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First Amendment Ruling Protects Internet Trolls 305

Posted by Soulskill
from the reinforced-bridges dept.
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "A recent ruling by the Court of Appeal of the State of California (PDF) in Krinsky v. Doe H030767 overturned a lower court ruling and decided that the First Amendment right to anonymous speech protects internet trolls, too. Specifically, the ruling said that 'this juvenile name-calling cannot reasonably be read as stating actual facts.' And, even though some of the statements were crudely sexual and accused Ms. Krinsky of being among 'boobs, liars and crooks,' the statements were held to 'fall into the category of crude, satirical hyperbole which, while reflecting the immaturity of the speaker, constitute protected opinion under the First Amendment.'"
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First Amendment Ruling Protects Internet Trolls

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  • by palegray.net (1195047) <philip...paradis@@@palegray...net> on Friday February 08, 2008 @03:29AM (#22345788) Homepage Journal
    We now have a Slashdot article on trolling? Holy crap, this is gonna be bad, really bad. Does this mean all trolls are now on-topic?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No, it just means that for only this article the posts will be modded +1 Troll.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2008 @06:11AM (#22346518)
        Whenever I get a package of plain M&Ms, I make it my duty to continue the strength and robustness of the candy as a species. Taking two candies between my thumb and forefinger, I apply pressure, squeezing them together until one of them cracks and splinters. That is the "loser," and I eat the inferior one immediately. The winner gets to go another round.

        I have found that, in general, the brown and red M&Ms are tougher, and the newer blue ones are genetically inferior. I have hypothesized that the blue M&Ms as a race cannot survive long in the intense theatre of competition that is the modern candy and snack-food world.

        Occasionally I will get a mutation, a candy that is misshapen, or pointier, or flatter than the rest. Almost invariably this proves to be a weakness, but on very rare occasions it gives the candy extra strength. In this way, the species continues to adapt to its environment.

        When I reach the end of the pack, I am left with one M&M, the strongest of the herd. Since it would make no sense to eat this one as well, I pack it neatly in an envelope and send it to M&M Mars, A Division of Mars, Inc., Hackettstown, NJ 17840-1503 U.S.A., along with a 3x5 card reading, "Please use this M&M for breeding purposes."

        This week they wrote back to thank me, and sent me a coupon for a free 1/2 pound bag of plain M&Ms. I consider this "grant money." I have set aside the weekend for a grand tournament. From a field of hundreds, we will discover the True Champion.

        There can be only one.
        • by montyzooooma (853414) on Friday February 08, 2008 @06:44AM (#22346674)
          There's a flaw here. With a winner stays on format the winner gets worn down over time making it statistically unlikely that the last man standing will actually be the strongest competitor when the contest started, just the strongest left when the contest finished.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by overkill1024 (1016283)
            Not off topic in the least, but coincidentally I just did this a few minutes ago upon obtaining a bag of m&ms and remembering this 'copypasta'. I used more of a tournament style bracket so that at the end the competitors would be equally worn. Though there's always an element of chance in natural selection, if m&ms had genetic traits and were bread in the proposed manner you would get the same result, just less efficiently. That aside, the green m&ms seem to be the strongest and won against ever
          • adopting a single elimination [wikipedia.org] method would be the obvious choice. That way, going in to each round, the M&Ms have had an equal number of battles with their opponent.
          • by clickety6 (141178) on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:14AM (#22347878)
            There's another flaw. He's only using M+M candies which is useless for breeding purposes. He needs to find a packet of M+F candies.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sorak (246725)

          I have found that, in general, the brown and red M&Ms are tougher, and the newer blue ones are genetically inferior.

          I think you are just perpetuating the myth [salon.com] that Darwin was racist [cotch.net]. I'm pretty sure that the Discovery Institute will be quoting your post in the following way:

          I have found that, in general, the brown and red... are tougher, and... are genetically inferior.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by TheSpengo (1148351)
      I can deal with that! You suck, the constitution sucks, everyone sucks except me because I'm awesome. :D
    • by slyn (1111419) <ozzietheowl@gmail.com> on Friday February 08, 2008 @04:39AM (#22346118)
      I was expecting 500 Anonymous Coward posts saying something along the lines of "yea thats right you UID bitches, go fuck yourselves."

      It must be past his bedtime or something.
    • Re:Oh dear God... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by edwardpickman (965122) on Friday February 08, 2008 @04:49AM (#22346162)
      Trolls are often on topic but are expressing unpopular opinions. I wish the mod was used strictly for those being obnoxious and not contributing to the discussion. "Troll" and "Flamebait" are at times used to shout down people with unpopular stances. Make a few posts supporting copyrights or speaking out against illegal downloading and see how fast you get trolled or flamebaited. People do at times get decent mods for making good arguments but the vast majority of times they'll be modded down.
      • Re:Oh dear God... (Score:5, Informative)

        by antifoidulus (807088) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:00AM (#22346206) Homepage Journal
        "Troll" and "Flamebait" are at times used to shout down people with unpopular stances.

        Not nearly to the extent that "overrated" is used though. Overrated is used to shout down people with unpopular stances by moderators who don't want negative meta-mods(since over/under rated is not meta-modded)
        • Re:Oh dear God... (Score:5, Informative)

          by bhtooefr (649901) <bhtooefr&bhtooefr,org> on Friday February 08, 2008 @08:24AM (#22347148) Homepage Journal
          Speaking of over/underrated, I tend to use underrated in place of funny, because funny doesn't give the poster any karma. (A single funny mod actually reduces the maximum karma a person can receive for a post, making it in some ways WORSE than a negative mod - at least if a post gets down-modded, it can get modded back up, reversing the karma loss.)

          Sometimes I'll find that the post has an insightful, interesting, or informative component, and will use that mod (which at least allows it to be metamodded, and follow the system,) but sometimes funny is the only appropriate mod... so I go underrated.
      • by CarpetShark (865376) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:38AM (#22346370)
        One person's obnoxious poster is another's modern day Mark Twain. It's time people realised that calling someone a "troll" is just a stereotyping, dismissive way of dealing with things you can't be bothered to discuss. It would be much more mature to simply ignore them.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gomiam (587421)
          It would be much more mature to simply ignore them.

          Which is achieved by modding them down. If you really want to read them all, you can always read at -1 like I do. Even better: as a registered user, you can set your account to ignore (-1) Troll moderations.

      • by dintech (998802) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:49AM (#22346440)
        Very insightful comment but yet with an unpopular view point. Hmmm. If I had mod points, I'd mod you down.
      • Re:Oh dear God... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tacocat (527354) <tallison1.twmi@rr@com> on Friday February 08, 2008 @06:04AM (#22346490)

        Score one for the good guys. You may not like Trolls, but then neither did King George. If protecting my freedom of speech means I get to listen to a few immature Trolls, it's well worth the price.

        • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Friday February 08, 2008 @08:18AM (#22347116) Journal
          When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one person to separate himself from the association of the other members of a learned discussion, and to assume among the trolls of the earth a separate and equal station, it becomes incumbent upon the troll to enumerate the reasons for his separation.

        • by SQLGuru (980662)
          Trolls are people too......so is Soylent Green. Eat more Trolls. Trolls...T-rolls....Tootsie Rolls. Eat more Tootsie Rolls.

          Mr. Owl, how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll pop?

          1....2....3....Ka-Runch.

          Layne
      • Re:Oh dear God... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LordLucless (582312) on Friday February 08, 2008 @06:30AM (#22346606)
        It's also because there are no downmods labeled "factually incorrect", "moronic argument that's been debunked a million times already" or "calling people names isn't going to make your argument any more compelling". When someone's being a dick, and you can't be bothered throwing pearls before swine, there aren't too many options for accurate mods.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Asic Eng (193332)
          Well "moronic argument" could be modded as "overrated", "calling people names" would be "flamebait". The category "factually incorrect" is difficult - but I think slashdot discussions wouldn't necessarily benefit if posts were just modded "wrong" (no matter how appropriate that may be in some cases...). Currently you need to check replies and see if someone explains why the post is wrong - then mod that reply up. I think reading the comments slashdot benefits from this - gives me a chance to learn something
      • Re:Oh dear God... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by greylingrover (876207) on Friday February 08, 2008 @06:30AM (#22346608) Homepage Journal
        Yeah, just look at my account... I've tried to make a couple admittedly feeble attempts at humor with good intent (there is a funny mod option, is there not?), only to be modded down (soul crushing as it was). So I just don't post, even when I have something useful to offer. I'm guessing I'll get hammered on this one also, and no, that's not bait, I'm just trying to point out this inherent flaw in community policing/rating/censorship?. Oh yeah, and free speech is good - see, that was totally on topic! ;)
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by magarity (164372)
        I wish the mod was used strictly for those being obnoxious and not contributing to the discussion
         
        When was the last time you volunteered to meta-moderate? If enough people meta-moderate unfair Troll moderations then the people who hand those out for opposing viewpoints become less likely to get points.
    • by cashman73 (855518)
      So, does that mean I violate the first amendment of the constitution if I mod you "-1 Troll"? Oh no! I'm goin' to jail!
  • Feck Yeah (Score:2, Funny)

    by ObitMan (550793)
    I was going to FP but i was afraid of getting moderated "Troll"
  • by LosManos (538072) on Friday February 08, 2008 @03:32AM (#22345804) Homepage Journal
    That is one of the down sides of democracy. The signal to noise ration is sometimes bad.
    But what you consider BS one time might be the truth the next. It is up to you.
  • by gnick (1211984) on Friday February 08, 2008 @03:33AM (#22345806) Homepage
    I for one welcome all things troll friendly. The only thing keeping me from rejoicing completely is that this may interfere with internet censorship... Can we protect trolling, but still censor profanity and anything that may offend religious groups? Then I'll be happy and America will be safer. Those who oppose trolls but allow offensive religious speech hate America's freedom.
  • Obgtry... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Mantaar (1139339) on Friday February 08, 2008 @03:35AM (#22345810) Homepage
    Let's welcome our new Beowulf Cluster of legal troll-overlords...


    ... the wave! The wave is coming, I can see it... heck, the earth is shaking!
  • In Soviet Russia, YOU rule over trolls.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2008 @03:38AM (#22345830)
    Slashdot's gone cold I'm wondering why I got out of bed at all / The morning rain clouds up my window and I can't see at all / And even if I could it'll all be gray but your picture on my wall / It reminds me, that it's not so bad -- it's not so bad

    Dear Rob, I wrote but you still ain't callin / I left my email, my ICQ, and my yahoo chat at the bottom / I sent two emails back in autumn, you must not-a got 'em / There probably was a problem with your sendmail or somethin / Sometimes I scribble email addees too sloppy when I jot 'em / but anyways; fsck it, what's been up? Man how's your boxes? / My boxes is linux too, I'm bout to be a compiler / once I learn gcc, / I'ma go on and compile for hours / I read about your Palm Pilot too I'm sorry / I had a friend lose his Palm over at the airport in Maradonna / I know you probably hear this everyday, but I'm your biggest fan / I even read all your bullshit Linux news and Microsoft's man / I got a room full of your posters and your pictures man / I like the way you sold your ass out too, that shit was fat / Anyways, I hope you get this man, hit me back, / just to chat, truly yours, your biggest fan / This is Stan

    Dear Rob, you still ain't called or wrote, I hope you have a chance / I ain't mad - I just think it's FSCKED UP you don't answer fans / If you didn't wanna talk to me outside your Linux World / you didn't have to, but you coulda signed an autograph for Matthew / That's my Senior sys admin he's only 26 years old / We waited on a 9600 baud for you, / four hours and you just said, "No." / That's pretty shitty man - you're like his fsckin idol / He wants to be just like you man, he likes you more than I do / I ain't that mad though, I just don't like bein lied to / Remember when we met in Boston - you said if I'd write you / you would write back - see I'm just like you in a way / I never had a clue about shit either / I gcc'd shit with my wife then beat her / I can relate to what you're saying in your page / so when I feel like rmusering I read Slashdot to begin the rage / cause I don't really got shit else so that shit helps when I'm depressed / I even got a tattoo of slashdot across the chest / Sometimes I even packet myself to see how much it floods / It's like adrenaline, the DDoS is such a sudden rush of blood / See everything you say is real, and I respect you cause you tell it / My girlfriend's jealous cause I talk about you 24/7 / But she don't know you like I know you Rob, no one does / She don't know what it was like for people like us growin up / You gotta call me man, I'll be the biggest fan you'll ever lose / Sincerely yours, Stan -- P.S. / We should be together too

    Dear Mister-I'm-Too-Good-To-Waste-A-Packet-On-My-Fans, / this'll be the last packet I ever send your ass / It's been six months and still no word - I don't deserve it? / I know you got my last two emails / I wrote the @ signs on 'em perfect / So this is my payload I'm sending you, I hope you hear it / I'm on my modem now, I'm doing 9600 baud so fear it / Hey Rob, I drank a fifth of vodka, you dare me to code? / You know the song by Deep Purple or Slayer / its irrelevant by playing on my linux player / while I write some php scripts and play some Dragonslayer / That's kinda how shit is, you coulda rescued me from drowning / Now it's too late - I'm on a 1000 downloads now, I'm drowsy / and all I wanted was a lousy letter or a call / I hope you know I ripped +ALL+ of your pictures off the wall / I love you Rob, we coulda been together, think about it / You ruined it now, I hope you can't sleep and you dream about it / And when you dream I hope you can't sleep and you SCREAM about it / I hope your conscience EATS AT YOU and you can't BREATHE without me / See Rob {*screaming*} Shut up bitch! I'm tryin to code / Hey Rob, that's my senior admin screamin from the comode / but I didn't cut the power off, I just rebooted, see I ain't like you / cause if rm -rf'd we'd suffer more, and then the boxes die too / Well, gotta go, I'm almost BGP bridged now / Oh shit, I f
    • Re:Greatest Hits (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2008 @04:06AM (#22345976)
      The last few months I have been doing some research into the trolling phenomenon on slashdot.org. In order to do this as thoroughly as possible, I have written both normal and troll posts, 1st posts, etc., both logged in and anonymously, and I have found these rather shocking results:

      • More moderator points are being used to mod posts down than up. Furthermore, when modding a post up, every moderator seems to follow previous moderators in their choices, even when it's not a particularly interesting or clever post slashdot.org. There are a LOT more +5 posts than +3 or +4.
      • Logged in people are modded down faster than anonymous cowards. Presumably these Nazi Moderators think it's more important to burn a user's existing karma, to silence that individual for the future, than to use the moderation system for what it's meant for : identifying "good" and "bad" posts (Notice how nearly all oppressive governments in the past and present do the same thing : marking individuals as bad and untrustworthy because they have conflicting opinions, instead of engaging in a public discussion about these opinions)
      • Once you have a karma of -4 or -5, your posts have a score of -1 by default. When this is the case, no-one bothers to mod you down anymore. This means a logged in user can keep on trolling as much as he (or she) likes, without risking a ban to post on slashdot. When trolling as an anonymous user, every post starts at score 0, and you will be modded down to -1 ON EVERY POST. When you are modded down a certain number of times in 24 hour, you cannot post anymore from your current IP for a day or so. So, for successful trolling, ALWAYS log in.
      • A lot of the modded down posts are actually quite clever, funny, etc., and they are only modded down because they are offtopic. Now, on a news site like slashdot, where the number of different topics of discussion can be counted on 1 hand, I must say I quite like the distraction these posts offer. But no, when the topic is yet another minor version change of the Linux kernel, they only expect ooohs and aaahs about this great feat of engineering. Look at the moderation done in this thread to see what I mean.
      • Digging deep into the history of slashdot, I found this poll, which clearly indicates the vast majority does NOT want the moderation we have here today. 'nuff said.


      Feel free to use this information to your advantage. I thank you for your time.

      Anonymous cowards are... well, cowards.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Hey, I remember that! The First Slashdot Troll Post Investigation
        http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=26315&cid=2850660 [slashdot.org]
      • That is the most interesting and informative description I've seen - that's why I've never modded anybody down - not even that person who posts the story about the library bathroom. I believe the best mod to use is "underrated". It awards points to good comments and brings them to light for the other mod catagories.

        Many of us have gone through the Slashdot existentialist crisis -- seeing the same old themes and memes, but I'm glad to see that the themes and memes are still alive - people are still finding
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by TapeCutter (624760)
          "That is the most interesting and informative description I've seen..."

          Actually the settings page is far more informative, but I agree it's kinda dull.
    • by VJ42 (860241) *
      That wasn't a troll, that was a work of art; and why do I find that funnier than I should?? ;p
  • by mangu (126918)
    So, moderating a comment (-1, Troll) is unconstitutional? Cool!
  • Nice argument (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Okind (556066)
    "[...] the statements [...] , while reflecting the immaturity of the speaker, constitute protected opinion under the First Amendment."

    That is a very nice way of protecting free speech, while still making very plain that that kid should work on his argumentative skills.

  • by milsoRgen (1016505) on Friday February 08, 2008 @03:44AM (#22345862) Homepage
    I've always felt that one should be able to say or write anything that suits their fancy. Short of something that could put someone in immediate harm (i.e. shouting, "Fire!" in a crowded place).

    It's like when people put parts of Scientology's texts in public forums. To a true believer, those words are putting them in actual danger or at the very least greatly offending them. But no one cares about that, their a bunch of not jobs.

    But in my own experiance, trying to get a t-shirt made that simply says F*** Jesus, has been very hard. And I can't wait to get one made to wear to Wal-Mart... Granted that will probably put me in physical danger, but that's part of the fun of it all.

    The point is, the world is a dirty grubby place. And if you can't use your intellect to help you see beyond it all. That's you're problem, people talk shit. Always have always will. IMHO.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You might get more action if you wear a shirt that says "Gay and Proud of it!". Christians are fairly hardened towards abuse of their religion as religious debate is not uncommon. Or maybe you could try "NASCAR sucks!"
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by joss (1346)
        No, for almost certain death in hick towns just wear something
        which mixes the two genres..

        Jesus loves...
        to suck cock

        That'll do it
    • by cliveholloway (132299) on Friday February 08, 2008 @04:54AM (#22346180) Homepage Journal

      "...trying to get a t-shirt made that simply says F*** Jesus, has been very hard"

      So you want to get a T-shirt made with Fuck Jesus on it, but you're too embarrassed to type that almost anonymously on Slashdot?

      Um, OK then. Go for it you rebel!

    • by houghi (78078)

      I've always felt that one should be able to say or write anything that suits their fancy. Short of something that could put someone in immediate harm (i.e. shouting, "Fire!" in a crowded place).
      ... and so the restrictions begin.
  • by hcmtnbiker (925661) on Friday February 08, 2008 @03:55AM (#22345924)
    I really don't understand how they wouldn't be under free speech. Defamatory remarks are only ones made that where stated as fact, as so people will believe them when they're not true. That has been decided it doesn't fall under freedom of speech because of its deceiving nature. Whereas trolls aren't trying to deceive anyone, they're just ranting. What it comes down to for me is that the right to freedom of speech is useless unless you piss someone off, the reason its in the constitution is so you can use it to piss people off. If no one ever pissed anyone off with speech then there would be no need for the first amendment.
    -----
    Oh and go ahead and troll this comment, just for kicks.
    • by Admiral Ag (829695) on Friday February 08, 2008 @04:22AM (#22346038)
      There's a difference between speech that is primarily intended to make a point, but happens to piss someone off (e.g. "I believe that homosexuality is/is not immoral"), and speech which is primarily intended to piss people off rather than make a point (e.g. "burn all f4gg0+z fur havin A1DZ lolz").

      I sincerely doubt that the people who wrote your constitution had the noble aim of allowing their citizens to call each other "poopyheads" in mind. The aim of the first amendment is presumably to allow the free transmission of ideas and for people to be able to speak their conscience. It doesn't protect every kind of lie, for example.

      If the founders had wanted to protect the right to specifically annoy other people, they would have written something like: "The right of citizens to throw balloons full of dog shit at each other shall not be infringed".

      Trolls can be funny, but they are more often a nuisance. It's not like much can be done in any case, since the law of the universe is that idiots and assholes must win.
      • by Logic and Reason (952833) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:04AM (#22346224) Homepage

        I sincerely doubt that the people who wrote your constitution had the noble aim of allowing their citizens to call each other "poopyheads" in mind.
        No, I think that's exactly what they had in mind. Something along the lines of, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

        If the founders had wanted to protect the right to specifically annoy other people, they would have written something like: "The right of citizens to throw balloons full of dog shit at each other shall not be infringed".
        This is exactly why some of the founders opposed the creation of the Bill of Rights: they worried that people would misinterpret it as an exhaustive listing of the people's (and the states') rights. It is not. It merely lists some of the things the federal government is explicitly, no-really-I-mean-it not allowed to do; but everything not mentioned is supposed to be left up to the people, or to the states. In fact, there's even an amendment saying precisely that:

        The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
        So since the founders did not put any language into the Constitution granting the federal government the power to prevent people from generally being assholes to each other, the federal government isn't allowed to do it. I leave as an exercise for the reader the task of finding in the Constitution language that grants the federal government the power to establish Social Security and other forms of welfare, the Federal Reserve, the Food and Drug Administration, and so on.
        • Amen (Score:4, Insightful)

          by pavon (30274) on Friday February 08, 2008 @12:37PM (#22349912)
          I can't moderate in this thread because I already posted, but this should be +5.

          Furthermore, if you want an idea of what kind of speech the American Revolutionaries wanted to protect, just look at the kind of speech they were using. For every civil and well-reasoned "Common Sense", "Declaration of Independence" and "Federalist Papers", there are dozens of newspapers articles and pamphlets published that were crude, hyperbolic, and dripping with vitriol. They were nothing if not flamebait. The founders of this country clearly felt that no one should be above this sort of criticism, and that no government should be able to suppress this sort of dissent.

          Admiral Ag is correct in saying that this sort of speech is nothing but a nuisance, but if someone thinks they need the government to step in and "protect" them from something as insignificant as trolling then they have bigger problems on their hands.
  • by Phat_Tony (661117) on Friday February 08, 2008 @03:56AM (#22345932)
    Oh come on, why are there 18 comments and no one's done this yet? Do I have to do everything myself? Let's get it out of the way:

    _____________________________

    That idiotic dumb-ass judge wouldn't know a good judicial decision if it bit him in his lame-ass ass. Where did he go to judge-school anyway, The Universduhity of Dumbasia?

    I see it came from California. Everyone knows everybody in California is a stupid liberal anyway with their stupid activist liberal judges who just do whatever their retarded Governator tells them to do. Retards. Someone should shoot them all, wouldn't that be ironic? Here they all go crying "free speech, free speech," and then they get shot? Well, if you don't see the irony, then you're even dumber than that retarted freakin judge.

    _____________________________

    OK, now mod it + funny, - troll and we can be done with it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      California: at least it ain't Mississippi.
    • are a mega scum bag and a cockroach, and there are probably more cockroaches at the company you work for

      however, i will reciprocate felatoin with you even though you have fat thighs, a fake medical
      degree, queefs and have poor feminine hygiene
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2008 @03:58AM (#22345942)
    I, for one, would not mind being "among boobs".

    And i guess that goes for most of us here. :)
  • Trolly Comment (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AndGodSed (968378) on Friday February 08, 2008 @04:06AM (#22345978) Homepage Journal
    bla, yah, abortion, yadda, mohammed cartoon, yack yack, George Bush, bla bla...
  • by LandruBek (792512) on Friday February 08, 2008 @04:06AM (#22345980)
    This is good news in an age where free speech is under attack from so many quarters. Let's all remember this famous quote:

    "I may mod down what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it."
    -- Voltaire

    This has not always been the land of the free. Remember Eugene V. Debs:

    "June 16, 1918 -- Debs made his famous anti-war speech in Canton, Ohio, protesting World War I which was raging in Europe. For this speech he was arrested and convicted in federal court in Cleveland, Ohio under the war-time espionage law ... [and] sentenced to serve 10 years in prison . . . ."
    (from here [eugenevdebs.com])

    ... and the victims of the Montana sedition law [seditionproject.net].
  • It's allowed to indulge online in sarcasm, irony and foulmouthed namecalling, even if this is done anonymously.
    • It's allowed to indulge online in sarcasm, irony and foulmouthed namecalling, even if this is done anonymously.
      Er, what? As long as it's allowed to translate without any qualifications, allow me to indulge online in an attempt at translating the parent for English-speakers of any nationality:

      It's not libel if you're just kidding.
  • by Seakip18 (1106315) on Friday February 08, 2008 @04:09AM (#22345986) Journal
    If they're using comcast, then they don't have the first amendment. Again sorry to repost/whore.

    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=446180&cid=22344224 [slashdot.org]

    • If they're using comcast, then they don't have the first amendment. Again sorry to repost/whore.
      Hint: When the constitution (including the first amendment) refers to "congress", they don't mean comcast.
  • by Auckerman (223266)
    the statements were held to 'fall into the category of crude, satirical hyperbole which, while reflecting the immaturity of the speaker, constitute protected opinion under the First Amendment.'"

    Translation for those who don't read legalese: "You guys suck at the intertubes, he's a troll get over it"
  • Someone had to go to court to prove that people can be rude to each other people on the internet?

    What...the...fuck...

    At what point did 'land of the free' cease to be true? Did I miss a memo?
  • I told you you were wrong and dumb and a poopie head and I was right and you were wrong.
  • by Auckerman (223266) on Friday February 08, 2008 @04:39AM (#22346114)
    Okay, there are basically two kinds of companies that follow suits like this: Young companies with inexperienced leadership and companies have a valid tarnished image who want their day in court to clear their name or to just scare critics into silence. Experienced leadership understands that maintaining a good image means fixing problems, not hide them. Also, you don't go out of your way to highlight critics. These guys are making the news circles, which is leading people to read about the company history, further tarnishing their image. Not exactly the kind of thing an experienced leader does.

    I'm pretty sure those who do seek to actively silence public critics are those who have something to hide, not am image to maintain. If you run the company right, people will rightfully ignore the trolls.
  • by stox (131684) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:01AM (#22346216) Homepage
    is that you're going to be exposed to things that annoy you or that you disagree with. Some things might even offend you. Deal with it, it is a part of real life.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:28AM (#22346344)

    There are extremely strong pressures for anonymous posting to be removed from all national newspaper and discussion sites, pretty much every site "run by a company", which is all of them. The social pressure on companies to conform to this could be compared with the Chinese social pressure on companies not to allow 'socially objectionable material' to filter into the public consciousness.

    Additionally, every Norway-based social networking site requires a mobile phone for registration, and mobile phones are required by law to be registered to a valid address with SSN-equivalent. You can't buy one without ID.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:43AM (#22346406)

    If you read the summary and the verdict, it actually appears that the main question was whether the statements could reasonably be read as facts, because defamation rules only protect against false factual claims. The judge found that no reasonable person was likely to read them as statements of facts, but rather as 'crude, satirical hyperbole'.

    The very strong implication that is likely to have consequences is that the deciding question about any claims is whether they are "likely to be read as facts", which again is going to depend on the professionalism they are delivered with. Whereas posting the commment "Ms. Krinsky likes to suck goats" in a Youtube comment is unlikely to be defamatory, creating a professional-looking blog and writing a post entitled "My disturbing meeting with Ms. Krinsky where she hinted at zoophilia" on the other hand is likely to be.

    I completely agree that this is the only sensible and real-life-compatible way for things to be done to be honest, but it is interesting that the court has now spelt it out explicitly. Look forward to the 'convincingness' of internet posts to become an issue in defemation cases in the future. Of course, even if something is not defamatory it could still be harassment or criminal in other ways.
  • I've had my sig for a couple of years now.
  • To what extent? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Friday February 08, 2008 @08:42AM (#22347238)
    When someone posts "trolling" comments on his blog, fine. But is this supposed to mean that I have to allow it or at least may not take legal steps against someone trying to troll on a board, message system or blog I am responsible for?

    To me, this is akin to a party. It's your party, do what you want. You may even kick me out for being no troll, you may do whatever name calling you like, but when you're on my lawn, you either keep your mouth shut or get off it. You will not come to my party and advertise for amway, you will not get drunk and harrass all the girls and you will not start political campaigning for a party I do not like.

    I do sincerely hope that the courts see that fine difference. Just because I open my house for anyone who wants to party with me does not mean that I allow anyone to come in and do what they like. And the same applies to internet servers. A server is not a "public space". It is owned by someone who may (or may not) present the rules under which this server may be used. Play by those rules or get off my lawn.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Dhalka226 (559740)

      When someone posts "trolling" comments on his blog, fine. But is this supposed to mean that I have to allow it or at least may not take legal steps against someone trying to troll on a board, message system or blog I am responsible for?

      This isn't just directed at you; a lot of people misunderstand the Constitution and Bill of Rights. They are an enumeration and restriction on the powers of government. If you come on my lawn screaming advertisements at my window, I am fully within my rights to have the p

  • > And, even though some of the statements were crudely sexual and accused Ms. Krinsky
    > of being among 'boobs, liars and crooks,' the statements were held to 'fall into the category
    > of crude, satirical hyperbole which, while reflecting the immaturity of the speaker,
    > constitute protected opinion under the First Amendment.'"


    the obvious smart-arse thing for Ms Krinsky to do here is to immediately turn around and say "In my opinion, this decision just proves that Californian judges are boobs, lia
  • by torkus (1133985) on Friday February 08, 2008 @11:58AM (#22349344)
    And just to keep in line with the ruling, the judge called the blogger Crude, Immature and Hyperbolic.

    And yes, I know what i wrote. You didn't get the joke perhaps?

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