One of the dumbest articles ever written about Righthaven

July 4, 2012

A lot has been written about Righthaven v. Hoehn (my case), but the following article was so idiotic, so uninformed, such shoddy work, that I feel the need to show my readers this idiocy in its entirety so that they can’t claim that I selectively edited it. Further, I want the content preserved, just in case the author (Steven Shaw) decides to edit it after the fact to remove some of the idiocy.

As you read, you’ll find that there is not a single intelligent sentence in the entire article:

Remember Righthaven, the “copyright troll” that was threatening to sue anyone and everyone who reposted copyrighted content online? The company was ultimately drummed out of existence, in part for its distasteful tactics.

But the ouster of Righthaven left one issue on the table: can reposting an entire article ever be fair use?

I don’t think it can. But a federal judge in Nevada, probably in his understandable eagerness to make Righthaven go away, issued a ruling that leaves the door open for infringing bloggers to argue that posting entire articles can be fair use or at least so harmless as to be non-actionable.

No matter how distasteful we find a company like Righthaven, that distaste should not be allowed to gut the body of intellectual property law upon which our global economy — moving steadily away from production of goods — depends. Republishing an entire article should be an absolute no no. I hope Righthaven gets the opportunity to appeal on that issue.

Outlets like Ars Technica and Wired have nothing but contempt for Righthaven. I’m interested to see how they react when bloggers reprint entire articles from their websites. (source)

Amazing. Simply amazing. The Author lists among his qualifications that he “used to be a litigation attorney at Cravath, Swaine & Moore.” I presume that in his career, maybe he handled a matter that was at least tangentially related to copyright. Ok, I presumed no such thing, since he obviously doesn’t know anything about fair use. But, I figured I would find that he was sixth chair on a bankruptcy case or something… you know, I’d find a pile of cases that had nothing to do with copyright, and make some snarky remark about how antitrust or bankruptcy have nothing to do with copyright.

Imagine my surprise when I tried to find a single case he worked on as a “litigation attorney at Cravath, Swaine & Moore” and found this as the result.

Some illustrious copyright litigation career Mr. Shaw has there, huh?

Ok, maybe a better search string would have found his illustrious copyright litigation experience. If anyone has access to Lexis or Westlaw and finds contrary results, let me know and I’ll update.

Since he was admitted to the New York bar in 1995 (source), and then left Cravath in January of 1996 (source), I’d say that saying he “used to be a litigation attorney at Cravath” may be truthful, but its a bit of a dishonest repackaging of the facts. Lets not call him a “liar,” but lets call him “full of shit.”

Of course, we can figure that out from his statement here:

“But the ouster of Righthaven left one issue on the table: can reposting an entire article ever be fair use?

I don’t think it can. (source) “

There is absolutely no reason why reposting an entire article can never be fair use. Of course, I take no quarrel with commenters who might think that Righthaven v. Hoehn was decided incorrectly on the fair use prong. Reasonable people might have non-stupid theories about that. But, to say that reposting an entire article can NEVER be fair use is another way of saying “I am a blowhard idiot who doesn’t know squat about copyright law, but I am desperate to say something relevant about it.”

Before that, he wrote:

Remember Righthaven, the “copyright troll” that was threatening to sue anyone and everyone who reposted copyrighted content online? The company was ultimately drummed out of existence, in part for its distasteful tactics (source)

Maybe Shaw could put down the fork and do some research? Righthaven was not “drummed out of existence” for its “distasteful tactics.” It was “drummed out of existence” because every single judge that looked at it determined that it did not have standing. Shaw might have known that, had he actually done any research.

Later, Shaw writes:

a federal judge in Nevada, probably in his understandable eagerness to make Righthaven go away, issued a ruling that leaves the door open for infringing bloggers to argue that posting entire articles can be fair use or at least so harmless as to be non-actionable. (source)

Really? This guy claims that he “used to be a litigation attorney,” yet he impugns the work of a federal judge without, it seems, ever so much as reading his opinion. Shaw says that since Judge Pro just wanted Righthaven to go away, he ginned up some new rule that posting an entire article can be fair use? And, Shaw thinks that Pro’s decision “leaves the door open?” If Mr. Shaw had ever so much as researched 17 USC Sect. 107, he would find that the door was already wide open. Pro just rode through it.

Still looking for an intelligent word in this crock of shit, lets move on to the next paragraph:

No matter how distasteful we find a company like Righthaven, that distaste should not be allowed to gut the body of intellectual property law upon which our global economy — moving steadily away from production of goods — depends. Republishing an entire article should be an absolute no no. I hope Righthaven gets the opportunity to appeal on that issue.

Righthaven v. Hoehn “gut[s] the body of intellectual property law upon which our global economy — moving steadily away from production of goods — depends” ????


The whole global economy is threatened because a district court agreed with the premise that yes, sometimes, you can even take an entire work and call it “fair use.” Wow. I’ll start stocking up on gold bars, canned goods, and ammunition right away.

Mr. Shaw’s work is clearly shoddy. The article is void of any actual knowledge, and anyone who reads it (absent this kind of criticism) will actually be markedly stupider after they finish reading.

If Mr. Shaw is correct, then I don’t get to cut apart his dumb crap, line by line, because “Republishing an entire article should be an absolute no.”

As far as “I hope Righthaven gets the opportunity to appeal on that issue” goes, I finally agree with him. As just an ego-driven boor, I am DYING for Righthaven v. Hoehn to be decided by the 9th Circuit. Then, I get more fees, I get my name on a 9th Circuit win, and I get to grind my boot into Righthaven’s face some more.

But, as a lawyer, I need to think of my client. For his sake, I hope that the case just ends. It is like a bad zombie movie.

Now, Shaw finally shows his agenda:

Outlets like Ars Technica and Wired have nothing but contempt for Righthaven. I’m interested to see how they react when bloggers reprint entire articles from their websites.(source)

I know how they would react. They would react by asking themselves “is this fair use?” If so, they would move on.

You are Fined Twenty Dollars for Violation of the Verbal Morality Statute.

June 12, 2012

Creating a well-timed and well-phrased barrage of expletives has been around since the beginning of time and those who have mastered the art should be revered as national treasures (George Carlin, rest in peace). Middleborough, Massachusetts does not share this sentiment. Frustrated malcontent Mimi Duphily was fed up with young hooligans dropping the F-bomb near her auto parts store. So she did what any twat rational, intelligent human being would do- Persuade the city council to permit local police to issue fines to individuals cursing in public.

Source 1. Source 2.

The current Middleborough ordinance is based on a previous ordinance criminalizing profanity which is rarely, if ever, enforced. Profanity was bundled with a bunch of other “anti-social” behaviors that are now decriminalized. So instead of being charged with a crime, a person who “verbally accosts” someone in public will receive a $20 fine. At first blush this appears mired in abject stupidity because, well, it is. But the denizens of Middleborough are not alone. In fact, it seems states have always been trying to punish naughty words- both civilly and criminally. Typically, the government will try to stamp out profanity by slapping a fine on some poor schmuck for violating a statute or local ordinance that was enacted before women gained the right to vote and hasn’t been enforced for years if it ever was to begin with.

In 1942, the United States Supreme Court held that “fighting words”— words “which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace” — are not protected by the First Amendment. Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 15 U.S. 568 (1942). Then in 1971, the Nine limited Chaplinsky by explaining that wearing a jacket that said “Fuck the Draft” was a “simple public display” as opposed to a direct insult or intent to incite harm. Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971). In the wake of Cohen and related cases (notably, Street v. New York, 394 U.S. 576 (1969)-the flag burning case) the 1970’s through 1990s saw a smattering of cases testing Cohen with little or no success.

By and large, ordinances punishing profanity are nearly always struck down as overbroad, vague, and punishing constitutionally protected speech. See e.g., City of Baton Rouge v. Ewing, 308 So.2d 776 (La., 1975)(Motion to quash charge for using ‘indecent, vile, and profane language’ granted based on the ground that the ordinance was an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment); and State v. Authelet, 120 R.I. 42, 385 A.2d 642 (R.I., 1978)(Acquittal for person convicted of profanity statute because under fighting words doctrine profanity was not directed at arresting officer). More recently, Michigan tried it in 2002 in People v. Boomer,655 N.W.2d 255 (Mich. App. 2002). A local sheriff ticketed a guy for violating a profanity statute enacted in 1897 that criminalized the use of profane language in front of women and children. The Court of Appeals threw out the conviction and overturned the law, stating that “allowing a prosecution where one utters ‘insulting’ language could possibly subject a vast percentage of the populace to a misdemeanor conviction.” The court went on to note that it would be “difficult to conceive of a statute that would be more vague.”

Abject stupidity aside, the Middleborough city council’s decision is problematic not only because it is extremely vague but also because the ticketing officer is given the discretion to determine the gravity of the profanity. Does the officer’s discretion extend to loud music? “I wasn’t cussing officer; it was Jay-Z, why don’t you send him the ticket?” What about holding a sign that reads, “Fuck you, you fucking fuck” (preferably in front of Mimi Duphily’s store)? The council would have done well to read Cohen ([a statute that] reflects an “undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression), and Street, (“We cannot say that [burning the American Flag on a street corner] was so inherently inflammatory as to come within that small class of ‘fighting words’ which are ‘likely to provoke the average person to retaliation, and thereby cause a breach of the peace”). I am waiting on bated breath to see if this ordinance is actually enforced and I can’t help but wonder what the budget of the city attorney’s office is these days.

But the good news is that now we have a name for the fine-issuing machine in Demolition Man- let’s call it the Duphily.

From the “I’m So Clever” File

April 26, 2012

Federal Judge Slaps Back Dino M. Zaffina in Darts Trademark Battle – Los Angeles News – The Informer


Odd story.  Basically, some dart fan joins the Southern California Darts Association.  They snub him by not using his middle initial, unlike, say, the SAG forcing Michael Fox and Jim Bullock to add middle initials.  So, he finds out that there is no corporation with that name (as the former corporate entity lapsed).  He registers a corporation with that name and tries to stop the association from using that name.  After some surprising initial success, he met with a big ole Fail.

Not sure why he met with initial success (and no, I’m not making a pun regarding the snub), since this is a pretty straight forward issue.  These folks were using the name.  You can’t bounce them out simply by incorporating with that name.  That would be like discovering that “The Beatles” never formed a corporate entity, so you register “The Beatles, Inc.” and try to keep Sir Paul and Ringo from making appearances together as a “Beatles Reunion”.  Prior use, for the win.

Section 230 Amendment strips websites of immunity from anonymous commenters

April 1, 2012

Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who is not particularly known for his friendliness toward the First Amendment, is at it again.  As chairman of the Senate homeland security committee, Lieberman urged Twitter to stop hosting pro-Taliban tweets last fall, in addition to persuading Internet companies to remove blog posts that promote terrorism.

It appears he’s now taking the idea one step further by proposing an amendment to section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. (Source.) Section 230 (47 U.S.C. § 230) grants immunity to Internet Service Providers from being held liable for the comments of third parties to their websites. Basically, it’s what shields review sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp from butthurt business owners holding them liable for disgruntled third parties’ reviews.  It is also what allows all of you to say whatever you want in the comments without The Legal Satyricon being taken to task for it (legally).

However, Lieberman’s proposed amendment would change that. The new language reads:

No A provider or user of an interactive computer service shall may be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

Although Lieberman is touting this amendment as an anti-terrorist effort, this action will have a chilling effect on all forms of Internet speech. Service providers from Comcast to Consumerist may now be treated as publishers to content posted to their websites. This opens up the possibility that review sites and others that rely on third parties for content will be held responsible for those very same deranged, sub-literate contributions. Lieberman’s proposed amendment will have a chilling effect on free speech, as any site that does not want to drown in legal bills likely won’t accept anonymous comments.  If you’re a sissy with paper-thin skin or an obsession with “bullying,” rejoice, I suppose.

Long before the rise of the Internet, anonymous speech has provided an outlet for those who wanted to make their voices heard, but were unable to so for fear of retaliation. The issue of anonymous speech was discussed in great detail in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Committee, which involved a woman who handed out unsigned political leaflets that opposed a tax levy. The Supreme Court held that such speech was protected:

“Under our Constitution, anonymous pamphleteering is not a pernicious, fraudulent practice, but an honorable tradition of advocacy and of dissent. Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority.”

Needless to say, inhibiting anonymous speech is an attack on this right in gross.  It will be a grave day if this amendment succeeds.  Although anonymous speech on the Internet is not always the most intelligent, it still has its place in public discourse – for me to poop on.  Civil liberties should not be victims in the attempt to curb terrorism, yet we have already succumbed to the Scylla and Charybdis of the TSA and NSA in entrusting our rights to the benevolent government.  At this point, what’s one more right ceded to the security theater’s alphabet soup?


Verrr Nice! NOT!

March 23, 2012

Kazakh Maria Dmitrienko won the gold medal in a shooting competition in Kuwait. While she stood on the podium, they played the Kazakh National Anthem — except it wasn’t the real one… it was Borat’s version. Apparently, the organizers accidentally downloaded it from the internet.

That’s what you get for using BitTorrent to get your music, dumbasses.

Support for Terrence Connor

March 7, 2012

A partner at Hunton & Williams, Terrence Connor, was arrested for pepper spraying his neighbor’s dogs. The dogs belong to University of Miami Student Andrea Lopez, who lives next door to Connor. (source)

Connor says that the dogs bark constantly and the police do nothing about the disturbance. He’s tried calling the police, tried spraying water on them, and now finally broke down and pepper sprayed them. The police responded by arresting him on misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty. (police report)

Naturally, most of the press and blogosphere is piling on Connor’s ass about this. I have his back though. (It was a bit assholish of him to play the “do you know who I am?” card though).

Have you ever lived next door to a yippy dog? How about two of the fucking things? Sure, I understand that it is not the dog’s fault that the owner is an irresponsible piece of shit who thinks there is nothing wrong with letting her dogs bark to the point that it annoys her neighbors. A certain percentage of dog owners are like that. If you dare to criticize them for failing to train their dogs, they take it like you just said that their children should be dragged out into the street and shot.

Hell, even PETA thinks you shouldn’t leave your animals in the yard unattended:

“We’ll watch for the outcome of this case but we’d like remind dog owners not to leave their pets unattended outdoors, even in a fenced yard. Keep animals indoors unless they are supervised at all times. Dogs are like small children.”(source)

If you screamed at the top of your lungs in your yard 50 times a day, the cops would eventually arrest you. If you were cranking music at the same sound and frequency of a dog’s bark, you’d get a ticket. But, in most police departments, barking dogs are not exactly a priority to them — despite the fact that having a yapping dog next door to you is hardly a “victimless crime.” See Hell, even dogs don’t like the sound of other dogs barking all the time. (source)

There are methods for owners to deal with barking dogs. Training them might be nice. There are collars that administer a small shock (sorta like when you touch metal after scuffing the carpet), collars that spray out citronella (which dogs hate), or you can have the vocal cords cut. Yeah, you might not like some of those options, but I’m sure that this guy does’t like the fact that he has to live next to some self-absorbed fucking asshole who believes that she not only owns her own house, but the airspace of all the houses around her.

A Florida Court dealt with this very issue. Knecht v. Katz, 785 So. 2d 754 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001)

Appellees sought injunctive relieve in regard to appellants’ Great Pyrenees’ constant barking while it was permitted to remain outside appellants’ home. Appellees’ request was to enjoin appellants from maintaining the dog on their property “in such manner as to create noise sufficient to impair Plaintiffs’ peaceful and quiet enjoyment of their property.” Instead, the trial court gave appellants 30 days to remove the dog from their premises. We agree with appellants that the court went too far. In addition, it granted a remedy not sought by appellees. Appellees never complained that the dog disturbed them when it was within appellants’ home. Some barking must be expected from dogs. Before appellants can be judicially required to remove their dog from their premises, they should be given the opportunity to cure the problem which disturbed appellees. The dog should not be permitted to remain outdoors unattended so that continuous barking might disturb the neighbors. However, if keeping the dog indoors or bringing the dog indoors when it starts barking will cure the problem, the injunction should go no further.

So it isn’t as if there is no legal remedy. Of course, getting that remedy could take months or even years. In the meantime, Connor has to live next to this annoying yapping.

The fact is, all of this could have likely been avoided had the police ever simply issued a $100 citation to the dog owner. It is amazing how “I can’t do anything about it” turns into motivation to actually do something about it when money is at stake. Mr. Connor had a right to the quiet enjoyment of his home. Ms. Lopez is the instigator here. Maybe Connor shouldn’t have pepper sprayed the dogs. Maybe he should have used his law degree and filed for an injunction. But, perhaps a little non-toxic, non-permanent pepper spray on the precious little dogs would get the point across. Personally, I think that he should have fed them laxatives so they shit all over her house.

I hope that Mr. Connor not only beats the charges against him, but that he files suit and gets an injunction so that he can live peacefully.

The “Nude Body Scanners” protect us!

March 6, 2012

I just got an email from a reader.


Message: Mr. Randazza,

I know your loathing of the TSA is something of legend among the blawg world, so I thought you might enjoy this little expose on the complete worthlessness of the airport scanning technology.

Yup, pretty much.

Enjoy it? In a sick “I want to choke everybody in a blue shirt” way.

(Former) Judge Willie Singletary – Preacher Mode? Judge Mode? Its all Crazy Mode

March 5, 2012

Willie Singletary

When Willie Singletary ran for traffic court judge in 2007, he was described as “a scofflaw of major proportions” by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

As of primary day, Singletary, 26, owed $11,427.50 for 55 violations, including reckless driving, driving without a license, careless driving, driving without registration, and driving without insurance.

In fact, a bench warrant had been issued for his arrest – a fact made public after the election by Bernard Strain, who lost in the Democratic primary for Traffic Court but who won a Republican nomination. (source)

His dad paid the fines, and claimed that “roughly half” of the violations were racked up by Willie’s brother. (source) His license was suspended for four years, yet he still won his race.

Singletary was (maybe still is) a preacher, go figure. During the election, he was captured on Youtube suggesting that campaign contributions would result in benefits to those who appeared before him while he served on the bench. At a “Blessing of the Bikes” event, he said,

“There’s going to be a basket going around because I’m running for traffic court judge, right, and I need some money. Now, you all want me to get there. You’re all going to need my hookup, right?”

He got suspended when that came out. His excuse? “I was in preacher mode,” he said. “I do admit I chose a poor choice of words.” (source)

I guess promising corruption is “preacher mode.”

But wait, there’s more.

He was again relieved of his duties because he showed pictures of his penis to a co-worker. (source)

After allegedly showing a young, female Traffic Court cashier in December two cellphone pictures of his erect penis, Singletary cooed, “Do you like that?” according to documents released [On March 1] by the state Judicial Conduct Board. (source)

Oh, it gets better. After the co-worker filed a sexual harassment complaint, Singletary reportedly confronted her to try and get her to withdraw it. Hello retaliation suit.

When he got fired, he was escorted from the building by sheriff’s deputies.

I wonder whether the cock shot was done while Singletary was in “judge mode” or “preacher mode.”

Sheriff Mike Scott vs. The Media (again)

March 4, 2012

Lee County, Floriduh: Sheriff Mike Scott, (who I wrote about here) didn’t like being questioned about a federal lawsuit filed against his department. To show everyone that he’s boss, he decided that the Fort Myers News Press will no longer have the right to ask questions at press conferences, and he’s decided to severely limit press access to his department. (source)

Apparently, this is not the first time that Mike Scott has thrown a temper tantrum at the media.

Awww…. does somebody need a hug?

January 14, 2012

Rick Santorum… wow

January 9, 2012

Seriously, hasn’t anyone told Rick Santorum that he’s gay? Only a self-hating closet case could be this much of a fucktard. That’s where he tells a high school class that they are better off having parents in prison than having gay parents. No word on how the three kids with gay parents in the audience reacted.

Of course, this is the same toolbag who thinks that contraception should be made illegal.

Here is an actual Rick Santorum quote: “One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country.” And also, “Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

These comments were not dug up from some bygone moment of ideological purity, before dreams of a presidential campaign. He said them in October, to a blogger at (they met at Des Moines’ Baby Boomers Cafe). (source)

Now in all fairness, my views are probably just as extreme.

I, for example, believe in forced sterilization.

But, I’m not running for president.

That said, if I was, I would advocate grabbing every single person who ever cast a vote for Rick Santorum, for any reason, at any level, and immediately removing their reproductive capacity from them on the spot.

Because if you vote for, or have ever voted for, this moron, you really are too fucking stupid to pass on your genes, and natural selection just ain’t doing its part these days.

Fuck the King of Thailand

December 8, 2011

For the King of Thailand

An American citizen translated a book about the Thai king and posted it on his website. He lands in Thailand and is arrested for lese majeste — insulting the King. (source)

Vaginal Obsession – TSA, you’re doing it wrong

October 31, 2011

If you had to create a chart of the things I like and the things I don’t like, vaginas and the TSA would clearly be at opposite ends. The vagina is truly a wonderful thing, when properly cared for. Your mileage may vary depending on diet, grooming, genetics, and a host of other factors. But, in general, vaginas are a wonderful thing.

The TSA is not a vagina. It is not even vagina like. Even though it is run by a bunch of twats, it can’t even get close to being in the vagina zone when it comes to coolness.

I’ve never hidden my hatred for the TSA.  When I go through security, I always opt for the pat-down, and I make sure to make it difficult for the agent. Why? Because when I was in basic training, they taught us that it is our duty to make captivity as difficult for our captors as possible. I harass TSA employees when I see them in public, reminding them in grocery stores, theaters and anywhere else I find them that they are low forms of shit, and I advocate that we all do the same).  They are only doing their jobs? Well so was John Demjanjuk.

As much as I hate the TSA, I must admit that we have something in common: We both got a thing for vaginas. Of course, I prefer mine to be over the age of consent — the TSA harbors no such prejudices. Nope, not at all.

But, if I may be so pompous as to declare myself qualified to offer instruction on how to care for and attract vagina — TSA, you’re doing it wrong.

The TSA’s latest victim is prominent feminist blogger Jill Filipovic, of Feministe fame.  Ms. Filipovic recently took a trip to Dublin and, upon arriving, found a note from a TSA agent who’d discovered a vibrator in her luggage:


She reacted in a way that was noticeably un-second-wavy of her — with a sense of humor. She wrote:

Total violation of privacy, wildly inappropriate and clearly not ok, but I also just died laughing in my hotel room. (source)

The TSA’s reaction to this incident was predictable, given how it responds to terror threats: Namely, it enacted a remedy that will never be useful in the future. The screener got shitcanned.

But, is that really what anyone wanted? Filipovic has as much right as anyone to demand that this TSAsshole lose his or her job. Nevetheless, she did not call for the agent’s head. (She admirably dislikes Coldplay more than she dislikes this Agent).

It’s easy to scape-goat one individual here, but the problem with the note is that it’s representative of the bigger privacy intrusions that the U.S. government, through the TSA and other sources, levels every day. The invasion is inherent to the TSA’s mission, regardless of whether a funny note is left behind — the note only serves to highlight the absurdity of all this security theater. (source)

Filipovic went on to write that she is pleased that the TSA took the issue seriously, but firing one person who made a dumb mistake really misses the whole point.

I get no satisfaction in hearing that someone may be in danger of losing their job over this. I would much prefer a look at why ‘security’ has been used to justify so many intrusions on our civil liberties, rather than fire a person who made a mistake. (source)

Instead, the TSA seems to treat this as an isolated incident — or a failure by one of its drones. Meanwhile, the actual issue, which Filipovic tried to make us think about, is lost in the guffaws over the gooey gewgaw.

After we get done chuckling about Filipovic being anonymously told to “get her freak on,” I hope that we can think about how the TSA’s Freudian field day with our reproductive organs demonstrates the absurd nature of its very existence, the failure of its mission, the lie that it represents. It hasn’t got a damn thing to do with keeping us safe. I wish that we could think about how you should never try and have an agency devoted to such a high-falutin goal like airline safety, when you staff it with low-grade morons who are not fit to reproduce, let alone do anything else. Anyone who even wants that job must be a twisted, broken, loser; the kind of person who has lamented their loss of power ever since they left third grade and had to return the “hall monitor” sash to the principal’s office. Next time you are at the airport, just try detecting any intellect in the TSA agents you encounter. You will fail in that task. That alone should tell you that the agency has no reason to exist. If the job were actually important, we would never hire people who are this desperate, stupid, or lazy, to try and do it. And, when you give a powerless idiot a little bit of control, that misused power will find its own center, and that center is apparently our ‘nads.

Filipovic’s experience is no mere outlier. Take the recent tale of Amy Alkon — my client. The TSA only pried into what Ms. Filipovic inserts in her vagina; in Amy Alkon’s case, the TSA actually went up in there.  Repeatedly.  Four times over.  Naturally, Ms. Alkon did not like this and used her free speech rights to express her outrage over the event, shining the light of truth upon the TSA’s misdeeds, and calling the agent’s actions “rape.” Filipovic herself reports that even the FBI would agree with this assessment.  Unlike Filipovic, Alkon did not (so far) find out that her tormentor was fired. Ms. Alkon received a demand letter for $500,000 from Thedala Magee, the TSA agent with whom she had her little run-in. (Well, from her lawyer, but you get the point). 

It might have been undignified for the screener to scrawl a note about Filipovic’s sex toy – but unfortunately, that seems to be where the bureaucracy got hung up, and the real discussion about civil liberties got swept under the carpet — again.

The Aroma of Tacoma Smells Like a Can of STFU.

October 24, 2011

Back in 2009, Washington State Governor Christine Gregiore signed SB 5688, the so-called “Everything But Marriage” act. Source. Shortly thereafter, a group of concerned citizens calling themselves Protect Marriage Washington got enough signatures to place a referendum challenging the bill. Protecting marriage from what, exactly, remains a mystery but Imma call them “The Protectors” anyway. No word on if they have capes with an Xed-out picture of two guys holding hands. Anyway, shortly after Washington Secretary of State Gary Reed determined the signatures were valid, he received a public records request under Wash. Rev. Code §42.56.001 for the names and addresses of the 137,000 signatory Protectors. The Protectors didn’t like that one bit and asked for a preliminary injunction to prevent Secretary Reed from complying with the request. They are trying to say that disclosing their names and addresses violates the First Amendment because referendum petitions are political speech and the resulting harassment they would (allegedly) receive would stifle that speech. This case wound its way all the way to the Supreme Court. Here’s the Opinion: Doe v. Reed.

Boiled down, the Protector’s main gripe is that the government’s interest in preventing voter fraud and the integrity of the electoral process pales in comparison to the stifling of their first amendment rights because the public records request was made to harass them for their political views. The Big Dogs didn’t buy it. Justice Stevens’ concurrence sounded a little like “Why the hell are we even here?” so that was a treat.  But the Nine did recognize that disclosure requirements could stifle speech in some cases and even allowed for an exemption if there is a “reasonable probability that the disclosure would result in threats or harassment.” They didn’t address whether the request was unconstitutional as applied to this particular petition, so the parties got sent packing back to the District Court in Tacoma to figure it out. Both promptly filed motions for summary judgment. Source.

The Protectors tried to convince the Court that they should be afforded the disclosure exemption because their paltry 137,000 signers are a minority party akin to the NAACP in 1958 or the 60 member Socialist Party in 1976.  Really Protectors? Really? Anyway, Judge Settle disagrees. And even if the Protectors could be granted minority status, they still would have had to produce…uhm….oh yeah. Evidence. But, awshucks, they couldn’t come up with anything to show that they had experienced harassment, threats, or reprisals due to their involvement with the referendum. Oh-did I mention several of the Protectors posted YouTube videos, had television and radio interviews, stood on street corners with signs, testified before the Washington State Legislature, collected signatures in front of Wal Mart and Target, put signs in their front yards, had bumper stickers on their cars, and published articles about their anti-gay position? Yeah, they did that. But we need to protect their anonymity because they might be harassed because of this stupid petition.

Look, part of being a junk yard dog for the First Amendment means that sometimes I have to defend speech I find repulsive. For what it’s worth, I think the Protect Marriage folks are bunch of hate-spewing morons. They seek to stifle the speech of those opposing a view they willingly cram down our throats and then hide behind the very Amendment they kick in the nuts when it comes to other people’s naughty bits. BUT- If they could have come up with evidence showing a probability that they were being harassed, threatened, and harangued to the point they were fearful of expressing their view, I would argue in favor of exempting them from disclosure.  But the Protector’s evidence of harassment consists of testimony that shows a pastor got a call from a *gasp* transgender woman. The horror! Another Protector got flipped off one day *shudder*! One guy even got called a homophobic bigot. The shame! No one was fearful to testify in the case. No one is being clubbed. No one is being swept down the street by fire hoses. The worst they could show is that sometimes the Protectors are called “assholes” and told that their platform “is a bunch of shit”. Well, if the shoe fits, Cinderella…

Dominatrix Lawyer Spanks Former Boss

October 21, 2011

Former New York state prosecutor Alisha Smith, who helped secure a $5 billion settlement from Bank of America, was unceremoniously suspended from her job because she spent her spare time as a dominatrix.

She was suspended from her job because the New York Post questioned whether she was paid for her nocturnal activities. The prosecutor’s office has a policy that prohibits outside employment without prior approval if the prosecutor earns more than $1,000. (source)

The New York Post reports:

Famous in the S&M world for her skillful spandex-clad spankings, Smith, while not denying her freaky ways, says she did not make money trolling the dungeons while working for the state’s top law-enforcement official, a job she’s held since 2002. (source)

Nice of the New York Post to have a positive story about Ms. Smith, since its sloppy reporting on her private life is why she got suspended in the first place.

She appeared at a press conference with Gloria Allred by her side to quit her job. (source) Working for $78,000 a year at a job where your boss doesn’t give you a chance to explain when the New York Post, of all places, writes crap about you — yeah, that’s grounds to say “I don’t get paid enough for this shit.”

Lets keep score:

    She kicks the shit out of Bank of America and brings $5 billion into the public coffers.

    The New York Post writes a sloppy piece full of muck and innuendo about a her private life.

    The prosecutor’s office lacks a spine and suspends her, without so much as giving her a chance to respond to the story.

    And now all of us suffer, because a seemingly good prosecutor is now making the Gloria Allred circuit instead of kicking the crap out of criminals.


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