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Yale Students' Lawsuit Unmasks Anonymous Trolls

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the hate-is-such-an-ugly-word dept.

Privacy 668

palegray.net writes "Two female Yale law school students have used the courts to ascertain the identities of otherwise anonymous posters to an Internet forum, with the intent of prosecuting them for hateful remarks left on the boards. At a minimum, the posters' future legal careers are certainly jeopardized by these events. While I'm not certainly not supporting or encouraging hateful speech online, these controversial actions hold potentially far-reaching consequences for Internet privacy policy and free speech." According to the linked Wired Law article, "The women themselves have gone silent, and their lawyers — two of whom are now themselves being sued — are not talking to the press."

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668 comments

Internets... (2, Insightful)

Wiseblood1 (1135095) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421547)

....is serious business.

Re:Internets... (4, Insightful)

superbus1929 (1069292) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421815)

The problem is... it is.

Companies are going to great lengths to search for anything particularly incriminating on people that are applying for a job, and when you're starting out in a law firm - where your basically doing bitch work anyway, and your #1 job is fitting in - anything that they could find that could make a person look bad is going to be held against them. No one has any privacy left anymore, so things that used to get passed off as "kids being kids" have long-reaching consequences later in life. I cry for that.

With all that said, no, I don't think that this case sets a good precedent. The fault here is anyone that would listen to anonymous slander and use it against the women in question for any reason.

Re:Internets... (4, Interesting)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421899)

Considering that anonymous trolls have a tendancy to feed off of eachother, I would not be surprised if this whole case has the opposite of the desired effect. More anonymous trolls will probably blast them. If someone is going to seek damages for some absurd post by an anonymous troll, they should think hard about whether or not any real damage is being done.

Impending DDoS? (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422271)

I mean, people hate lawyers on the intarwebs...coupled with lack of 'respect' for women...this could cause a critical mass of internet angst that will be released as attacks on the women, their lawyers, and who knows who else.

Bitches (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24421909)

Bitches

Re:Bitches (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24422171)

+5 insightful

Re:Internets... (5, Insightful)

Southpaw018 (793465) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422343)

So you can post whatever you want under the guise of anonymity, full stop? Free speech has never meant freedom from consequences. Forgetting that is a dire mistake to make.

first? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24421557)

Hot Grits! Kiss my anonymous ass!

:x (5, Funny)

cushdan (949520) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421581)

I don't feel comfortable posting a comment.

Re::x (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24422215)

I hear that anonymous trolls like it up the ass. Uh...er...never mind....

cunts (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24421607)

cunts

The posters deserve to be unmasked (5, Informative)

mark2003 (632879) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421611)

This is not a free speech issue - the posters made threatening and offensive comments, inlcuding suggesting that they would assault/rape the female students.

These comments would not be tolerated in any other setting so why should they be tolerated online?

Re:The posters deserve to be unmasked (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24421739)

It is a free speech issue.

Offensive? So what?
It's my right to be offensive.

Threatening? Suggesting? So what?

I'd like to see the actual comments, but I know that this is just two bitches being whiny cunt bags out to screw a couple of guys just because they have penises. Unless they made a specific, serious threat, and they are the ones the made the posts (IPs and logins prove nothing), they'll get off the hook.

Re:The posters deserve to be unmasked (2, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421779)

I think this points to how anonymity is *usually* used for evil, instead of good like most geeks think about it. However, even if everyone had an IP coded to their government supplied computer, someone would write a virus that let them use others identities. Legal action is a threat, and it will just make anonymous posters take more precautions. Actually monitoring forums is the only real solution, because there will always be more asshats.

Re:The posters deserve to be unmasked (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24422031)

I think this points to how anonymity is *usually* used for evil

Really? C'mon... remember that next time you visit that medical web site to ask about that really embarrassing rash. You might want to be anonymous when inquiring about your options on terminating an unwanted pregnancy. You might also enjoy the anonymity when you visit those pr0n sites, when you criticize Scientology, when you're playing Unreal instead of working, when you visit that atheism web-site. When you bare your soul at an AA-type forum, you might not want your name on there. Or maybe you're blowing the whistle on your company's poisoning your town by publishing incriminating documents...

Anonymity on the Internet certainly has its downside, but I think it's one of the major features for why MANY millions of people use the Internet in the first place-- it can is a liberating, empowering experience to participate in open forums, chat rooms, etc. without fear of personal consequence. Yes, people say things that they would not say otherwise including libelous accusations and even threats... but I think the upside FAR outweighs the downside.

Posted anonymously, of course.

Re:The posters deserve to be unmasked (0, Troll)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422117)

All of the above is evil south of the Maxendixen(sp?) line.

Re:The posters deserve to be unmasked (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422345)

All of the above is evil south of the Maxendixen(sp?) line.

If you're referring to "The South" (in US terms), then the line in question is "Mason-Dixon"

At least you didn't call it "Mason-Dixie" :)

Re:The posters deserve to be unmasked (5, Insightful)

HappySmileMan (1088123) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422061)

I think this points to how anonymity is *usually* used for evil, instead of good like most geeks think about it.

One lawsuit can't prove that something is "usually" true or false. What it shows is that in at least 2 cases (one for each of the trolls) anonymity is used for evil. You need a lot more than 2 cases to say that the majority of anonymous people on the internet are using it for evil

Re:The posters deserve to be unmasked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24421795)

The right to make offensive comments is a free speech issue.

The AutoAdmit controversy began even before one of the women, identified in court documents as "Jane Doe I,"

Trolls are "unmasked"... plaintiffs are not apparently.

BTW: Best quote from the article:

Now they're asking the judge to give them additional time to try and determine the identities of the remaining defendants, who are currently being sued under their AutoAdmit handles: among others, PaulieWalnuts, Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey, The Ayatollah of Rock-n-Rollah, Patrick Bateman and HitlerHitlerHitler.

Re:The posters deserve to be unmasked (3, Interesting)

mark2003 (632879) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421923)

Offence is one thing but comments like "I think I will sodomize her. Repeatedly" are in a different league.

What about the womens' rights to not feel threatened?

Re:The posters deserve to be unmasked (5, Insightful)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421831)

Offensive speech is still free, so long as it is a matter of opinion and not fact. I can say 'John is a jerk' and be protected by the first amendment because it is not libel if it is my opinion of somebody. If I say 'John has herpes' (and he doesn't) that is libel because it's a demonstrable, objective state that can be proven to be untrue, rather than a difference of opinion. Threats aren't protected speech either. I don't know why this is a big deal, some people made threats and were given what they were due. I'd expect the same to be done to anybody who made threats. If it were just libel I might be more concerned, as the effects of libel on the internet are less clearly defined. Libel is more 'effective' between people in meatspace because of reasonable differences in the level of trust. I simply wouldn't trust every nasty rumor on the internet as a matter of what I would think of as common sense, but I might trust the same rumors from a close associate in person.

Re:The posters deserve to be unmasked (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421905)

There's a big difference between saying "So-and-so's business practices are suspect" and saying "So-and-so gave me herpes and I'm going to kill them."

This wouldn't be too bad if potential employers and romantic interests weren't so damn nosey -- imagine kicking ass in a job interview for a good position only to discover that you were turned down because your psychotic, jealous ex with a lot of time on their hands gamed Google(or created a fake MySpace page) and made you out to be a drunk, zoophile, or worse!

Dosen't matter if the incendiary posts were written by people called "HitlerHitlerHitler" and "GoatseFan1" -- the hiring manager may think, "Hmm, he/she sure does have a lot of enemies" or "I'd rather not have all that controversy attached to somebody who works for me." Same applies to potential romantic interests.

sounds like hip-hop! (1)

vvaduva (859950) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422011)

"the posters made threatening and offensive comments"

Gee..that sounds like hip-hop!

Re:The posters deserve to be unmasked (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24422277)

The hell they wouldn't.

Example: Yesterday I turned on the radio and heard a rap singer threaten to kill someone.

Example: Last week at the bar, a lady told me she was going to "Rape my dick with her mouth".

Example: I heard a group of athletes say that they were going to "Kill the other team".

Example: I was playing an online video game and several people said they were going to kill me, rape me, or do other very nasty things. I called them 'tasty cakes' and said I was going to shove pinecones up their asses.

So you see, this is entirely situational. There is, from what I can tell, no proof of WHO actually posted the comments, just that the comments were posting using the accounts/user names that were registered to those people. There is a big difference.

At the end of the day, you do NOT have any right to Not be Offended. Especially on the internet.

Re:The posters deserve to be unmasked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24422279)

Im confused how do you harass someone from an online forum, there is among other things the option to block the user, as well as not actually visit the forum.

Clearly nobody told these people not to feed the trolls.

Technicality? (4, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421617)

Hateful speech is not illegal. False claims that substantially harm a person ARE illegal under slander/libel law. This law applies whether the comments are online or on the playground.

Re:Technicality? (4, Informative)

abscissa (136568) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421907)

Of course, world-wide, we have different laws.

Hateful speech is not illegal.

See R. v. Keegstra [hrcr.org]. In Canada at least, you do not have an unlimited right to free speech, even if you are not targeting a specific person.

tl,dr: Making hateful statements against a particular identifiable group is illegal in Canada.

Re:Technicality? (2, Interesting)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422203)

tl,dr: Making hateful statements against a particular identifiable group is illegal in Canada.

Unless of course the "identifiable group" happens to be Muslims and the person making the "hateful statements" in a national publication happens to be a Likudnik Zionist.

Actually... not "illegal" (1)

ziani (255157) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422125)

Defamation allows you to sue for money, or a court order to stop/remediate the wrongful statements -- but it is not a crime (in the U.S.), and hence is not "illegal."

Some actions allow you to sue for money AND are illegal, such as punching someone in the nose. That's battery (a crime) AND an act that allows you to sue the perpetrator for money.

Someone fill me in here. (2, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421627)

TFA makes it sound like these women are all upset because some asshat on the internet made a comment about how some women should be raped. Now, granted, that's an asshole thing to say, but if that's all that is going on here, they have no reasonable grounds to be suing. It's someone's right to be an asshole, for better or for worse.

Re:Someone fill me in here. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24421685)

I've met plenty of women AND men that should be raped.

Re:Someone fill me in here. (3, Informative)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421749)

If you carefully read the entire article you will see that there are additional libelous claims that were made.

The reason the article does NOT discuss it further is that they are trying to avoid pulling a "Fox News" where instead of lieing about a person you say "X news agency has reported that person A is in favor of killing all doctors that have committed Abortions".

They are studiously trying to protect the woman that have quite frankly had enough slander published about them and do not need the slanderous statements repeated.

Re:Someone fill me in here. (2, Informative)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421755)

As per slashdot standard methodology I didn't read TFA, but I think the difference hinges on whether these were just generic comments from some misogynist, or whether he went further and threatened to rape these women. If it's case of somebody being directly threatened with violence, then there is no reasonable expectation that your anonymity would be protected.

Re:Someone fill me in here. (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421767)

Keep reading. It gets worse:

The AutoAdmit controversy began even before one of the women, identified in court documents as "Jane Doe I," started classes in the fall of 2005, the lawsuit alleges. Doe I was alerted in the summer to an AutoAdmit comment thread entitled "Stupid Bitch to Attend Law School." The thread included messages such as, "I think I will sodomize her. Repeatedly" and a reply claiming "she has herpes." The second woman, Jane Doe II, was similarly attacked beginning in January 2007.

I'd say they have a reasonable case here.

Per se libel (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24421991)

> a reply claiming "she has herpes."

That's per se libel so long as it counts as a "loathsome disease" and identifies a specific person. Which is, per my understanding, the case here.

I thought these were law school students? They're screwed. They have no defense if they can prove who made comments like that.

Re:Someone fill me in here. (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422085)

If "Jane Doe I" is named specifically in the original post, why is her name withheld now? The article doesn't make that clear. Without that information it sounds like she is suing over a blanket statement that could be about anyone.

Re:Someone fill me in here. (4, Insightful)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422265)

seriously?

Maybe because she doesn't want her name further associated with scurrilous rumors...

Re:Someone fill me in here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24422267)

So twitter should definitely demand that Slashdot reveal the identity of user Lemmy Caution [slashdot.org]. After all, not only is he "$imply a $uper M$ $hill" but also guilty of misogyny.

Re:Someone fill me in here. (3, Insightful)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421867)

... they have no reasonable grounds to be suing.

If they have no reasonable grounds for suing, then their lawsuit will be rejected by the courts. If they do have a reasonable grounds for suing then the courts will hear their case. Most Slashdotters forget to put IANAL disclaimers in their comments when making legal claims.

Re:Someone fill me in here. (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421965)

I don't mean "reasonable" in the legal sense, I mean in the normal sense of the word. Just based on what I read in TFA, their suit sounds completely unreasonable. That doesn't mean it won't be upheld in court, though.

Re:Someone fill me in here. (2, Interesting)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422245)

I don't mean "reasonable" in the legal sense, I mean in the normal sense of the word. Just based on what I read in TFA, their suit sounds completely unreasonable. That doesn't mean it won't be upheld in court, though.

Granted, but nobody really knows the details of the case just from reading the article, and so I couldn't judge either way. It will (and should) ultimately be left up to the courts. One does have to presume that the courts are "blind" (as in blind justice) and fair, but that is a different issue. Having somebody of the likes of "HitlerHitlerHitler" making statements about rape certainly is dubious and warrants investigation. Their may be stalking and libel issues involved, but that would be for the courts (and possibly even the police) to decide.

Yeah I'm big time into free speech, and I cannot accept farce and sarcasm as a legitimate form of uncensored communication. Harassment and libel however are different issues.

Best regards,

UTW

Best regards,

UTW

Re:Someone fill me in here. (3, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422143)

Most Slashdotters forget to put IANAL disclaimers in their comments when making legal claims

You should know by now that IANAL is implied for any post of legal opinion on slashdot. With rare exceptions (Ray Beckerman comes to mind), I'd assume the "IANAL" even if the poster writes "IAAL".

Hell, it's not just legal opinion. I take anything written on slashdot with a grain of salt. If it's a topic I know a good bit about, I can normally figure out if a poster is talking out their ass, or if they might have something to add to my understanding.

If it's a topic I know little about, I don't even bother trying to determine if someone knows what's going on. I figure I'm better off at wikipedia for decent base-level information.

IANAL. Of course.

Re:Someone fill me in here. (1)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422163)

TFA says this: "The Jane Doe plaintiffs contend that the postings about them became [a] etched into the first page of search engine results on their names, [b] costing them prestigious jobs, [c] infecting their relationships with friends and family, and even [d] forcing one to stop going to the gym for fear of stalkers." Bracketed lettering added by me.

So [a] could actually be an issue if you are trying to learn about a woman who has applied to a job (as in [b]), or who has applied to join your nonprofit/neighborhood organization, or you're interested in dating, etc. Item [c] is vague, but when you read something like bizarrely sexual attacks on someone, you start to wonder strange things about them. Item [d] could be valid if you suspected that the online asshats were actually your classmates. Think about it: if you found someone's personal journal, and they had written all this rape stuff in it, AND they were classmates with people matching those names, you would probably report them. But this happened in a public forum.

Re:Someone fill me in here. (2, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422217)

TFA makes it sound like these women are all upset because some asshat on the internet made a comment about how some women should be raped.

The comment wasn't that "some women should be raped", it was what a reasonable person would construe as saying that the plaintiffs should be raped.

oh yeah? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24421653)

Women named Jill and Hillary should be raped.

What now?

Re:oh yeah? (1)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421935)

Hmm. How about you post that under a real Slashdot handle? Or maybe /. can identify your IP number and, by extension, identify you if someone in law enforcement desired it.

Re:oh yeah? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24422371)

Shut up.

I don't know... (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421669)

This is a pretty straightforward bit of libel...Even on the internets you have to be careful if you're explicitly slandering someone by name.

Illegal is illegal, and if these monkeys were dumb enough to put up all this crap under handles that they accessed from their homes, then they're screwed, and it's hard to see how they ought not be.

Re:I don't know... (1, Interesting)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421929)

This is a pretty straightforward bit of libel...Even on the internets you have to be careful if you're explicitly slandering someone by name.

From the article and the court documents it appears that the plaintiffs are both "Jane Doe"s. That means that their identity was not explicitly known to everyone (else the Jane Doe ploy makes no sense) and that it is the supposed attacker's identity which is being exposed instead. Which makes the whole thing a legal equivalent of a tantrum (made possible by the fact that they were both law students). Libel is only applicable to a situation where some real person's reputation is being slandered by people who bid their credibility against the said person's. Which precludes anonymous attacks for they are not credible to begin with. If it were otherwise, the entire Internet would pretty much have to be shut down as nearly every forum on any topics on the planet contains phrases in the vain of "politician x is an idiot" by a poster named "Anonymous1213".

Re:I don't know... (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422197)

From the article and the court documents it appears that the plaintiffs are both "Jane Doe"s. That means that their identity was not explicitly known to everyone (else the Jane Doe ploy makes no sense) and that it is the supposed attacker's identity which is being exposed instead.

Mod parent up!
Either the article is unclear about why the plaintiffs are "Jane Doe"s, or this is not libel because it doesn't target a specific person(s).

Re:I don't know... (4, Informative)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422261)

From the article and the court documents it appears that the plaintiffs are both "Jane Doe"s. That means that their identity was not explicitly known to everyone (else the Jane Doe ploy makes no sense) and that it is the supposed attacker's identity which is being exposed instead.

The article notes that "the Jane Doe plaintiffs contend that the postings about them became etched into the first page of search engine results on their names," which strongly suggests that the posts included their real names, not just their online handles. If so, then the Jane Doe thing is to further distance their names from the media and search engines.

Re:I don't know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24422153)

Where in TFA did it say their full names where used, or any 'ol first name counts?

Re:I don't know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24422189)

Maybe they will request amicus briefs from the Slashdot crowd concerning the futility of identifying a person from the IP address.

Most of the comments here so far either support prosecution of the posters so they get what they 'deserve'. Change "Yale Students'" to "RIAA" and the discussion would center around maybe the guy to whom the IP was assigned was running an unsecured WAP. Maybe someone was spoofing him. Maybe he was a TOR node. How can we know that the ISPs clock was synced with AutoAdmit's?

And on and on.

Amazing how context changes the thought process of people who are supposedly committed to something.

Forum Mods? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24421691)

So why didn't the Forum Moderators delete the offending threads after being alerted? They should be the ones being sued...

Re:Forum Mods? (1)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421729)

You do realize the way /. moderation works, right? Are we all, then, responsible for uncensored hate speech?

Troll? Me? Naw... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24421721)

All your anonymity are belong to us!!!

hmm (4, Informative)

nomadic (141991) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421727)

This will almost certainly keep them out of the state Bar for a long period of time if not indefinitely. Even legally protected speech can be grounds for denial of bar membership.

Yep... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24421757)

The Internet was much better before women heard about it

Re:Yep... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24421915)

and lawyers...

The problem is hate speech changes (0)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421759)

with context and also with audience.

I have never agreed with hate speech laws as most of the time they are used to intimidate. They are used to govern and direct conversations. There is everything offensive with some speech but speech itself should not be prosecuted unless it can linked to actions taken afterward that can be proven to have not have occurred without the speech.

While the words show are inflammatory and I do think the people who wrote them need to be accountable I don't think jail time or direct monetary fines are allowed. They will have accountability and that is the penalty itself.

So, the biggest problem is that it is a moving target and essentially serves little purpose other than to assign some form of guilt. Too many times it is used to intimidate and as such any such case must be held to highest standards otherwise we all get trampled.

I mean, how long before speaking out against a candidate or elected official automatically nets you fines or jail time?

Re:The problem is hate speech changes (2, Insightful)

nickhart (1009937) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421963)

I mean, how long before speaking out against a candidate or elected official automatically nets you fines or jail time?

This classic "slippery slope" argument is baseless.

Calling for the rape of two women is hateful. There is no gray area here. There's nothing sacred about this "speech" that deserves to be protected, nor do the authors deserve any protection. Racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of oppression need to be rooted out of society. Allowing these hateful ideas to be propagated anonymously is harmful to society and the oppressed minorities they target.

Revealing the identities of the authors isn't going to lead to the widespread revocation of people's free speech rights. However, it might just teach some neanderthals to keep their disgusting mouths shut.

Is their gender relevant? (0, Flamebait)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421763)

I scanned through the article, and saw no indications that it was or wasn't. Or are the courts being sexiest again and siding with the complainants because they are female?

Re:Is their gender relevant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24421821)

Someone's bitter.

Re:Is their gender relevant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24422299)

Or are the courts being sexiest again

sexiest

Mmm, gotta love that sexy, sexy court.

Anonymous-san (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24421765)

We are legion. We never forgive. We never forget.

RULES ONE AND TWO.

2 concerns (3, Insightful)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421775)

Internet privacy policy

Expect none

Free Speech

Slander and libel are illegal

Just about covers those two concerns.

Re:2 concerns (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422063)

Internet privacy policy

Expect none

Free Speech

Slander and libel are illegal

Just about covers those two concerns.

Hate speech is protected.

Re:2 concerns (2, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422251)

Slander and libel are illegal

For something to be called slander or libel, I think the accuser should have to show at least ONE person who believed it, AND damage done. If they can't, it's just derogatory remarks.

If I said that Chief Justice John Roberts is an arsehole, that's clearly an opinion.
If I said that Roberts has a forked tongue, that is clearly not libel either, because it's rather obvious that he doesn't (in a purely physical sense).
If I said that Roberts has impregnated 74 women, it's not libel either, because the claim is obviously bogus.
If I said I'll send my pet poodle to rape him, it's not a threat, because it's not believable.
If I said that he raped a woman in Ohio in his youth, it may be libel, depending on whether someone believed it or not.
If I said that he has a mole on his butt, it's not libel even if someone believes it, unless he (a) doesn't have one, and (b) can show how this belief caused him damage.

I recommend that we grow a skin before we start prosecuting people for thought crime. Only when there has been real damage due to remarks should prosecution be pursued. Otherwise, it will be detrimental to free speech, and abused by those who want to hush someone up or arrest them for their opinions.

We may not like it when we're attacked by words, but in my opinion that's much preferable to being attacked by nightsticks.

Slashdot sucks (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24421789)

Slashdot sucks and all it's users deserve to be raped. Before you mod me flamebait, consider the implications of such an action. Ordinarily, on the internet, people are able to ignore the trolls. And we've all seen how many times non-troll comments get modded troll for reasons only apparent to the moderator. Although this comment is clearly flamebait, there are other cases where it isn't so black-and-white. I think this kind of decision by the court could allow abuse by anyone who wants to supress speech critical of them. I could see Apple's lawyers trying to use this as precedent to unmask people complaining about their iPhone development policies, for example.

womens' rights more important (1, Troll)

nickhart (1009937) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421809)

This sort of "speech" should not be tolerated anywhere. Womens' rights and their safety is far more important than the "right" for misogynists to remain anonymous. Allowing them to remain anonymous is a tacit acceptance of allowing hateful speech and the fostering of anti-women attitudes (at the school and in society as a whole). The concrete harm done to these women (and women in general) trumps the abstract "harm" to the troglodytes who posted the messages.

Re:womens' rights more important OR NOT? (3, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422167)

This sort of "speech" should not be tolerated anywhere. Womens' rights and their safety is far more important than the "right" for misogynists to remain anonymous.

Using that logic I can make any speech illegal and exposed to retribution. Either Free Speech is an absolute right, or it is no right at all -- there is surprisingly little gray area in -between.

Re:womens' rights more important (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24422333)

What does being a woman have to do with anything? Isn't that a bit sexist in itself? Why aren't *all* people's rights more important? Why only women?

People named Jill and Hilary should be raped (-1, Flamebait)

samwh (921444) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421853)

People named Jill and Hilary should be raped. There, I'll say it twice. Throw me in jail, you fascists.

Re:People named Jill and Hilary should be raped (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422351)

You're an idiot. Slander, libel, and threats are illegal. Sounds like all three were present in the postings. No civilized person would think that these things shouldn't be illegal. And if they are legalized, it should be e.g. their father/brother/boyfriend/husband's right to mercilessly savage the person who did it. So OK - let's make all speech of any sort legal. Let's also revoke rights of protection from physical reprisal from the speaker in cases of threats, libel, or slander.

I think not. (0, Troll)

snarfies (115214) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421865)

So these women are complaining that they lost employment because somebody named "HitlerHitlerHitler" said they had herpes?

1) Who the hell are these employers, and does ANYONE work for them? Would anyone want to?
2) I wouldn't hire these women on the basis that they are throwing hissy-fits over meaningless posts on the interwebs. If they're gonna sue over that, they'll sue over any and every little IRL slight, real or imagined.

Re:I think not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24422107)

No kidding.

The Restatement defines a communication as defamatory "if it tends so to harm the reputation of another as to lower him in the estimation of the community or to deter third persons from associating with him."

Now, I don't know about you, but anonymous, juvenile, hyperbolic statements and threats on pointless non-commercial websites totally deter me from associating with the subjects. Thus the reason I have no friends. Not that it bothers me: after all, such comments lower the subjects in the estimation of the community so much I'd be embarassed to be seen with them.

That can't happen on Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24421943)

The government can not get the ids of people who post on Slashdot can they? ... *shiver* ...

I shouldn't have posted.

I'm confused... (0, Redundant)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#24421971)

Did Yale only recently start admitting women to law school? How do they know they weren't talking about two other women named "Jill and Hillary"? If the women are specifically named on the website, why are their names withheld now?

Anybody have any insight?

Slashdot vs. the world (0, Troll)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422023)

Has anyone else been perusing these postings hoping for something meaningful to come from an AC here?

And of course, as usual, I'm still waiting. Just an observation, that's all...

On a serious note. (1)

axlr8or (889713) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422033)

An illustration of what happens when the government has you scared to do whats right, how far the government will go to protect bad people, and how much people really don't care.

Hateful remarks? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422047)

Since when is a *hateful* remark a crime?

Sure you cant claim false facts about a person, or threaten them, but just being hateful?

Re:Hateful remarks? (2, Informative)

martinw89 (1229324) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422273)

When that hateful remark is libel.

And, I want to point out some of the statements:

The thread included messages such as, "I think I will sodomize her. Repeatedly" and a reply claiming "she has herpes."

These are by far more than hateful remarks.

Stupid bitches (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24422071)

I think they should be sodomized.

Anthony Ciolli was always a self righteous twat (2, Insightful)

1_brown_mouse (160511) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422177)

Even before Autoadmit was around and he was in HS and college. Talk about someone who should be sodomized. If you can get the stick out of the way first.

When this came around the first time, I was not at all surprised he was involved.

Stupid bitches (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24422231)

<i>Doe I was alerted in the summer to an AutoAdmit comment thread entitled "Stupid Bitch to Attend Law School."</i>

Well her actions pretty much proved that comment's "Stupid Bitch" part.

about those posters... (0, Troll)

Sebastopol (189276) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422319)

No one has commented that the posters were made by other Yale students, and, well, shouldn't we expect members of the highest institutions to be a bit more mature and a lot less mysogynistic? They posted some pretty rough stuff, doesn't that kind of speech belong to the lowest strata of society and not in Yale?

Oh wait, Bush went to Yale, along with the most powerful men in American history.

So much for my assumptions of Yale accepting the cream of the crop in both their academic performance and adherence to fundamental human decency.

I'm so naive.

2 statements: (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422337)

"you're an evil bitch and i hate you"

perfectly legal

"there's a fire in this theatre! (snicker)"

not legal

whatever was said, if it resembles the latter rather than the former, then there is nothing wrong with what the women did, and the trolls should be found, prosecuted, disbarred, etc.

that the case got this far, it is probably the latter. because if what was said resembles the former, they would have never have been able to get this far legally

Supid girls (0, Flamebait)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#24422363)

Are you KIDDING ME?

I mean, can you go to a police officer and tell him: this person wrote, in that public wall set up for public expression purposes, hatefull things about me. He said my cnt was drying off and my children would grow fungus because i do not take care of them. And he didnt even sign it!

I know the police officer would have a laugh. I mean yea, there is libel, slander, but a public forum that allows anonymous people to post, is a place where the girls or any idiot should be able to write WHATEVER THE FUCK they want.

YES, i think even insulting other people or refering in BAD ways to their mother, anonymously.

If that sort of thing bothers you, you shouldnt be allowed to breathe in a democracy.

Your freedom to write whatever the fuck you want comes at the cost of other people excercising the exact very same freedom.

Just cause an AC is a potty mouth, they shouldnt be liable for anything criminal related to what they WRITE.

Jesus, please, get all this wankers off the internet before they turn it into their lovingly misserable family playground.

The net is virgin territory, lets NOT commit here the same mistakes we have in meatspace.

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