The Feministe blog made a supportable yet caustic (look who’s talking) attack on AutoAdmit poster and pseudonymous defendant, AK47. One of AK47’s arguments against his identity being revealed in discovery was that he wasn’t talking about anyone in particular when he made his nasty comments on AutoAdmit.
Jill Filipovic has this to say:
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. (source.)
I have to agree with Filipovic. When I criticized his motion, I didn’t go into a lot of detail. Nevertheless, this was his least persuasive argument. I can write all the hypotheticals I want about morons named George or philanderers named Bill — everyone knows who I am talking about.
Here is where it gets interesting:
Anthony Ciolli, a former defendant in that suit joins in the AK47 pile-on. Far from defending AK47’s speech — Ciolli attacks and condemns the pseudonymous defendant and calls for AK47 to be outed, but through private means.
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.
Naturally, he is referring to the Doe v. Cahill standard, which has been supported in some form or another by all courts that have considered the anonymous speech issue.
Ciolli then notes that the very issue of anonymous speech was at the center of a tiff on the Feministe blog between pseudonymous blogger Zuzu and professor Ann Bartow. Link to tiff here. Apparently Bartow did not appreciate being the subject of Zuzu’s criticism so she threatened her with legal action.
After pointing out that the Plaintiffs in the AutoAdmit case might have a moral gripe, but not a valid legal claim, Ciolli offers a solution worthy of a young conservative: Let the market out AK47.
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? (source)
Putting his money where his mouth is, Ciolli offered to pony up the first $100.
Not only does that sound reasonable, but it seems that Feministe and Ciolli have found some common ground. That bodes well for this being a good-karma day.
Update: Sadly, Feministe has turned down Ciolli’s proposal.