Blog Wars, Blogging, Free Speech, Media and Journalism, Politics

Bad News for Anonymous Commenting

Boo. Boo. BOO.

Joe Lieberman, the Senator from Connecticut who has evolved into a cartoon-level villain on the left, is at it again. The Daily Kos reports that Lieberman is proposing to gut Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. For you commenters who don’t know what Section 230 is, I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain it to people who benefit from the freedom that it provides and then question the manner in which it provides it.

Seriously though, if Lieberman has his way, websites could be held responsible for the filthy, disgusting, misogynist, racist, and often quite funny comments left on their posts. This could lead sites to crack down on or eliminate anonymous commenting.

If you think I’m going down so somebody can make a walrus joke about the wrong person, you’ve got another thing coming….

Lieberman calls his amendment a measure of “anti-terrorism” legislation. Having been terrorized by anonymous internet commenters more than the average bear, I can say with confidence that having people say mean things to you online is NOTHING AT ALL LIKE TERRORISM. Everybody in the digital age, every single person, needs to grow some thicker skin or purchase some blinders.

And people need to stop acting like anonymous commenting is the scourge of a new age. People have talked smack behind other people’s backs since the dawn of society. The only difference is that now you can be nosy and actually see how much everybody else hates you, instead of just guessing at it.

But it’s been a long time since Lieberman listened to reason. From the Daily Kos:

Lieberman’s bill would end the Internet as we know it. By a simple change from “shall” to “may,” Lieberman will empower a Republican-dominated judiciary to decide on whim and caprice which site owners are protected for their commenters’ actions, and who faces liability.

In any event, as is his wont, Lieberman has the unique ability to be odious to both the left and the right without getting any “maverick independent” points. From Ted Frank:

I am concerned about the report from the McIntyre v. Ohio blog about a proposed law to eviscerate Section 230 and potentially hold web site administrators liable for the speech of their commenters. One would hope that Congress sees through the anti-terrorism veneer and rejects this law as the attack on the First Amendment it would be. On the other hand, the bill’s sponsor, Senator Joe Lieberman, has previously called for Twitter to censor accounts he did not like. Lieberman should know better; the senator I so much expressed admiration for would never do such a thing.

As usual, anti-terrorism rhetoric ends with an attack on freedom.

UPDATE (4/2/12): April Fool’s. Do you really think I’d be working on a Sunday because of anything less than the death of a SCOTUS justice? Read about the prank, from Eric Turkewitz.

Joe Lieberman v. the Internet: It’s not over. [Daily Kos]
Anti-terrorism law threatens First amendment? [Point of Law]

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