Your First Amendment Right to Anonymous Free Speech

For any of you who are still following the AutoAdmit case (background posts all linked here), one of the anonymous commenters, who uses the handle AK47, has filed a motion to quash discovery of his IP address and other information that would reveal his identity. The subpoena, apparently, violates AK47’s “First Amendment right to speak anonymously.”

Before we start, I should make it clear that I am not a party to this lawsuit, and so far haven’t been involved in it at all. But since my name came up repeatedly on the AutoAdmit boards, and since I have a whole lot of empathy for the Jane Does who filed the suit, I’m writing about it.

AK47 (known in the suit as John Doe 21) was a regular commenter on AutoAdmit, and was fairly well-known for his constant use of the n-word and other racial slurs. At issue in this case is his comment that “Women named Jill and [Doe II] should be raped.” In his motion he disingenuously argues that since Jill and Doe II’s first name are extremely common, his comment is “silly,” and the Does have no case.

But certainly context matters. Doe I, Doe II and myself were discussed on AutoAdmit so often that our first names were all commenters need to use to identify us. Writing “Women named Jill and [Doe II] should be raped” may not be a big deal on a random message board, but in a place where our pictures had been posted and much of our personal information given out, it’s a different story. Anyone who read that board with any regularity knew exactly who AK47 was talking about. He knew exactly who he was talking about, and to suggest that there’s no claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress because he only used our first names is pretty pathetic. He also claims that his statement amounts to nothing more than “an unsavory, if silly, suggestion or opinion.” Apparently, if a statement is nothing more than a suggestion or opinion, it’s totally protected speech — even if it’s a suggestion to rape someone. So, to use a common example, if I walk into a crowded theater an scream “I think there’s a fire, I suggest everyone run!” when there is none, can I defend myself by arguing that “It was just, like, my opinion, man”? Can I use that same response if I pick a random student at my law school and post on Feministe that they had a lesbian affair with the NYU dean, that they have huge fake tits, that they have an STD, that they deserve to be raped, and that hey by the way here’s their full name, email address and phone number? But it’s just my opinion, man! Quit attacking my free speech rights.

In his motion he writes:

The words “Women like Jill should be raped” cannot be “outrageously” offensive to the average person since it is not directed at any person in particular, and likewise with the phrase “Women like [Doe II’s exceedingly common first name].” … Plaintiffs may have suffered some emotional harm as a result of other Defendants’ comments and activities on AutoAdmit, but that does not mean that John Doe 21’s statement caused any of that harm simply because it mentioned plaintiff’s very, very common first name.

Again, I call bullshit — and I think any reasonably intelligent judge will, too. In the context of AutoAdmit, “Jill” was me. Doe II’s real name was Doe II. The commenters knew it. They knew what we looked like, where we went to school, and what our last names were. They understood the running jokes about us. This “extremely common first name” business is absolute horseshit — AK47 knew who he was talking about. He didn’t pick those names at random, and he intended for commenters to understand who he was talking about. A very brief look at AutoAdmit itself demonstrates that — nearly every reference to the first names of the Does (which I’m obviously not going to give out) are about them. Nearly every reference to my first name is about me — and enough of them use my last name to make it clear who “Jill” actually is. Same for the Does. Either AK47 thinks that judges are morons, or he’s hoping he’ll get lucky enough to be granted a particularly stupid one.

He also doesn’t get to complain that he didn’t have proper notice when he’s intentionally made it difficult for the plaintiffs to identify and contact him, and when he continues to take steps to hide his identity and his contact information.

I do have sympathy of the argument that people shouldn’t be outed for making anonymous comments on the internet. And of course I believe that free speech rights apply anonymously online as strongly as they apply in “real” life. Identifying anonymous internet commenters can have a real chilling effect, and I don’t think that people deserve to be outed simply for saying things that others don’t like — even if those things are sexist or racist or offensive.

But AK47 is trying to carve out a right for himself that doesn’t exist anywhere in the real world. This isn’t about being offensive, it’s about destroying the reputation of a private citizen, and about threatening and intimidating them. Libel, slander and defamation are actionable, and you don’t get to say whatever you want about someone without consequences just because you post it on the internet under a fake name.

For context, here’s just some of what was said about the Does:

-”Doe II of YSL has huge fake titties”
-”YSL 1L [DOE II] HAS HUGE FAKE TITES AND IS UNIVERSALLY HATED”
-”i’ll force myself on her, most definitely.” (In a thread titled “Stupid Bitch to Attend Yale Law”)
-”I think I will sodomize her. Repeatedly.” (In the same thread)
-”just don’t FUCK her, she has herpes” (In the same thread)
-”[Doe II] of Yale Law got a 159 on the LSAT” (in a post that encouraged other posters to “Make sure all the Vault 50s know it before she gets an offer” — in other words, the thread was created specifically to damage her job prospects).
-”The backstory is that [Doe I] has been having a lesbian affair with Yale Law School [redacted] Dean [redacted] while [redacted] has been on maternity leave. [Redacted]’shusband found out about this and went balistic. He contacted [Doe I’s] prospective employers in an effort to discredit her.”
-”Clearly she deserves to be raped so that her little fantasy word can be shattered by real life.”
-”i would like to hate-fuck [Doe I] but since people say she has herpes that might be a bad idea” (in a thread titled “Which female YLS students would you sodomize?”)
-”I’m doing cartwheels knowing this stupid Jew bitch is getting her self esteem raped.”
-”[Doe II] is into scat… At least that’s what a buddy of mine that goes to YLS tells me.”
-”[Doe II] the CGWBT sucked by cock for a P in Civ pro”
-”[Doe II] found dead in apartment!”
-”[Doe II] (YLS 09) IS AN ANNOYING, SELFISH CUNT. I HOPE SHE GETS RAPED AND DIES.”

But they have extremely common first names! And so does that girl Jill:

“I want to brutally rape that Jill slut”
“I’m 98% sure that she should be raped (if only in Internet Land)”
“Official Jill Filipovic RAPE Thread”
“I have it on good authority that Jill F has rape fantasies”
“what a useless guttertrash whore. i hope someone uses my pink, fleshy-textured cylindrical body to violate her” (from someone posting under the name “fleshlight”)
“for minimising this tragedy, she deserves a brutal raping”
“She’s a normal-sized girl that I’d bang violently,” “maybe you’d have to kill her afterwards” (in a thread titled “Be honest, everyone here would FUCK THE SHIT out of Jill Feministe”)
“that nose ring is fucking money, rape her immediately”
“Legal liability from posting pic showing Jill fucking?” (talking about photoshopping my head onto a pornstar’s body)
“she would be a good hate fuck”
“[Duke rape accuser] or ‘Jill’: who has more semen drip of their abortion scarred, fat asses?”

But I think my favorite part is when AK47 says that the suit is frivolous and will probably be dropped, “but only after John Doe 21 is identified and humiliated on the internet and elsewhere.” Aww, poor baby — I’m playing the world’s tiniest violin for you, I really am. I know the prospect of being identified and humiliated on the internet must be just terrible for you. So I’ll offer you a compromise: Once you’re outed and your name gets attached to the various times you called people niggers and said women (with extremely common first names!) should be raped, I’ll only use your first name when I post about what should happen to you. Of course, I’ll first make a habit of using your full name on my blog so that everyone knows who you are by the time I decide your last name isn’t really necessary anymore, and I’ll post pictures of you and say where you go to school, and I’ll paint a picture of you as a disgusting and horrible human being who deserves to have something bad happen to him, but when I finally suggest that you should be punched in the face for being such a jackass, I’ll be sure to only refer to you as John, not John Doe. Therefore, you will have absolutely no reason to feel humiliated or threatened.

Sound like a plan?


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109 comments for “Your First Amendment Right to Anonymous Free Speech

  1. Dana
    March 2, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    You know, one thing I love about my partner is that he cares about, notices and comments on sexism. But he’s still deeply in denial about just how fucked up a lot of people are. And even angry, cynical little me is somewhat shocked reading this shit. WHERE do these little pricks get this from??

    Good luck Jill, you are amazing.

  2. RKMK
    March 2, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    I do have sympathy of the argument that people shouldn’t be outed for making anonymous comments on the internet. And of course I believe that free speech rights apply anonymously online as strongly as they apply in “real” life.

    I disagree. You have the right to free speech without government interference, sure; but the trade is that other people have the right to evaluate you on what you said, i.e. that you are a racist, misogynist bigot who thinks it’s fun to harass, intimidate and threaten innocent women on the internet in their spare time.

    And correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure “anonymity on the internet” is a guaranteed constitutional right, particularly if that someone is spewing making personal threats and libelous statements.

  3. RKMK
    March 2, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Sorry, that should read, “but I’m pretty sure ‘anonymity on the internet’ is NOT a guaranteed constitutional right. “

  4. The Reckless Tongue
    March 2, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Jill, I’m so glad that you two aren’t letting that disgusting excuse for humanity get away with spewing his filth and trash. I’m definitely with you on the argument that his comments constitute defamation and also threats which are actionable offenses. For the sake of debate, however, I wonder about the “right” to anonymity on the net for free speech. I do think it’s a good thing and one of the things that makes the internet prosper, but I also wonder about how the perceived right to anonymity online has served to allow people to not be held accountable for their actions. What AK47 is fighting for now is the right not to be held accountable for his racist and misogynistic online actions.

    Now, I don’t have a solid opinion and I agree that people shouldn’t simply be “outed” for saying disagreeable things, but I wonder if the right to free speech is or is not separate from the right not to take responsibility for one’s speech. And I apologize if this isn’t the discussion you want to start on this thread.

  5. Danakitty
    March 2, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    I don’t know too much about law and the constitutional rights on the Internet, but I hope cases like yours help pave the way for destroying sites like this and other defamatory sites with the intent to ruin lives and hurt other people.

    Good luck.

  6. Vail
    March 2, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Libel is Libel, on the internet and off. So are threats of rape and other crimes. For far too long people have gotten away with crap on the internet but that’s coming to a halt. They are now arresting students for posting false stuff on Facebook about their teachers. Does this guy really think that if they’re doing that that they will give him a pass after all that crap he’s posted about these victims?

  7. March 2, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    lesbian affair with the NYU dean

    Rick Revesz is a lesbian!? No way!

    Sorry; couldn’t resist. Seriously, those vile despicable autoadmit fucks deserve everything they get, and I hope your lawsuit makes their lives as miserable as possible.

  8. March 2, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    I don’t know too much about law and the constitutional rights on the Internet, but I hope cases like yours help pave the way for destroying sites like this and other defamatory sites with the intent to ruin lives and hurt other people.

    Just to be clear, I’m not a party to this lawsuit. But I do wish the Does the best of luck.

  9. March 2, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    I disagree. You have the right to free speech without government interference, sure; but the trade is that other people have the right to evaluate you on what you said, i.e. that you are a racist, misogynist bigot who thinks it’s fun to harass, intimidate and threaten innocent women on the internet in their spare time.

    Sure. But the question is whether they have the right to identify you by name. Certainly they have a right to respond to whatever you say, but the issue is whether they can then demand that your internet provider release your IP address and other information so that your real name can be revealed. In most cases, I don’t think so — unless the speech at issue would be actionable in “real” life, i.e., harassment, threats, libel, etc.

  10. March 2, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    I think I’m with RKMK on this. When you put your words out on the internet, you give up a certain amount of privacy. It’s the equivalent of standing on a street corner and expressing your views, and anyone who’s in the vicinity who knows you can identify you. It’s just that online, the vicinity is a much larger area, and exposes you to a lot more blowback. I think a large part of the lack of civility online is because people think they can stay anonymous, and therefore avoid the consequences of their hateful speech–make it clear that that anonymity is an illusion, and maybe people will start thinking before they type.

  11. False Flag Operative
    March 2, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Sorry, that should read, “but I’m pretty sure ‘anonymity on the internet’ is NOT a guaranteed constitutional right.”

    Not necessarily so.

    Even hate speech is protected speech.

    Libel is tricky, but you have to prove that is malicious.

  12. March 2, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    But it’s not that anyone is saying these people shouldn’t be able to express themselves–it’s whether they should be able to anonymously. I’m all for letting people admit that they’re sexist, racist gits online and anywhere. I think it would make the world a better place if they did it. They just don’t want to do it if it will cost them some of their livelihood–and I don’t blame them–but I think it ought to cost them. Courage of your convictions and all that.

  13. wiggles
    March 2, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Wouldn’t this fall under the jurisdiction of the Communications Decency Act of 1996? Or Title 18?

    Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

    Enthusiastically advocating that a person should be raped is a threat to injure that person, isn’t it?

  14. March 2, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    I think it won’t be hard to prove that it’s malicious in this case. He did try to harm her prospective job situation after all.

  15. wiggles
    March 2, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    And Title 18 stipulates that Internet harassers are obliged to reveal their identity.

  16. exholt
    March 2, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    You have the right to free speech without government interference, sure; but the trade is that other people have the right to evaluate you on what you said, i.e. that you are a racist, misogynist bigot who thinks it’s fun to harass, intimidate and threaten innocent women on the internet in their spare time.

    I would like to follow up what Jill said about the right the anonymity unless it is actionable in real life.

    If IP addresses and other identifiers are able to be compelled by parties who do not like particular online/offline anonymous speech, this could easily be abused by government agencies, law enforcement, and corporations looking to suppress speech it finds disagreeable. It does not take much to chill political dissent or whistleblowers hoping to reveal corporate and governmental inefficiency, waste, and corruption for the public good.

    Already, there are several cases I’ve read about where politicians, corporations, and other powerful parties have attempted to compel the revealing of identifiers of anonymous online critics in an attempt to “chill” their criticisms and speech.

    One good recent example I can think of is various attempts by the SCO corporation and unscrupulous journalists to reveal the identity of a paralegal who has been maintaining the groklaw website critical of SCO’s specious attempts to assert its ownership rights over computer code within the Linux operating system.

  17. March 2, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    What do the Does wish to gain? A civil court case to extract damages or just to know his/her identity?
    What do the Does wish to do with said information? Presumably the effect of any court proceding will be for both sides to take out injunctions over the other? Hence, Does could face jail time for publishing his identity.

    On the broader issue: web anonymity has come about by accident. If for instance AK47 is not an American – quite possible given the spelling of minimising – then it would require the US Courts asking a foreign ISP to hand over its users personal data.

  18. March 2, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    But it’s not that anyone is saying these people shouldn’t be able to express themselves–it’s whether they should be able to anonymously. I’m all for letting people admit that they’re sexist, racist gits online and anywhere. I think it would make the world a better place if they did it. They just don’t want to do it if it will cost them some of their livelihood–and I don’t blame them–but I think it ought to cost them. Courage of your convictions and all that.

    But I think that the potential for internet anonymity is really valuable. Blogs are a prime example — I don’t think a lot of what gets written would be out there if everyone had to use their real name, or if they thought that their real name would be easily discoverable. It’s not because they have something to hide necessarily; it’s because putting one’s political convictions into the public space can have professional and personal consequences, even if those beliefs aren’t bigoted. If you’re, for example, gay or transgender, and you want to write about your personal experiences online, doing it under your real name may simply not be safe for you. If you’re a pro-choice feminist blogger, that can damage your job prospects. And a lot of employers simply don’t like hiring people who might be lightening rods for controversy. I know I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to blog under my real name; I’m also in a position of privilege, and for me, those sacrifices were worth it. I don’t think everyone else should be forced to make the same hard choices just to speak their minds.

  19. March 2, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    What do the Does wish to do with said information? Presumably the effect of any court proceding will be for both sides to take out injunctions over the other? Hence, Does could face jail time for publishing his identity.

    Uh, what? No. Click the WSJ link, it has background on the case. This is a civil matter, and there’s no issue of jail time.

  20. False Flag Operative
    March 2, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    If you’re a pro-choice feminist blogger, that can damage your job prospects.

    People don’t like to hire prochoice feminists? Gosh, I learn something everyday here.

  21. March 2, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    exholt, if a blogger is posting detailed death threats or child porn anonymously, should their identity be safeguarded? The question here isn’t whether there’s any right to free speech online; it’s whether tortious or criminal speech deserves the protection of anonymity.

    To be blunt, what AK47 is afraid of is not jail time; it’s having his name on the Internet. He’s going to have a difficult time with the ‘character and moral fitness’ part of the bar application, as well as with future employment prospects. And if you’re not a law student, it’s hard to understand how very, very desperate your average privileged asshole is to get a prestigious, high-paying law job.

    Looking at AK47’s actual response, from a legal POV it’s hilarious. He is whining that the plaintiffs didn’t give proper notice to him, even though they don’t know who he is and he’s desperately doing his level best to keep them from finding out. He also seems to think that he should get special handling because the plaintiffs have good lawyers. At a cursory glance, the legal authority he cites is a lot of hand-waving. Somebody needs to back and study what IRAC means.

    I especially like his claim that he has a right to “make speak anonymously”.

  22. exholt
    March 2, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    exholt, if a blogger is posting detailed death threats or child porn anonymously, should their identity be safeguarded? The question here isn’t whether there’s any right to free speech online; it’s whether tortious or criminal speech deserves the protection of anonymity.

    Mythago,

    As I mentioned in my comment which is a followup to Jill’s point, if the anonymous comments are actionable in real life, then the right to anonymity is overridden to protect the rights of the injured parties/greater public. Your concerns are already covered under that and “AK47” person has no protection of that due to the libelous or threatening nature of its comments.

    There should be sufficient due process safeguards, however, so government agencies, law enforcement, and corporations/wealthy/well-connected individuals do not feel free to stomp on our rights to freely express ourselves…even anonymously by going on fishing expeditions to ferret out legitimate critics and whistleblowers.

    If this was allowed to happen, critics with unpopular opinions or corporate whistleblowers/critics like the groklaw website maintainer would not be able to expose corporate fudging and malfeasance of the SCO corporation as effectively.

  23. March 2, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    The thing is, he *does* have a right to say things anonymously. I’ll totally back him on that.

    But his right to say things anonymously *doesn’t* mean he has a right to slander people. And if the only way to sue his ass is to find out who he is, well, too damn bad.

    Plus, this:

    The words “Women like Jill should be raped” cannot be “outrageously” offensive to the average person since it is not directed at any person in particular

    Is hilarious. It’s directed at a particular person: someone named “Jill.” And it’s outrageously offensive to me. Indeed, it would be outrageously offensive even if it *weren’t* directed at a particular person; the statement “women should be raped” is outrageously offensive.

  24. March 2, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Is specifically anonymity, as opposed to the speech itself, protected if the speech is otherwise actionable? It is unclear how liability increases or decreases, by common law or constitutionally, according to whether a tort is done anonymously or openly and notoriously as to identity, except as a practical matter of serving the papers and collecting the judgment.

  25. zuzu
    March 2, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    Libel is tricky, but you have to prove that is malicious.

    And you can’t prove it’s malicious without discovery. Hence, the subpoena.

    There should be sufficient due process safeguards, however, so government agencies, law enforcement, and corporations/wealthy/well-connected individuals do not feel free to stomp on our rights to freely express ourselves…even anonymously by going on fishing expeditions to ferret out legitimate critics and whistleblowers.

    The subpoena, as I understand it, was issued only after a lawsuit was filed, and after other means of obtaining the information were tried and failed. I don’t think there’s a very good argument for lack of due process in this instance.

  26. zuzu
    March 2, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    I should add, it is rather amusing to watch these guys getting a taste of the legal system they thought they knew so well. Surprise! There’s a lot you don’t learn in law school.

  27. March 2, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    exholt, I encourage you to read AK47’s response. There *are* safeguards in place. They’re just not absolutes. I can’t tell, from AK47, exactly how these safeguards do or do not apply to him. He just kind of cites some vague snippets of law and says that because he posted anonymously on the Internet, they should apply to him.

  28. zuzu
    March 2, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    He’s also very, very upset that he has only 10 days to respond.

    Ha! Welcome to practice, kid.

  29. james
    March 2, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    I don’t think that people deserve to be outed simply for saying things that others don’t like — even if those things are sexist or racist or offensive…

    I don’t know anything other that what’s in the post above, so I stand to be corrected. But I got the impression he’s is being sued for “intentional infliction of emotional distress”. Isn’t that basically “saying things other people don’t like”?

  30. exholt
    March 2, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    There *are* safeguards in place. They’re just not absolutes.

    Mythago,

    I completely agree with you on that point…and with your point that “AK47” cannot use the right to anonymity as a legitimate legal defense due to the libelous and threatening nature of its speech.

    The subpoena, as I understand it, was issued only after a lawsuit was filed, and after other means of obtaining the information were tried and failed. I don’t think there’s a very good argument for lack of due process in this instance.

    I was not arguing lack of due process applied to “Ak47″…..quite the contrary….due process was followed in this case. What is happening to “AK47” is a consequence of its using anonymous speech to libel and threaten…and is just desserts.

    My argument was mainly against Incertus’ point that there is no right to anonymous expression….that was my main bone of contention. Moreover, Jill made several good points why the right to anonymous expression is beneficial to the public good….provided it is not used to violate the law as “AK47” is doing.

  31. Anne Onne
    March 2, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    I think anonymity is not normally a problem, so long as nobody is being harmed or threatened. It can be useful to give people a voice when they would otherwise be targeted by hateful bigots for voicing their opionion. I can understand why many left wing bloggers choose to, or have ot remain anonymous around the world, and it is a very valuable tool that allows them a voice.

    Unfortunately, it also allows hateful idiots a chance to be spiteful, threatening and sadistic with impunity. I’m sorry that this happened to you, Jill, and I’m even more sorry that it won’t be the last time something like that happens. In cases such as this, I dont’ think anonymity is a right. Where they break the law (not to mention infringe on someone’s human rights) by threatening serious harm on somebody, what right have they to privacy?

    I hope this thing is quickly wrapped up and the misogynistic twits outed and prosecuted.

  32. March 2, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    But I got the impression he’s is being sued for “intentional infliction of emotional distress”. Isn’t that basically “saying things other people don’t like”?

    Are you serious? IIED is a tort. My understanding is that various courts will respect it less than others and that it’s difficult to prove (people with more legal training than I can correct me if I’m wrong). But like any tort, it has elements that must each be proven. I confess I’ve already forgotten the long-ass definition that I memorized for class, since I don’t deal with torts, but the elements are:

    The defendant acted intentionally or recklessly
    Defendant’s conduct must be extreme and outrageous
    The defendant’s conduct must be the cause
    Of severe emotional distress

    Again, I’m not highly trained or experience, but what I did learn was that proving severe emotional distress usually requires things such as psychological treatment.

    Not even close to “things other people don’t like.”

  33. March 2, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    And other than that, all I have to say is thanks for keeping us informed, Jill. I wish the women involved the best of luck.

  34. jamesPi
    March 2, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    I lack any legal background but can someone explain to me how if this is successful, how it will effect all internet posters, especially blog posters? For example, when I’m reading some post linked from mensnewsdaily, with the name of a person or local personality, sometimes a poster will live in the same town the article is about and before the comment gets edited away, you can see things like wanting to rape the person in the article or cause them harm, sometimes in very specific detail. They know this persons full name, have a picture and can find their address in 10 seconds. Same thing goes for feminist sites, I see calls to castrate and sometimes specific details on harming a person whose name and picture is known to the community. You can go outside of those two kinds of sites and find all kinds of sickening posts about specific members of other groups. Could all those posters also be sued or does there need to be as much of a pattern as there is in this case?

  35. Anonymous
    March 2, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    Not to put too fine a point on the matter, but if AK47 wanted to remain Anonymous on the internet (which is certainly his right) he should have taken steps to…you know, remain Anonymous. Anonymity is a two way street and it seems that he felt not using his name should be enough. The argument is interesting when you look at it from a tech perspective, but it just doesn’t otherwise hold up. If I say something offensive in a public square and someone videotapes me, I can’t say that I’d like to stay Anonymous and quash their release of information. If I want to remain Anonymous I would have to not appear on camera, wear a Guy Fawkes mask, something like that.

    I, for one, salute the filers of this civil suit. People like AK47 are cancer and should be punished for their overwhelming fail. Besides, his whining in briefs that someone is trying to ruin his reputation is lulzy.

  36. Betsy
    March 2, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    Thanks for posting about this. I hope SO MUCH that these scumbags get what they so richly deserve – a whopping assessment of damages against them, and for everyone they know to see them for what they really are.

  37. March 3, 2008 at 2:10 am

    But I got the impression he’s is being sued for “intentional infliction of emotional distress”. Isn’t that basically “saying things other people don’t like”?

    No. You’re quite right that you don’t know anything about the subject.

  38. davev
    March 3, 2008 at 3:06 am

    One point that does concern me with using IP addresses is that simply tracing an IP address does not always equate to finding a person. The FAQ at torproject.org talks about this. It’s also entirely possible for someone to be set up. These AutoAdmit folks seem to have serious hate issues. Nonetheless, this discovery of IP could be a very dangerous precedent.

  39. March 3, 2008 at 4:38 am

    As a law student, one of my fondest hopes is that some new and interesting point of law will come out of the decision, forcing generations of idiots like AK47 to read the case.

    AutoAdmit really is/was a cesspool. I came across it while researching schools, and can attest that even posts on topics like the US news rankings were so full of venom that they were difficult to read.

    Jill, thank you for pushing this story.

  40. Neil
    March 3, 2008 at 10:02 am

    AK47’s argument is flawed on one particularly key point: the purpose of protecting one’s anonymous identity is, in turn, to protect POLITICAL speech. The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that the type of speech being expressed is relevant to deciding what level of freedom it deserves. Political speech is in the highest rank. And AK47’s behavior is, unfortunately for him, not a part of that category. The appellate decisions he cites in favor of protecting his anonymous identity are all political speech cases. If he was writing the Federalist Papers instead of “you’re a *igger” and “**** should be raped”, he might have an argument.

    My prediction: motion denied.

  41. Medicine Man
    March 3, 2008 at 10:04 am

    It is embarrassing and infuriating to see the rotating list of feeble justifications / defences these guys trot out to explain away their shitty behaviour. Anything but admit that they were being human turds on their safely anonymous internet forum.

  42. Vail
    March 3, 2008 at 10:37 am

    I see the internet kinda like a newspaper. Anyone can print a newspaper, people can send in their letters to the editor and not everyone uses their real name on their byline. But a newspaper wouldn’t print stuff like this. Why? Because they would be arrested for Harassment and sued for Libel. The internet is the same thing (just a lot cheaper and easier ). I don’t know why everyone treats the internet like some sort of Neverland that’s free of any laws and where they can say/do anything and not face any punishment. It’s not. I hope that all those guys end up having to pay for all the stupid crap they posted. Time to grow up Peter Pan.

  43. March 3, 2008 at 11:07 am

    This is a civil matter, and there’s no issue of jail time
    -Jill

    Yes, I see that. I guess my question is, on the assumption Does get AK47’s identity will they be allowed to publish it? Presumably AK47 can take out a restraining order? I am not of legal background. Maybe AK47 can even take out a counter civil action (loss of earnings, etc)?

    Frankly, I’ve been around the net block a few times now, 13 years of it. And the amount of “hatred” I’ve seen. Often it is just someone being silly or venting anger. As I said before the notion of anonymity has been accidental, so it will be interesting to find out how this case develops.

  44. March 3, 2008 at 11:11 am

    You make a good point about the identification issue. I don’t find his “I was just talking generally about Jills … not that Jill” to be very persuasive.

    What I do find persuasive is the argument that the claims themselves lack any legal foundation.

    I have no sympathy for AK47. If I take off my “uphold and defend the constitution” hat, I too want to see him outed and roughed up. But I can’t remove that hat. Therefore, while I want to see him outed, I don’t want to see it happen this way.

    Outing an anonymous speaker should be subject to a reasonable standard. The case law so far seems to be developing along just such a standard: Show that you have a real cause of action with some likelihood of success before unmasking someone, no matter how disgusting their speech may be.

    This very issue reared its head on this blog.

    Naturally, Zuzu’s speech is hardly to be compared to AK47’s speech. The first is intelligent and informative, yet her reasons for wishing to remain anonymous are similar to AK47’s.

    She wishes to avoid harassment for her views, which are not quite mainstream. I think that she should be proud of what she’s written, but that is legally irrelevant.

    The latter (AK47) is just a little boy who thought that he could wear a klan hood and that would keep his identity secret.

    Nevertheless, when it comes to free speech, we have to turn off our taste buds. Yes, that is quite difficult when we are looking at speech that turns our stomachs. Of course, I see evidence that you agree:

    I do have sympathy of the argument that people shouldn’t be outed for making anonymous comments on the internet. And of course I believe that free speech rights apply anonymously online as strongly as they apply in “real” life. Identifying anonymous internet commenters can have a real chilling effect, and I don’t think that people deserve to be outed simply for saying things that others don’t like — even if those things are sexist or racist or offensive.

    But… back to the main point — is the underlying suit meritorious enough to validate a request to unmask an anonymous speaker? I think not. That doesn’t mean that the plaintiffs don’t have a right to gripe — I just see zero legal support for their claims. There are lots of nasty, mean, and brutish things that people do to each other, which have no legal remedy. This is one of them.

    If the court disagrees, so be it. Then he should be legally unmasked. I’m just not persuaded that the claims have any legal validity.

    So what should be done?

    Should AK47 “get away with it?” No, I’m not advocating that. I say “go get him!”

    A smarter way to handle this would be through private action. A few weeks ago, a lawyer offered a $15,000 bounty for the identity of the author of the Patent Troll Tracker blog. I saw no legal basis for that unmasking, but if someone wanted to rat him out for $15K, I saw nothing wrong with that either. FYI – it worked.

    Why doesn’t Feministe offer a reward for the identities of some of the worst posters? You seem to have lots of fans, most of whom agree that at least some of these trolls should be outed. Pass the hat, create a reward fund, and watch AK47’s friends turn on him. Then you can splash his name from one end of the internet to the other, and let society (and future employers) judge him for his speech.

    That method would a) not create bad precedent that could cause unintended consequences, b) preserve the First Amendment, c) be a lot more fun.

    Wouldn’t you rather see him betrayed by a friend than pried from his rock by a court? Even if you aren’t motivated by constitutional concerns, isn’t that method just so much more poetically satisfying?

    Should you take my suggestion, I pledge $100 to start the fund.

  45. an anonymous kate
    March 3, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Often it is just someone being silly or venting anger.

    Threats of rape and murder against specific people are what we’re talking about here.

  46. Hector B.
    March 3, 2008 at 11:36 am

    A couple of points: The Supreme Court has extended free speech anonymity to religious speech as well, in Watchtower Soc. v. Stratton. So far no anonymity to hate speech.

    I’m curious if Jill has been considering joining the suit, especially because this message shows one specific defendant, at least, made her an equal focus of his attack.

  47. March 3, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Wow, that sucks. Clearly AK47 is an utter asshole; I’m sorry that you went through all that.

    Are you cool with disconnectedly talking about this? It’s an interesting legal issue, but I don’t want the question of whether it was OK (which is it obviously not) confused with the question of whether it was legal or actionable (which doesn’t seem as obvious to me.)

  48. March 3, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    As an anonymous Kate says, we aren’t talking about being silly or venting anger. We’re talking about a systematic, repeated effort to threaten and terrorize specific people because of their gender, with the ultimate – if unstated – goal of frightening all/most women in order to restrict their activities/speech.

  49. March 3, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Threats of rape and murder against specific people are what we’re talking about here.

    I am aware. Noone has justified what was said.

  50. not-a-lawyer
    March 3, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    I’m curious: to what extent does this case have the potential to set a precedent?

    I mean, the web has been in general use for over a decade, and bad behavior, including libel, stalking, threats & etc. has been going on during most of that time. Haven’t the major issues regarding libel and anonymity been addressed in earlier cases?

  51. an anonymous kate
    March 3, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Geofrey, you said that men threatening to rape women may just have been “being silly” or “venting anger.” I pointed out that these are serious charges. Do you deny that? Do you think that this is unjustifiable but, essentially trivial?

  52. Vail
    March 3, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Just because the internet has been a cesspool of “I can say anything I like nah nah” doesn’t mean that is right nor legal. The days of posting lies and threats are ending, and the bills are coming due. Just because people haven’t been caught before doesn’t give people a get out of trouble free card.

    As for the “venting” comment, it’s one thing to say to a friend in private “hey I hate that bitch etc.” it’s another thing to post it for the world to see. And hello, making someone afraid for their personal safety is not being “silly”. You may know you’re never going to harm the person, but the victim doesn’t know that. That’s why if you send someone threatening letters, even if you would never do what you threaten, you still can be charged.

  53. zuzu
    March 3, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Anthony in #45: aren’t you a named party in this case?

    ETA: Oh, right, you were dropped.

  54. zuzu
    March 3, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Naturally, Zuzu’s speech is hardly to be compared to AK47’s speech. The first is intelligent and informative, yet her reasons for wishing to remain anonymous are similar to AK47’s.

    She wishes to avoid harassment for her views, which are not quite mainstream. I think that she should be proud of what she’s written, but that is legally irrelevant.

    The latter (AK47) is just a little boy who thought that he could wear a klan hood and that would keep his identity secret.

    Actually, Anthony, the two situations are not at all similar. I had someone who didn’t like me threatening to out me because she has some bizarre theories about courtesy and anonymity, and confuses pseudonymity with anonymity. The threat of lawsuit only came about because I speculated on how she might have discovered my identity.

    Compare and contrast: AK47 and the other Doe defendants have made statements that are arguably actionable, and their unmasking comes about as the result of court order, because they should not be able to claim the protection of anonymity as they damage the reputation and cause injury to people whose identities they’ve uncovered and publicized.

    My reasons for remaining pseudonymous have nothing to do with being proud of what I write, or being concerned that my opinions might be “out of the mainstream,” as you put it. Again, though, note my use of “pseudonymous” rather than “anonymous.” I’ve written consistently under the name Zuzu for several years and have built up my opinions and reputation under that name. Frankly, if I started using my real name at this point, it wouldn’t mean as much to the people who’ve known me as Zuzu.

    However, I have no wish to have my professional reputation smeared for sport, or to have my employer swarmed by a bunch of giggling idiots who think it’s funny to devote pages of comments to calling for someone’s rape and then disclaim all responsibility because they only used a first name so they didn’t really mean the person it’s clear from context they meant.

  55. March 3, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    # Astraea says:
    March 3rd, 2008 at 12:03 pm – Edit

    As an anonymous Kate says, we aren’t talking about being silly or venting anger. We’re talking about a systematic, repeated effort to threaten and terrorize specific people because of their gender, with the ultimate – if unstated – goal of frightening all/most women in order to restrict their activities/speech.

    That second part isn’t really a legal issue. The first part is…. but.

    But threats and attempts to threaten are two steps removed from action. An attempt to do something is different from an attempt to threaten to do something.

    We also, generally, place some reasonableness analysis on threats. So if I say “I am going to find the next person who posts this and throw a miniature marshmallow at them*” then unless you actually believe I am going to find you (and follow through) it’s probably not an actionable threat. there’s also an imminence or specificity aspect: “I’ll get you with a marshmallow someday” isn’t the same thing as “stand still, marshmallow coming.”

    This probably applies even to extremely horrific threats, like direct threats of rape.

    Similarly, a comment about what should happen raises exceptions: “I think Sailorman should be shot” or “I hate sailorman and wish he was dead” simply isn’t the same as a direct comment like “I will shoot sailorman.” This may be different for people who expect their views to be followed (“will someone rid me of this troublesome priest?”) but as a general rule it is much harder to prove.

    Incidentally, the libel issue is probably more clear cut in a technical sense; an accusation of herpes is the classic case of libel though the plaintiff would have to prove damages.

    I dunno. TO me, this doesn’t seem like a very strong case. It’s one of those instances where there’s obviously a wrong, but no legal remedy.

    I don’t know who Anthony is, but he’s got a point: some cases don’t work well in court. You’ve got good lawyers, and you know how to avoid libel and slander. Your best way to win against AK47 would probably be to give his (gotta be a him, right?) name to a reporter for the village voice or something. And if you can get something in the public domain through legal means, there’s nothing preventing you from mailing it to everyone he knows.

    *I’m not using marshmallow attacks to trivialize the real thing, but because I am not comfortable using the real words, hypothetical or not.

  56. March 3, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Kate: 1 – men? Thats being presumptious.
    2 – It may have been said in anger or as a silly remark. We cannot secondguess AK47’s reasons.
    3 – I think everyone agrees that actual rape or murder are serious, as would a credible threat.
    4 – Think your final comma is in the wrong place!
    5 – Yes I would not expect anyone to justify what was said. Not me, not the Does, not Jill, not you, and not AK47. But the Does are seeking justification from AK47. If someone threatened to rape me (hasnt happened yet afaik) or kill me (has happened), I would be inclined to let it pass. In fact I went as far as to tell said person where and when would be a convenient time and place for his killing me. But that was my response.
    6 – Trivial?

  57. Betty Boondoggle
    March 3, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    men? Thats being presumptious.

    That’s being privileged or willfully ignorant.

    If someone threatened to rape me or kill me, I would be inclined to let it pass. In fact I went as far as to tell said person where and when would be a convenient time and place for his killing me.

    Because you have the privilege to not take such things seriously. Women don’t.

    Would you still treat it so lightly if they knew your name, posted picutres of you and posted where others could find you?

  58. March 3, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Sorry what is my perceived privilege? To be a man?

    Would you still treat it so lightly if they knew your name, posted picutres of you and posted where others could find you?

    I never said I treated it lightly. I called the bluff and went to meet his wife in the pub.

  59. Betty Boondoggle
    March 3, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    :lol: perceived privilege. The jokes write themselves, I swear.

    And these instances in this case were not bluffs. The names, locations of these women were posted. Their whereabouts posted.

  60. March 3, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Anthony Ciolli’s post is hilariously disingenuous. As one of the two(?) website operators for AutoAdmit, he had ample opportunity to forbid anonymous posting, require membership information or ban abusive posters. I would have more respect for his argument about using extrajudicial, “market” means to create social pressure to behave on the web if he himself hadn’t failed to take any steps to create the social pressure he’s talking about.

    Please note as well that nowhere in his ridiculously long post does he actually address the merits of the case; he merely makes a conclusory statement that the claims are not meritorious. Is that what they’re teaching at Penn these days?

  61. Dana
    March 3, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    You know what Geoffrey? If someone off the internet wanted to kill or rape you they would know there would be serious consequences. There are a million examples to show that a man can rape a woman and have a pretty damn good chance of no consequences whatsoever. THERE’s the difference.

    Oh, and to spell it out: as a man you have the priviledge of being unlikely to be sexually assaulted, and unlikely to be blamed if you are. You are also lucky enough not to be smaller and weaker than most potential attackers. That would be pretty fucking awesome.

  62. zuzu
    March 3, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Geoffrey, rape apology is not welcome on this blog.

  63. kmach
    March 3, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Now, girls, you’re just being silly. Geoffrey’s totally right – men have the same fear of rape and risk of being raped as women. I know this to be true – because in 95% of discussions that touch on the subject of rape that I’ve read on blogs, discussion boards, or had in person with mixed-sexed groups a male has told me so. Men are really, really at risk of getting ass-raped. It’s a huge fear for them. Like, when a guy is walking down the street alone at night, and hears footsteps behind him, he feels the same cold wash of fear that women do. Because male-on-male rape is epidemic. It’s almost as prevalent as the epidemic of false rape accusations made against innocent men.

  64. Betty Boondoggle
    March 3, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    I don’t think it’s intentional rape apologetics so much as blind privilege. He’s saying that if someone threatened him, he wouldn’t be worried and apparently doesn’t understand why women – specifically these women – were.

    That’s privilege.

  65. Vail
    March 3, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    I think that’s the problem in a nutshell. For women, we are taught that at any time we might be victims of rape or murder. It just doesn’t even enter into men’s minds. My Mother-in-law helps men and women obtain Temporary Restraining Orders. She’s heard and seen it all. And yes, she can tell you right now that things people brush off as “silly” and “venting” can end up tragically. In this day and age, you can’t just hope that nothing will happen. If someone has your address, has posted what they want to do to you (and how they’d do it), and knows what you look like I’d be moving heaven and earth to protect myself and my family.

  66. ksms
    March 3, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    I agree with your distinction. But I don’t see much practical difference. And I find it difficult to believe that any male has truly never realized that the rules are different for women than for men. Like, has he gone through his entire life without ever being asked by a female friend or relative to walk or drive him to their car? Has he not noticed that there are far less women on the street at night, or on public transportation, than there are men? Has he never read a newspaper, and noticed a pattern to the gender of rape victims vs. rapists? Does he have sisters – and if he does, did he never notice that parents were far more panicked at a female child’s unexplained absence at home than a male child’s? Has he ever had female friends, or girlfriends, coworkers, and noticed that there seemed to be a link between gender and basic safety measures?

    It just seems like more than blind privilege. Whenever I see comments like that made by men – and it’s certainly not the first time I’ve seen something that clueless argued – I just read it as “shut up, you’re overreacting, I don’t want to hear shit that makes me feel uncomfortable or guilty.” Because the alternative explanation is his believing: “Women and men have the same chance of getting sexually assaulted.” And he can’t be naive enough to be believe that, can he? Does he really think that it’s unreasonable that a woman might take a rape threat more seriously than a man? Like, can this guy tie his own shoes, or does he have to stick to velcro? Because not realizing that women are more afraid of sexual assault than men, and for good reasons, is beyond stupid.

  67. Betty Boondoggle
    March 3, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    But I don’t see much practical difference.

    Aside from motivation, there isn’t, really. A rape apologist is primarily concerned with erasing, denying or justifying rape. Someone blinded by privilege is just clueless. But the end result is the same.

    And I find it difficult to believe that any male has truly never realized that the rules are different for women than for men.

    I’d say its not about not realizing it, but not giving it any deeper thought, which most likely leads to rejecting or dismissing the idea.

    Do they* notice all those things you mentioned? Probably. But, men are standard and women are the deviation so men’s experiences are the norm and women’s experiences are just women being emotional, or overreacting, or paranoid. Or, in another vein, just women’s lot.

    Women’s experiences and voices, in my experience, are often met with dismissive attitudes and outright denial. I’m willing to bet some (most?) honestly do think we’re just “overreacting” or being “paranoid”. Because it doesn’t happen to them and they don’t have to worry about it.

    Because not realizing that women are more afraid of sexual assault than men, and for good reasons, is beyond stupid.

    Agreed, but then women haven’t had the privilege of being raised in their rape-free world.

    *they – as in not feminist or pro-feminist men.

  68. March 3, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Maybe it may surprise people that for every 3 women sexually assaulted in the UK each year, 1 man is. If we take the stat of 25% of women in a lifetime being sexually assaulted as say a ball-park figure then that puts about 8% of men.

    Oh and the assault isn’t man on man in most instances.

    As for the term “rape apologist” – give me a break. But yes I recognise I am at significantly reduced risk to a woman. And, no, I do not think “Does” are wrong to be wary or feel alarmed by what was said. But stop bandying the notion of ‘male privilege’.

  69. March 3, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    So nobody else is interested in putting up for a bounty on AK47’s identity?

  70. ksms
    March 3, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    “Agreed, but then women haven’t had the privilege of being raised in their rape-free world.”

    God, wouldn’t that be nice? I can’t even imagine having the kind of freedom of movement that boys and men take for granted. It’s great that some people can walk around at night without a nagging, persistent fear in the back of their mind. Just kind of wish I had that privilege.

    Great posts, by the way (you too, Vail). Thanks for bothering to read and reply to my “preaching to the choir” comments. I just find myself utterly perplexed whenever the ubiquitous “Rape, what rape?” guy shows up on a feminist blog, or in real life conversation.

  71. zuzu
    March 3, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    So nobody else is interested in putting up for a bounty on AK47’s identity?

    Why?

    BTW, Marc, it might be helpful if you disclosed your representation of Anthony Ciolli while making approving posts about him on your blog. Just a thought.

  72. EG
    March 3, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    But stop bandying the notion of ‘male privilege’.

    We’ll stop bandying it when you stop having it.

  73. March 3, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    But AK47 is trying to carve out a right for himself that doesn’t exist anywhere in the real world. This isn’t about being offensive, it’s about destroying the reputation of a private citizen, and about threatening and intimidating them. Libel, slander and defamation are actionable, and you don’t get to say whatever you want about someone without consequences just because you post it on the internet under a fake name.

    With all due respect, Jill, I think you are missing the main point, or perhaps not articulating it. His right to anonymous speech simply does not extend to the right to avoid litigation. He may request that his name be redacted in material that is made part of the public record, so as to preserve his anonymity, but he may not avoid the rule of a court of law under the guise thereof.

    We see this with trade secrets and military defence litigation: the secrets or the classified information is disclosed for the limited purpose of trial, and the dissemination of that information outside the context of the litigation is severely curtailed. Under this paradigm, he is obligated to disclose his identity and stand trial, but may request that his identity remain concealed. (Whether or not such a request ought to be granted is still, IMO, an irrelevant issue: the right to anonymous speech hardly encompasses the right to not have one’s speech every identified, by private or public parties, as one’s own speech, in a proceeding that arises out of the speech but not out of its anonymity.)

    The right to anonymous speech is the right to make it without being penalised for the anonymity qua anonymity. As this is a content issue (and, of course, a harassment issue) the anonymity element is totally irrelevant. The Miss Does may concede his right to not post his name alongside those comments, and the case will still be viable.

  74. Vail
    March 3, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    My husband freely admits he never thinks about nor worries about if the car doors are locked when driving at night, or parking the car under a light/near the doors to the store. He’s never checked the back seat or under the car before opening the door nor made sure he had his keys out (the better to defend yourself). He’s never thought about getting pepper spray. But when I was working late, that was always in my mind. And you know what? If something had happened I’m sure there would have been some people who would have said “god she was so stupid.. she should have done this and this.”

  75. March 3, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    So nobody else is interested in putting up for a bounty on AK47’s identity?

    I’m not.

    Anthony’s free-market thinking is certainly creative, but I don’t think we need vigilante un-masking here. As I said in the post and in the comments, I think that a lot of people have legitimate reasons for writing anonymously online, and I support their right to do that. But it crosses the line when people think they should be able to write things online that would have serious legal consequences if published in a newspaper or said to a roomful of people.

    The identity-bounty system doesn’t control at all for content — so long as someone has the cash, they can (theoretically) out someone else for political disagreement or simple personal dislike. I trust the courts a bit more to evaluate which claims are legitimate when unmasking anonymous speech. Disliking someone’s political views? Not good enough. Threatening people with sexual assault and slandering them? Ok. The bounty model has far too high a potential for abuse.

  76. March 3, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Although I should add, Anthony and Marc, that I do appreciate you coming here and commenting.

  77. March 3, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    With all due respect, Jill, I think you are missing the main point, or perhaps not articulating it. His right to anonymous speech simply does not extend to the right to avoid litigation. He may request that his name be redacted in material that is made part of the public record, so as to preserve his anonymity, but he may not avoid the rule of a court of law under the guise thereof.

    Bingo. Yeah, I did miss that point — thanks for adding it into the discussion, it’s a (or perhaps the) crucial one.

  78. March 3, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Geoffrey, I’m not familiar with British statistics. Citation for 33% of british rape victims are male?

    According to the Bureau of Justice, 9% of rape victims in the US are male. And 99% of rapists are male. 86% of those male rape victims are raped by the time they are 18 vs 61% of female rape victims.

    That hardly points to having a high level of fear of sexual assault, especially from intimate partners if you’re straight.

    Plus the added bonus of not constantly being told to watch every single thing you do lest you be raped and will probably deserve it.

  79. March 3, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    This is way off topic, I’m horrible at letting these things go. Jill, feel free to tell me to stop engaging.

    From the Home Office (British):
    Rape of a female (total): 12,630
    Rape of a male (total): 1150

    Doesn’t measure up to one rape of a male for every three rapes of a female.

    To try to tie this back to the actual topic of the post, there is MUCH more reason for a woman to take a threat of rape seriously, and your dismissal of a woman’s fear is incredibly offensive.

  80. March 3, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    It may have been said in anger or as a silly remark.

    Geoffrey, please don’t breed. You might have daughters.

  81. March 4, 2008 at 7:40 am

    BTW, Marc, it might be helpful if you disclosed your representation of Anthony Ciolli while making approving posts about him on your blog. Just a thought.

    Zuzu, I thought it was widely-known. Since it had been discussed in prior posts, and noted in the media, I saw no reason to re-iterate it. I apologize to anyone who might have felt that I was not being forthcoming.

    And I hope that it wasn’t lost on anyone that my approving comments were for all… not just Mr. Ciolli.

  82. J Jackson
    March 4, 2008 at 7:47 am

    Libel is Libel, on the internet and off. So are threats of rape and other crimes. For far too long people have gotten away with crap on the internet but that’s coming to a halt. They are now arresting students for posting false stuff on Facebook about their teachers. Does this guy really think that if they’re doing that that they will give him a pass after all that crap he’s posted about these victims?

    Arresting, or subpoenaing? From what I understand, libel and slander are tort law, and violations are considered civilly (and thus legally) actionable, but not criminally.

    It should be pretty obvious that internet privacy is no greater than what the administrator/technical details of the forum will provide, and appealing to the constitution to protect it seems like a desperate act based on a non-existent legal premise.

    Also, the particular argument that they weren’t referring to specific people were incredibly disingenuous–though not at all unsurprising. The way the legal system works, anything you can say to create doubt, or any tenuous grounds for an appeal/injunction/etc, can’t possibly hurt as long as you don’t taint your image in front of the jury. Still, this guy obviously has a very overinflated idea of the breadth of the first amendment–that, or he’s just that desperate.

    At the same time, I wonder how many people would like their identities “outed” through civil action? For example, every so often somebody publishes something horribly offensive making light of a serious subject, such as rape or child molestation–invariably, somebody makes the comment that they must be [murderers/rapists/pedophiles] themselves, and should be [insert horrible punishment here], with occasional offers by someone willing to do the deed him/herself. I sincerely believe that 99% of the threats are idle and meaningless, though they should all be regarded seriously, but even excepting that situation, every time someone mouths off in any forum that X public figure must be a rapist, or Y public figure is completely morally corrupt, they are technically opening themselves up to a civil suit, even a weak one that serves no other intended purpose than to expose their identity.

    So this is where I am torn. On one hand, it would give me great satisfaction to see some karmic justice served here–this isn’t the first time where I’ve relished the idea of an anonymous netizen having to account for his words online. The actual threats in this case gives it even more justification. At the same time, I really wouldn’t want to imagine that because of an offhanded joke questioning the president’s evolutionary compatibility to modern human beings, or my idle musings about certain politicians being subjected to the torture they authorized, that somewhere down the line someone can use that as an excuse to give every white supremacist and fascist neo-Christian I’ve offended the information they need to start harassing me at home.

    I think, in this situation, the case should go forward. I have no idea whether it should win. Threats against real people, with pictures and identities readily attached to their online handles are far more serious than threats against random people, but at the same time, people who deliberately make their real identities known online put themselves into a nebulous position between celebrity and private individual (which creates a major difference in how libel and slander laws are applied, though I’m not sure what bearing it has on threats of any sort). However, from the standpoint of the legal precedent, I think the jerk’s privacy should be protected beyond the context of the trial, and the penalties for attempting to subvert this protection should be severe. In this situation, it is a clear cut case of people being victimized by someone trying to intimidate them, but if they’re allowed to use this as a means of setting the dogs upon him, I can guarantee that the next dozen cases will people or entities with tremendous financial and legal resources digging up an old “offense” in order to expose an irritating critic to public scrutiny.

  83. March 4, 2008 at 7:56 am

    I’m writing to inform you that over here in Europe where speech tends to more restricted with regard to hate speech, holocaust denial, etc. etc., civilization strangely hasn’t come to an end.

  84. Betty Boondoggle
    March 4, 2008 at 9:45 am

    But stop bandying the notion of ‘male privilege’.

    Why, because you say so? Because it makes you uncomfortable to be confronted with the truth?

    Too bad. It’s not a “notion”, it’s the stone cold truth.

    Read and learn

  85. William
    March 4, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Just because the internet has been a cesspool of “I can say anything I like nah nah” doesn’t mean that is right nor legal. The days of posting lies and threats are ending, and the bills are coming due. Just because people haven’t been caught before doesn’t give people a get out of trouble free card.

    Thats just patently ridiculous, Vail. Nothing is coming due and nothing is ending. If you’re going to discuss hate speech on the internet you have to come to terms with the fact that, because of the nature of the technology, the rules will always be different and people will always get away with more. I can barely turn on a computer and with ten minutes of work I could bounce my data across a half dozen servers all over the world and effectively ensure my anonymity. I could then post any kind of hateful, threatening, defamatory, or disgusting thing I pleased and no one would really be able to track me or stop me. It doesn’t matter how many laws you pass, you’re dealing with a technology wherein any asshole with a computer and a couple of minutes can render any local legislation unenforceable.

    As bad as the guys at autoadmit were, the scary reality is that they’re amateurs in this game. I’m sure Jill and Zuzu could tell horror stories about anonymous raids coming from the chans. You can google EncyclopediaDramatica (provided you want to expose yourself to something like that). Its an enormous problem, but pretending it will go away doesn’t really change anything.

    I’m not saying that what AK47 and his ilk do was ok, or that it should be ignored. I’m just saying that if were going to discuss these kinds of problems, which we should, we really need to be a bit more realistic about what were dealing with and what solutions are possible.

  86. March 4, 2008 at 11:28 am

    But stop bandying the notion of ‘male privilege’.

    Funny how I never thought about male privilege. It’s rather like how a fish is unaware of the water that it swims in. When I began my transition to become a woman, I became aware of it, and what I was losing, in a hurry.

    I no longer commanded as much personnel body space.

    My opinions in my field of work were not accorded the same level of respect.

    I was ignored in restaurants in favor of any male I happened to be with.

    I have been solicited for sex in public even while dressed professionally.

    The biggest adjustment was walking to get the car one night in Raleigh, after catching Eve Ensler’s “The Good Body” at the Progress Energy Center. I am still married to my wife, and she has CP, so I do most of the driving. I was wearing a black, cocktail length dress and heels appropriate to a night out at a performance, and I had about three blocks to walk. I have never been more terrified in my life. I never worried about walking in a well lite city at night as a male. I knew better, now. I was a target, and I could feel it without a doubt. I had been a door gunner and crew chief on an OH-58A helicopter in Korea, and I was really wishing for the feel of an M-60 machine gun and a 100 round belt of ammunition right then and there as a I walked to the car…trying not to look panicky or draw any attention. I made it…and I learned a lesson about what women have grown up with and learned to deal with intuitively.

  87. William
    March 4, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    I’m writing to inform you that over here in Europe where speech tends to more restricted with regard to hate speech, holocaust denial, etc. etc., civilization strangely hasn’t come to an end.

    The thing about holocaust denial and hate speech is that they represent ideas. Banning the expression of those ideas gives them power, an almost mystical importance that only the taboo can claim. Worse, restricting that kind of speech prevents the ideas it represents from being dragged out into the cold light of reason. I’ve never seen a neo-nazi, misogynist, or holocaust denier come out of a debate looking like anything other than a fool. Those kinds of ideas can’t stand up to challenge, they can’t survive discussion and dissection. Banning them just drives them underground and keeps them from ever getting the treatment they deserve.

    But we aren’t talking about hate speech here, not exactly. Sure, it’s a pretty safe bet that AK47 and his droogs hate women, but if all they had said was that Jane Doe was inherantly inferior because of a uterus we wouldn’t still be talking about them and their little mild anencephaly club house. Instead, they crossed over from simple hate speech to making threats of rape against specific individuals and trying to ruin their job prospects through intentional slander.

  88. Vail
    March 4, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Technology is catching up with many people who are trying to hide what they are illegally doing online. Now they can use things they developed for tracking down people peddling child porn etc. and use that to track down other criminals. Just like once long ago no one could track down harassing letter writers we now have DNA and other tools. If people commit crimes using the internet then technology will be developed to track them down. And yes, people are being found, and convicted of computer related crimes. Like I said, just because they’ve been getting away with it, doesn’t mean that it wont come back to haunt them. I really don’t like the attitude of “but it would be so haaaaaaaaaaaard to track them down” as an excuse to let people get away with this shit.

  89. March 4, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Jill, first off, thank you for welcoming both me and Anthony. I am a frequent reader, although I don’t comment much.

    Second, you make a good point here, but I must challenge parts of it:

    I trust the courts a bit more to evaluate which claims are legitimate when unmasking anonymous speech. Disliking someone’s political views? Not good enough. Threatening people with sexual assault and slandering them? Ok. The bounty model has far too high a potential for abuse.

    Jill draws the line precisely where I think it should be drawn. Unfortunately, when it comes to discussing this subject on a blog, we can easily shape our hypothetical world so that the lines don’t blur. In real litigation, that isn’t always so simple.

    In my evaluation, the legal claims against AK47 (and most of the pseudonymous defendants) are not very solid. In fact, most of the pseudonymous defendants should not have been included in this case. If I were defending AK47, for example, (I am not, and I am not interested in doing so either) I think that I could have a good chance of quashing a subpoena seeking his identity. Then he scampers along on his merry way, with his “klan hood” intact. He still may prevail, even pro se. As much as his memo flails and makes some poor arguments, there are a few gems hidden in it. I would prefer that he not get away with his conduct with zero consequences.

    The “bounty model” does have a potential for abuse. Nightmare scenario: A blogger reveals something sketchy about the Scientologists, which is arguably actionable (but in the end, couldn’t support the claims brought) then Tom Cruise offers gobs of money for the person’s identity. The identity is revealed, and then the character assassination begins. Yes… problematic.

    On the other hand, the litigation model also has potential for abuse. Case in point, the claims against Mr. Ciolli. They were patently frivolous. I’ll re-disclaim, I represented him. However, I do not say the claims were frivolous because I represented him — rather I chose to represent him because the claims against him were frivolous.

    Want to change focus a little? Look at the complaint and the comments made by “A horse walks into a bar association.” (AHWIAB). Comments Here

    What there is legally actionable? I don’t see anything written by AHWIAB that is remotely actionable. By the same token, “beach body brady,” (who I think was dropped from the action, but was initially a defendant), and “David Carr” might be guilty of being piggish, juvenile, and engaging in locker-room level discussion. But, is there really a non-frivolous legal claim against them? I see nothing of the sort. The same goes for this exchange between “HI” and “David Carr.”

    In contrast, this conversation between “neoprag” and “D:” could be actionable. Falsely accusing someone of having herpes (I presume it is false) falls within my definition of defamatory. Saying you’ll “force yourself” on someone or “sodomize” them (unwillingly)… that seems actionable as well. There is no First Amendment right to threaten to rape someone.

    Here is one that is on the line. Sleazy Z, Ari Gold, and DRACULA have a conversation about one of the plaintiffs’ sexual preferences. The post is mean, nasty, and (I am certain) false. However, is it not so obviously hyperbolic that nobody could construe it as a statement of fact? That doesn’t dispense with the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, but that claim might evaporate too, once facts about how the plaintiffs have refused multiple reasonable offers to remove the posts.

    This post and this post are both about the father of one of the plaintiffs. The truth is, he is a convicted felon. I’m not going to link to the articles, nor provide the citation to the court case – (simply because I think it would be mean to do so). What could be actionable about discussing that on a message board?

    Finally, this: Does “D:” deserve to be outed, humiliated, and forced to answer for his words? I think so…

    But not by using the court’s subpoena power.

    Since both methods have potential for abuse, I trust the free-market bounty model a little more. All that happens with the bounty model – especially the “collective bounty model” (where people chip in small amounts for the information) is that eventually the truth comes out. If someone wants to lie and claim that “D:” is actually me or you, they’ll have a hard time collecting their reward without giving their real identity — and a false accusation of that kind would certainly be defamatory.

    With AK47 (or AHWIAB, HI, David Carr, etc) if we trust the litigation model, we run a great risk that the nasty content of the comments might control the table — rather than the law. Anyone who has ever spoken to a judge, formally or informally, knows that despite the fact that personal outrage shouldn’t enter into the judge’s decision — it often does. In this case we have a situation in which a judge will be asked to out someone who (IMHO) truly deserves it on a moral level.

    Unfortunately, if the judge outs AK47, that could start a trend that will be difficult to control once the genie is out of the bottle. Nobody will shed a tear for AK47 if he is “unjustly” outed. But, it will be a bad day for the First Amendment. The legal claims against him are anemic at best. I would hate to see anonymous speech as a whole suffer because of a court’s desire to punish this one bad guy.

    Now before anyone flips their lid, none of this means that I think that AK47’s actions (nor any of the other examples) were right. I too would like to see them exposed, humiliated, and dragged in front of the the court of public opinion.

    But, if a court wipes away even a corner of the Doe v. Cahill standard away, that is bad for all of us — even those of us who want to see him (or the other rude, crude, and offensive posters) outed. For if a court agrees that non-actionable, but rude, crude, and nasty comments can be the proper basis for a subpoena, then we have lost the same right to pseudonymity that cloaked authors from Cato to Zuzu.

  90. March 4, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    I don’t think it’s intentional rape apologetics so much as blind privilege.

    Remember, it’s both/and, not either/or. Especially when you leave the intentional out. It’s not as if the effects of rape apology/sexism/racism/etc. disappear just because the intent to harm wasn’t there. Unlike the AutoAdmit case, this isn’t a legal issue, intent may not be completely irrelevant, but it’s hardly the central issue.

    Speaking of the actual topic….

    I don’t really understand why gendered threats against women – especially gendered threats of sexual assault – are not legally considered hate speech since they seem to fit all the requirements. I mean, I technically understand that the law currently says they aren’t, I just think it’s wrong that it’s not. So while it’s obviously true that this isn’t legal factor in the current case, crap like this:

    Often it is just someone being silly or venting anger.

    I think everyone agrees that actual rape or murder are serious, as would a credible threat.

    Is especially ridiculous.

    “Cuz, you know, threats made on the internet are not credible even if they include personal information and accounts of first-hand sightings. On account of them being made on the internets and all, I guess.

    It’s not like death threats made on the internet are never followed through, especially when it comes to women and women’s rights. No abortion provider has haver been shot at or killed after having had his/her information posted on the internet. No myspace account of having committed sexual assault has ever helped victims or police find and prosecute rapists. It’s not like these same men making threats about specific women also claimed in their own postings that they stalked the women they were threatening.

    (sigh)

    1 – men? Thats being presumptious.

    Or not. I could be wrong, but my impression is that the defendants have all claimed to be male.

    As Zuzu has already pointed out, there is a difference between anonymous and semi-anonymous. A point that I think would be interesting legally, since it is the semi-anonymous nature of the threats that make them all the more threatening. Like the difference between hearing *igger yelled out in a crowd, versus hearing someone say it from under a Ku Klux Klan hood. The real identity is hidden, but the reputation is there. While no direct physical harm has been perpetrated by the defendants at this time,* they have spent a long time building up their reputations as being willing to continually escalate – to the point of extending their actions into the “real world.” (“I saw so and so today at blah blah blah.”)

    *As far as we know. I rather wonder what else might come out when the plaintiffs and the court learn who they are. Were their hateful comments and actions on-line extended to non-anonymous interactions? I rather wonder if their job prospects aren’t all they are worried about. If maybe they have engaged in “real world” harassment that is more likely to be reported once the women they harassed realize that the incident was part of a pattern of behavior and not simply a random mistake.

  91. March 4, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    I don’t really understand why gendered threats against women – especially gendered threats of sexual assault – are not legally considered hate speech since they seem to fit all the requirements. I mean, I technically understand that the law currently says they aren’t, I just think it’s wrong that it’s not.

    Because hate speech is objectionable, but still legal.

    And while I can fully understand why you might “think it’s wrong that it’s not”, be very careful what you wish for.

    Freedom of speech is precious and delicate. If we make speech that you (and I) think is horrible an exception, we’ve taken step one toward having no freedom of speech at all.

    The marketplace of ideas works. I read Feministe regularly. I infuse some of its ideas into my own, into my classes, into my writing. I’m not alone.

    However, consider how sick-freak neo-cons might feel about this site. It is, to some, full of dangerous ideas. This post is a clear violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1462. Yes, that’s completely fucked up that there is a federal law prohibiting:

    …carriage in interstate or foreign commerce— (c) any drug, medicine, article, or thing designed, adapted, or intended for producing abortion, or for any indecent or immoral use; or any written or printed card, letter, circular, book, pamphlet, advertisement, or notice of any kind giving information, directly or indirectly, where, how, or of whom, or by what means any of such mentioned articles, matters, or things may be obtained or made;

    But, there is… and if any prosecutor dared to try and enforce the law, the First Amendment would come to the rescue.

    This post
    could harm the war effort. This post defames PETA. This one encourages people to talk to children about homosexuality.

    I could go on and on, but I presume that my point is made. For every person like you (or me for that matter) who wishes that hate speech would go away, there is someone who wishes that abortion speech, or speech that is pro-equality for homosexuals, or speech critical of the military would go away.

    If we give the keys to the temple to a censor with whom we agree, the key has been made. It will be copied, and the temple will fall.

  92. zuzu
    March 4, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    This post defames PETA.

    That’s quite a strong statement. Surely you’re familiar with the elements of a claim for defamation, which requires that the statement be one of fact, not opinion?

    You’re failing to distinguish between “speech one wishes would go away” and “speech that causes harm.” It’s up to the courts to decide whether the plaintiffs have a valid claim, and whether they carry their burden of demonstrating all the elements of the claims they’ve made.

    I don’t know why you keep flogging this idea of a bounty system. Do you imagine that offering the temptation of monetary reward for outing someone will result in less abuse than going to the trouble of hiring a lawyer, filing a suit and convincing a judge that your claims are meritorious enough that you should be granted a subpoena to uncover someone’s identity? After all, if someone receives a subpoena, there are a number of things that person can do to protect his identity, from filing a motion to quash to negotiating a protective order that prevents public disclosure of his identity at least during the pendency of the litigation.

    Also, why do you imagine that outing people is a goal in and of itself, and one that we’d be interested in here?

  93. March 4, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Regarding PETA: My point is not that PETA should sue Feministe. My point is that PETA would probably find it to be defamatory. It is an exercise in observing whose ox is being gored — not a critique of the PETA posting. I’d defend the PETA posting until the end of time.

    All “speech that causes harm” is not actionable. First, define “harm.” (Return to ox-goring exercise).

    As far as the court deciding whether the plaintiffs have met their burden goes, I can’t see any court that hasn’t lost its mind holding that the plaintiffs have met their burden when it comes to most of the defendants. There might be a couple (neoprag and “D:” for example).

    And yes, I do believe that the bounty award will have less potential for abuse. What scares me about this case is that it may create bad precedent. Please, before you just start railing about my position, give it a fair reading and some open-minded thought.

    As far as why I think that outing is a goal in itself, and why here?

    Feministe has done a lot of reporting on the AutoAdmit case. I find it disappointing that Feministe wouldn’t take up a challenge to start a fund to out the nastiest posters.

    In reading the extensive coverage of the case on this blog, I get the impression that bringing all the pseuds to justice is a goal that this blog community supports — even those who have committed no legal harm. (For example, AK47).

    Sunshine is the best antiseptic. Why not shine the spotlight on these racists and sexists and let them defend their actions? That’s what the press does. I certainly consider Feministe to be a part of the press.

    There seemed to be no lack of a desire to attack Mr. Ciolli on this blog (I’m lumping the commenters in here). The more information that comes out, the more I hope that reasonable and intelligent people can see that the venom directed toward him was unjustified. I don’t have to say that — he isn’t a defendant anymore, so my job is done with respect to him. I’m looking at this from purely a legal perspective, not a client representation perspective.

    Why not turn the same venom toward those who really did something wrong?

    You certainly are under no obligation to go after the true wrong-doers in this story, but if not you, then who?

    Well, if you change your mind, I’ll pledge $200 to the fund to out AK47 (or any of the pseuds who truly did anything wrong).

  94. Thomas
    March 4, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Marc, what would limit a bounty to misconduct? Why wouldn’t folks take up a collection to bribe someone to out Zuzu or me … just out of curiosity? What about the bloggers who are or have been sex workers? Wouldn’t people come up with money to find out who they are, just out of prurient interest? If that became common, I don’t think the genie would go back in the bottle so easily.

    At least with the courts, a judge stands as the final arbiter of what is fair and reasonable. I may not like the judiciary (and I could sure name some judges that I wouldn’t want to put in charge of anyone’s privacy), but to assert that the market will somehow automatically do the right thing is something only a Randian would defend.

    Also, using the term “defames” WRT Jill’s post was *ahem* a little loose. I think we both recognize that a Peta defamation claim against Jill would be frivolous, or at best non-frivolous but easily dismissed. To post about law, as a lawyer, and to make what amounts to an accusation by using a legal term in its lay sense is, not to put too fine a point on it, poor form. I think an apology is in order.

  95. March 4, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    And not to flog this thing beyond recognition — but honestly, isn’t this the best place to organize a DIY outing?

    Option A) Plod to some male authority figure in a black robe and ask him “may we please have their names?” Wait for the courts — by the time that is done (with appeals and all), these guys might be name partners at their firms. Also, as noted above, it may come back to haunt us all one day.

    Option B) DIY. Cut out the middleman.

    You saw the result it had with respect to Mr. Ciolli’s career: And he didn’t even do anything wrong.

    Imagine the results for Mr. “47”

  96. zuzu
    March 4, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    I find it disappointing that Feministe wouldn’t take up a challenge to start a fund to out the nastiest posters.

    You’re going to have to live with the disappointment.

    Option A) Plod to some male authority figure in a black robe and ask him “may we please have their names?” Wait for the courts — by the time that is done (with appeals and all), these guys might be name partners at their firms. Also, as noted above, it may come back to haunt us all one day.

    Are all judges male in your world?

    You seem to believe that you’re not dealing with people who are familiar with legal procedure. There’s no way a discovery dispute takes the seven or so years it takes to make partner (if, indeed, any of these guys make partner, which is a rarer and rarer event at the big law firms they all crow about so much).

    Option B) DIY. Cut out the middleman.

    You saw the result it had with respect to Mr. Ciolli’s career: And he didn’t even do anything wrong.

    Imagine the results for Mr. “47″

    Here’s the problem with that: what’s the upside to Feministe? How does one avoid the downside? If I start offering a bounty to collect scalps, it’s only a matter of time before someone comes after mine.

    There were a series of outings over a year ago, and then a series of DDoS attacks. The outings were done for petty revenge, and the DDoS attacks were done for shits and giggles. Do you really think that offering people money is going to reduce the potential for abuse?

    It sounds like your client wants to spread the pain around, frankly. We’re not here to do your dirty work. If you want to throw AK47 and the other Doe defendants under the bus, do it yourself.

  97. RKMK
    March 4, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    You saw the result it had with respect to Mr. Ciolli’s career: And he didn’t even do anything wrong.

    That, truly, is a matter of opinion.

  98. March 4, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    Here’s the problem with that: what’s the upside to Feministe? How does one avoid the downside? If I start offering a bounty to collect scalps, it’s only a matter of time before someone comes after mine.

    I honestly hadn’t thought of that. I see your point.

    Are all judges male in your world?

    No, but Judge Droney (the judge in the AutoAdmit case) is.

    It sounds like your client wants to spread the pain around, frankly. We’re not here to do your dirty work. If you want to throw AK47 and the other Doe defendants under the bus, do it yourself.

    Now is this kind of nastiness necessary? If I were personally interested in going after these clowns, I’d up my offer to $5,000 and put it on my own blog. Personally, I’d like to see these pricks outed, but I don’t have a dog in the fight.

    Mr. Ciolli, you may have read, is no longer a party to the case. What do you think he gains by seeing AK47 outed? He gets nothing. He came here and put forth a pretty reasonable challenge. It seemed appropriate in this forum, since this forum seems to be quite fixated on the case – and the misconduct of the posters. Now that someone offered a reasonable way to exact justice, nobody cares anymore.

    With respect to RKMK’s statement that it is a matter of opinion that Mr. Ciolli didn’t do anything wrong, well… back it up.

    What did Ciolli do?

    It seems to me that he became the target of a lot of hysterical accusations for “not doing enough,” or “failing to delete.” Well, I showed above that very few of the threads were even actionable — so why should Ciolli have deleted them?

    Furthermore, if you take a little trip over to AutoAdmit, do a search for Ciolli’s name. There are threads accusing him of being a pedophile, engaging in incest, and any number of other clearly-defamatory postings — most posted before he resigned from AutoAdmit. Do you think that if he had the power to remove postings, perhaps he would have started with those?

  99. zuzu
    March 4, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    Now is this kind of nastiness necessary? If I were personally interested in going after these clowns, I’d up my offer to $5,000 and put it on my own blog. Personally, I’d like to see these pricks outed, but I don’t have a dog in the fight.

    Oh, civility trolling. My favorite.

    Dude, you’re the one coming onto my blog and pushing your agenda of exposing these defendants. To what end?

    While your faith in the magic of the market is touching, you’ve done a poor job of articulating the central issue you must be able to articulate in order to convince someone to take up your “challenge,” viz., What’s in it for me? I’d certainly get no benefit from exposing these guys just for the sake of exposing them, nor, I would imagine, would Jill. You didn’t even think of the rather obvious downside to us, which shows a shocking lack of thought invested into your proposal.

    Since I highly doubt your motives are purely altruistic, we must then consider who *would* benefit should we take up your “challenge” and offer a bounty on AK47 and his ilk. And considering your continuing advocacy of this proposal, the answer must be: Anthony Ciolli. Whether or not he’s still in the case, I’m sure it galls him that he’s been outed and has lost a job offer and been exposed as a harassment suit waiting to happen while the posters who are far more actively responsible for the harm done to the Jane Does are safely anonymous. Why not try to get someone else to expose these guys for him and make them suffer what he has?

    As far as your invitation to witness the eating of their own over at AutoAdmit: thank you, no.

  100. zuzu
    March 4, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    Not to mention: if we’re going to fund-raise, we’re going to put it into the site, or help someone out who needs help. Not get into a pissing match with a bunch of guys who have shown no compunction about stalking, harassing and threatening women and interfering with their work lives in the past.

  101. March 4, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    While your faith in the magic of the market is touching, you’ve done a poor job of articulating the central issue you must be able to articulate in order to convince someone to take up your “challenge,” viz., What’s in it for me?

    Look back. I already conceded this point. I’m not interested in convincing you to do this: it was offered as a reasonable plan, seemed like a good idea to me. You’ve shown me that there isn’t enough in it for you to make it worth it for you. Okay, you win.

    I guess that I simply mis-judged the collective position toward the pseuds over here. It seems that it is all tar and feathers until someone offers an idea as to how to apply them to the bad guys.

    Dude, you’re the one coming onto my blog and pushing your agenda of exposing these defendants. To what end?

    Not every issue has to be a conspiracy, Zuzu. The agenda seemed already “pushed.” This blog seems quite friendly to the idea of outing the pseuds — I;m here because I think that court action is the wrong way to do it (or haven’t you read anything I’ve posted?)

    My agenda should be clear: I’m a First Amendment attorney. You don’t choose that sub-profession because you think you’ll get rich. You choose that sub-profession because you believe in something.

    You (collectively), I thought, wished to see justice brought to the doorstep of these pigs. I wished to see that done without creating First Amendment collateral damage. Nothing deeper than that. I’m a lot simpler than you give me credit for.

    For a brief moment, I thought that what I believed in and what you believed in were aligned. Accordingly, over here I came.

    I see that I was wrong.

    I’ll be on my way.

  102. zuzu
    March 4, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    I guess that I simply mis-judged the collective position toward the pseuds over here. It seems that it is all tar and feathers until someone offers an idea as to how to apply them to the bad guys.

    Please provide links in support of this “tar and feathers” mentality, pls.

    This blog seems quite friendly to the idea of outing the pseuds

    This, too.

    My agenda should be clear: I’m a First Amendment attorney. You don’t choose that sub-profession because you think you’ll get rich. You choose that sub-profession because you believe in something.

    And your client is Anthony Ciolli, who is an interested party here. He may no longer be named in the suit, but he is interested in damage control.

    You (collectively), I thought, wished to see justice brought to the doorstep of these pigs.

    Justice, yes. You propose vigilantism.

  103. RKMK
    March 4, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    It seems to me that he became the target of a lot of hysterical accusations for “not doing enough,” or “failing to delete.” Well, I showed above that very few of the threads were even actionable — so why should Ciolli have deleted them?

    Aw. Hysterical.” How cute! *pets self-important little lawyer on the head*

    Ciolli’s moral responsibility, though perhaps not in a strictly actionable context, is rather self-evident to anyone with HALF A BRAIN and an OUNCE of judgement. Legally liable? Perhaps not. But certainly morally culpable. Ciolli marked himself as an endlessly smirky weasel who continues to deny responsibility for the situation – and what law firm wants to associate themselves with a man who publicly refused to step in when innocent women were being libelled, stalked, and threatened with rape, along with their locations and class schedules and photographs, on his boards? Even when he was expressly asked to remove them? Ciolli only has own legendary bad judgement to blame for his current reputation.

    I believe he had to go for another degree, not in the realm of law, did he not? Even then, Google has an awful long memory. Really, it’s such a shame. Really. But that’s the beauty of both the free market and internet free speech, in action!

    Ciolli’s attempt to whitewash himself now, with your dedicated help, is almost embarrassingly transparent. I laugh in your general direction.

  104. March 5, 2008 at 2:45 am

    Because hate speech is objectionable, but still legal.

    But threats are not, and racist credible threats are considered hate crimes, yes? (depending on the jurisdiction) That was my point. Not that random insults should be subject to criminal prosecution. Which was made pretty fucking clear by my use of the word “threats” in the exact paragraph you quoted.

    I find it disappointing that Feministe wouldn’t take up a challenge to start a fund to out the nastiest posters.

    Well, see, here’s the difference between you and me. I’m not really all that much for vigilante acts.

    I honestly hadn’t thought of that. I see your point.

    Just…wow.

  105. March 5, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Citation for 33% of british rape victims are male?

    – Astraea

    I said sexual assault not rape. But you can peruse the ONS web site for the figure.

    your dismissal of a woman’s fear is incredibly offensive

    I never dismissed a woman’s fear. I have just asked what “male privilege” actually is. Surely, male privilege is walking a girl home after a date to make sure she gets home safely? It’s making an extra journey to pick up a daughter. It’s waiting up for your wife to get home. Its staying out and missing the last train home because your friend is getting drunk and flirting with a couple of guys, and you want to know she’ll be OK. Its doing (sexist) things to know the women you care about are safe. Walking a work coleague home through the alleyway shortcut in mid-winter, so she can get home in time to do the shopping before picking up her daughter. Yes male privilege is great. I enjoy it. But don;t think because I don’t worry about being raped that I don’t have to fear for my safety: mugging, assault and roobery are a far greater danger for both men and women than rape.

    BTW your Home Office stat means a woman in the UK is 1/33 chance of being raped over a lifetime. I am not going to say that isn’t a lot, as obviously a 1in33000000 odd would still pose a problem. But I guess its a lot lower than the US figure.

    In some parts of the world, male privilege is knowing that if you don’t defend your mother/wife/sister/daughter from rape you won’t be able to live with yourself; but knowing if you do that you may not live at all.

    please don’t breed. You might have daughters

    – Mythago

    And you may have sons.

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