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The Ongoing Case of Rakofsky vs. Internet

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the oj-simpson-was-a-duffer dept.

The Courts 157

Chmcginn writes "Joseph Rakofsky, a New Jersey lawyer whose claim to internet fame is filing a lawsuit against the Washington Post and the American Bar Association for criticizing his performance at a Washington, DC murder trial, has amended his suit to include a number of bloggers and internet forum members — for criticizing the lawsuit. Which is a bigger threat to free speech — direct government action, or fear of lawsuits for frivolous defamation charges?"

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Can his suit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36391558)

Override my first post?

In my opinion . . . (4, Informative)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391568)

. . . Joseph Rakofsky is an asshat.

Re:In my opinion . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36391672)

I think he is excellent. There a balance of posts so /. should be all right ;-0

Re:In my opinion . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36391746)

Ah yes, an asshat. Neither a whitehat nor a blackhat, simply one that wears their ass on their head and can't be bothered to take it off.

Re:In my opinion . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36391882)

In my opinion, Joseph Rakofsky is the kind of goat-fucking son of a bitch who ought to be disbarred immediately for abuse of the legal system.

Re:In my opinion . . . (2)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392012)

Hey! Be fair! I'm sure there are a lot of goats that take offense at that.

Re:In my opinion . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36392630)

I am sure that if I were a female goat, I too would object to being fucked by Joseph Rakofsky.

Re:In my opinion . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36392992)

Goat-raping then.

Re:In my opinion . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36392082)

That is it ...
You are all in the re-amended suit NOW!

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2008-02-25/

Re:In my opinion . . . (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393538)

In my opinion, Joseph Rakofsky is the kind of goat-fucking son of a bitch who ought to be disbarred immediately for abuse of the legal system.

Every other goat-fucking son of a bitche worldwide (including homo-pedo goat-fucking moronic sons of poxed bitches) are gravely offended by this implicit association with Rakofsky.

Re:In my opinion . . . (2)

uncanny (954868) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391920)

It's not libel if it is the truth!

Re:In my opinion . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36392888)

Actually, it is not libel if it is an opinion either.

It doesn't matter if he can produce 500 character witnesses claiming he's a wonderful person. If I, in my opinion, find him to be the sort of slimy ass-hat that is one step below pond scum and state that it is my opinion that the world would have been better off had a different one of his father's sperm gotten to the egg first, then it's not libel. Or actionable.

Re:In my opinion . . . (2)

mandark1967 (630856) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392270)

. . . Joseph Rakofsky is an asshat.

OverlordQ, of Slashdot was quoted today stating that, "...Joseph Rakofsky is an asshat."

while un-named sources differed in their opinion, stating, "I think he is excellent. There a balance of posts so /. should be all right ;-0"

Personally, I have no opinion either way. His method of handling this situation, however, could lead one to the belief that he is, indeed, an asshat.

Re:In my opinion . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36392796)

Regrettably OverlordQ of Slashdot is full of it, silly, and quite wrong.

Joseph Rakofsky is a twit and a moron. Which makes OverlordQ subject to lawsuits (him being wrong and all), and me quite safe.

but dont you mean ..... (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392926)

that he is a horse's ass ?!!?! all these terms about asses are so confusing. he might as well get mistaken for an asswipe in this confusion. someone needs to clear the confusion about termage and measure the ass situation, to any extent there is, if any.

Re:but dont you mean ..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36393318)

He could very well be a horse's asshat. Did you consider that possibility?

Re:In my opinion . . . (1)

robmclarty (2211220) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392440)

Hear hear. I believe this type of litigious leach should just eat shit and die (imho).

Re:In my opinion . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36392644)

A stupid one at that.

Re:In my opinion . . . (1)

t0qer (230538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393994)

. . Joseph Rakofsky is an asshat.

Granted you're right, but why do we hold newspapers accountable for what they publish, but we don't hold sites like Yelp accountable? [slashdot.org]

One serious oversight I have seen with the DMCA is parts of the safe harbour provision allow sites to not be responsible for user generated content. I think this needs to change, and content should in the least be moderated by the community if they want DMCA safe harbour coverage(works here, works on reddit doesn't it?)

If a site owner doesn't use some type of meta-moderation, then they should put comments in a moderation queue, and wait for moderator approval before it goes live on the site if they want the same safe harbour coverage. Profiting from libel (like yelp) does while hiding behind DMCA is chicken shit.

Will I get sued if I post? (1)

mibalzonya (1072126) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391570)

Would posting Anonymously help?

Do I dare post my thoughts here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36391588)

I'd call him a loser and sub-human filth but I don't want me or Taco getting sued.

Re:Do I dare post my thoughts here? (1)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391984)

A site I run is allegedly on the complaint (see sig) and our user population seem to be competing to see who can get their names added to it.

Clearly, the guy has a case of... (5, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391592)

SLAPP [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Clearly, the guy has a case of... (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392092)

Yeah, this is hilarious. Filing frivolous lawsuits against the Bar Association is not a good way to keep your law license.

Re:Clearly, the guy has a case of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36393232)

The American Bar Association doesn't really have anything to do with lawyers' licenses.

DGA (2)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391612)

Direct government action. A lawsuit from an individual, you have a chance of defending against. The government makes the rules, interprets the rules, and arbitrates the rules. The deck is pretty well stacked against you.

Re:DGA (3, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391686)

But there are times one branch of the government will side against the actions of the government.

That's one advantage of a government that isn't a cohesive whole, it significantly reduces the cases of the government getting away with abuse.

Re:DGA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36393042)

A lawsuit from an individual, you have a chance of defending against.

And you're going to pay for it, right? Right?

The Constitution does not provide for representation for civil lawsuits. If I cannot (or do not) afford my own defense, the government (with it's well stacked deck) will enforce that civil court's findings.

The original question was loaded. It's government action either way.

Re:DGA (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393332)

If you cannot afford a defense, you can probably qualify for assistance from the Legal Aid society.

And if you have a reasonable chance at winning your defense, you can probably also find a lawyer who's willing to work pro bono, with the intention of extracting his payment from your accuser when the courts find against him.

In other words, Just because you don't think you can pay for a lawyer, don't let that stop you from trying to find a lawyer if you need one. You'd be surprised what options are out there to you.

Re:DGA (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 3 years ago | (#36394784)

It is a bitch to get civil defense lawyers fees in the USA.

Getting a civil defense on contingency is basically impossible.

What you do is counter-sue. That might get a land-shark to consider contingency.

Direct Government Action (2)

Gr33nJ3ll0 (1367543) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391614)

The frivolous lawsuits are often tossed out of court relatively quickly, while the government takes forever, and often tortures and imprisons people. I'll take a bankruptcy over water boarding any day!

Suits, obviously (3, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391628)

Just look at the situation in the UK - for example, this analysis from the Morton Report [themortonreport.com] :

The result is that Britain is suffering from a severe case of 'libel chill', where publishers and newspapers are afraid to publish a story because the subject, usually a celebrity, might decide to sue.

Freedom of Speech is in many ways the most fundamental of all freedoms, because without it repressions of the other freedoms cannot be corrected.

Re:Suits, obviously (1)

NinetyOneDegrees (2237352) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391854)

Absolutely, the law in Britain has veered way to far from allowing freedom of speech, but the difference there is the libel suits can succeed with a much harsher burden of proof on the defendant. Even then, an article critical of a lawyer would be unlikely to succeed.

The US has the first amendment. The lawyer is suing parties who have a lot more to lose than money if they give in to his demands. There's no way the Washington Post or ABA are going to back down and it seems highly unlikely that the lawyer will win. The bloggers might settle but not for much since bloggers are typically pretty average people. I quite simply can't understand this guy's strategy.

Re:Suits, obviously (4, Insightful)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392132)

Freedom of Speech is in many ways the most fundamental of all freedoms, because without it repressions of the other freedoms cannot be corrected.

There's this habit in the US of regarding freedom of speech as a binary thing, where the US is regarded as traditionally having freedom of speech but "everywhere else" doesn't. This isn't true. The US has many federal and regional laws restricting speech from official secrets to copyright to inciting imminent lawless action. There are many civil and private consequences to speech from fines for libel or "harassment" (consider calling someone a "nigger" in the workplace just once) to losing your job for trying to form a union - again, it's all about the malleable definitions of "freedom" and "speech". I once heard a satellite Eastern European stalwart compliment the US for encouraging criticism of its government, then lament that American workers did not enjoy the similar encouragement and freedom to criticise his boss that he did. To a Westerner it may be perfectly reasonable that you can be fired for publicly calling your boss a cunt but unreasonable to have any action taken against you for calling your head of state a cunt. But this requires so many assumptions about the sort of society you want to live in, and no matter how hard the West tries to impose it, it isn't yet a universal view.

We can have functioning societies with whole swathes of different regulations on speech, even though you may argue that more freedom of speech will produce a better society. But if we lack some semblance of rule of law, or if we lack much more fundamental rights such as the right to life or the right to eat (which is usually a consequence in Western nations of the rights to property and to social welfare), then speech doesn't matter so much.

Re:Suits, obviously (2)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392452)

You have freedom to call anyone you want any words you want, and the government must allow the KKK room to speak at its facilities assuming it is used for speeches to other groups. Freedom of speech does not mean you lose your freedom to fire people you don't like [because they called you a cunt]. It just means there can be no government force behind the consequences of your actions. This is where I don't like libel/slander laws. As pertains to your theorized right to eat, I believe we do have the right to eat. We do not have the right to eat other people's belongings. Having said that, that does not mean the government should not have a program designed to purchase food for the soul purpose of giving it to those who can not afford it. Somewhere along the line people seemed to have confused something you are allowed to do if you are able to mean they are allowed to make people enable them, which is wrong. You do not have a right to make people enable your use of rights. A right should be something the government can not outlaw and must not take action against. Nothing more, nothing less.

Re:Suits, obviously (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392582)

You've typed out in enough detail that hopefully you see just how biased to your belief system your notion of "rights" is. To touch on one important mistake:

It just means there can be no government force behind the consequences of your actions.

I fire you because you called me a cunt. You turn up to work anyway. I call the police to force you to leave. There's your government force behind the consqeuences of your actions.

Re:Suits, obviously (3, Insightful)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393076)

The police are not there because you were called a cunt. The police are there because you called them and apparently reported someone on site who had no reason to be there and was refusing to leave.

Re:Suits, obviously (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393250)

It is intellectually dishonest to see an unambiguous, clear-cut chain of events and announce the cause to be somewhere in the middle of the chain, don't you think?

Re:Suits, obviously (2)

Rendonsmug (1516589) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393764)

It is intellectually dishonest to see an unambiguous, clear-cut chain of events and announce the cause to be somewhere in the middle of the chain, don't you think?

This is hardly a clear-cut chain of events. For example there is no casual link between "You get fired" and "You show up to work anyways". The actual chain of events is more like "You trespass" > "You get in trouble for trespassing." To pretend that calling your boss a name is absolutely intellectually dishonest.

Re:Suits, obviously (1)

zieroh (307208) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393836)

I think it's intellectually dishonest to jump from A to C when there is a very clearly-related B in between.

To then accuse other people of being intellectually dishonest makes you either stupid or malicious. Take your pick.

Re:Suits, obviously (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36394156)

Why did the government force me?
Because I was trespassing.

Why were my acts trespass?
Because my boss didn't want me working there.

Why didn't he want me working there?
Because I called him a cunt.

So, why am I trespassing?
Because I called my boss a cunt.

A particular system is chugging along. The new input yesterday is that I called my boss a cunt. The new output is that the government imposes some force on me. The processor of the input is my boss, and the fact he has taken into consideration is that I called him a cunt. What are the other factors you are introducing to this system?

If you think there's something completely absurd in the sequence, consider an example where it is already recognised in law: imagine that instead of calling my boss a cunt, I announced that I'm a Muslim. The next day I'm fired. A week later my ex-boss enjoys a fat lawsuit. Why is that? Because that warmongering womaniser Kennedy decided that American employees should have a lot more freedom of religion than they did before. This by implication includes the right for someone to speak their religious affiliation: I am protected from the consequence of the speech having an audience.

This is freedom of (religious) speech because I can speak it without hindrance or restraint.

Re:Suits, obviously (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393966)

It is intellectually dishonest to see an unambiguous, clear-cut chain of events and announce the cause to be somewhere in the middle of the chain, don't you think?

Absolutely. When you come up with one, let me know.

Re:Suits, obviously (1)

suutar (1860506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36394416)

no more than to ignore a clear decision point in the middle of the chain. Specifically, the decision to show up at the offices of a company you have no relationship with and the further decision to refuse to leave when asked to.

Re:Suits, obviously (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36394642)

And why do I have "no relationship" (perhaps "changed relationship" would sound more reasonable)? Because my boss has decided to change the relationship based my criticising him in speech. And why can he do that? Because I don't have the freedom to speak that criticism.

If you're having trouble understanding this, see the other example I posted where I tell my boss I'm Muslim. Saying that sort of thing is a protected freedom and I cannot generally be fired for it. The law would not make some dumb argument like, "Oh it's not that your employment was denied for your religious speech, it's that your relationship was terminated so you had no business turning up! Who cares why your relationship was terminated?"

Now it might be that the law doesn't give you the right to stay on the premises, instead allowing you to seek redress by other means, but that's a quirk of process. It recognises your freedom to the speech, IOW your right not to be fired as a consequence.

Re:Suits, obviously (3, Insightful)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393096)

Well I just disagree with that. Showing up to a place you are not welcome against the wishes of the owner is not a right, and the government is not firing you, making sure you were fired, making sure you were not paid, helping you clean out your desk, and it is a secondary action to the free speech. Perhaps you see it differently. Tell me, just out of curiousity, do you believe in property rights? More importantly, do you believe the right to free speech is more important than the right to free association? It seems that assuming your example is government force behind the consequences of the initial action (calling your boss a cunt) is correct lead to the conclusion that there is no workable system of protecting all rights, therefore society and government require some rights to be given up. Am I correct in this line of logic?

Re:Suits, obviously (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393222)

there is no workable system of protecting all rights, therefore society and government require some rights to be given up. Am I correct in this line of logic?

That's pretty much what I was suggesting in the initial post, yes. No workable society has overarching absolute-anything rights: anyone who claims this is achievable will inevitably be found guilty of narrowly redefining terms (freedom, right, etc.) to hide his intentions.

You can only define some vague beliefs then create a weighted function with input constraints, changing your weights and constraints as society develops in line with the will of either the people or the special interests which gain disproportionate power.

Re:Suits, obviously (2)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393658)

What he meant is the government will defensively protect your rights, but not offensively.

The government will protect your rights, so long as they don't step on other people's rights. You may have a right to call me a cunt, but you don't have a right to not be fired for it and you don't have a right to be at my work place, so I can have you removed for imposing on my right to remove anyone who is neither a customer nor a worker.

Rights stop being rights once they impose on someone else's rights. eg You have a right to property, but you may not take someone else's property to gain it.

Re:Suits, obviously (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393886)

If I don't have the right not to be fired for calling you a cunt then in what way do I have the freedom to call you a cunt?

Now everyone everywhere has the unfettered ability to declare in the middle of an isolated forest the need to kill the head of state, for example, but hardly anyone anywhere has the unfettered ability to do the same in the middle of a crowded street. It is the consequence of having an audience that is being punished.

If the consequences for exercising the freedom are potentially serious to my life - in this case because other humans make it so - then I don't have that freedom at all. That the resultant harm is less direct than a government-enforcer immediately coming to my door to beat me up is just part of the blame-passing bureaucracy of modern society, but the effect is the same.

The freedom to do something means the power to do something without hindrance or restraint. The threat of loss of work is a hindrance. Thus it cannot be said that I have freedom of speech wrt/ my boss if I cannot criticise my boss without being fired. It is no different from not being able to insult the head of state with the threat, say, that police protection is withdrawn from my household.

You may proceed by equivocation ;-).

Re:Suits, obviously (2)

yndrd1984 (730475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36394880)

I fire you because you called me a cunt. You turn up to work anyway. I call the police to force you to leave. There's your government force behind the consqeuences of your actions.

I do X, which causes my girlfriend to no longer want to have sex with me, but I have sex with her anyway. She has me arrested, which is a government consequence for X. Therefore I don't really have a right to do X.

X = called her a cunt, no freedom of speech.
X = hung out with friends she doesn't like, no freedom of assembly
X = wrote something she didn't like, no freedom of the press
X = converted to religion Y, no freedom of religion
X = did something under "human right Z", "human right Z" doesn't exist

Your line of reasoning would negate the entire concept of rights.

Rights (1)

Arker (91948) | more than 3 years ago | (#36394254)

This is where all the twisting and warping of the notion of "rights" has lead us. I am not trying to criticise you personally, your post shows a person who thinks things through and has a good head on his shoulder. But you clearly, like many today, dont understand what a right is and is not.

You say you have a right to eat, but no right to eat someone elses food. But the fact that eating requires food (something produced by labour) means there cannot be a right to eat per se, nor a right to housing, to health care, etc The right to ones own property (the fruits of ones own labour) is a real right - you can have and enforce that right without violating anyone elses rights. But how can you have a right to eat if you dont make food? Only by enslaving someone who does, or stealing their property, which is hardly respecting other peoples rights.

However, if you produce something of value, and trade it to someone who needs it, for their food, then everyones rights are respected and everyone involved is made richer. The right to your own property, and the right to engage in commerce freely, are all that is involved. No "right to eat" needed.

Re:Suits, obviously (1)

Chmcginn (201645) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392462)

The current situation in the UK was on my mind when reading up on this case. It seems like, at least currently, in the US defamation and libel suits have a hard time proceeding except when it's incredibly blatant, or when the plaintiff has far more in the way of resources than the defendant. Having done a bit of business in the UK, and having a few relatives who've done a lot more, I've been getting the feeling that media there would be scared to do a lot of the things that media in the US currently takes for granted.

Re:Suits, obviously (1)

mpaulsen (240157) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392618)

"The result is that Britain is suffering from a severe case of 'libel chill', where publishers and newspapers are afraid to publish a story because the subject, usually a celebrity, might decide to sue. "

So? Stop wasting paper on celebrity gossip and the problem disappears. Wake me when the lawsuits affect real news.

Re:Suits, obviously (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392948)

Indeed. The big stories, like the one resulting in a fat Czech getting a fat cheque, sell so many papers that it's worth the libel hit. The only thing the mainstream press are afraid of is insulting someone who might later be their sponsor or have the power to whisper a good word to government.

Re:Suits, obviously (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393690)

Just because you don't care for his example doesn't mean his idea is invalid.

What about a customer posting a negative review about a doctor who botched their surgery and now they're blind for life(or some other horrible result)? Libel?

Re:Suits, obviously (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393406)

Hasn't Britain ruled that as long as the newspaper is publishing what it believes to be the truth, it can't be sued for libel/defamation? In other words, if the newspaper checks their sources, and publishes facts it can verify to the best of its ability (but could still be false), it is protected. The libel can be filed against the source of the information, but not the newspaper itself. (and of course, as the 4th estate, the newspaper has a right to protect the identity of its sources)

I'm pretty sure such a ruling has been made in the states, and I know it's been done in Canada.

Idiot Lawyer, Winner of the Internet (0)

davidiii (1983894) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391636)

He may not be doing it for the lulz, but the lulz are there to be had. Joseph Rakofsky, Idiot Lawyer, you win +1 internet. *Like*

Criticize his lawsuit? (1)

bioneuralnet (1473843) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391652)

Can I be sued for criticizing his lawsuit? Sir, I hereby criticize your lawsuit.

Re:Criticize his lawsuit? (1)

Lundse (1036754) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392062)

I think we are about to find out, whether a lawsuit-amendment-process be slashdotted...

I have a feeling (2)

sxltrex (198448) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391684)

I have a feeling that his shit list is about to get a lot bigger.

Re:I have a feeling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36392300)

That is, his shit list is about to get /.-ted

Re:I have a feeling (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393078)

I personally am offended that Slashdot is not listed in the suit!

the internet is composed of human beings (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391696)

in any society of human beings, free speech will always be threatened, for various arbitrary reasons, such as this asshole Joseph Rakofsky and his wounded ego

freedom, in any society, for all time, will always erode, and must always be fought for, and maintained. concepts like freedom are not things that are fought for once, and then that's it: freedom established! happy ever after is here! real life is a not fairy tale kingdom

no, freedom is constantly under attack, forever, and you, yes YOU have to keep fighting for it, or it will decay. depend upon someone else to fight for it, and if enough people do the same thing, it will also decay, since no one is actually fighting for freedom. so whose responsibility is freedom? YOURS. in a society where enough people think that, and you live in the best society on earth

aside to Ratfuckski:

grow up, scumbag: people say nasty things about people all the time. let it pass and move on. you only validate their opinion of you when you react to it. ignore it, and the insult loses power over you, and by extension, everyone else. even better, embrace it, make a joke, and laugh at yourself, and turn a negative into a positive impression about how smooth your are

but give an insult attention, and you validate someone's poor opinion of you. to the extent it becomes truth. after all, if it wasn't the truth that you suck as a lawyer, why would you react so vigorously to the accusation? you're a loser Ratfuckski. now sue me, scumbag

Re:the internet is composed of human beings (2)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392632)

...no, freedom is constantly under attack, forever, and you, yes YOU have to keep fighting for it, or it will decay...

Krieg macht frei?

Re:the internet is composed of human beings (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393086)

peace and freedom require maintenance yes. the natural state of humanity is to slide to slavery and conflict. the notion that the implements that preserve peace and freedom are morally equivalent to the implements that extend slavery and conflict is an absurdity believed only be imbeciles

show me a street where the police patrol. show me a street where they don't. you tell me which street is peaceful and free. yet that still won't stop stop some idiots from bemoaning the existence of the police

face it: civilization requires maintenance against natural, organic, self-emergent forces of decay. what do you think would happen to civilization if that maintenance effort were stopped? you only feel disdain for this maintenance effort because, safely coccooned in the ivory tower, you fail to be able and look down and see what is holding your tower up. you live a life of benefits you don't understand, and sneer at that which makes those benefits possible. you're a parasite

Re:the internet is composed of human beings (1)

Elaugaufein (1758724) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393428)

I agree civilization requires maintenance, on the other hand the maintenance is done by people from that civilization, if the civilization is self-destructive you're going to get the same self-destructive behavior in the enforcers (actually you'll probably get worse behavior in the enforcers because this is a privileged position which means unscrupulous people who want power will seek it out, and being unscrupulous is generally beneficial in rising in power (at least in the short term).

So the question becomes where does the balance lie ? I don't have an answer to this but I suspect that no perfect one exists because trying to solve human nature using humans is a self-defeating proposition, so chances are you're going to get a wide range of answers from people and I suspect many of them are equally good.

Sue me please (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391698)

Please, please, please.
It would give me a valid excuse to Toilet paper your house. Asshat.

Why THAT link? (4, Informative)

Ruke (857276) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391704)

There's actually an interesting article here [newyorkper...eyblog.com] , but the link the summary just goes to a page explaining why he won't be expanding on his earlier, better post.

Re:Why THAT link? (1)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392006)

There's a reasonable summary from our co-defendant [bannination.com] , a Mr. Tarrant Eightyfour

Re:Why THAT link? (1)

Chmcginn (201645) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392432)

Several of his earlier posts had already been up on Slashdot when they were new last month. Though the previous posts have more information, it seemed odd to link to them after having gone there from the newer post.

Probably direct government action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36391716)

The government can fuck up a country. Lawsuits can easily be rejected.

Sorry, what was the question?

In soviet russia (0)

cultiv8 (1660093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391726)

Duct tape is bigger threat to free speech

Re:In soviet russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36391804)

so... you're going to ship his ass off to Russia and then duct tape it? (Yes, I mean his ass.)

Same as Scientologists (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36391742)

Seems to work pretty effectively for the Church of Scientology.

Just cause you have a law degree... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36391774)

...doesn't mean you need to use it. A man with himself for a lawyer has a fool for a client. -www.awkwardengineer.com [awkwardengineer.com]

Re:Just cause you have a law degree... (1)

mightyQuin (1021045) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392310)

Indeed. From a canuck point of view it seems like a make-work project created by a lawyer for the benefit of lawyers and other law professionals.

Re:Just cause you have a law degree... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36392982)

He is not representing himself.

Technically... government intervention... (3, Insightful)

hellfire (86129) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391812)

Okay I'm not trolling for any kind of political points here. I'm actually trying to point out that ol' Joe here will not have any effect on free speech because not only has he set up a "me vs the world" mentality, the world agrees and won't bother listening. In terms of the grand scheme of American politics, American society and the world in general, no one has a scrap of motivation to join his side.

US Government intervention into free speech is an unlikely but serious thing to always think about. Joe affecting free speech ain't happening.

Free speech? (1)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391824)

I wonder what that is? You mean the freedom to express an opinion about something or someone? I wish that were possible. This "free speech" stuff sounds great.

better title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36391832)

"The Onggoing Case..." was a better title

We got sued! (allegedly) (1)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391902)

I'm part of the team that run banniNation.com which is a news aggregation site with a fairly similar model to slashhdot.

While we haven't been officially served, our site and business are listed in the original complaint along with the handle of a user who mentioned Mr. Rakofsky.

We've got an official statement of sort at http://www.bannination.com/s/lawsuit [bannination.com] and there's a link from there to a very level headed discussion about it. This definitely doesn't just affect bloggers and has further implications around the right to anonymous speech and the liability of service providers.

So sue me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36391906)

What a moron. He sucks at his job, people point it out and he deciedes he will sue everyone who is picking on him. Poor little baby....Maybe if you stopped tyring to be an asshat and put a little of that effort into being a better lawyer you would do a good job. Maybe then your moronic self wouldn't end up in the paper/blogs for sucking at your job... Please sue me...i'll turn right back around and sue you.

The biggest threat is from the biggest gorilla (1)

davecb (6526) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391958)

In countries which have a dictator, he's the biggest threat to free speech, and pretty well everything else.
If one has an overweening government, like the Soviet Union did, they're the biggest threat.
Similarly if one has an oligarchy, as the U.S. did in the "gilded age", they'll do their best to silence you.

Countries which had their governments organized to provide for check and balances, and whose police powers were used to mitigate the rise of the oligarchs were the places where one legitimately had free speech.

Whenever an imbalance of power arises, though, one of the classic forms of corruption is for the powerful to use their powers to silence anyone who doesn't treat them with fawning respect.

--dave

Whats the difference? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36391968)

Is there even a difference in direct government action, or fear of lawsuits for frivolous defamation charges these days?

Lawsuits = courts = judges (and/or tards that somehow pass for 'peers' without even having to pass an IQ test...i mean juries) = Government.

The Government is usually less likly to put the wank to you directly when it comes to free speech, but they sure as heck won't mind holding you down for some asshat (example Rakofsky) while he has his turn.

Besides, if Governments have a direct problem with you, its probably going to end up more with a black bag over your head.

The biggest threat to free speech (1)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392028)

The biggest threat to free speech is jackass pretending every time someone does something stupid they don't like, it's a systemic problem.

Okay, that's not actually a threat at all... but this non-story is so stupid it made my head spin. Did it really need to be posted?

I Think... (1)

Weaselgrease (2050100) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392046)

...that we should all criticize his performance as a human being and see if he sues /..

So, what is he going to do for a living now? (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392048)

OK, having read the one blog post about Rakofsky, I have just one question. After he gets pummelled in court, what is he going to do for a living now that he has made sure that just about everyone knows what an incompetent lawyer he is?

Easy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36392280)

Teach!

Re:So, what is he going to do for a living now? (2)

uncanny (954868) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392436)

Same thing all rejects of morality do: write a book, get a TV show, or run for some kind of political position!

Suing a bar association? (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392142)

An entire guild of lawyers? Now that takes some balls.

Wow ... (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392166)

That takes balls or stupidity ... seriously, who sues the American Bar Association? That's like ... suing all of the lawyers, isn't it?

And, really, if I read the blog correctly ... it sounds that all this guy [newyorkper...eyblog.com] did was to voice an opinion (mirroring that of the trial judge) that this wet-behind-the-ears lawyer was out of his depth in this murder trial. And, ultimately did a very piss-poor job of it -- so much so the judge had to declare a mistrial.

From the sounds of it, he doesn't have a pot to piss in (or a hat to shit in).

Oh, and for Joseph Rakofsky ... Ha ha ... sue my ass punk, I'm not even in the US. Who is going to trust a lawyer with a Justin Bieber haircut?

Re:Wow ... (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392844)

I think it's his only way to earn a decent living now - if he can hype the lawsuit enough, then maybe - just maybe - the sheer magnitude of this stupidity earns him enough fame that he can write an autobiography and cash on that.

Re:Wow ... (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393562)

I think he's just gunning for a CourtTV equivalent of MTV Jackass.

You know, stupid embarrassing courtroom stunts. Midgets. Self-inflicted injuries. Scatological humor.

Rakofsky is incompetent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36392358)

I saw him try a case once. His incompetence was startling.

You'd be better off with a random public defender.

There now, go ahead and sue me, cocksucker.

Can't wait until he names /. (1)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392374)

It's bound to happen. Rakofsky seems (in my opinion) to have no clue when it comes to free speech issues. That being the case, it seems only a matter of time before /. (and perhaps posters like me) are named as co-defendants in his (again, in my opinion) idiotic suit.

You almost feel sorry for him.... (2)

Unixnoteunuchs (990069) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392536)

"if you would shoot at the king, you had better kill the king." I expect that the ABA and Thomson Reuters will eviscerate this poor fool. He will be begging the court to dismiss them as defendants but they will stick it out the better to beat him with a stick.

To answer the question.. (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392782)

Which is a bigger threat to free speech â" direct government action, or fear of lawsuits for frivolous defamation charges?

I would say a LACK of government direct action to stem frivolous defamation charges..

Why he has to defend himself (2)

retroworks (652802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393176)

He needs the work. It's not like anyone else is likely to hire him.

Freedom of speech is not freedom to denigrate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36393516)

Freedom of speech is a cornerstone element of freedom. There is no real freedom of speech in the UK, the monarchy can slap an injunction forbidding the publication of anything they please. In the US the freedom to libel someone is a little less clear. Typically editorials write opinions and not facts and most articles today print opinions. "The boy ran fast" is an opinion based on the perspective of the writer. "The boy ran 100 yards in 3 seconds" is a fact. "The boy ran faster than anyone else in recorded history" is a fact and "Something must have been wrong with the timer" is an opinion based on the knowledge that the previous world record in the 100 yard dash is about 9 seconds. Lawyers can't sue a person for expressing an opinion and saying a person "did badly" is an opinion. Here is where things get tricky. Saying the legal counsel is incompetent is not an opinion, it is either fact or libel, since incompetence is defined legally. Any reporter or blogger that does not know the difference between fact and opinion or libel is incompetent.

I find most people have no clue what the difference between a fact and an opinion are. If you want to find an opinion look for descriptive adjectives or adverbs. If you are describing something it is usually an opinion based on perspective. Facts are not usually descriptive. "The man wore a brown suit" may be a fact, or a perception based on a trick of light. "The man wore a cheap brown suit" is an opinion. "The man wore a suit that cost 38 dollars" is probably a fact, although it could also be a lie.

Case for tort reform (1)

Mud_Monster (715829) | more than 3 years ago | (#36394392)

The US should change our civil justice system to be "loser pays" to reduce these frivolous lawsuits. People can sue whomever they wish, as long as they can afford to lose.

Re:Case for tort reform (1)

salesgeek (263995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36394718)

Loser pays works until you see it in action. Most often it's used to crush the little guy by making a trial too risky by piling legal fees on. Example: $300 debt collection + $3,500 in legal fees and $279 in court costs. Even if you don't owe the money, there is a risk you loose and then have to pay $4K+.

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