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Website Calls Out Authors of Racist Anti-Obama Posts 423

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-speech-as-a-counter-to-free-speech dept.
stevegee58 writes "A tumblr blog entitled 'HelloThereRacists' is publicly identifying other online posters who make racist/assassination comments about President Obama. Beyond merely identifying online usernames, the blog's author is uncovering and publishing the real names and locations of offending posters. It's an interesting mess of legal issues. The outed posters are at risk of a Secret Service visit, but the trouble may not end there. The HelloThereRacists blogger himself may have some problems publicly identifying posters, who are frequently underage teenagers." Update: 11/16 19:17 GMT by S : The blog has already been taken down.
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Website Calls Out Authors of Racist Anti-Obama Posts

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  • by TWX (665546) on Friday November 16, 2012 @02:49PM (#42003753)
    Sounds like a good life's lesson before they'll face real consequences for their actions, and maybe their parents won't be able to continue to delude themselves about their childrens' behavior anymore.
  • and salon (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nimbius (983462) on Friday November 16, 2012 @02:52PM (#42003799) Homepage
    http://hellothereracists.tumblr.com/ [tumblr.com]
    salon just made a decent argument lambasting them for outing kids in a manner that could permanently stigmatize them as racists. Granted I think arresting the penchant for racism at a young age is a good idea, perhaps it would be more fruitful if the parents of the children were outed instead?

    additionally, many of the posts come from regions of America that you would anticipate racism to emanate from. at very least it helps to dispel the often heralded myth by of the GOP that racism happened a long time ago and we don't need to talk about it, as they did during the Treyvon Martin murder. The south, as a touchstone example, while forced to integrate has never been forced to accept it socially.
  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Friday November 16, 2012 @02:56PM (#42003871)

    So who gets to decide the difference between a "racist" comment and a generally insulting comment?

    Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr's famous "dream" was that [people] will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." [usconstitution.net] Many of Obama's critics are doing exactly that.

    Disclaimer: I'm a halfhearted Obama supporter in the "lesser of two evils" sense.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2012 @02:57PM (#42003877)

    FTA:

    Some also state specifically that they are not racist.

    Oh, I guess that makes everything all right then.

    The most racist comments by the most racist people always start with "I'm not racist, but..."

    FTS:

    The HelloThereRacists blogger himself may have some problems publicly identifying posters, who are frequently underage teenagers.

    This, and similar, statements are made in the article, but never explained or justified. There's nothing illegal or immoral about revealing the source of a quote, regardless of age.

  • Re:Free Speech (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2012 @03:01PM (#42003931)

    Freedom of speech absolutely does not imply freedom from consequences.

  • Re:and salon (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday November 16, 2012 @03:02PM (#42003949)

    the often heralded myth by of the GOP that racism happened a long time ago and we don't need to talk about it, as they did during the Treyvon Martin murder.

    You seem to have a memory problem. In the Treyvon Martin case it was the "liberals" that were knee-jerk racists, and it was the "conservatives" (including Fox News to their credit) that were saying we should actually look at the facts.

  • by metlin (258108) on Friday November 16, 2012 @03:02PM (#42003955) Journal

    You think bigotry and prejudice evolves in a vacuum? A good many of those kids probably live in households where their parents, relatives, and friends tout those views.

  • Re:Free Speech (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tnk1 (899206) on Friday November 16, 2012 @03:03PM (#42003965)

    Free speech does not mean that there are no social consequences of that speech. I am not so sure I like what this guy is doing, but I'm inclined to think that he has the right to do it (as long as he breaks no reasonable privacy laws doing so).

    Of course, he should also understand that there are consequences to what he does too. It's one thing to be a verbal racist against someone in a chat room, it's another thing to put someone's real name out there with the implication that perhaps someone should *do something* with that data. I mean, honestly, what does he expect people to do with that information but to get them harassed or trolled?

  • Re:and salon (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ilsaloving (1534307) on Friday November 16, 2012 @03:08PM (#42004039)

    There's only one problem with Salon's argument. The kids themselves have already permanently stigmatized them as racists.

    One something goes onto the internet, it's there permanently. It will never go away. Therefore, what you say COULD very well bite you in the rear years later. People have already lost jobs and whatnot because of stuff they've posted online. Sometimes very publicly. And yet people still can't seem to get the picture.

    Even a highschooler should know better than to say incredibly stupid things like this in a public forum. High schoolers are not stupid. They may not be as mature as a full adult, but they are not stupid.

    More generally, anyone may be free to say whatever they want, but they do NOT have the right to avoid the consequences of what they say. These people have no one to blame but themselves. Period.

  • by cornjoelio (784177) on Friday November 16, 2012 @03:10PM (#42004069)
    These are all public statements on social networks, is there a reasonable expectation of privacy even for minors in this case?
  • Re:Free Speech (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2012 @03:13PM (#42004137)

    you're assuming the names of people published are accurate. if they are not then he could face a huge ton of legal issues.

  • by lactose99 (71132) on Friday November 16, 2012 @03:15PM (#42004183)

    impeachment yes, assassination no

  • Re:and salon (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Friday November 16, 2012 @03:15PM (#42004185)

    salon just made a decent argument lambasting them for outing kids in a manner that could permanently stigmatize them as racists.

    What exactly is the problem with calling a racist a racist?

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday November 16, 2012 @03:16PM (#42004201)

    You can't on one hand say people should respect your views ...

    I don't respect your views, and I don't expect you to respect mine either. But I do respect your right to express those views.

  • Re:Free Speech (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday November 16, 2012 @03:16PM (#42004203)

    I believe the GP meant free speech can have consequences that are not from the government.

    Short of assassination threats the folks with black SUVs should leave you alone, but I should be able to find out about it and avoid you.

    Should I not have the right to chose not to associate with such folks?

  • Re:Free Speech (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday November 16, 2012 @03:16PM (#42004209) Homepage

    Oh settle down. You and all of the Paranoid Drama Queens out there. The Secret Service / FBI / NSA / Men In Black isn't going to whisk you away to Guantanamo Bay in the dark of night. Neither the little racist asshole or yourself are so special.

    If anything they'll ask you some questions. If they feel like further evaluation is needed, you will be able to get a lawyer. The vast majority of times they'll just stare at you and maybe ask you to grow up a tad.

    There are enough issues with government intrusion into personal privacy to keep everyone on their toes. Jumping up and down about this sort of thing just creates noise, not signal.

  • Usual jerks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Friday November 16, 2012 @03:18PM (#42004243) Homepage

    On the actual site [tumblr.com] (quit linking to some blog that links to a site of interest, Slashdot submitters), it's just typical jerks, mostly in high school. Somebody at the Secret Service will have to read through all that dreck looking for someone who might conceivably be a threat. It's mostly just kids mouthing off. Ones who are both making threats and have guns [tumblr.com] may get some attention.

    It's sad reading the Facebook pages of some of those people. Their future is dim. For white people with only a high school education, life in the US has become slightly worse each year since 1973. For them, there is no American Dream. Hard work is no longer enough. Of course they're angry. The GOP and Fox News exploit and direct that anger at Obama, but they didn't create it.

  • Re:and salon (Score:3, Insightful)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Friday November 16, 2012 @03:24PM (#42004345) Homepage Journal

    Where "look at the facts" means "not even have a trial for an obvious suspect." I think you'll find that most liberals would be perfectly ok with a "not guilty" verdict if the evidence pointed that way, but not even charging someone who beyond a shadow of a doubt, and by their own volition, shot and killed a minor, is not a sane course of action.

    Dealing with the intricacies of what is murder, what is manslaughter, and what is completely justifiable is something that should be handled by a jury of ones peers.

  • by Zemran (3101) on Friday November 16, 2012 @03:31PM (#42004443) Homepage Journal

    Generally, discussing racist views should be OK but as soon as it is targeted that is wrong. If a person feels uncomfortable sitting next to a different person they should be encouraged to discuss it but in the current PC climate they cannot. If someone feels uncomfortable with a black man or a woman running the country, they should be free to discuss that without any problem. I do not support their view in any way but pushing these things underground creates a bigger problem. So I think we should defend their free speech...

    Suggesting harm is not wrong because the target is black or Muslim or a woman, it is wrong because it is an assault. It is already a crime and in a truly non racist society we should just see it as a crime because it is one, not because the victim was different.

    We need to end racism in society by stopping racism from being the crime. End all racism, sexism etc. We need a society that treats all people the same, regardless of who they hate.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday November 16, 2012 @03:31PM (#42004445) Homepage Journal

    Why not? What law prevents this if they are minors?

    Depends on the jurisdiction; some states it's illegal, others it's not, still others, a grey area. Personally, I wouldn't recommend going on a global "naming names" campaign unless I was intimately familiar with all federal, state, and local regulations... otherwise, the probability that my actions would run afoul of the law would inevitably reach 1.

    I would think the first amendment would protect the poster.

    Normally, yes, but in the case that the speaker is knowingly putting the life of others in danger, not so much.

    Remember, your rights extend to the exact point at which they interfere with someone else's, and not a micron further.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday November 16, 2012 @03:35PM (#42004521)

    What jurisdictions have these laws?
    Please name one.

    I don't see how he put anyone in danger. These were copies of posts people made online. These folks were already telling the world this about themselves. He did not secretly record their bed time conversations.

  • by bfandreas (603438) on Friday November 16, 2012 @03:36PM (#42004543)
    Children deserve special protection. While proper and appropriate sanctions are in order dragging them into the court of public opinion is not.
    The internet has become a gormless lynchmob.
    Children behaving like idiots is news? Hardly. It is the norm and that's why we protect them and punish in a way that does no lasting harm. "Real consequences" are community service, being grounded for months, being cut off the internet for month(including their parents deleting their internet personas permanently) being lectured by a judge in a closed session. All done in private. Not a public punishment under the eyes of a jeerying crowds and most certainly not a visit by the Secret Service lest it be for proper educational purposes. And least of all being pointlessly thrown into jail.

    The much more interesting question is why they post this particular type of hateful tripe.

    If you want to answer that with "friends and family" then you are propably partly correct but also shortsighted.
  • Re:and salon (Score:2, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash (241428) on Friday November 16, 2012 @03:39PM (#42004609) Homepage Journal

    In the Treyvon Martin case it was the "liberals" that were knee-jerk racists, and it was the "conservatives" (including Fox News to their credit) that were saying we should actually look at the facts.

    Really? It was the liberals that said there shouldn't be a trial and that Zimmerman was acting in self-defense, and Fox News who was demanding he be put in trial because it was clear he initiated the conflict after stalking Martin in a very obviously threatening way?

    Could have fooled me. Or perhaps Fox News fooled you.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday November 16, 2012 @03:46PM (#42004715)

    Most of them were facebook posts using their real names and pictures of themselves.

    Identifying who they were was clearly trivial.

  • by amiga3D (567632) on Friday November 16, 2012 @04:07PM (#42005017)

    Yes. That is not protected speech. They are idiots and hopefully no one over the age of 15 or so is engaging in such juvenile behavior. Too bad corporal punishment is frowned on nowadays because they definitely need their asses whipped. Regardless of political considerations President Obama is the executive officer of the United States and it is not only illegal but immoral to threaten him and the racism speaks for itself. I say this as one who politically is totally opposed to most of the President's policies. It's too bad that civilization has deteriorated so badly.

  • by Ixokai (443555) on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:51PM (#42006485)

    In this case, its pretty easy.

    If you say he's a bad President with bad policy decisions and poor judgement, that's the content of his character (or actions). If you say he's a (sand) nigger or muslim or mention slavery or his non-whiteness, as many of those posts in the blog did, its racist. If you talk about the preferred method of assassination being lynching as MANY of these did, its *really* racist (also stupid as shit).

    Those were *really* blatant. "I'm not racist!" one said, "I like plenty of black people, I just hate niggers" (paraphrased by me, site's down now). Its hard to read that as anything but, "I like the black people who know their place, i.e., subservient to my white ass." And that'd be one of the nicer ones.

    Things get fuzzier when you have someone talking about the loss or waning of "Traditional America", which is IMO racist -- but which is trying very hard to cover it.

    When you talk about the only reason he won is because the "new" America is getting "gifts" from Santa, you're bemoaning the decline of the white male bloc and rather offensively deciding no one but that white male bloc can make an intelligent decision on its merits -- that's just generally insulting, but arguably not quite racist. But is it *damn* close to both racism and male chauvinism (since this new America also happens to include whores and sluts: i.e., single women who are thinking only of sex sex sex sex sex sex and all the sex they can have for free now, and not about the future as a responsible wife and mother would).

    Sure there are plenty of people who are Obama critics who are not racists. However, a LOT are -- and a LOT of what's going around is very thinly veiled racism. This blog was posting up stuff which didn't even try to veil said racism, though. :)

    When a frankly moderate (at best: we progressives did /not/ get the far-left guy we thought we wanted) President's every action is treated as some sort of alien insurrection that is utterly incomprehensible to the people -- there's something more then just policy disagreement going on. It's so far beyond partisan or political policy.

  • by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Friday November 16, 2012 @06:15PM (#42006787)
    There is nothing illegal about exposing racists to the public either. Where does legality even enter the picture with regard to this story?
  • by amiga3D (567632) on Friday November 16, 2012 @08:45PM (#42008529)

    I do find the lack of decorum and respect concerning the office of the President of the United States very disturbing. It's not about President Obama or President Bush but the failure to have just manners. It offends me when I hear people treating my President, despite the fact that I didn't vote for him, like he was a piece of trash. Calling him names and suggesting someone harm him is just plain wrong. He represents the People of the United States. Disagree with him, fine. This other crap needs to stop. It doesn't matter if it's President Bush or President Obama. If people can't disagree without losing their minds we will end up looking like one of those Middle Eastern countries with shelled out buildings and rubble filled streets.

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