Hello, Secret Service? I Want to Report the Internet!

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61 Responses

  1. Justamom3 says:

    Problem is that GottaLaff is spot on. These "morons", Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News ARE the ones inciting civil unrest and violence. I don't care if it's "legal" or not. If someone incites a riot and others are murdered it is the people that incited the riot that are directly responsible for fueling the fire with gasoline. I think ALL of us have a responsibility to do the right thing and turn someone in if they are trying to incite violence anywhere, EVEN, on the internet. DUH, she did the right thing and you are ripping her for it. Hmmm, does that make you a Republican or a racist? Or, are you even worse, a racist that is a Republican?

  2. Ken says:

    Yep, that sounds like a GottaLaff flying monkey. Proudly ignorant of the law, contemptuous of the rule of law, enthusiastic about ineffectual self-promoting gestures of censorship, and convinced that anyone who disagrees is a racist or … gasp … a Republican.

  3. Justamom3 says:

    Sometimes just being "LEGAL" is still NOT OK. Most people that incite violent behavior just barely stay on the LEGAL side. So, don't keep saying it was "LEGAL" to me. We all know the "LEGAL SYSTEM" is broken!

  4. Ken says:

    Yes. You, and a brigade of other hysterical pants-wetting twits, and centuries of your ilk before you, are always contemptuous of the rule of law when it prevents you from censoring speech you hate. You, and your ilk, are always enraged by the legal rules – sensible, built with difficulty, over decades — that stuff like that asshole's poll can only be censored by the state when it conveys a true threat or when it is likely to lead to imminent lawless action.

    You've got lots of company. Plenty of pants-wetters during the Bush Administration wanted to censor hyperbole and assholery directed at Bush. Somehow, though, people like you always convince yourselves that you are different and better.

    "Sometimes being legal is still not OK" is fine, if you are saying that some legally protected speech is evil, and should be called out as evil. But it sounds to me like you are not using it for that limited purpose. It sounds to me like you are using it as a cry to abandon the rule of law in favor of the rule of you. Which, when you think about it, is exactly what some of Obama's most fervent critics do.

  5. gj says:

    Sigh. You know, I keep *hearing* about how all these evil talk radio and television personalities are inciting riots, provoking people to violence, etc.

    I've yet to hear it, or see it. And yet, it's taken for granted among the foaming-at-the-mouth liberal crowd that this is exactly what's going on.

    I especially enjoy the irony that one of the accusations is that conservatives are *sooooooo* stupid that they'll just believe whatever one of these media talking heads tells them without thinking about it. "I know it's so, 'cause I read it in the HuffPo!"

  6. Ken says:

    Laughed out loud at this tweet:

    .@Popehat Your view is slightly extreme on censorship, a census worker is dead because of that view.

    Yes, Brandenburg v. Ohio became flesh and murdered a census worker.

  7. Justamom3 says:

    So Ken, you think all people that disagree with you are hysterical pants-wetting twits? HA, Talk about a hysterical pants-wetting twit, your characterization is funny since you don't even know me. I was talking about inciting evil, vicious, violent attacks on anyone being "LEGAL". Dear sir, I don't believe GottaLaff is getting a fair shake on bringing something so vial to the attention of the Secret Service and due to the nature of the poll and the fact it involved the President of this country I think she did the right thing. People are coming down on her because she did the right thing. Most of us that are not in law reinforcement will tell you that the laws on the books are sometimes very off the mark when it comes to certain things. Just because it happens to be a law doesn't make it ok in my opinion.

  8. TomHt says:

    Reading the post, it is as if 2000-2008 did not happen. The very same idiotic things and baseless threats, born of frustration and political disagreement, were said by all kinds on the left, from people in my community to commentators on that, failed, Left radio network. The blindness is astounding.

    I don't intend to make the Tu Quoque argument criticized in earlier posts here, I just want it recognized that this is acceptable political dialogue, at least to those who prefer to discuss things on that level.

    PS, does anyone commenting around the web KNOW what happened to the census worker? and as for violence against the government (again with the Tu Quoque) can those on the Left spell "weather underground?"

  9. Justamom3 says:

    I agree with the answer you gave to gj though. The hate filled talk shows and radio also got a Dr. killed when a nut case picked up the cause of the and acted out on feelings about abortion clinics. The guy went to the Dr.'s church and killed him in front of the congregation. Very sad but when hate talk is allowed in this kind of context it brings out the crazies that will actually act on what their hearing.

  10. Ken says:

    Actually, Justamom3, I am drawing conclusions about you based on your posts, the things you choose to criticize, and the things you choose to defend.

    I was talking about inciting evil, vicious, violent attacks on anyone being “LEGAL”.

    Here's the thing — many, if not most, "evil, vicious" attacks ARE legal. Don't like it? Go complain to the First Amendment and 60 years of cases interpreting it. No competent lawyer, or judge, or prosecutor would take that poll as a "true threat", the type of threat that the government is permitted to prosecute under the First Amendment. As for "violent" — certain speech urging or threatening violence may be punished. The rules for that are well-established and not in dispute by anyone who has taken the time to educate themselves about them, as a citizen in this country ought to. I describe you as pants-wetting because that's what I think is an apt description of people — left or right, racist or anti-racist, anarchist or totalitarian — who want to jettison, ignore, and scorn the rule of law in the face of the OMG OUTRAGE of the week.

    People are coming down on her because she did the right thing.

    Yes, the poor dear is so traumatized that she's only put up half a dozen blog posts about it. GottaLaff can dish it out, but apparently she can't take it.

    Most of us that are not in law reinforcement will tell you that the laws on the books are sometimes very off the mark when it comes to certain things.

    Yes. The laws are designed to protect everyone from people like that.

    Just because it happens to be a law doesn’t make it ok in my opinion.

    Perhaps you can find the part in my post where I said it was OK to make the poll. I seem to recall repeatedly insulting the people who did it, and people like him, and suggesting that people ought to call such conduct out through more speech, not exhortations to censorship.

  11. RP says:

    I don't see what was the legally actionable censorship in this case? It sounds like the blogger reported what could be interpreted as a threat on the life of the President to the Secret Service. Last I checked, the former was–in fact–illegal, and the latter is the responsible action to have taken (reporting a potential crime).

    The "censorship" seems to have come when the SS contacted FB, resulting in FB determining that the poll was beyond the pale and pulling it down (along with all the others utilizing the same application). Over-reaction? Perhaps, but as FB has repeatedly expressed the right to retain control over its content, well within their rights. Management there seemed to determine that this poll was morally if not legally problematic and shut it down. I guess that can be construed as censorship, but no one forces people to participate in FB, nor has the company granted carte blanche to the users of its services.

    I know we would all prefer to be the final arbiters of credibility, but in this case, I'd prefer to let the Secret Service determine if this is some kid thinking that they're being cute, or a serious incitement to violence against the President. I *know* deep down that this is nothing remotely approaching a credible threat, but its appropriate for someone else with the authority to actually make that determination after doing a little investigating.

    I checked out the comments in the link re: the application's developer, who many rightly noted came across as whiny, and just as self-involved as the blogger. I feel for his loss of business, but he clearly has a few flaws in his application and this seems to have only been noticed when stuff started hitting the fan. As it stands, it looks like he lost 1/2 a day of business or so. Big whoop.

    As for GottaLaff's self-congratulations and grandstanding, this is about 95% of what constitutes political blogging (and Fox News, frankly). This particular blogger acting out in this manner does not distinguish her/him from the competition at all.

  12. Justamom3 says:

    I think the safety of our President deserves priority over someone else's free speech. Putting that kind of nasty poll up where all can see can jeopardize our Presidents life. Same goes for their right to bear arms. The secret service has the authority to not let people carry guns within a certain parameter of where our President is speaking. They should be allowed to error on the side of safety where there are lives being put at stake by someone inciting violence. No different in the poll. They are trying to jeopardize someone else's life by inciting others to take action, under the cover of free speech. That's just wrong.

  13. Ansley says:

    Oh Ken, this post is like chocolate to a PMSing girl!

  14. RP says:

    Crud, I have no idea why "legally actionable" is in that first sentence. Strike it so that it hopefully sounds somewhat coherent.

  15. Ken says:

    I don’t see what was the legally actionable censorship in this case?

    If you look carefully, you'll see I didn't claim there has been any. In fact, I specifically said that Facebook could do whatever it likes. Distinguish that from GottaLaff and her supporters, who are pretty clearly calling for the Secret Service to take action to censor things that are not, legally, subject to censorship.

    It sounds like the blogger reported what could be interpreted as a threat on the life of the President to the Secret Service. Last I checked, the former was–in fact–illegal, and the latter is the responsible action to have taken (reporting a potential crime).

    Only true threats — defined in Watts, the case I linked to in the post — are illegal. This is simply not subject to legal dispute. Please post a link to a case if you think otherwise. As to whether it was a responsible action — reporting it was legal. Responsible? I think that a person with more judgment — and less frothing hate for people who disagree with her — might have concluded that the poll was obscure hyperbole by an asshole, and not bothered. I also rather wonder how accurately she described it to the Secret Service.

    Management there seemed to determine that this poll was morally if not legally problematic and shut it down. I guess that can be construed as censorship, but no one forces people to participate in FB, nor has the company granted carte blanche to the users of its services.

    As I said, Facebook had every right to do it.

    I feel for his loss of business, but he clearly has a few flaws in his application and this seems to have only been noticed when stuff started hitting the fan.

    Here we disagree. I think it is ridiculous to expect developers to make applications that auto-prevent or auto-delete user-generated content that is "offensive" by some standard.

  16. Dwight Brown says:

    "I think the safety of our President deserves priority over someone else’s free speech."

    I apologize, Ken, but I feel like I have to do this.

    "Roper: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!

    More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

    Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

    More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you–where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast – man's laws, not God's – and if you cut them down – and you're just the man to do it – d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that wold blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake."
    –Robert Bolt, A Man For All Seasons

    Where are you going to hide, Justamom3?

  17. Justamom3 says:

    If facebook didn't pull it then the Secret Service should have had the authority to do so themselves. It is an indirect threat to our President. Though I must admit I don't understand why you don't seem to see any threat here.

  18. Ken says:

    That's one of my very favorite quotes, Dwight.

    Look: certain threats to the President are criminal. They are prosecuted. Usually successfully. But the standard for what threats are criminal and what threats are not is well established. It is NOT "whatever upsets supporters of the President in question, who are using the incident in service of a broad narrative about critics of the President being dangerous and unhinged."

  19. Justamom3 says:

    I'm hide behind what's good and moral. Man's laws do not stop stupid!

  20. Justamom3 says:

    What I said in the beginning is that I thought the woman who turned this in was getting a bad wrap for doing what she perceived as the right thing to do. I still feel like she turned it in and that letting someone that knew the law and what was acceptable deal with it. Why people are thinking that she did the wrong thing I just don't get it.

  21. Ken says:

    If facebook didn’t pull it then the Secret Service should have had the authority to do so themselves. It is an indirect threat to our President. Though I must admit I don’t understand why you don’t seem to see any threat here.

    Because that is not the law. Conditional and indirect threats are protected by the First Amendment. Don't like it? Take it up with the United States Supreme Court — which decided that point unanimously forty years ago.

  22. Ken says:

    Why people are thinking that she did the wrong thing I just don’t get it.

    I wouldn't have written about her turning it in. I'm writing about her gleeful self-promotion and her open advocacy of censorship — of having a "job" to "stop" certain speech.

  23. TomH says:

    The problem Justamom3 is that your rules are subjective. Would you apply your rule to every person? Not just the nice ones, but well, the really hideous ones? What about a President who starts an unjust war? Do you protest against impotent threats against him or her? Are there unkind words that may be spoken against anyone?

  24. Justamom3 says:

    In this country you can't stop a killing until someone is dead…sounds like a good law doesn't it?

  25. Charles says:

    Justamom3, those are literally the arguments that are made in support of the most sweeping surveillance and detention provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act. I don't think you realize the road that you are traveling on.

  26. @Justamom3: In 2000, Craig Kilborn posted a vignette of George W. Bush accepting the GOP nomination for President with the prominent caption "SNIPERS WANTED"! The political Right was outraged, OUTRAGED, by such "threats" against their Presidential candidate – were you? The political Right in fact went so far as to report this to the Secret Service. The Secret Service investigated and asked Kilborn questions.

    You may be surprised to learn that neither Kilborn nor any of his staff were ever arrested, charged, etc. You may further be surprised to learn that Kilborn's show was not cancelled, and CBS' broadcasting license – a far, far more regulated thing than a computer program that allows a user to post polls on their Facebook page – was not revoked or otherwise hampered. Why? Because tasteless and irresponsible humor/commentary/Facebook poll questions are not serious threats.

    Perhaps you think differently. Perhaps. So, if that's the case, then I ask you this: should CBS, as the forum that permitted Kilborn to "threaten" a Presidential candidate, have had its license revoked in 2000? Should Craig Kilborn have been thrown in jail for being a bad comedian?

  27. DevilDan says:

    Dwight Brown… you just made my day. Truly, you have. Thank you.

    This is a question of common sense, after all: Have you made the president safer by reporting this poll? Think it through and you'll probably find this is not the case.

  28. Ken says:

    In this country you can’t stop a killing until someone is dead…sounds like a good law doesn’t it?

    Well, no. That's hysterical hyperbole. In this country, you can't stop someone from saying evil things about the President until the person makes a "true threat," as defined by 40 years of Supreme Court cases.

  29. Justamom3 says:

    I haven't read any other posts besides this one. And it sounded to me like you were dicing her because she turned it in. Sorry if that's not what you were meaning but that's how it sounded to me.

  30. Justamom3 says:

    Wonder what a "true threat" constitutes if it isn't a poll asking people if our President should be killed?

  31. Ken says:

    Here, by the way, is a good definition of what constitutes a "true threat" to the President that may be punished:

    a statement, written or oral, [made] in a context or under such circumstances wherein a reasonable person would foresee that the statement would be interpreted by those to whom the maker communicates the statement as a serious expression of an intention to inflict bodily harm upon or to take the life of the President.

    I submit that no even minimally rational person could believe that the Facebook poll satisfies this standard.

  32. RP says:

    Ken, I took a look at the link to the Watts case and–not being a lawyer–have no clue what how it defines a "true threat." From my brief time at the linked blog, my understanding is that GottaLaff may be a (retired?) comedian. I recognize that given your training and experience, you may have a different take on the law, but it's somewhat unrealistic to expect a layman to determine legal appropriateness (this is why, when necessary, we hire lawyers). In this instance, I'm really going to have to side with erring on the side of caution and reporting these things.

    –"Here we disagree. I think it is ridiculous to expect developers to make applications that auto-prevent or auto-delete user-generated content that is “offensive” by some standard."–

    Well, obviously FB disagrees (at least now). Perhaps it is ridiculous to expect developers to deal with these things, but it seems that the ridiculous is what is winning the day. Personally, I'd rather the application auto-prevent misspelled words, as every FB poll I've ever seen has at least 3 or 4 of them.

  33. Ken says:

    Ken, I took a look at the link to the Watts case and–not being a lawyer–have no clue what how it defines a “true threat.”

    That's my fault, not yours; I clumsily linked the wrong Watts case.

  34. RP says:

    Thanks for the US v Lincoln, that was crystal clear, even for me.

  35. Ken says:

    Back in England, it used to be treason to "compass the death of the King" — meaning imagine it, as in putting on a play in which the King is killed, or saying "if the king dies of the plague this year, maybe the Prince of Wales will be a better monarch." The Craig Kilborn bit that Mark Thompson posted above would definitely have been treason.

    That is not the law of America, thank God. Hyperbole, conditional threats (like Watts), talking about other people killing the President, and asking whether the President deserves to die (unless it is done in a context that conveys an intent to do it) are not actionable.

    For the people who thought this poll conveyed a threat to the President that should be punished: do you feel the same way about the people who wrote that President Bush ought to be extradited to France or the Hague, tried for war crimes, and executed? Why not?

  36. Jdog says:

    Hey, you committed lese Obama, and surely will not be greeted with the Obama goatse greeting.

    I expect you'll survive.

  37. Jdog says:

    To digress more seriously for a moment: long before the President was murdered by a Communist back when I was a kid, assassination has been a real threat to all Presidents, at least since Lincoln. But the assassination meme has become, largely, a distraction during the Obama months; lefty public discussion of a possible Presidential assassination, whether it's on Obama worship sites or the Obama worship network, really isn't about how bad the assassination of this sitting President would be (answer: very, even if a clown like Joe Biden wasn't sitting in the batter's box), but an attempt to discredit critics and distract from Obama's failings. Note, for example, Chris Matthews' hysterics upon hearing that a man with a gun on his thigh was standing near a road down which, apparently, the bulletproof Presidential limousine might well have been traveling some hours later.

  38. Max Power says:

    Ken,

    While I agree with your larger point here, I'm not so sure I agree with you about the realistic danger of Facebook-type companies chilling app development by instituting their own private standards for who can and can't operate content on their websites. I would assume that Facebook routinely shut down other content on their website that had less public exposure than this; possibly even entire apps. And maybe this particular app has cause a lot more complaints in the past and this was the proverbial last straw?

    In other words I think companies like Facebook will routinely pull offensive/shocking content, but this one in particular got massive nationwide attention and thus maybe appears to have started some sort of ominous new "Facebook Censorship" policy, when in reality I bet they've been censoring other things we just weren't hearing about.

  39. Ken says:

    I'm sure they censor content all the time, Max, as is their right. (Though, as my fifth update to this post shows, apparently they never got around to shutting down groups calling for killing Bush. Hmm.)

    I'm not so concerned about Facebook attacking content directly, but Facebook imposing an unrealistic or impossible standard for user-policing on app developers, and for that becoming the norm.

  40. Linus says:

    GottaLaff’s gloating and celebrations are, frankly, creepy

    Ah, the glow you feel at your first taste of POWER. You wished you could exercise some control over another, you took action, and you DID control them. It's a high and heady feeling. You are a meanie, Ken, for expecting her to keep her joy bottled up.

    I’m not so concerned about Facebook attacking content directly, but Facebook imposing an unrealistic or impossible standard for user-policing on app developers, and for that becoming the norm.

    It is clearly an impossible standard to objectively meet. If I allow ANY user input, how can I guarantee that such input will not be "offensive", whatever that means? People who have trouble understanding this basic point seem to think that there IS some objective definition or checklist you can follow for "offensive". Most of the time this “objective” definition SHOCK! just happens to match exactly those people’s definition. Conflicting opinions or views are per se unreasonable.

    God save me from ever being so sure of my own righteousness.

  41. Purple State says:

    To tell the truth, I probably would have reacted the same way if I came across that poll. Sometimes reaction just overrides common sense. You see a package left at a train station and fear it might be an incendiary device, so you call the authorities.

    Granted, we probably can't react this way to all situations, as we may end up appearing paranoid at everything around us, but perhaps one person catching this is enough to sway public opinion.

  42. dwn says:

    Too funny and so spot on. I found GottaLaff obnoxious.

    Thanks for this intelligent post.

    (An increasingly rare feat in the blogoosphere.)

  43. Old Geezer says:

    Granted neither of the individuals you wrote about (and possibly Justamom 3 as well) are Mensa candidates, but I wonder how far you have to stretch in order to make sure freedom of speech is totally protected. I'm guessing you would defend the rights of the man who yells Fire! in a theater on the basis that he didn't actually advocate arson. While only a few of my neighbors would see his "poll" as a call to action, more, I'm afraid would see the poll results as justification. Things are a bit different in some of the crimson states.

  44. CTrees says:

    Seriously, Old Geezer? You pick out a situation which instead of having forty years of case law supporting it, has ninety years? Schenck v. United States ACTUALLY USES the example of falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater as an explicit example of non-protected speech.

    I'm pretty sure no competent lawyer anywhere in the US (and probably none abroad, either!) would consider that defensible. Really, could you have chosen an intentionally worse example?

  45. Old Geezer says:

    Uh, CTrees. Ever hear of the intentional use of irony?

  46. NB says:

    As a paid moderator for an online application (not Facebook), I'd prefer that a concerned user bring that sort of complaint to me than to the Secret Service. I don't know about Facebook's rules, but we would have deleted the poll and warned the poster. If the poster continued to misbehave, we'd ban him from the site. If deleting inappropriate polls and banning pollsters turned into a drain on our resources, we'd shut down the poll feature.

    The same pattern of "delete, warn, ban if repeated" applies to the "Kill Bush" groups or to a "Should Paul Reubens Be Lynched?" group. The problem is, I'm probably only going to see them if a user brings them to my attention.

  47. Ken says:

    NB: I understand your position. But let me ask you this: is it consistent for Facebook to take that position, but then also disable a third-party application on the grounds that it does not automatically self-police for such content?

  48. David Schwartz says:

    Old Geezer: It is, in fact, a virtue to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater if the theater is actually on fire. Nobody is talking about defending speech that contains knowingly false claims of fact. There is simply no comparison whatsoever. It's not ironic, it's just irrelevant.

    There is simply no meaningful analogy between opinions and false factual claims. "I think Obama should be killed." is in no way analogous to "Run for your lives, the theater is on fire."

    Even people who believe the speech in question here should be illegal would not argue that it's because it's like yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater. If they did, arguing that it's a call for imminent action before any chance for reflection, they would simply be wrong.

  49. jefdongar says:

    I think there is a very big difference when talking about threats against Obama and Bush. I'm sure there were threats made against Bush on various communication sites as I'm sure there have been threats made against most of our presidents. Let’s face it, when you are in that position of power you are never ever going to please everyone. But the difference here with Obama’s threats is that it isn’t just about this face book issue. You have had a media blitz coming out of the right wing fringe media group including over at a major news network campaigning to undermine his presidency. And in their approach they have been, intentionally, fermenting fear and hatred towards this president. You even have Republican congressmen, publicly, attacking their commander-in-chief with outlandish accusations contributing to this smear campaign. I am sorry, but you did not see this kind of organized corporate campaign put forth against the last president. No, Bush earned the contempt of others on his own. Do you not remember the smear campaign that was ongoing during the Clinton presidency by these same organizers?

    John Dean, whom I have great respect for and who was a Republican at one time, said I never changed my values and what I stand for, my party changed. The Republican Party as long ago been taken over by a fringe element that is anti-American. The “Reagan Revolution” opened the door for the fascist element in our society to gain great power through consolidated wealth and placing key figures in politics, business, and religion.

    Consider this same element created a campaign to ferment anger and hatred towards JFK, with even putting a full page add in the Dallas Newspaper accusing the President of being a communist sympathizer on the morning of his assassination. Any type of public exposure suggesting killing President Obama should be taken seriously. It has nothing to do about free speech.

    People who allow Limbaugh and others like him to influence their political views have been persecuting progressives (liberals, Democrats) for longer than eight years. They might not be bad people. But if they come into a progressive blog site touting their conservative righteousness they deserve no respect and no compromise for their opinions. And until they renounce these cranks I will consider them fools. Because, these cranks, have truly contributed to screwing up this country and its democracy.

    I have been a loyal reader of the Political Carnival Blog for a while now. Don’t judge it on one incident that you disagree with. I for one, think Laffy did the right thing. And she did deserve the attention. I could accuse you of being a little jealous but I don’t know you but I will say all our egos need to be checked from time to time. What I do no is the threat of this country becoming a fascist state has and will always be a bigger threat than it becoming a socialist state.

  50. Ken says:

    I think there is a very big difference when talking about threats against Obama and Bush.

    I want to make sure I don't misrepresent you, jefdongar, so let me ask you: do you think that poll is a true threat if it addresses Obama, but would not have been a true threat in, say, 2006 if it addressed Bush?

    Do you believe that certain expressions should be criminal if directed at your favored politician, but legal if directed at other people's favored politician?

    But the difference here with Obama’s threats is that it isn’t just about this face book issue.

    As a matter of the political meaning of the post, it might not be. But as a matter of law — on the question of whether or not speech can be criminalized — it is just about this context.

    Again, unless you can find me authority for the proposition that it is legal to say certain things about one President but not about another President.

    Any type of public exposure suggesting killing President Obama should be taken seriously. It has nothing to do about free speech.

    "It has nothing to do with free speech" is the classic argument of a censor with no legal leg upon which to stand. It's used by people who want to ban flag burning, anti-war protests, pornography, and "cyber-bullying." It's not an argument that finds any support in American law. Aren't you in favor of the rule of law?

    People who allow Limbaugh and others like him to influence their political views have been persecuting progressives (liberals, Democrats) for longer than eight years. They might not be bad people. But if they come into a progressive blog site touting their conservative righteousness they deserve no respect and no compromise for their opinions. And until they renounce these cranks I will consider them fools. Because, these cranks, have truly contributed to screwing up this country and its democracy.

    Can you explain what you mean by "persecuting"? Because it sounds kind of like "vigorously disagreeing with." Do you see people with opposing views coming onto a blog as being persecutors? Are you persecuting me?

    You might — or might not — be surprised at how often I agree with your evaluation of the quality of arguments from Limbaugh and his ilk. But I have very little patience to "help help I'm being oppressed" complains about speech.

    I for one, think Laffy did the right thing.

    Okay. Do you think Laffy would report, or write about, similar Facebook posts about Bush?

    Like these?

    Can you explain a principled basis to conclude those are different?

    I could accuse you of being a little jealous but I don’t know you but I will say all our egos need to be checked from time to time.

    I find the whole "if you criticize a blogger with higher traffic, you must be jealous" notion to be hilariously junior-high. [Assuming she does have higher traffic. I really have no idea, and don't care.]

  51. jefdongar says:

    Well, I'll give it to you that you did pick and choose parts of my opinion and gave decent dissenting arguments. But this isn't a court case and I'm not a lawyer. I was giving an opinion as you do the same. Unfortunately you picked at areas of the comment that you could attack instead of understanding the essence of my whole comment. Let me pick. "Notion to be hilariously junior-high. [Assuming she does have higher traffic. I really have no idea, and don't care.]" It sounds like you are more concerned with trying to come across as a wiser and more mature person and I never ever stated or considered anything about “higher traffic”. Gotcha.

  52. Linus says:

    Unfortunately you picked at areas of the comment that you could attack instead of understanding the essence of my whole comment.

    "Shut up, Ken", Mr. jefdongar explained.

    Ken rationally explained why he disagreed with you. Then you just whine about it ("you didn't understand the essence/je ne se qwah/bullshit of my, blah, blah, blah"), and personally attack him. Awesome. I can't wait to make someone like you the Free Speech czar, to tell us all what we can and can't say. I'm sure you'll be reasonable.

  53. NB says:

    Ken: Like Facebook, we host third-party applications on our site. The site moderators also moderate user content in those applications, and occasionally have to request that a developer include controls to that end. Needless to say, this is not entirely effective; Many a penis has been drawn on the shared drawing application, and it would require impractical or impossible machine intelligence to automatically prevent that.

    If a particular third-party application became a constant source of problems and nothing could be done to prevent them, we'd have to regretfully remove it. I don't know if polls reached that level for them. It seems to me that they nixed the app at a pretty low trouble threshold.

    I'm not saying we'd be removing a trouble-magnet app out of political affiliation or even necessarily legal obligation. It's the "more trouble than it's worth" principle, unfortunately. Facebook probably operates with a similar rule.

    We haven't had to remove any applications for that sort of reason yet. So far, our approach of removing the troublemakers instead of the technology they use to express their odious personalities has worked well enough.

  54. Ken says:

    Well, I’ll give it to you that you did pick and choose parts of my opinion and gave decent dissenting arguments. But this isn’t a court case and I’m not a lawyer.

    Yeah, I hate it when I go to a legal blog run by lawbloggers, and find a post discussing a legal issue, and post a response to a legal question, and they insist on getting all legal with me.

    Unfortunately you picked at areas of the comment that you could attack instead of understanding the essence of my whole comment.

    Does that mean you won't reply to any of my arguments? Is "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" a valid First Amendment argument?

    It sounds like you are more concerned with trying to come across as a wiser and more mature person and I never ever stated or considered anything about “higher traffic”. Gotcha.

    Wisdom and maturity are rarely my goals when I write for fun. And the traffic thing is something that one of Laff's flying monkeys — I forgot which one – accused me of. What were you suggesting I was jealous of? Writing ability? Blog design? Love-notes from the Secret Service saying "you're the bestest tipster ever xxxooo?"

  55. CTrees says:

    Just for the heck of it, I checked Alexa. Popehat.com is indeed ranked significantly lower than thepoliticalcarnival.blogspot.com, I'm sorry to say. Though visitors spend more time here, on average! Also, popehat gets absolutely destroyed in google battle. Ah, well.

  56. Ken says:

    We get trounced by Carrot Top's site, too. It's heartbreaking.

  57. jefdongar says:

    Ken, when I came to this site, I didn’t bother to read the info of what your site was about. And for that I’m a douche bag and made an ass of myself. However, acknowledging that I would like to take another shot at this and defend what I said. And again, I am no lawyer.

    First of all, I do believe in free speech. People have their rights to their opinions and should be free to express them. On this face book issue it wasn’t about the right to put up this poll nor was it about it being a true threat against the President. Whether intentionally or not, the poll fit within the climate of an ongoing campaign, by a powerful media group, to not only illegitimatize this President but to also drum of fear and exploit it that could put the President’s life in danger. I believe this could easily be proven by looking at the transcripts of these media groups and I think you know who I am talking about.

    I don’t honestly know if the same threat if made against Bush would have been any more real or not. But, again, this fits within today’s campaign that is ongoing by the right to ferment hatred towards this President. You cannot prove there was a powerful media voice doing so against Bush. I think his presidency has more to do with that. With the rise of militia, hate, and anti-government groups there is little doubt that right wing media including the internet (e.g. newsmax) campaign is working. There has been a 400% rise in death threats against Obama. That is why I stand by what I said this isn’t about free speech. I never said he had no right to put this face book poll up. I said it was about the safety of the President.
    “People who allow Limbaugh and others like him to influence their political views have been persecuting progressives (liberals, Democrats) for longer than eight years. They might not be bad people. But if they come into a progressive blog site touting their conservative righteousness they deserve no respect and no compromise for their opinions. And until they renounce these cranks I will consider them fools. Because, these cranks, have truly contributed to screwing up this country and its democracy.”
    I should have stated that differently. Again I mistook what this sight was about. But let me justify that statement. Through deregulation, there has been a rise of a monopolized takeover of free radio that allowed conservative talk radio to take over 98% percent of the market. It is a very influential tool. And a monopoly of one sided ideals can kill democracy for which our country was founded on. I have listened to a lot of these right wing cranks (my opinion) over the years. (I even brought myself to read Mark Levin’s book). From my investigation, I have found they systematically persecuted the word liberal, progressive, and democrat to create an enemy that would politically benefit their power and agenda. And they were able to dominate the narrative. I have had enough of their mouthing off. I invite their marionettes (opinion) to mouth off so that I can challenge them. But if they continue to bring arguments forward influenced by this right wing fringe without bothering to consider my arguments, why should I give them any respect?

    No, I never came into your blog to persecute you.

    I believe Laffy was right, if she thought this was a threat, to bring this attention to the Secret Service… again, considering the climate that is being manufactured out there by the right. I think those face book examples of death threats against Bush was wrong. I certainly did not hang around people who wanted to see Bush assassinated. And if someone did, I would correct them, advocating murder is wrong. Seeing him impeached is the justice we seek. I can’t speak for Laffy on the question of would she turn in the face book threats against Bush. Again the environment is different. I can’t imagine her advocating assassination of any president.

    After reading your attempts to communicate with Laffy I understand your bitterness towards her but don’t judge her harshly. Her blog got a little publicity and she got some nice recognition and no one was going to spoil it for her. I like her blog site and though, it certainly isn’t the only blog site I look at. I like it because they mix it up with humor and it is intimate enough that your comments don’t get lost among hundreds of other comments which make it a little more personal. I try to offer thought provoking comments but do from time to time go on a rant because I am righteously angry (opinion) and it’s actually is therapeutic.

    And the last statement I made I was just trying to stick up for Laffy. She is a good person. Again, being ignorant to what this site is about there was no reason to make that statement. I apologize.

    One last thing, I truly understand how people too far left can be like people to far right. I would say the people I associate with and listen to are the radical center.

  58. Ken says:

    That is why I stand by what I said this isn’t about free speech. I never said he had no right to put this face book poll up. I said it was about the safety of the President.

    That's where I fall off again, because it seems inconsistent. Unless what you are saying is "whether or not it is protected speech, the subject we ought to be talking about is hatemongering and its impact on society" — a perfectly reasonable argument — rather than "the question of whether he should be able to do it or not isn't about free speech" — which is not a reasonable argument.

    Through deregulation, there has been a rise of a monopolized takeover of free radio that allowed conservative talk radio to take over 98% percent of the market. It is a very influential tool. And a monopoly of one sided ideals can kill democracy for which our country was founded on.

    Disclaimer: I think most talk radio figures are bombastic, dishonest morons. But I don't buy the "monopoly" argument. Are right-wing forces doing things to chase left-wing radio off of the airwaves? What, exactly, is the barrier to left-wing voices becoming popular, and therefore growing in scope? What's the proof that it's something other than (1) left-wing efforts have sucked or (2) left-wingers are culturally less interested in radio, or in that style of communication? [A left-winger might say "or (3) left-wingers are too smart to listen to talk radio."]

    From my investigation, I have found they systematically persecuted the word liberal, progressive, and democrat to create an enemy that would politically benefit their power and agenda. And they were able to dominate the narrative. I have had enough of their mouthing off. I invite their marionettes (opinion) to mouth off so that I can challenge them. But if they continue to bring arguments forward influenced by this right wing fringe without bothering to consider my arguments, why should I give them any respect?

    No, I never came into your blog to persecute you.

    I know you aren't persecuting me. I was making fun of the use of the word. See, I'm just not getting "persecute," unless there is an unbecoming indulgence in drama here. I will accept the proposition that talk radio folks are relentless dishonest assholes who demean the national discourse. But I think throwing "persecute" around encourages victimology by liberals — exactly the sort of victimology that has generally led them to mope around and take it in the ass for the last three decades or so. I don't have a lot of respect for that. I most especially don't have respect for it when people try to tell me that left-wing blogs are being persecuted when right-wingers leave mean comments on them. My response to that is MAN UP, FOR CHRIST'S SAKE. You know who I'd have respect for? Liberals who reclaimed the word "liberal" the way gays reclaimed "queer." I mean, JESUS CHRIST. Do you think Thoroughgood Marshall would have referred to blog posts as persecution?

    After reading your attempts to communicate with Laffy I understand your bitterness towards her but don’t judge her harshly.

    I am not "bitter" at Laffy. I am mocking, and criticizing, Laffy's conduct and words in this particular instance. We mock, and criticize, a lot of things there. We are bitter about only some of them. This would not be one.

    I apologize.

    THat's kind, but really not necessary. You stated your point vigorously. That's fine.

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