Wednesday, January 18, 2006

New Internet Law

Today's Spokesman-Review editorial suggests that the new internet law will chill free speech. I must respectfully disagree.

Speech is never really free. There is a standard of behavior that is firmly entrenched in the law. That standard is that you may not slander another without legal consequences. To be guilty of these violations, the law requires very stiff criteria. You must have the intent to harm the libeled person, and be telling a harmful untruth.

To be in a position to be judged fairly on this issue, one must be identifiable. To attack another person, or their ideas, without identifying yourself, is plainly cowardly and despicable.

The internet is reasonably new, and many adjustments are being and will be made to coincide with existing social custom. The fact that anonymous communications are common, does not make them right. The new law, does NOT prohibit the annoyance of another. It merely states that if you wish to do so, that you identify yourself.

As a practical matter, attacking another in the dark can be very self-serving...Such as a political candidate attacking another under the guise of a false name. Or better, you don't like someone, so why not get them run out of town by spreading malicious gossip about them... Under another name.

Many terrorists use pen names too. Should we encourage them that? I think not.

The S/R makes reference to letter to the editor. Those writers have to identify themselves up to and including name, address and telephone number. If the new law stops abusive behavior by unidentified cowards, I'm all for it. It seems that the only weak point is the term "annoy", which is obviously too broad. With a little tweaking, I believe this is the right direction. I have always signed my opinions and always will.

Samuel Clemens didn't harm anyone by using the pen name, "Mark Twain", ergo he was legitimate.

Those "blurkers", that's a term adopted by Dave Oliveria of the Spokesman-Review, for non-blogging commenters, that choose to attack under fake names,can and will disappear. Those that do not, will have to watch what they say.

Herb Huseland

1 comment:

stebbijo said...

I am confused. There is this judge in Bonner County that uses gossip aka hearsay as evidence. I think you are doomed if you want to initiate a slander/libel suit there -- unless of course you have enough money to buy one -- then of course anything is true.