Anonymous bloggers are an asset to the public discourse insofar as their pseudonyms provide protection from the frothing masses (usually but not always on the left) when they dare to proclaim the truth as they see it. Often in terms that would make Lenny Bruce blush.
The Delaware Supreme Court agrees:
In a decision hailed by free-speech advocates, the Delaware Supreme Court on Wednesday reversed a lower court decision requiring an Internet service provider to disclose the identity of an anonymous blogger who targeted a local elected official.
In a 34-page opinion, the justices said a Superior Court judge should have required Smyrna town councilman Patrick Cahill to make a stronger case that he and his wife, Julia, had been defamed before ordering Comcast Cable Communications to disclose the identities of four anonymous posters to a blog site operated by Independent Newspapers Inc., publisher of the Delaware State News.
So much for the exhortations of that little twerp at Checks and Balances in August (and a certain other Obsessive local blogger):
It appears to us here at Checks & Balances that any enterprising individual who feels they have been defamed or misrepresented is well within their bounds to learn the name of the person who originally anonymously registered the above domain names and call for their public release.
Of course, this opinion only affects Delaware law. On the other hand, just about every single corporation in America is incorporated in Delaware - including more than a few internet providers, I'll bet - that any er, enterprising, domain provider may think it would be a good business practice to offer confidentiality to its customers. Confidentiality now shielded with a bright-line legal standard in the same state where these providers are already incorporated.
But I'm starting to get into a discussion about discrete issues relating to interstate commerce and state court jurisdiction: a topic that has nearly completely decayed to dust in my mind. So I'll stop while I'm ahead. And everybody's still awake.
Back to the anonymous bloggers at the center of this case. I have a feeling that their Ecosystem rank would be similar to that of another Single Candidate-Fixated Blog That Tends to Reveal Some Sort of Mental Illness of Its Proprietors:
In a series of obscenity-laced tirades, the bloggers, among other things, pointed to Cahill's "obvious mental deterioration," and made several sexual references about him and his wife, including using the name "Gahill" to suggest that Cahill, who has publicly feuded with Smyrna Mayor Mark Schaeffer, is homosexual.
Obscenity-laced tirades? Gay baiting? How much you want to bet that it's a lefty blog?
Well actually, it's more like a local political issues discussion board. In other words: the functional equivalent of a lefty blog.
The superior court memorandum opinion (which was reversed by the Supreme Court) is here (pdf). You can note all the wonderful examples of civic discourse that are not defamatory and thus protected by the First Amendment, such as:
I have to say that I would be embarrassed to be associated with the scum
of the earth Pat and Julia [Cahill]. Everybody in town talks about how
freaky they are. Not to mention the fact that Julia has screwed . . . or at
least tried to screw half the people in town! That just goes to show that
she's nothing but a bottom of the barrel scum sucking whore!! While
I am thinking about it, why don't Pat and Julia take their boat and shove
it up their asses . . . I hear Pat likes that kind of stuff. Isn't that right
Doug? Doug? Come in Doug.
I have a hunch that MDE feels pretty safe right now.
And I am now secure in the belief that KAR has a modicum of class.