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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 @01:49PM (#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.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      In principle, I agree with you. Legally, he can't do that. Depending on the ToS it might not be acceptable to publish them for anyone, but that's a whole other kettle of wax.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

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

        I would think the first amendment would protect the poster.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by CanHasDIY (1672858)

          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 poin

          • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday November 16, 2012 @02:35PM (#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 Synerg1y (2169962)
        TOS doesn't hold up in court.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          TOS doesn't hold up in court.

          You can't take away people's rights with it, but you can give them rights.

        • One's free speech rights do not entitle one to a printing press, or blog platform. If I was running a blog host I have every right in the world to impose any conditions I so desire upon the use of that host. If you want to exercise your rights to the maximum it is upon you to buy your own equipment with which to broadcast your speech.

    • by tnk1 (899206)

      There are parents who can delude themselves into believing their murderer child is still a "good boy", so I'd say that this will only help those parents who simply didn't know what their little asshat children were saying online.

    • by metlin (258108) on Friday November 16, 2012 @02:02PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cornjoelio (784177)
      These are all public statements on social networks, is there a reasonable expectation of privacy even for minors in this case?
    • by Synerg1y (2169962)
      They'd just probably blame hollywood or the media. Getting parents to take responsibility for their kids in modern America and solving the theory of relativity probably require the same effort... scratch that, Einstein's theory is probably the easier of the 2.
    • by bfandreas (603438) on Friday November 16, 2012 @02:36PM (#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.
  • and salon (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nimbius (983462) on Friday November 16, 2012 @01:52PM (#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.
    • The south, as a touchstone example, while forced to integrate has never been forced to accept it socially.

      How, exactly, do you "force" someone to accept something socially? Since by the definition of "socially", as I understand it to apply to this post, is that it is composed of what people choose to think. You can force people to act in a particular manner by applying negative reinforcement to those who do not act that way. How do you force people to think in a particular manner, since for the most part you only know what people think when they tell you?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by PPH (736903)

        How, exactly, do you "force" someone to accept something socially?

        You take a page from the social conservatives' playbook and make it the responsibility of the government to arbitrate morality. Public pressure denouncing the unwanted ideology is the first step to establishing government policy. Once we establish a 'moral majority' that believes this behavior must be dealt with, we are on our way to achieving this goal.

        How do you force people to think in a particular manner,

        You don't, directly. But if you proscribe the unsuitable behavior, people will eventually fall into line. Or they'll out themselves as being social misfits

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

      by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday November 16, 2012 @02:02PM (#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 beckett (27524) on Friday November 16, 2012 @02:10PM (#42004079) Homepage Journal
        citation? i'm sure this will be a lively debate considering you mentioned 'fox news' and 'facts' in the same sentence.
      • by Applekid (993327)

        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.

        Even a broken clock is right twice a day. :)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by i kan reed (749298)

        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 peer

        • The idea in the US is that you really try to only bring people you are fairly sure are guilty to trial. A trial costs a lot of money and majorly disrupts a person's life. You don't say "Just take them to trial, it'll get all sorted out there."

          In the case of an affirmative defense, like self defense, what should happen is the police investigate the situation and determine if the affirmative defense holds water. If it doesn't, they then had it off to the DA for charges.

          So "Wait for the facts," is indeed appro

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

      by ilsaloving (1534307) on Friday November 16, 2012 @02:08PM (#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 Whorhay (1319089)

        "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."

        I would amend that to "they are not anymore stupid than the average adult." Because make no mistake people, kids included are stupid.

      • What about 12-year-old girls who stigmatize themselves as sluts?
    • ...lambasting them for outing kids...

      How do you "out" somebody who's posting to what is essentially a public forum. Granted, I don't use twitter, but aren't (god help me for saying this) "tweets" public?

      On an interesting note, I just pulled up the tumbler page and now it's 404, after just having looked at it 5 minutes ago.

      • by Obfuscant (592200)

        How do you "out" somebody who's posting to what is essentially a public forum.

        By tracking down not only their real names, but their physical addresses. "strength_of_10_men" is really George Thompson who lives at 3482 Wayback Lane, Apt. 4, Glen Close, CA, and his phone number is 800 555-1212.

        This is a celebrated tactic when anti-spammers deal with spam kings (who are sending email out to anyone with an email address, or essentially "public"), with the implication that someone should go "visit" them to help them straighten out their lives. Why would we not recognize it as the same ty

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

      by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Friday November 16, 2012 @02:15PM (#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 Obfuscant (592200)

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

        Nothing, if the person the label is being applied to has actually said something truly racist deliberately.

        But, if it is a case of ignorance of the listener ("niggardly" [etymonline.com] is not a racist term [jacobsen.no]), or someone helpfully trying to "decode" a "keyword" [dailykos.com] for us, or assuming because one party to some event was white and the other black that the event must have been racially motivated (e.g., the white cop who made a black congressman who had just broken into his own house show ID), there's a lot wrong with trying to

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Friday November 16, 2012 @01:56PM (#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 h4rr4r (612664)

      I would say everyone days. Using the N-word several times and making references to slavery as many of those posters did is makes it pretty clear.

    • by Ixokai (443555) on Friday November 16, 2012 @04:51PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2012 @01:57PM (#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.

  • So why isn't this blogger exposing the real identities of poster who made racist comments about Allen West and Mia Love?

    • by dywolf (2673597)

      Because black republicans arent real blacks. they're either simply traitors to their kind, or merely black on the outside. Even 4 years ago when I was still in ATL i was told this repeatedly.

    • by Beerdood (1451859)
      This isn't "exposing identities" - the vast majority of these posts are facebook and twitter accounts using their real names! These are proud racists - obviously having no issues with how other people view their thoughts. This isn't some IP-investigative / anonymous coward mission where cryptic handles are associated with real people. Their friends and family already know this stuff - there's simply more people being aware of this right now
  • OK (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Friday November 16, 2012 @02:05PM (#42003993)

    Will they also be outing the authors of all the tweets that threatened to assassinate Romney or riot and murder in general if Romney had won? Just curious.

  • I disagree with this website & they didn't "uncover" anything these people used their real names. While I'm against racism personally, people need to understand that tolerance works both ways. You can't on one hand say people should respect your views & then on the other not at least respect theirs.
  • .. for making comments concerning assassination. And that's going to get HelloThereRacists in trouble? Maybe, if they just post on line for the world to see. But if they forward it to LE authorities, I don't think the underage defense is going to be effective. Kids go nuts with shotguns on occasion.

    If its a matter of public disclosure, they can always place the identity information on a web page protected with a password for use by law enforcement. Make the password 'password' and we'll call it good.

  • Below is what I get at http://hellothereracists.tumblr.com/ [tumblr.com]

    Not found.
    We couldn't find the page you were looking for.
  • Looks like http://hellothereracists.tumblr.com/ [tumblr.com] is already 'down' (returning a "Not found" message). I wonder if it was done voluntarily, or if Tumblr did it themselves.
  • Annnd, it's gone already. Or it's gone at the moment. [tumblr.com]

    Not clear if the author took it down, if this is an automated reaction to problem reports on Tumblr, or if Tumblr itself took it down for Reasons.

  • by lactose99 (71132) on Friday November 16, 2012 @02:14PM (#42004159)

    wow, site goes down right as its being discussed....

  • Usual jerks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Friday November 16, 2012 @02:18PM (#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.

  • Looks like the blog is gone.

    I guess tumblr was afraid of the slashdotting they were about to get.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Here's a cached version, [googleusercontent.com] since the site is no longer available.

  • False positives (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sideslash (1865434) on Friday November 16, 2012 @04:01PM (#42005765)
    I looked through the cached page [googleusercontent.com], and it was a little disturbing to see a false positive. Specifically, Hallie C. She may or may not be a racist, but clearly the evidence that I saw on the blog was not sufficient to call her one. Apparently she complained that proposed race-based quotas would remove a requirement to work hard in order to get a job (which seems plausible, since it de-emphasizes merit-based competition in order to consider instead the color of your skin). And so our blogger claimed she was saying black people are lazy. Whatever, dude.

    Also, the chairman of the Maine Republican party. If black people are not known to live in a town, yet they are bused in to vote, it is legitimate to ask questions about that. Sorry, it just is. If he's mistaken about the demographics, let him be duly raked over the coals for crying wolf unnecessarily. But why call him a racist for apparently being a watchdog against voter fraud?

    This blogger was apparently in over his head, and most definitely does not have my respect. Glad his site is down.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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