Friday, March 03, 2006

This one's for you, Hank

Bill introduced to force online identification in web forums

Ask yourself, what did ol' Snolly ever say which would warrant a law such as this? Nothing, of course. My point is that some anonymous speech has value. Most, in fact. Trolls are the exception to the norm.

Outlawing anonymous speech is outlawing freedom of speech. American journalists will learn this lesson too late, unfortunately.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

"You're a bad man! You're a very bad man! And you keep thinkin' bad thoughts about me!"

"Don't we love Anthony? We sure do love him. We love that boy."

I was working on a comparative analysis of the design of Sunday's Times-Standard and Eureka Reporter. You know, ER's penchant for using giant section titles and the TS's love for poor color processing. Thank goodness I didn't take photos of sample pages and get knee-deep into Photoshop work before discovering the last vestige of freedom has been ripped from our country.

This seals it.

Congress and President Bush have illegalized the act of being annoying on the Internet. Our beloved government did not define the word "annoy," but if you annoy someone and do it anonymously, you have committed a federal crime. Snolly has a target painted on her back.

Here is a WHAT IF... Suppose I write something on this blog and my words "annoy" someone at the Eureka Reporter and that someone files a complaint with the Trinidad Police Department. In short order I could be identified, have my house raided and face criminal prosecution. Our local and state legal system considered something similar when someone recently performed the victimless crime of writing fake letters to our local newspaper editors. Well, victimless unless you count the bruised egos of editors who failed in their duty to follow my simple rule:
"If you publish a letter and attribute it to a person's name, verify that the person bearing that name indeed wrote the letter. Hey, at least call the person on the telephone. It takes 30 seconds." -Snolly's First Imaginary Rule of Journalism (or First Rule of Imaginary Journalism)
Per a previous post topic, I was going to try getting photos this week of a certain double crypt being sold in Eureka, but that sure sounds like it could annoy someone.

I have to stop blogging now. Today. I do not want my house raided for publishing journalism critiques. Sure, I probably wouldn't be prosecuted, but you know, I don't want my home raided, my computer taken, my family scared, my neighbors looking at me funny and my reputation tattered... over nothing but a bruised ego. The threat of a police raid is enough of a deterrent to squash my illusion of free speech. I'm silly that way.

No, I am not overreacting. The "letters to the editor" scandal is proof positive we do not live in a free society. Anonymity is at the very heart of the Internet. We won't see this law condemned by many media outlets because, (as one journalist recently demonstrated on this blog), journalists don't understand the benign and beneficial nature of anonymity in certain situations, especially on the Internet.

What is illegal in the physical world has always been illegal online. But now legal criticism, dissent and emoticons are a federal crime if you don't write under your real name.

I'm sorry, but this is no longer a free society. Goodbye. :-(

Captain Buhne, Plazoid and thousands of other bloggers... you write at your own risk. Talk nice. Think nice. Don't get wished into the corn field.