HothMonster says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

also unfortunately your snowflake was dangerously similar to that pea-green troll. Even after pointing it out to Marcus I am still getting you two mixed up. So any point you make really isn’t getting a far shake cause your getting the troll broadbrush rubbed all over your posts

(in my mind everyone in pee-wee’s playhouse yells whenever i can sneak broadbrush into a comment)

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I’ll grant you that the matter of it being a question is not central, but it still seems relevant. Of the comments “Is it time to murder the corrupt?” and “It is time to murder the corrupt” I for one would find the second slightly creepier and slightly more worthy of followup, even if both are almost certainly hyperbolic.

But yes, if you narrow it down to that single point, you’re right: the phrase “just asking a question” is not entirely accurate. The word “just” could probably come out of there.

HothMonster says:

Re: Re:

“”Is it time for Mike Masnick to stop being a disingenuous little shitbag?”

It merely asks a question, right? Wrong! It, at the very least, suggests that Mike Masnick is a disingenuous little shitbag and it’s about time he being such a disingenuous little shitbag.”

Well by that logic “Is it time to murder the corrupt yet?” implies that it has not been time to murder the corrupt! OH NO THE HORROR look at the implications!

Anonymous Coward says:

Hmmmmm. So first it was this:

Btw, the comment you’re responding to? It’s from someone who normally attacks us. Yes, that’s right, it’s someone on your side of the debate who posted that as an exaggeration pretending to be one of the people who support us.

Now the same people (person?) are responsible for calling down the heat on themselves.? Interesting.

It’s likely that someone else in the comment thread (and it’s not difficult to guess who from the thread itself) reported the comment to the Marshals Service, believing that it’s a fun thing to do to cause trouble for us.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Now the same people (person?) are responsible for calling down the heat on themselves.? Interesting.

Actually, the comment Mike was referencing was a totally different comment. (This would be the one about goat-fucking or whatever it was.)

I do love how this story has already resulted in about 200 comments, most of which are by psychotically upset A.C.’s who all use the same phrases and post within minutes of each other.

I guess when they post offensive comments and claim to be on Mike’s side, solely to discredit him; and call the U.S. Marshalls on harmless venting, solely to cause trouble for Techdirt… they were actually stupid enough to think nobody would notice what was going on.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I know I personally feel much safer knowing that the authorities are on top of this…

In case that isn’t sarcasm… you feel safer knowing the Marshals are investigating uncredible threats that vaguely imply killing someone? I feel like they’re either clueless and wasting their time (because there’s some other threat they should be paying more attention to) or overstaffed (because they have the time to investigate the real threats as well as this crap).

Manabi (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Why? Even though the comment is offensive and stupid, it’s not illegal. It didn’t even suggest violence against anyone specific. Hell, it’s asking a question so it’s not even directly suggesting violence, merely asking if it’s time to resort to it.

There’s this thing called freedom of speech, TechDirt supports it. This comment is an example of it. No laws were broken, turning over the commenter’s information would be unethical, and possibly illegal. (Plus the US Marshals didn’t even ask for it according to the post…)

cc (profile) says:

So let me get this straight…

The moronic comment in question was actually posted by one of the Anonymous trolls, and then the Anonymous trolls went and reported it to the government??

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. Some of these people sound like crazy stalker types and they might actually mean you harm, Mike. Having a troll infestation is one thing, but if they are trying to get Techdirt into trouble things are a lot more serious!

halley (profile) says:

“The Marshals Service indicated that its first course of action in such situations is to seek the removal of such content — which strikes us as a little odd.”

It’s very easy to see authority figures in absolutist authoritarian colors. Many times, this is justified. Unlike many cop-vs-photographer cases, they didn’t force the deletion (destruction of evidence, abuse of power). Unlike a credible “terroristic” threat, they didn’t force retention and investigate the poster deeply.

In this case, it may not be as nefarious as it may sound on its face. Consider a cop who is called to a dispute between neighbors.

“Sir, you have every right to hang underwear on the plastic flamingo in your front yard. But I’m asking you now, would you please not exercise that right, and take it down, just to appease the situation with your distraught neighbor, and let us all go back to our more pressing duties?”

Manabi (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If the comment is serious enough that the US Marshals consider it a credible threat that needs to be addressed then they need to be retaining evidence in case that commenter continues to make threats and eventually acts on them. Asking for the comment to be deleted with no retention of data on the poster will actually make it more difficult for them to do their job protecting judges. That’s why Mike’s so surprised. It’s sort of an open admission that the US Marshals aren’t doing their job, or at least that they’re doing it really badly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Perhaps the comment in question was more an ironic illustration of our increasingly draconic speech laws? IP and Copyright are being synthesized into criminal code. Many “trolls” here seem to think this blog post is corrupt in that it advocated piracy, even though it merely advocates less draconian approaches to the subject.

Maybe the comment was actually a threat towards Mike, saying we should give him the death penalty without trial because TechDirt refuses to toe the MPAA/RIAA line?

It’s only a matter of time.

CarlWeathersForPres says:

Did they ask you to take it down or tell you? You kinda switched the tone of it half way through, saying that asking is implying legal action.

Personally, I see no problem with a courtesy ask by a US Martial. It gives them something to put down on paper so they can get it off their desk. If this was a legitimate threat I’d assume they would do more, but just to show some sort of follow-up(and maybe even get a jist of the viewpoints of the site management to determine what kind of fervor is normal on a site) is enough so that they wouldn’t catch the brunt of the blame if something were to happen. To me, this is CYA 101.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think his point is that any time a law enforcement agency asks for your cooperation, there’s an implied threat present, whether they intend it or no. The police officer asks you nicely to please step over here. That’s not the same as any citizen asking the same question, because there is the possibility if you don’t comply the officer will pull out a weapon and compel you to.

Some Guy says:

Re: Re:

My younger brother is actually in the process of becoming a U.S. Marshal and that comment would honestly be deemed idiotic and a waste of time to follow up on. As a a matter of fact, I’ll probably show him this article just to get his opinion on it and the opinion of the Marshals he’s working with at the moment.

From what I know, and what he tells, it is highly doubtful they would officially monitor this site under the assumption that it is a potentially subversive comment site. However, they are assigned to judges for their protection, and as such, if someone were to report the comment (and depending on how it was reported, as in “well I read on this site I visit someone advocating for harm to befall a certain judge” or something to that effect), it would be the Marshal’s duty to investigate the matter. Even if completely obvious to everyone, that it was a stupid comment/question to be taken not seriously in the least.

I think the matter was handled appropriately and reasonably by both Mike and the Marshal’s office. They do indeed have better things to do with their time. So whoever reported the comment, more than likely one of the Anonymous Trolls, did indeed waste the Marshal’s time and perhaps prevented them from doing more important things. Essentially, IMO, they themselves were more criminal than the person who posted the original question.

Some Guy says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well, read the article. They did pretty much investigate, albeit not in a hardcore manner. They talked to Mike, he informed them of the situation, they asked that he delete it, he said he wouldn’t and told them why, they said okay and moved on.

Why the request to delete the comment if it’s so clearly a waste of everyone’s time? Why not? Doesn’t hurt to ask for it to be deleted does it? Obviously not. If it had been, they’d have been happy. If it hadn’t been, as was the case, not much they can do about it, since it isn’t a direct threat and it is literally just a question (undertones and hidden meanings, assuming there are any, not withstanding). They drop it and go on about more pressing and important matters.

As for a policy book, well there are policies and procedures for dealing with real/verified/actual threats. But this isn’t one of those things. So like I said, doesn’t hurt to ask to have it removed/deleted.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Wm Shakespeare

Yes – this really underlines the point I was trying to make – which is that statements like this are often misunderstood because people don’t pay sufficient attention to context – and hence an apparently inflammatory statement may be a joke – or may even (as here) mean the opposite of what you think.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Wm Shakespeare

“Lawyers should not marry other lawyers.”

Although I certainly subscribe to that view in my personal life, one of the most beautiful (like, really good-looking) couples I know consists of two lawyers.

This is odd because (a) I know two lawyers that are really good looking, (b) I know two lawyers that are happily married to other lawyers, (c) these two statistical anomalies happen to be married to each other.

Michael Long (profile) says:

“… reported the comment to the Marshals Service, believing that it’s a fun thing to do to cause trouble for us.”

Paranoid much? I mean, it’s not like someone from law enforcement might actually read TechDirt. Or that another reader might have actually been concerned and reported it as such. Or that someone might even have done it to cause problems for the person who posted the comment in the first place.

But believing it was done solely and specifically to cause “problems” for TechDirt???

Again, paranoid much?

The eejit (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I would argue that, with the level of vitriol spewed Mike’s way sometimes, and the level of attempted shilling, why not expect that one of them did that, and deliberately, to try and get a dissenting voice removed?

I would probably say something like that, too, only I’m a Name, and an asocial borderline-psychotic. Corruption needs to be exterminated where it can be, in order for even quasi-democracies to work. I mean, when the WWE is more honest than the government, you know you have issues.

Anonymous Coward says:

Getting all riled up over topics is a sure sign to bring out the mindless comments over people who don’t think before they type. Being a faceless no one helps bring that to the forefront.

I’ve always been against such displays of venomous text simply for the same reason the politicians got into the realization that maybe toning down the rhetoric was a good idea after the Gabrielle Giffords incident.

It’s one thing to disagree, it’s an entirely different one to advocate violence over a simple disagreement.

I think I’ve had one or two comments deleted for topic matter and I’m not against that. Nothing on the internet is written in stone. Sometimes it takes another set of eyes to see the problem with the post. I don’t own the site and beyond comments have no vested interest in the operation of it. That’s as it should be.

There should be some common sense made to postings and comments and it seems an easy line to cross given the strong feelings displayed on both sides of the fence.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I have an issue with that in that violence is not always bad, sometimes is the only way for change and even though I do agree that violence is almost always undesired that is not always the case.

Do Judge Holewel deserves to die?
Probably no, but she does deserve to get all the heat she can get from every person alive for being so transparent and truly dishonest.

John Nemesh (profile) says:

Murder no...court appointed death sentence, yes please!

Murder implies taking things into your own hands…not cool. Especially not cool to be talking of assassinations of public officials, like judges. HOWEVER, I am FULLY behind laws that would punish betrayal of the public trust (i.e. corruption) with the death penalty! Let this judge stand before her peers and be judged herself…if found guilty, give her the most painful, bloody and PUBLIC execution possible, as a warning to all others that corruption will NOT be tolerated in a free society!

Now, if we could only pass such a law…too bad the lawmakers are all being influenced by lobbyists and foreign corporations (sigh!)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Murder no...court appointed death sentence, yes please!

> Especially not cool to be talking of assassinations of public officials, like judges.

It is not cool to be talking of assassinations of anyone…

> the most painful, bloody and PUBLIC execution possible

…like you just did here. (sigh.)

The death penalty should be abolished, not expanded, on the few backwards countries which still have it.

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Murder no...court appointed death sentence, yes please!

And as soon as I posted that, I saw the potential misunderstanding… let me rephrase that…

~points to self~ Disagrees with his murder. Well, more to the point, I disagree with the celebration of his murder. I regret that we couldn’t find a better way and could not be a ‘better person’ than our enemies.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Murder no...court appointed death sentence, yes please!

Ask any American if it was not cool to know that Bin Laden was assassinated, I doubt you will find many people who disagree with his murder by the US government.

Actually, I didn’t think it was cool at the time, nor do I now.

Bin Laden should have been apprehended and presumed innocent until he had his day in court. By shooting Bin Laden, instead of giving him due process, the US government has become the very thing we are fighting this “War on Terrorism” against.

Just my opinion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Murder no...court appointed death sentence, yes please!

You see if you give up the ultimate tool, violence you give up the discourse, some people just won’t back down if they can get away with it.

So I do disagree, violence can be useful, see the Arab revolution those people were determined after decades of suffering, no one would tell them violence wasn’t an option.

But one thing you may be right is in that, the use of violence should always, always be punished so it becomes costly to do so and it is used only as a last resort.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s likely that someone else in the comment thread (and it’s not difficult to guess who from the thread itself) reported the comment to the Marshals Service, believing that it’s a fun thing to do to cause trouble for us. The truth is, this individual is almost certainly wasting the valuable and important time of the Marshals Service, who have significant and important work to do, but instead are “investigating” a stupid comment written in frustration on a blog.

LMAO! Just more faith-based fantasy and paranoid idiocy from Pirate Mike. I didn’t turn you in, chubby.

And, honestly dude, if the Marshals asked me nicely to remove a post, I would oblige them out of respect for the judge. Total douchebag move on your part to not only not remove the post, but to then write a whole article about it.

And of course, you couldn’t resist another chance to take baseless potshots at Judge Howell. Shame on you, Masnick. You’re a sensationalist hack.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

i have little doubt you would not hesitate to bend over if and take it like a man if the marshals asked you to.

Obviously the judge/marshals think that post is threatening enough that it warranted action. I agree. Unlike Pirate Mike and his band of psychopathic sycophants (yourself included and especially), I would not want Judge Howell to feel threatened. I would gladly remove the source of that threat if I could. But you guys like her feeling threatened. Obviously Pirate Mike loves it. He loves it so much he wrote a whole new article about it to really show the judge what he thinks of her. It’s sickening. You guys are Grade A pieces of shit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You see, Judges have been murdered recently some in their own courtrooms, but not many people talk about it is like a taboo of some sort, there is some reason why so many have been target in recent years the violence against them have risen and Judge Ho-well is probably the poster child of why people have such strong grievances against judges today.

Now even though I despise the woman for what she is doing, I don’t want her to feel physically insecure but I don’t want her to feel safe in her career or comfortable at the streets she should be subject to all the name calling people throw at her.

Ikarushka (profile) says:

What exactly US Marshals found problematic in the question in question?

Is it time to start murdering the corrupt yet?

Is it time to start murdering the corrupt yet?

Is it time to start murdering the corrupt yet?

Is it time to start murdering the corrupt yet?

Is it time to start murdering the corrupt yet?

Is it time to start murdering the corrupt yet ?

The eejit (profile) says:

Re: Re:

IT wasn’t the question, it was interpreted as a potential threat against a current residing Judge, so it has to be investigated. It seems that, as soon as it became apparent that it looked more like a vent than an actual threat, the asking for it to be taken down was retracted.

It seems eminently sensible to protect the judiciary, if they need protecting – that’s part of the Marshals’ job.

iamtheky (profile) says:

i think its the same person

I do not know if there is any recourse for someone who makes an inflammatory comment on a site, and then expends law enforcement resources towards investigating that comment.

But please, just this once, give them all the information you have on this poster. I think you will soon see “I thought you supported anonymous speech” diatribes from that IP.

–thus concludes my 10 minute investigation.

Anonymous Coward says:

....there might have to be some revengeance taken.

One film showed 12 hooded figures, some of whom carried firearms. They were gathered around a large wooden cross, which they burned. No one was present other than the participants and the newsmen who made the film. Most of the words uttered during the scene were incomprehensible when the film was projected, but scattered phrases could be understood that were derogatory of Negroes and, in one instance, of Jews. Another scene on the same film showed the appellant, in Klan regalia, making a speech. The speech, in full, was as follows:

“This is an organizers’ meeting. We have had quite a few members here today which are — we have hundreds, hundreds of members throughout the State of Ohio. I can quote from a newspaper clipping from the Columbus, Ohio Dispatch, five weeks ago Sunday morning. The Klan has more members in the State of Ohio than does any other organization. We’re not a revengent organization, but if our President, our Congress, our Supreme Court, continues to suppress the white, Caucasian race, it’s possible that there might have to be some revengeance taken.

“We are marching on Congress July the Fourth, four hundred thousand strong. From there we are dividing into two groups, one group to march on St. Augustine, Florida, the other group to march into Mississippi. Thank you.”

????????Brandenburg v Ohio (Per Curium) (1969)

?

Overcast (profile) says:

So how much longer oh wonderful government ‘of the people’, before we must remove, “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.” from the internet and books?

How much longer before we degrade into a tyranny?

Can all the ‘security’ in the world buy back an ounce of liberty? If the world was secure, but not free; would it even be worth living in?

Anonymous Coward says:

Just a thought, but maybe, just maybe there could be a credible threat. Since the general populous seems to think that all of our government officials are corrupt, then it would,imho be quite the possibility. With a daily threat of of losing you job, house, and family, and life in general, and these idiots making decisions, and writing laws on our behalf, someone could quite possibly just snap. A certain representative from Arizona comes to mind just making a public appearance. I am no expert but murder would not only be ridiculous, but also realistic, depending on one’s perspective, level of desperation, and place in society. And btw, I am not a supporter of this judge, her beliefs, and think she should be jailed, disbarred, and forgotten.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

…just maybe there could be

According to an investigator for the Army Counter Intelligence Corps who was present, petitioner responded:

“They always holler at us to get an education. And now I have already received my draft classification as 1-A and I have got to report for my physical this Monday coming. I am not going. If they ever make me carry a rifle the first man I want to get in my sights is L.B.J.

????????????Watts v United States (1969)

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

Good question.

“Is it time to start murdering the corrupt yet ?”

The answer is “no” and that answer will probably remain the same indefinitely.

However, if I can play devil’s advocate for a bit (which will require the use of a mysteriously “on-again, off-again” Southern accent and a $40 haircut that I paid $1,200 for)…

It certainly seems that several decades of cyclical elections has done nothing to limit the amount of corruption in our government. In fact, everything seems to point to the opposite. Corruption gets worse and worse and “throwing the bastards out” tends to just give us a new set of bastards.

Beyond the cyclical elections is the uglier life cycle of corruption that turns law school grads into lifetime politicians, who in turn become lobbyists, thus ensuring that the system can always regurgitate self-serving legislation like some sort of 3-piece-suit-wearing Ouroboros.

To make matters worse, the lawmakers have set themselves above the very laws they inflict on the public, secure in the knowledge that if push comes to shove, there’s always an opening at the nearest special interest group/corporate boardroom.

[This is where I really start advocating devilishly, but don’t worry, I won’t be typing in a broad Southern vernacular. You’ll just have to imagine that I’ve gently abraded the harder edges of some of the following consonants after 30 rigorous minutes of study with a dialect coach…]

At some point, changing the system within the confines of the “rules” becomes near impossible. While going entirely in the other direction attempts to correct a wrong with a greater wrong, the unpleasant fact remains that if “not wanting to go to jail” is enough to keep some people on the straight and narrow, it’s doubly true that “not wanting to die” would keep certain moral compasses properly calibrated.

HOWEVER, no matter how much of the scenery the devil’s currently chewing with a loud voice full of over-enunciation, I can’t put myself in the shoes of someone who would change a system via murder. But I have to admit that I recognize the frustration, no matter how disingenuously it was lobbed into the comment thread.

Colg says:

the following is from hitch hikers guide to the galaxy.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy defines the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as “a bunch of mindless jerks who’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes,” with a footnote to the effect that the editors would welcome applications from anyone interested in taking over the post of robotics correspondent.

Curiously enough, an edition of the Encyclopaedia Galactica that had the good fortune to fall through a time warp from a thousand years in the future defined the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as “a bunch of mindless jerks who were the first against the wall when the revolution came.”

if I substitute “corrupt judges” for “the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation” do I get investigated by the us marshals or am I simply tossed in the clink for copyright infringement?

LyleD says:

A different viewpoint...

“Is it time to start murdering the corrupt yet ?”

I actually took the statement to mean something different.. I read it at the time in the terms of revolution where the corrupt are often singled out and ‘murdered’ in one way or another..

Think of the French revolution where almost every Lord, Lady and corrupt official were guillotined.. Apply that to a modern revolution somewhere like the USA and it’d be Congress, the Wall street bankers and the Judges trooped out loosing their heads for the public’s entertainment..

/just a thought

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re:

“If multiple examples is enough to characterize the TSA as a whole, is it not enough to characterize TD commenters as a whole? I’m not saying it is or it isn’t, but I’m questioning the implication from DH that these examples are so easily distinguishable.”

This is not “explicitly saying you’re not trying to imply”. “I’m not saying one way or the other” is how people sit on the fence and don’t have to commit to either.

“I wasn’t trying to be tricky. I was trying to be accurate. Look at DH’s comment. “

I see now what you’re saying now that you meant… but in the light of everything else you said (and how you said it), it seamed like a dodge to me.

I am reading what you write. But much like your first statement, you keep couching your arguments in ambiguity. You don’t get to sit in the middle, wait for us to call you on one side, then say “Nope! I was over on the OTHER side!”… and then blame me for ‘ignoring what you said’. Well, I guess you could, but people are going to hold a poor opinion of you for doing that. But maybe it’s all just subconscious and you’re not doing it on purpose.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Good question.

Beyond the cyclical elections is the uglier life cycle of corruption that turns law school grads into lifetime politicians, who in turn become lobbyists, thus ensuring that the system can always regurgitate self-serving legislation like some sort of 3-piece-suit-wearing Ouroboros.

Heh. I have been thinking for a while that we should go to electing our representatives like we do for Jury Duty. Obviously there would need to be serious checks and balances, but imagine opening your mailbox and finding a summons to be the next representative for your district, with a minimum two year term. I think we’d get rid of a lot of the draw into politics by putting the people who don’t want to be in politics in the position of being in politics.

Don’t think it would work, but it has got to be better than the current system, isn’t it?

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

They politely asked you to take down a post, skipping over the whole question of the legality of doing so. They were prepared for you to tell them no and then to talk about it. This shows some idea of how the law is supposed to work, but seems to dance around it carefully.

The request for deletion most likely was not an attempt at censorship, but most probably from a manual written by someone with a bare grasp of teh interwebs, who read a story once about how people are sometimes motivated to do stupid things if they see it online. One “person” found the comment so upsetting and credible they reported it to the Marshals… And all it takes is one person to do horrible things, so if it inspired “fear for the safety of the Judge” in one it might push another one over the edge and into a homicidal spree. And this is why the manual should only ever be a guideline and not taken as gospel.

They took the word of a “source” who more than likely has questionable motivations, the least of which would be actual concern for the Judge’s safety. Given that we have explained how gravatars work, one would not be surprised to see the post originating from the same place as other postings here.

One would hope that the Marshals would use this chance to explain to the AC in question the idea of wasting the time of law enforcement in what seems to be a personal vendetta is not a smart thing to do. And while trying to hide behind the “I was just trying to protect her” answer, I’m sure a review of posts made would show a clear pattern of someone with an axe to grind.

Was the post stupid? You betcha, but stupid is still allowed by law. It would take a great stretch to imagine that a single line post that offered no specific target other than “the corrupt” is a real threat to Howell. (Unless of course there is an investigation we don’t know about.)

I personally do not like Howell because the motivations driving her are quite questionable. She has made decisions based on her experience trying to make the law better for copyright holders, not the fair application of the law for both sides.
Do I advocate physical harm coming to her? No.

Do I advocate someone deep digging into her life to expose possible corruption? Yep.

Do I advocate her being held up for ridicule for not recusing herself from a case where the appearance of a conflict of interest is so very clear to everyone but her and the plaintiffs? Yep.

I wonder now if it even was a favorite AC that reported it, or if they use some “GoogleFu” to get alerts when certain keywords hit together. Oh the possibilities.
Let us know if the Marshals stop by again Mike, this topic should have blown up any keyword checker. Oops… I wasn’t helping there was I… *giggle*

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

“I’m not saying it is or it isn’t”

To me, that is explicitly saying I’m not trying to say it is (or it isn’t).

Sitting on the fence is mutually exclusive with taking a position.

I realize a lot of people (here and elsewhere) like to pick sides and then make their arguments depending on what helps “their side” (or hurts “the other side”), but I think THAT is deserving of a poor opinion.

LyleD says:

Good question.

I don’t see why a solution like that isn’t workable.. (with a lot of work that is).. It’s a great idea that puts power back in safe hands.. The current situation is so laughable it’s not even funny.. It completely bears out the saying “Power Corrupts. Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely”..

No idea who first said it, but another quote would be “The best person for the job is someone who doesn’t want it”

nasch says:

Re:

Why the request to delete the comment if it’s so clearly a waste of everyone’s time? Why not? Doesn’t hurt to ask for it to be deleted does it? Obviously not.

It wastes the Marshals’ time, which means it wastes taxpayer money and takes them away from something more important. It sends a message that the Marshals are interested in censorship rather than just protection. So yeah, it hurts.

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re:

I disagree with you that you’re being as neutral as you claim. You’ll disagree with me and we’ll just keep going around.

So take you victory secure in the knowledge that you make your points ambiguously enough that I can’t point to a single thing and say “you’re wrong because of…” I’ll be over here happy that at least I have the courage of my convictions.

But since you’ll never be able to be wrong, I’ll mourn you the fact that you can’t ever learn from mistakes. Some of my best learning experiences have been when I was proven wrong and I learned some wonderful insights into the world. But hey, I’m sure being not-wrong all the time must be rewarding as well.

Not looking yet says:

Unbiased prediction

My unbiased prediction (I seriously havn’t looked yet) is that the majority of these coments are either basically snarky comments about how predictable these comments are going to be, or various non-credible terrorist threats. That’s not to say that either subcatagory is a majority, just that the combination of the two probably is around %60

Some Guy says:

Re:

Lol. Man I hate saying things sometimes because people just run with them. I meant “it doesn’t hurt” as in a very basic sense. Yes, it is a waste of taxpayer money. Yes, it does mean that by doing putting down whatever it is they may be doing to come and investigate a question they’re missing out on doing something much more vital. As for sending a message that they’re interested in censorship rather than just protection, that’s debatable. Where one might see them trying to censor speech, another might see them just making a request based on wanting to protect a judge (which is one of their primary duties). It’s up in the air, it’s all opinion as far as “doesn’t hurt to ask”.

Instead of reading too much into it, just take it for what it was, a simple request on their part. They could easily have pressed the issue citing their policies in regards to “threats”, attempted to deceive Mike and/or intimidate him into doing as they “asked”, etc. Instead, they respected what he said (about not removing it and why) and left it at that.

Obviously... says:

Good question.

Obviously I have no plans to change the system via murder. Unfortunatly for me I’m a member of the intelectual upper middle class… I am on a PHD track and my family is PHD three generations back.

We stand apart from both the people who are actually willing and able to revolt, as they hunt, own guns, and tend to consider violence as a possible solution, and apart from the people who are willing to commit atrocities and facsimile to prevent revolt.

Since we’re not on either side, when push comes to shove, the side doing the shoving will put us against the wall and shoot us… As the side being shoved will be unwilling to protect us as we did not stand with them. Basically we’re the ones who have the dubious honor of being the first against the wall no matter who wins.

The only way we win is if we can finish programming that AI overlord that controls all of the world’s computers via the internet…

Karl (profile) says:

Re:

Personally I agree with you

Dammit. Since your YouTube profile isn’t linked from your profile, I had to actually exercise my fingers and do a Google search for the videos.

And I have to say, I am profoundly disappointed. I was promised a gloriously entertaining experience where I could have a few belly-laughs at the expense of “truly a talentless schmuck.”

I am afraid, however, that you simply aren’t talentless enough. For shame! You need to get back to work making your copyrighted stuff now. And this time, do it with a little less talent, asshat!

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re:

No mystery here. Same reason people watch the Jerry Springer Show. Some folks enjoy watching the dregs of society humiliate themselves before a live audience.

Really? You’re not going to go for American Idol, or even Shot At Love? You’re going with Jerry Springer for that insult? Let me go ask my high-school self if I should be offended or not, because I’m not sure I really remember who that is.

Come on, troll harder! Or at least with some wit! You had the foundation of a good insult, but you fleshed it out as a lame comparison to a cliched reference. You’re going to have to do a lot better than that if you plan to successfully mock me about something I just invited you to try to mock me about (you sure are easy to manipulate, by the way). You gotta take these jokes in unexpected directions if you want them to have any impact. See if it was me, I would have said something like:

No mystery here. Same reason people go to singles nights. It’s fucking hilarious watching white boys dance.

…or…

No mystery here. Same reason people watch Jersey Shore. It’s way easier than charity work but it still makes you feel better about yourself.

Keep trying though!

Karl (profile) says:

Unbiased prediction

My unbiased prediction is that 35.7% are going to ask why a department store cares whether a judge is threatened; 26.8% will come here from the Timothy Olyphant Official Fan Site; and 37.5% will confuse the U.S. Marshals with the Texas Rangers, making 87.9% pine for the days when Conan O’Brien could pull the “Walker: Texas Ranger” lever.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Actually, talentless schmuck is an insult to the talentless schmucks of the world.

It’s safe to say that Marcus has pretty much revealed himself now as a hack, someone who hates the recording industry because none of them would have anything to do with his low end stylings.

It is ever so clear now, and Marcus is now incredibly easy to dismiss as a pathetic whiner, rejected by the music industry and doomed to forever have to do photoshop work sanitary napkin ads.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re:

I am afraid, however, that you simply aren’t talentless enough. For shame! You need to get back to work making your copyrighted stuff now. And this time, do it with a little less talent, asshat!

aw shucks, karl!

Truth is i’m not as insecure as i’m making myself sound, it’s just proving to be a really effective way to goad these two clowns on. Their inability to comprehend that someone might exercise “low end stylings” just because it’s fun and it entertains a small group of people is very revealing – and they don’t realize it at all, which is even more revealing.

But your shaming, and your finger sacrifice, are appreciated ๐Ÿ™‚

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Marcus, all it does is exposes you as the total hack that you are, and gives us an idea of what you consider good in music. No wonder you so grandly support sampling, because even a poorly done sample of an obscure song is better than what you are putting out.

Seriously, don’t give up your day job, even if it is supported by copyright.

If you are making a sacrifice, next time do it properly and completely.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re:

Paranoid much? I mean, it’s not like someone from law enforcement might actually read TechDirt. Or that another reader might have actually been concerned and reported it as such. Or that someone might even have done it to cause problems for the person who posted the comment in the first place.

But believing it was done solely and specifically to cause “problems” for TechDirt???

Without being able to go into any detail, I have significant reasons to believe my original statement is correct. It is not paranoia, but there is additional information here that I cannot share that confirms my statements.

nasch says:

Good question.

No idea who first said it…

‘This arose as a quotation by John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834?1902). The historian and moralist, who was otherwise known simply as Lord Acton, expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887:

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”‘

nasch says:

Re:

Lol. Man I hate saying things sometimes because people just run with them.

Yes, people might disagree with you once you say something. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Where one might see them trying to censor speech, another might see them just making a request based on wanting to protect a judge (which is one of their primary duties).

I think it’s the latter, it’s just that this does absolutely nothing to protect the judge.

They could easily have pressed the issue citing their policies in regards to “threats”, attempted to deceive Mike and/or intimidate him into doing as they “asked”, etc.

Yes, it could have been much worse. However, that doesn’t mean their actions are not worth criticizing. I mean, it’s always fun to criticize others’ actions!

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Good question.

?Power attracts the corruptible, absolute power attracts the absolutely corruptible.? ? Bene Gesserit Credo – Heretics of Dune

?All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.? ? Missionaria Protectiva – Heretics of Dune

“Power attracts the corruptible. Suspect all who seek it.” (can’t find the attribution) –Chapterhouse: Dune

Some Guy says:

Re:

Lol. Nah I don’t mind being disagreed with, in fact I like it. Gives me a chance to debate or argue a bit. Something I enjoy doing.

I agree with you in that just making the request does absolutely nothing to protect the judge. But at the same time, while one could infer which judge was being referred to (as per the article), as I pointed out, there was no clear threat nor mention of a name. It was just a silly question by someone, and the situation got blown out of proportion. (In regards to it being reported and then dragging the U.S. Marshals into the situation.)

Very true what you say. It could have been worse, and the actions taken aren’t to be scoffed at and just blown off. So criticism is fine. I think we should just look at it in a different light. Yes, the Marshals did indeed waste time and resources on something foolish, but the one we should criticize or focus on is whoever reported the comment. It’s clear to me (keep in mind this is only my opinion) that there was no immediate threat. So someone spun something from nothing and then reported it and thus wasted the Marshals time and resources. That’d be comparable to calling the fire department to report a fire because you may have smelled smoke. (And then it turns out that someone was just making a barbeque.)

And as another person already pointed out on here, in reply to some AC saying Mike is just paranoid and whatnot, someone has already done something similar before. In the last article regarding the same judge, they wrote something along the lines of “oh look at this, so many examples of libel in one article, thank you, forwarding/reporting to the judge’s office as I write this” (not an exact quote, but you can find the comment here yourself). Ah, checked for you. Gwiz pointed out the comment I’m referring to. “It’s actually pretty plausible…” (Just to help you find it in the comments.)

bratwurzt (profile) says:

Re:

Radical people will interpret radical notions from any sentence.

“Do you want extra bacon with that?” would be offensive in muslim world.

“No, I don’t believe in Atheism. I just hold no beliefs in any imaginary beings.” is offensive to a lot religious people.

“I’m sorry sir. I cannot give you a 2 seat ticket for a price of 1.” could be offensive in America – in Europe you’re just fat.

So yes – it IS just a question; if we’re talking semantics. How you understand and perceive this question is another matter; perception is different for everyone.

Karl (profile) says:

A different viewpoint...

How is that different?

Honestly, I read the statement in the same way that LyleD did.

That sort of hyperbole is extreme, but hardly out of place in political debate. It’s no different than wearing a “vote from the rooftops” T-shirt, or Durruti saying “the only church that illuminates is a burning church.”

In other words, I didn’t even think it was directed at the judge specifically. It was more like a “call to revolution.”

nasch says:

Re:

Yes, the Marshals did indeed waste time and resources on something foolish, but the one we should criticize or focus on is whoever reported the comment.

That was really stupid and juvenile. Trolling is one thing, but you have to wonder if this person has a screw loose to go to such lengths.

That’d be comparable to calling the fire department to report a fire because you may have smelled smoke. (And then it turns out that someone was just making a barbeque.)

I think it’s more like reporting a fire because you’re mad that your neighbor’s dog pooped on your lawn. You know there’s no fire and you’re just doing it to be a douche. On a side note, the better way to deal with that is http://www.poopsenders.com (not a plug, never used them, just find it funny).

RowdyRebel (profile) says:

Re:

Dur, it wasn’t advocating violence, or anything else. It was asking a generalized question. People who take generalized questions to the extreme, believing that said question advocates direct action, need to step back from their computer, take a deep breath, and realize that the reality of the situation is this: It is the internet. A place where there are more virtual soldiers and mercenaries, than real soldiers and merc’s, in the entire world; where someone can be anonymous and be extreme, without really worrying about being targeted. To advocate a violent act it would firstly have to be a statement (not a question), and secondly, it would have to be directed at a specific individual or entity. If you do not understand that, pack up your system and take it back to the place you bought it, and tell them you are too stupid to own a computer.

darryl says:

He is a shitbag, isn't he ?????

Mike when did you stop beating your wife ?

That is just a question right ??

so yes, you can pose a question (loaded) to make a point or to incite others.

I could have asked you:

Mike, Have you stopped beating your wife yet ? that might incite others to beat you because of your actions.

Because of a question you have incited someone into action.

darryl says:

Trouble in the mill !! I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition

Ximinex: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!!!!

Our chief weapon is surprise…. surprise and fear…fear and surprise… Our TWO weapons are fear and surprise… and ruthless efficiency… Our *THREE* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency…..and an almost fanitical devotion to the Pope…. Our *FOUR* …. no…

*AMONGST* our weapons… Amoungst our weaponry… are such elements are fear, surprive…………… I’ll come in again.

“I didn’t expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition..”

Ximinex:NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms – Oh damn!
[To Cardinal Biggles] I can’t say it – you’ll have to say it.

Some Guy says:

Re:

I agree, it was stupid and juvenile to report the comment to the Marshals. Like you said, trolling is one thing (and annoying at that). But if you look at the comments on a daily basis, there are a few people who have this thing for Mike and this site. (As in they come here just to insult him, attack him, etc.)

But yeah, like you said, reporting a fire just because you’re mad at your neighbor for whatever silly reason. (Kudos for the better example.) Same thing here. Someone dislikes Mike so intensely, they literally are going out of there way to post comments like that (the one that started the whole thing, the question), then reporting said comments to whatever authorities just to take a jab at Mike.

It’s beyond ridiculous.

Anonymous Coward says:

Thank you.

they have recently implemented new “anti-troll” policies. I for one keep coming to techdirt again and again because of the comments section. if TD ever changes their policy, I will surely not return nearly as often. I think TD understands their roll as a leader by example though, so it should never be an issue on this site ๐Ÿ™‚

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

with regards to the original post alter the phrasing just a little by replacing murder with “bring to justice” and a darker side comes to light, one that a great many people could be willing to stand behind. look at libia or the french revolution. both incidents of people standing up to corruption and fighting for whats right. asking if it time to start murdering people is a crude way of saying how much more are we gonna take this blatant corruption before we do something about it. like vote em out of office.

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