February 28, 2008

"The comment is a general, aimless and inane suggestion posted on a message board known for its aimless inanity..."

"AK47" fights disclosure of his name in the suit by 2 Yale law students over nasty things said on the AutoAdmit website. (PDF of motion, discussed on the WSJ law blog.)

The "aimless and inane" thing AK47 wrote was: "Women named Jill and [Doe II’s equally common first name] should be raped."

32 comments:

rhhardin said...

Is this a new area of feminist law?

I know I was turned in in 1992 for discussing kettle logic at lunch. A long discussion with the boss followed in the afternoon, ending with the instruction : Well, don't talk to women.

No actual court was involved. Just the women's workplace issues committee.

peter hoh said...

Those who post aimless and inane suggestions should be subject to public exposure.

Trooper York said...

Somehow we kind of guessed that you don't talk to women rh.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Revenant said...

What's the basis for this even being in court? What's illegal about saying "that woman should be raped"?

Jacob said...

"Even if the subpoena is granted, the suit as it pertains to John Doe 21 will likely be dropped – but only after John Doe 21 is identified and humiliated on the Internet and elsewhere due to his being implicated in this case."
i can has irony?

Simon said...

A "First Amendment right to speak anonymously"? Really? I join Justice Scalia's MyIntyre dissent. I don't believe that the First Amendment grants any right to anonymous speech, and would overrule any case holding the contrary.

Zeb Quinn said...

What about the secret ballot? Shouldn't voters be unmasked too?

MadisonMan said...

Irony would be this person exposed as a woman.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I guess Publius and Cato had no right to speak anonymously.

Sometimes Scalia is an idiot.

Asserting that Jane and Sarah should be raped is aimless. It is aimless because it has no aim.

Jane and Sarah could be anyone.

They are common names.

It is inane because no one reading it would take it seriously.

Simon said...

Mort,
I think you'd find it very hard to argue that Publius and Cato had a First Amendment right to speak anonymously, since their speech antedated the ratification of the Constitution, let alone the bill of rights.

Simon said...

Jacob said...
""'after John Doe 21 is identified and humiliated on the Internet....'"

I promise that if he's identified, I will do my best to contribute to his humiliation on the internet. What he said was beyond the pale.

Ann Althouse said...

Well put, Mortimer.

Blake said...

I feel like I should say something abusive but I'm worried I'll be outed.

Daryl said...

Ann should be slapped.

What? Ann is a common name. It's not like you can tell which "Ann" I'm talking about from the context of this post. (/sarcasm)

The two women, identified by their common first names, were nonetheless identified as specific individuals, known to other law students from that same law school.

Simon said...

Careful with that hypothetical there, Daryl...

Ann Althouse said...

The question is whether there should be a lawsuit, not whether it was an asinine thing to say. The first amendment test is whether it is a true threat. I think the answer should be no. Is saying "fuck you" a threat of violence? No. It's just a very mean, hostile thing to say. There's no basis for a lawsuit. This really looks to me like an attempt to get revenge by using the court to reveal someone's name.

Simon said...

Ann, is there a case controlling standards for when the court should allow litigants to remain anonymous? Not just in the first amendment context, but generally?

Revenant said...

Simon,

It seems to me that while there is no first amendment right to anonymous speech, the fact that the courts have no jurisdiction over protected speech means, to me, that if the speech IS protected (and I think it clearly is), that the courts have no legitimate reason to uncover the person's name.

A parallel of sorts: last week I had a conversation, in a busy restaurant, with a number of friends. Even though I have no constitutional right to keep that conversation a secret, it seems to me that a court couldn't haul me in front of a jury and force me to identify myself and relate what I said unless there was a legitimate civil or criminal complaint against me.

mdis29a said...

Ann, there's a big difference between "fuck you" and "somebody should hold you down and fuck you against your will," especially when the latter sentiment is expressed among a bunch of like-minded individuals who're already practically stalking you.

Blake said...

mdis92a,

It's different in that it's in worse taste. But unless there's some reason to believe there's a real threat, it's still just idle gutter talk (amped for "parlance of our times" of course).

If there were any real, physical threat, this wouldn't even be an issue. Check out Jacoby's quote from earlier: ""Even if the subpoena is granted, the suit as it pertains to John Doe 21 will likely be dropped – but only after John Doe 21 is identified and humiliated on the Internet..."

This seems like abusing the law for some form of personal gratification.

Mortimer Brezny said...

since their speech antedated the ratification of the Constitution, let alone the bill of rights.

Inalienable rights aren't granted by the Constitution, they are protected by them. The First Amendment protects inalienable rights. I would say Publius and Cato -- in presenting arguments for the ratification of the Constitution -- were certainly engaging in the kind of inalienable rights to free speech that the First Amendment protects.

Here is an example of Scalia not being an idiot.

Simon said...

Mort, I've made clear several comments here (starting with this one) over the last few years that I don't regard the Constitution's protections as being coextensive with natural law rights. I seriously doubt that there is some kind of natural right to anonymously aver that someone ought to be raped, but I'm quite certain that the first amendment doesn't require courts to allow a person who does so to remain anonymous in proceedings arising from it.

Simon said...

And the citation to the flag burning cases, by the way, is inapposite; Johnson and Eichman both involved laws infringing on the core protection of the First Amendment, and with all due respect, while telling a woman she should be held down and raped may be speech, it isn't speech residing at the core of the first amendment. There's much to be said for anonymity in political speech cases, but far less, I think, to be said for it here.

Ann Althouse said...

mdis29a said..."Ann, there's a big difference between "fuck you" and "somebody should hold you down and fuck you against your will," especially when the latter sentiment is expressed among a bunch of like-minded individuals who're already practically stalking you."

LOL. You think when someone says "fuck you," they are wishing you a pleasantly orgasmic consensual lovemaking session? And "fuck you" is a direct expression aimed at one person, as opposed to the actual locution here, which is very close to just "All women should be raped." Of course, "all women should be raped" is a hateful statement. My point is that it is constitutionally protected free speech that should not be actionable in court. Please try very hard to make a distinction between things that are terrible to say and things that the government can make you pay damages for saying. I absolutely need you to do that if we are to have a rational discussion here.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I seriously doubt that there is some kind of natural right to anonymously aver that someone ought to be raped

At that level of specificity, there are very few rights of any kind. But such overly narrow interpretation is usually rejected in courts of law.

I do find interesting, however, that you think inalienable rights are those granted by the Government. I suppose in SimmonDoddlandia the right to due process with respect to property necessarily mandates a social welfare state. It seems you not only reject the Framers' right to argue in favor of the Constitution's ratification, including the Declaration of Independence and Federalist/Anti-Federalist Papers that they drafted, but you reject the actual Constitution that was ratified as well.

The idea that the statement "all women should be raped" is not political is quite bizarre. Of course it is political, if we take the statement as you want to, which is literally. Taken literally the statement is a call for a repeal of the Equal Protection Clause and the Nineteenth Amendment.

Balfegor said...

LOL. You think when someone says "fuck you," they are wishing you a pleasantly orgasmic consensual lovemaking session?

I think the point mdis is making is that "fuck you" is a generic expletive. The "fuck" loses its semantic content. It's not about a pleasantly orgasmic lovemaking session, but neither it is about intercourse in any way really. It's just an expletive, like "dad gummit" or "son of a gun," -- phrases stripped of any meaning other than "expletive."

But if you put those words in a more specific context, describing exactly how the act ought to be accomplished, that semantic content returns -- you don't understand it just as an insult, but as a phrase with some real and specific meaning. "Fuck you" doesn't conjure up any particular mental image. "Somebody should hold you down and fuck you against your will" does.

This doesn't say anything about whether it is/ought to be constitutionally protected. I rather think you and Mortimer are right that it is not. But there is a meaningful difference.

Simon said...

Mort, that point is so very, very irrelevant and misrepresentative yet contentless and emaciated that it barely warrants a response to note that it warrants no reply. It just isn't worth the time to unpack and correct. So, moving on: If you want to post something that's actually responsive to what I said and is actually coherent, then I'll take a look.

halojones-fan said...

This motion is completely ridiculous. There is no "Constitutionally Protected right to speak anonymously".

And this doesn't have anything to do with the Constitution anyway. It's a civil suit between two private parties. Where does the Constitution enter into it?

AK47's response smacks of those assholes who claim that getting banned from a message board is a "violation of Constitutional rights".

former law student said...

There is no "Constitutionally Protected right to speak anonymously".

Ah, but the Supreme Court has held that there is, since Talley v. California in 1960. They most recently ruled on it in 2002, in Watchtower Soc. v. Village of Stratton. Most people cite McIntyre v. Ohio Election Commission, in 1995.

And this doesn't have anything to do with the Constitution anyway. It's a civil suit between two private parties. Where does the Constitution enter into it?

The plaintiffs have resorted to a federal court, which will decide the case and enforce a judgment, if the plaintiffs win. That constitutes state action, as in Shelley v. Kraemer (court enforcement of racially discriminatory covenant found to be state action).

Howard said...

3/01/2008

Normally I don't concern myself with legal bullshit because I can't stand the ethics of too many lawyers, BUT there is an interesting case being discussed on the web concerning the anonymous posting regarding a couple of women (Jill and Heidi), two girls the person posting said deserved to be raped. The "victims" are suing demanding that the poster be named and identified, the purpose apparently being to destroy the guy through public exposure of his "deserve to be raped" comment.

The poster is defending himself through free speech and the "right" to remain anonymous. This "right" to anonymity is being attacked by the women.

Now consider: some of the awful rantings on Daily Kos, Democratic Underground and various virulent hard Left sites would surely be shut down by a ruling in favor of the women here. But so would some really bad stuff being thrown out there by so-called Right Wing blogs. Joe Klein said on a Hannity show that Bill raped Hillary and that is how Chelsea was conceived. Why not hang him for saying that without proof? Many blogs accuse McCain or refer to his "straight cock express," he's accused of sucking cock, Democratic Underground asks, "why DOES Cindy McCain stick her FINGER in John's ASS during his SPEECHES? There are tons of awful things all over the web, many unsigned or posted with phony names. Are we to kill all of these too?

Dangerous suit here. Pay attention. Lawyer Althouse is posting on this too.

Posted by Howard at 3/01/2008 09:33:00 AM

sologake said...

Ak47 is not a good thing and please don't represent it here what you want to tell other peoples about it ...
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Khuram said...

AK 47 is a good for the fighting but not good for every men.

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