Many famous intellectuals have used multiple aliases to "steer opinions." The NACDL amicus brief is far more to the point when it says that “if Schiffman and others like him feel aggrieved by online speech with academic value, they have adequate remedies in tort,” rather than in the criminal courts.
This being said, let's consider Golb's actual intent, which has been systematically obfuscated in media articles about the case (including, unfortunately, in Tim Cushing's otherwise excellent article). Indeed, Golb's intent was also obfuscated at the trial, since the prosecution concealed the pertinent evidence from the jury. Here is what we read in the most recent pleadings:
On August 4, 2008, Golb informed his brother that he had written “an article exposing [one complainant’s] plagiarism.” (SA-926). During the same period, he informed his mother of his concern that a “skewed pair of lecturers” would “egregiously misinform the public.” (SA-921). To counter this danger, he pointed out that his father, unlike the other lecturers, could give a lecture “at no cost to the museum.” (SA-921). The previous year, he had already explained to his brother that he believed his letters of complaint to UCLA faculty members would “embarrass” [another complainant] “by informing people of the truth (which many of them might not know).” (SA-990).
This would very much depend on the meaning of the term "intent to defraud," which is the central issue in the case. The prosecution would like to replace "defraud" with "deceive," and so far the courts have gone along with this. It's an extremely dangerous precedent, one that actually makes this seemingly trivial case into one of the most important criminal prosecutions in American history.
There is a basic misunderstanding in this article, one that is symptomatic of the unfortunate misrepresentation of the facts of this entire case in the media. The harassment charges had NOTHING TO DO with anybody being impersonated; rather, those charges criminalized anonymous (or pseudonymous) email complaints sent to various academics, including colleagues of Eugene Volokh at UCLA. They were cleverly used by the prosecution to poison the trial atmosphere by criminalizing Golb's entire Internet campaign. Volokh casually disguises this fact in his various pieces devoted to the case, and he should know better. For further information on the case, see the documentation at: http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/
Deadpan satire, especially in the form of "Gmail-confessions" in the "name" of well-connected academic department chairs, should also be avoided. See the documentation of America's leading criminal satire trial at:
The NSA surveillance issue is no isolated anomaly; consider, along with some of Giorgio Agamben's works, the medical experiments famously conducted on helpless American prisoners by other governmental agencies. Luckily Mr. O'Brien's satire was "clear" enough for him to avoid being arrested, prosecuted under various pretexts, and sent to the Rikers Island penal colony. See the documentation of America's leading "criminal satire" trial at:
I agree your argument is interesting, but tricks of this sort are regularly used by folks like the Yes Men to out the alleged unethical conduct of others without people starting an Internet witch hunt against the tricksters.
From what I've read on the trial site, the prosecution was allowed, something like 170 times during the trial, to suggest, and elicit testimony, that Golb made "false accusations," while Golb was blocked from introducing any evidence of the truth of the accusations, because "neither good faith nor the truth is a defense."
In that light, I'm not so sure I would blame someone for playing an underhanded trick on a perpetrator of underhanded tricks who deserves it...