Email to an asshat about a free speech issue

September 24, 2011

I’m on a few list servs. I won’t say which one this originated on. But, lets just jump to what I said:

11 muslim students stood up to heckle the Israeli ambassador. Orange county prosecutor charged them with disrupting an event. While they may not have a right to disrupt the speech without being dragged out of the place, a criminal conviction for political speech is bullshit.

And if it had been 11 Yeshiva students disrupting a speech by a Palestinian, they’d get the medal of freedom.

I agree with all the nice things that have been said about Chemerinsky here, but his balls shriveled up into raisins over this event. (It took place at UC Irvine).

The response: It is “bullshit,” and “anti-semitic.”

Lets unpack that…

Bullshit? Maybe. He, you, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I might even change mine, and one day repudiate my own opinion as bullshit.

Anti Semitic?

Don’t you love that one?

Since I’ve been a bit off my game blogging lately, I thought I’d mail one in here and just straight up share what I wrote in response to that.

Dear ______________,

Today, 11 men were convicted of a “crime.” The “crime” was “disrupting a speech.” The speech they disrupted was that of the Israeli ambassador. (source)

The “disruption” lasted about 8 seconds per “criminal.” In total, it was about a minute.

Interrupting him might not have been the most constructive way of making their point, but we cant lose sight of what they did. Why they did it. This was political speech. This was the most sacred kind of speech. And, this target was the least deserving of the law’s protection when speech is concerned — a public figure.

The Israeli ambassador was inconvenienced for less time than it takes to boil an egg.

And yet, for that inconvenience. That indignity. That quasi lese majeste. Eleven men were convicted of a crime.
The men were Muslims… The place is the most shocking part – Orange County, California, USA.

Although I despise the “what next?” rhetorical device… I just so need it here.

What next?

Hecklers at comedy clubs could be dragged out and thrown in the back of a cruiser where a drunk just puked? At least one lawyer would have to go to jail after every hearing. Fox news would essentially be illegal in California. My poor wife and I would probably each be witnesses in criminal trials against each other (privilege be damned!!!)

Criminally prosecuted for interrupting a speech.

We could all be arrested, every day, for this “crime.”

No we couldn’t.

Don’t insult my, or your own, intellect by thinking that this could have happened to anyone. Imagine if this had been a member of the Cuban government up there and some exilos from Miami showed up to yell. Do you think for a minute they would be charged, let alone convicted of a crime? Koreans showing up to voice their displeasure at a dignitary from the Hermit Kingdom? Jews in Skokie shouting down a nazi? Hell, nazis coming to Bensonhurst shouting down a Jew.

No, not even nazis get charged with a crime for merely interrupting a speaker.

And yet, for taking the position that these men were selectively prosecuted. For taking the position that this was all about their ethnicity and the content of their speech, some asshole thinks that I’m being “anti semitic.”

It is unfortunate. Because it is that kind of mentality that is at the root of the very reason these men were at odds with the man on the stage. Both of them have thrown in with their tribe rather than with their species. Like crabs in a pot, needing no lid, they would rather gouge out their own eyes than see through those of the other.

And it is that mentality that makes Palestinians unable to listen to Israelis. It is why Israelis can’t possibly back down to any criticism. It is why there are those who are so blind to their tribe, rather than to their entire human family, who decide that anyone who speaks against their interests in any way must be branded. He must be marked with the label of “anti-semite.”

I don’t really think it is my place to judge, but I’m gonna do it anyway. You reverse the polarity on that position, you don’t get a pretty philosophy. So, perhaps these guys did try and win the debate by shouting down the other speaker. That kind of conduct deserves a flag on the play. But what do you think trying to brand someone as something so abhorrent is? What do you call that, when you know it is a lie, you don’t care that it is a lie, but you say it because you know that it will score nice, cheap, points, and more than half the people who see it as bullshit will be afraid to call your ass out.

What do you call that?

I call that a pussy asshat move. So fuck you sir. Fuck you very much.

And really it is — for two reasons. One, to call oneself a First Amendment attorney and to think it is just that these 11 men were convicted of a crime — not merely removed from the room — and they were convicted not for resisting. Not for doing anything that hurt anyone else.

They.
Interrupted.
A.
Speech.
For.
A.
Minute.

In order to express their opinion on a matter of public concern.

And they were convicted of a crime.

It is sad enough that one would argue against the notion that this is wrong. But, like I said up top, everyone is entitled to their opinion on that. You know where I stand.

But, what a pussy asshat move to try and throw the “big bad bigot” card.

I have tried to think that I was wrong for taking that position. I’ve tried to see it through someone else’s eyes, and the only person I can see with eyes like that is a small minded and fearful person. Someone so insecure, so tepid, so small, that their only defense is to try and lob a bomb. Wanna play rhetoric like that? Here: It is rhetorical terrorism! It strikes at a target that should not be hit, for a reason that doesn’t deserve the energy, and he who employs it has already lost the high ground when they resort to it.

Of course, this is an equal opportunity beta trait. There’s the black guy that screams “racist” to do the same thing. The feminist who whines “sexist” if you disagree with her. You know what, jerkoff?

Those words MEAN SOMETHING.

If you just throw them against anything with which you disagree, you wind up pounding them thin to the point that they don’t mean anything anymore. You can even numb the alarm to those who really are those dangerous things. You create muck in which those dangerous things thrive.

So, I should have added to the end, “not only is a pussy asshat move, but it is anti semitic.”

But, I refrained.


Grady Judd, at it again, in America’s Wang

June 16, 2011

By Marc Randazza

Following a three-month-long investigation of Theresa and Warren Taylor – Theresa being better known as “Kimberly Kupps” – the Polk County sheriff arrested them both on charges of promotion and distribution of obscene material.  The crime?  Creating pornography in their own home, then selling it both on their paysite and the popular distribution site clips4sale.com. (Source.)

Sadly, this is par for the course in Polk County.  The same Polk County where Philip Greaves, then living in Colorado, was indicted on obscenity charges for writing a book concerning pedophilia.  Let’s not forget the 15-year-old who was suspended from using the bus for three days after he passed gas on it.  And then there was the antique store owner who was charged with obscenity production for taking nude photos of willing participants – even if, at first blush, child porn charges may have been more appropriate.  Maybe I have Polk County all wrong and this is all the doing of dedicated gestapo fuckhead Sheriff Grady Judd.  But then again, Polk County is home to all the drooling, meth-addled retards who keep electing him.

It would be comforting to write this off as another Judd-ism, write a blog post about it, and put the incident behind me.  I don’t even live in Florida anymore; to hell with the place.  This case, however, goes too far.  Consenting adults, in the sanctuary of their own home, filmed themselves having sex — and by all accounts, the content they produced was pretty vanilla (e.g. no fisting, no watersports, no extreme bondage or BDSM, etc.).  In addition, the couple wasn’t exactly rolling in dough from this venture: by available reports, their porn activities brought in $700 per month. (Source.)
Enough for a few nice meals, sure, but not enough to finance a credible criminal defense.

Never one to let common sense or the First Amendment to come between him and a camera, Judd went to the press shortly after these arrests. Fox 13 had the initial interview.

“We want a wholesome community here, we don’t want smut peddlers,” Judd said, “and if they try to peddle their smut from Polk County or into Polk County we’ll be on them like a cheap suit.”

[…]

“They should heed the warning: If you engage in creating or selling obscene materials we are going to lock you up, and we enjoy that,” he said.

The profundity and wisdom of Judd is matched only by Yoda himself.  The last time I checked – I’m only a First Amendment attorney – “smut” is not a prohibited form of speech, much less a recognized category of speech.  Child porn is not protected by the First Amendment.  Nor is obscenity.  Smut, whatever the hell it is defined as, is protected by the First Amendment, as is everything not falling within the child porn and obscenity exclusions.  I’ll refrain from picking the low hanging fruit pointing out the hilarious irony of a peckerwood inbred like Judd mocking a cheap suit.

To Judd, this is a big game. He “enjoy[s]” when he can “lock you up.”  He’s not going to let a few founding principles get in the way of getting his jollies.  After a perusal of my prior coverage of Polk County affairs, I realized I’d left something unsaid that I want to say right now.

Grady Judd: fuck you.

And to the people of Polk County who enable this kind of bullshit for decades on end, fuck you, too.

When I’m not blogging, I’m busy running a law firm, Randazza Legal Group.  You may have heard of it; I have the privilege of defending bloggers, decorated war veterans and porn companies from attacks on their free speech rights.  I do not represent Mrs. Taylor or her husband.  I will, however, be making a donation to their legal defense fund.

I encourage everyone else who values free speech to do the same.  Inability to pay should not be a barrier to justice, especially in a case like this where the fundamental right to free expression is at stake.  Making only $700 per month from their adult business operation, Judd probably just expects the Taylors to roll over and plead guilty – quickly.  They shouldn’t, and we shouldn’t let them.  I do not know if this will be the case, but it’s time for someone to end Grady Judd.  Not to beat him, to ruin him.  To bescumber his legacy and make his name forever synonymous with the worst, most oppressive kind of home-grown terrorism that he’s inflicted onto the people of Florida, deserving though they may be, for decades.  I want him to have a forced, miserable retirement, and his children to quickly – in hushed shame – change their last names when he dies, to forever bury the shameful association.  It is long past time for Judd to be forced into the outhouse where he spends most of his time secretly thumbing through a crusty Fredericks of Hollywood catalogue from 1977, panting while doing so, forever. (Proverbially! rhetorical hyberbole ftw.)


Advice to Law Students looking for a job — don’t be a goddamned crybaby

December 22, 2010

Popehat has a bad-ass post on an “incident” at Syracuse University School of Law. The short version is this: Syracuse Law student Len Audaer published a blog satirizing his class, the administration, and public figures.

From Popehat’s story.

Somebody complained. Syracuse decided to appoint a “prosecutor” to investigate the blog and determine whether to bring formal charges against Audaer under the Syracuse discipline system. All of that — the fact that someone complained about satire, and that the school didn’t immediately reject the complaint — is appalling enough.

But Syracuse, and specially appointed prosecutor Syracuse law professor Gregory Germain, are angry about the criticism and are doubling down. As is often the case, the attempted cover-up is worse than the initial conduct.

Professor Germain has filed a motion with the Syracuse disciplinary body demanding a gag order against Audaer and his defense team. He wants Syracuse to issue an order forbidding Audaer from disclosing the contents of his own blog, or anything he gets from the university about the proceedings against him, to any third party unless the third parties agree in writing (1) not to disclose the names of any of the people identified in those blog posts or documents without their consent, and (2) to publish the entirety of documents, not just quotes from them, “in order to prevent misleading selective posting of information.”

In other words, Professor Germain thinks that Audaer should be prohibited from sending FIRE, or me, or the Chronicle of Higher Education, or CNN, an unredacted copy of this blog post without the written permission of Ellen DeGeneres. Professor Germain also thinks that Audaer should be prohibited from sending FIRE, or me, or anyone else one of his own blog posts, or any document from the proceedings against him, unless we agree to Professor Germain’s preferred method of writing about it. Professor Germain explicitly demands censorship of documents as a method of getting the type of media coverage of the proceedings that he wants. Of course, no respectable reporter — and no self-respecting blogger, or American — would agree to present materials only in the manner that a censor demanded. Moreover, given an internet in which it is trivially easy for Syracuse and its supporters to host and publish the raw documents themselves, the demand for written guarantees of full publication as a method of achieving “fair” coverage is transparently dishonest and/or stupid. The gag order is deliberately calculated to prevent Audaer from distributing his blog posts and the documentation of his persecution at all.

Remember what the “misconduct” is — a satirical blog.

This profession is full of uptight effete fucking pussies with sticks up their asses. You know why? Part of it is because the profession seems to attract them. But, the bigger part of it is that law schools cultivate uptight stick in the ass pussydom. Of course, just like a good TSA agent, or other low-rung pussy, Professor Germain whines that he is “just doing his job,” and he just wants the individuals who whined to be able to maintain their anonymity.

The students, faculty and staff who were targeted in the sucolitis blog did not consent to have their good names used in the blog, and do not wish to be the subject of attacks on the internet. One of the students has expressed to the Prosecutor a concern for her physical safety. Most wish to find jobs in the legal profession, and feel that bringing further public attention through the publication of their names could damage their
employment opportunities, and would cause further humiliation and embarrassment.

Again, why write my own words when Popehat knocks the shit out of it:

Leave aside, for the moment, the ignorant and authoritarian proposition that people have some sort of right not to have their names used on the internet, and not to be “attacked” on the internet. Focus on this instead: Professor German suggests that the people satirized in the blog fear that having that satire spread further as a result of their own complaints about it would be unfair, because potential employers might see it and their feelings might be further hurt.

I interview, and hire, people at a law firm. I cannot imagine a situation in which I would decline to hire someone because they had been the target of satire. That’s because I’m not a fucking idiot. Perhaps the subjects of Audaer’s blog aspire to be hired by fucking idiots. It sure looks like they are going to the right school, then.

Syracuse’s excuse for a disciplinary system apparently protects the anonymity of accusers, and supports efforts to prevent the publication of their identity. That’s common with systems that have, as their true aim, the uncritical acceptance of accusations and the swift arrival at a predetermined conclusion of guilt. See, if you allow the identity of an accuser to become public, then all sorts of inconvenient things happen. They might suffer consequences for making false accusations. People might read about the case and come out of the woodwork and say “Vance Victim couldn’t have been assaulted by the defendant on Saturday night; I saw him passed out over at Delta house that night,” or “Vance Victim is the same guy who threatened to accuse me of assault twice last year”, or “Vance Victim is a person with a reputation for being a liar and a cad.” In short, That’s why protection of accuser anonymity is repellent and inimical to modern systems of justice.

But Professor Germain does have the kernel of a point about privacy. It’s just not the point he thinks he has. It’s irrational to think that employers will be put off because a humor blog satirized you. However, it’s entirely rational to fear that, if employers find out that you ran to the administration to complain about being satirized, they might not want to hire you. I would happily hire people of every color, religion, and sexual preference. I would hire Republicans and Democrats and Independents and Greens. But I would never, in a million years, hire someone who complained to his or her school administration about being the subject of satire. People who run to the authorities to complain about being the subject of satire are weaklings, crybabies, losers, and nasty censorious authoritarians. I view them as likely to be of sub-optimal intelligence, insufficient fortitude, and poor morals. Those are not the qualities of a reliable employee or a good lawyer. They are not people I want to hire or be friends with. They are people I want to ridicule and shun.

Precisely.

Now I don’t hire very often. When I do, I have a very strict “no fucking pussies” screening process. And, if you get past me, you are sure as shit not getting past my partner, Jessica, who is less tolerant of pussies than I am.

I will tell you one thing for certain: I won’t even interview a Syracuse Law graduate who doesn’t publicly speak out against this travesty, and I would encourage all other lawyers and law firms to take the same stance.

To follow this case more:

Len Audaer’s site on the case. (here)

FIRE’s file on the case. (here)

And if you’re looking for an end-of-the-year charity, donate to FIRE here.


Christians should be slaves. Textbook fails to support that view. Panties are wadded.

December 7, 2010

When I hear American Christians speak, this is the magic space zombie jew that I see in my head.

by Randazza

Dennis and Aimee Taylor got their panties all in a wad because their son had to read the book “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America,” in his personal finance class at Bedford High School.” (New Hampshire)

In the book, the author (Barbara Ehrenreich) recounts experiences she had while trying to make a living at minimum wage jobs all across America. She criticizes the current conditions in America, arguing that our economic system is unfair toward the poor.

So who is that most likely to piss off? You guessed it… “christians”.

Aimee Taylor is quoted as saying, “The author is a known social Marxist, hates everything American, everything that America stands for or was built on. I mean when you read the book you see that strongly in this woman’s agenda. It’s horrible.” (source).

The irony is pretty thick here — since Ms. Taylor and her husband are calling for mass firings in the Bedford school district – because they don’t like the book that the district assigned to her son. You know, its Un-American to write a book saying that maybe even the down-trodden proles who share citizenship with us should, oh I dunno, live a decent life?

Of course, no whining christian hissy fit is complete without taking a quote about their imaginary friend out of context:

The Taylors also took issue with the book’s portrayal of Christians. In one scene, Ehrenreich attends a tent revival meeting, and is troubled by its emphasis on Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, rather than his social teachings.
“Jesus makes his appearance here only as a corpse; the living man, the wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist, is never once mentioned, nor anything he ever had to say,” Ehrenreich writes.(source)

I haven’t read the book, but this blogger has. Here’s how he explains the “wine-guzzling vagrant” passage.

The “wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist” line appears on page 68 as part of the author’s account of attending a tent revival near a residential elderly care facility at which she worked, and laments the fact the speakers dwell on the hellfire-and-brimstone, doom-and-gloom elements on the Bible and Christ’s crucifixion rather than his more positive messages. Her reference, while perhaps overly flippant, is not intended as a hateful denigration of Jesus. But I digress.) (source)

Fortunately, the school district had a measured response to these cult-members.

In response to the Taylors’ complaint, school district officials convened a materials review committee of teachers, administrators and community members to assess the book. Upon review, the committee ruled that the book’s educational merit outweighed its shortcomings.
“We found the book provided valuable insight into the circumstances of the working poor and an opportunity for students to demonstrate mastery of the ‘Financial Impact’ competency,” the committee reported.

Assistant Superintendent Chip McGee said the committee looked at the value of the book as a whole, rather than judging it on its objectionable passages.
“We need to balance the instructional value of the book against its shortcomings, rather than looking at any isolated passage, and rather than looking at the belief system of the author,” McGee said.(source)

Of course, Dennis and Aimee Taylor sure showed that there school district – they took their son out of school and decided to home school him. I’m sure that his future will be bright, as two fucking morons who believe in fairy tales will now be teaching him chemistry.

To put a cap on his stupidity, Dennis Taylor leaves us with this quote:

“Nobody gets out of the hole in this book,” Taylor said. “Really, is that the message we want to teach children in Bedford, who of all Americans ought to be capitalists, and produce the wealth that other people enjoy?”`(source)

And that, dear readers, is exactly what modern American christianity is all about — that those who live their lives following this false fairy tale should do so to ease the pain of their slavery. Being a “capitalist” means “producing the wealth that other people enjoy.”

Fortunately for Dennis Taylor, his son will very likely fulfill that role — as he dons his smock for a day greeting the People of Wal-Mart. He can produce the wealth that other people enjoy.

Jesus. Drunk again.

Image provided by Graphic Poetry.

Barbara Ehrenrich’s blog is here.


TSA now run by Pedobear

December 5, 2010

by Randazza

TSA Administrator John Pistole - he has not, to date, denied being a pedophile. I have no evidence that he is, but for chrissakes ... LOOK AT HIM!

We really must be at the verge of tipping into Idiocracy.

It was once believed that you could spot a pedophile just by looking at him. This theory is now proven scientific fact. Now I’m not saying that I have evidence that TSA Administrator John Pistole is a practicing pedophile, but he certainly has never publicly denied it. He has the pedo-pale skin, the pedo smile, and the pedo voice. I was thinking that it might just be a coincidence.

And then… the TSA started feeling up children at the airport… saying it was making us “safe” from “the terrorists.”

Ummm …. really? Baby bombs?

And THEN… this comes out — that the TSA is now going to begin training its fucktard flunkies, most of whom totally look like convicted child rapists, to tell kids that feeling their tiny little genitals is “a game.” Yes, really.

“You try to make it as best you can for that child to come through. If you can come up with some kind of a game to play with a child, it makes it a lot easier,” said James Marchand, promising to make it part of TSA training. (source)

Are you fucking kidding me?

New TSA vans unveiled this week. Don't be a pussy, safety is legit!

In related news, the TSA accidentally got some good information, and someone mistakenly made a decision that perhaps TSA vehicles should not be conspicuously marked. The person responsible for this intelligent decision making was immediately fired from the TSA for exhibiting competence. However, TSA kept the plan and introduced the new TSA vans this week.

I got this!

So remember, this is a government that absolutely freaks the fuck out at anything remotely approaching child molestation or child pornography. The Department of Justice tried to put Karen Fletcher in jail for writing about child molestation, and the DOJ requires that all porn, even elder porn (yes, there is such a thing) must adhere to 18 U.S.C. § 2257, lest “the children” suffer. (more here). Meanwhile, the TSA is “making us safe” by letting the dumbest, most uneducated swine in the country (TSA agents) have a blanket license to feel up our kids, AND to try and make a GAME of it? Why don’t they just issue guidelines that TSA agents will take kids into private rooms, fondle them, and tell them “this is our little secret” ??

Given that the government is the largest child molestation organization in existence, even bigger than the Catholic Church, none of this ought to be much of a surprise.

John Pistole at a recent press conference in his front yard explaining that kids should just play along with the TSA agents.

Prison Planet takes things to a bit of a hyperbolic extreme (ha ha, hi, I’m Pot, nice to meet you, Kettle), but this passage is quite illuminating.

“Some 12 percent of minors held in government custody are sexually abused, and in some facilities the rate reaches a stunning one in three children, says a report released Thursday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics,” reports Raw Story.

“The first-ever National Survey of Youth in Custody found that no less than 10 percent of the 26,550 juveniles being held in detention facilities in the US are abused by staff at the facility, while another 2.6 percent report abuse at the hands of other inmates.”

Of course, the fact that pedophiles seek out government jobs as an avenue of imposing their perversion on others makes perfect sense. Government jobs allow such monsters to express their control freak tendencies and abuse the innocent with virtual impunity. (source)

Do you need any more support for the position that the TSA is run by incompetents, has no justification for existence, and that quite honestly, anyone in one of those blue polyester shirts should be sterilized and then released into wildlife sanctuaries so that they can be hunted for sport?


The virtue of telling a client to piss off

August 17, 2010

Popehat is a blog that I think was born in the same litter of puppies as the Satyricon. We love them. Reason #1 — constant Dr. Who references. Reason #2 — ethics lessons.

In this piece, Patrick provides us with a fantsays letter (based on a phone call he had) declining to represent an insurance company that wanted to sue kids who attempted suicide. In their failed attempts, the kids apparently made a mess in their insured’s homes.

In this day of the legal profession going to hell, and all of us scrambling to stay with the “haves,” as the income gap widens, Patrick’s “fuck you” letter should be distributed to all first year law students. As a lawyer “I am only doing my job,” is not an excuse for doing something sleazy, shitty, or shady.

Anyone who takes those cases should be disbarred and then they should have a bees nest shoved up their asshole, and it should be capped with a cactus. The same fate should befall the flunky who suggested that this might be a basis for a viable claim.


Morality Police Deface Public Art in Springfield, MA

August 16, 2010

Wrong Springfield

Censorship — its not just for rednecks

I often rant about the censorship minded former confederacy — but I must admit that my home state of Massachusetts has its share of censorship monkeys. The censorship monkey of the day — the city of Springfield, MA and Gina E. Beavers, director of the Springfield Arts Initiative for the Springfield Business Improvement District (SBID).

Springfield, Massachusetts and its Sneaker Exhibit

The City of Springfield is essentially a heroin and crack infested slum with three things going for it: The Basketball Hall of Fame, a couple of decent strip clubs, and the Huke Lau (which is actually in Chicopee). To help celebrate the first in the list, the SBID put together the “Art and Soles” exhibit. The exhibit placed 19 huge fiberglass basketball sneakers throughout the downtown area. Various artists were asked to paint them with the theme “What do you love about Springfield?” (source)

Artist Robert Markey decided that his theme would be “dancing.” So he painted ballet dancers, hip-hop dancers, and other forms of “regular” dance all over the upper part of the sneaker. On the bottom, he decided to show the “underside” of Springfield by depicting a pole dancer. She was clothed, in a bikini.

“She had gold hair, and she was sort of embracing the pole. She wasn’t nude … I meant it sort of tongue-in-cheek – the underside of Springfield, on the bottom of the shoe,” said Markey, 62, standing beside his sneaker outside Tower Square on Main Street and referring to the cluster of nude dancing clubs in an approximately three-block radius downtown. (source)

However, once the organizers of the event saw the sole of Markey’s sneaker, they freaked — and they spray painted it black.

They didn’t call him.

They didn’t give him a chance to change it.

They didn’t even give him a chance to photograph it. So there is no record of what it looked like.

His art is gone.

“We decided that it could not happen. This was supposed to be a family friendly art exhibit in the heart of (Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame) enshrinement week,” Beavers said. “We wish we had time to let Bob in on the decision, but there just wasn’t time.” (source)

Markey took the position that since Springfield’s strippers are the only professional dancers in the city, they deserved as much recognition as any other dancers.

Douchetastic, for certain. But is there a legal claim here?

In civil law countries, artists have what are known as “moral rights” in their artwork. These are rights outside of the copyright to a certain work. Moral Rights essentially protect the artist in an inalienable way — by protecting the right of attribution and prohibiting the mutilation or modification of an artist’s work. For example, if an Italian director makes a black and white film, and he sells his copyright in the film to a studio, the studio can not later colorize the film without the director’s permission.

But we do not live in a civil law jurisdiction.

Nevertheless, moral rights are recognized in the United States, in a very limited capacity, by the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA), codified at 17 U.S.C. § 106A. Among other things, VARA gives a visual artist the right to prevent the ” distortion, mutilation, or other modification of the work which would be prejudicial to his or her honor or reputation.” See 17 U.S.C. § 106A(a)(2).

This leaves us with two questions: Did Markey sign away those rights? Maybe. I haven’t read his contract with the SBID. The other question is whether the mutilation of his work was “prejudicial to his honor or reputation.” That might seem like a difficult sell, but we’re not talking about “reputation” in the defamation sense — we’re talking about an artist’s reputation. It seems to me that if Mr. Markey intended to create a mental three-dimensional picture of Springfield, and the SBID turned it into a whitewashed and banal piece of dreck, he might have a legitimate gripe. The SBID’s sins seem to be exacerbated by the fact that they did so without even bothering to call Markey up on the phone so that he could modify the work, or at least make a record of it before they destroyed it.

Legally actionable or not, it certainly was douchetastic, and Ms. Beavers’ explanation only booted it into the douchemagnetisophere.


Unethical or just plain stupid? A “thin DMCA letter”

October 6, 2009

If this is an accurate picture, she couldn't even fit her head in her pants. In stark contrast, Ralph Lauren's lawyer practices law with her head up her ass.

If this is an accurate picture, she couldn't even fit her head in her pants. In stark contrast, Ralph Lauren's lawyer practices law with her head up her ass.

Ralph Lauren makes its first stupid move — photoshopping a model so that she looks like something you’d get a blowjob from in Roswell, New Mexico.

That’s dumb move number one.

So then a few blogs pick up the picture, making fun of it, including BoingBoing.

Ralph Lauren then hires an attorney to write this silly DMCA notice. (courtesy of craphound). For the uninitiated, a web host will usually remove something from its servers in response to a DMCA notice. Not this time.

Hilarity ensues as BoingBoing’s web host not only refuses to comply, but BoingBoing opens up the Streisand Effect whup ass.

[I]nstead of responding to their legal threat by suppressing our criticism of their marketing images, we’re gonna mock them. Hence this post.

As Wendy Seltzer from the Chilling Effects project said, “Sounds like a pretty solid fair use case to me. If criticism diminishes its effectiveness, that’s different from the market substitution copyright protects against. And I’ve rarely seen a thinner DMCA form-letter.”

So, to Ralph Lauren, GreenbergTraurig, and PRL Holdings, Inc: sue and be damned. Copyright law doesn’t give you the right to threaten your critics for pointing out the problems with your offerings. You should know better. And every time you threaten to sue us over stuff like this, we will:

a) Reproduce the original criticism, making damned sure that all our readers get a good, long look at it, and;

b) Publish your spurious legal threat along with copious mockery, so that it becomes highly ranked in search engines where other people you threaten can find it and take heart; and

c) Offer nourishing soup and sandwiches to your models. (source)

Heee heee, get it? Wendy is funny.

Numbskull, the DMCA is for copyright infringement — not for fair use. If you don’t know what fair use means, you shouldn’t be sending out DMCA notices. Why not? Because the DMCA, she bite sometimes.

Hat Tip to Staci K.


“What About the Children” FINALLY Fails!

October 3, 2009
Dirty Sanchez

Dirty Linda Sanchez

Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-California) is the latest moron to cry “what about the children?” while trying to score cheap political points while wiping her ass with the First Amendment. Sanchez took a swipe at free speech by proposing the “Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act.” Yes, another law named after a dead kid. That almost never ends well for free speech (or any other kind of freedom for that matter).

Here is part of what her bill would criminalize.

(a) Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated and hostile behavior, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

(b) As used in this section —

(1) the term ‘communication’ means the electronic transmission, between or among points specified by the user, of information of the user’s choosing, without change in the form or content of the information as sent and received; and

(2) the term ‘electronic means’ means any equipment dependent on electrical power to access an information service, including e-mail, instant messaging, blogs, websites, telephones and text messages.

In other words, this entire blog would probably be illegal. I will state with no equivocation that I regularly try and cause substantial emotional distress when I write about dumbasses who try and mess with my First Amendment. I want them to curl up in their bedrooms at night, sobbing and weeping from feeling guilty for their sins against the Constitution. I want them to feel so much distress that they repent and atone for their crimes. No luck yet, but at least I manage to educate my readers about these flunkies and asshats.

According to Wired, her bill got a chilly reception in committee from both Republicans and Democrats. However, in an exclusive interview, Mr. Bartow Dworkin, the president of the International Association of Imbeciles, and a full time law professor, supported the bill.

We believe that when people are mean to other people on teh internets, this is sexist and racist and ummm, WHAT ABOUT TEH CHILDREN? It is bad enough that we are confused about what might have happened to our favorite race-baiting website, but don’t our leaders understand the gravity of this situation? A child died! It must NEVER happen again. Nobody must ever die again, or else people will die.

Dworkin then ran off to his subcommittee meeting of the ABA’s “future of the legal profession” meeting without further comment, but he did tell us that we needed to read the law review article “Cyber Civil Rights.” “Here, take this,” he said. However, the pages were all stuck together, so we weren’t able to read the article. We did line a bird cage with the pages, but the bird chose to die from jaundice rather than suffer the indignity of having to shit in the presence of such stupidity.

I would give a full discussion of what a piece of garbage Sanchez’ bill is, but Eugene Volokh already pwned it in his Huffington Post article.


Vigo County Sheriff Jon Marvel

September 29, 2009

Wins the Homo Walmartus idiocracy asshat flunkie of the week award. Here’s why.

Indiana… the Midwest’s Florida.


Flori-duh Congressman and Faux News Crying About the NEA

August 5, 2009

Orlando Police Chief vs. The First Amendment

April 26, 2009

Val Demings:  First she lost her gun.  Then she lost all sight of what "uphold and defend the Constitution" means.

Val Demings:
First she lost her gun. Then she lost all sight of what 'uphold and defend the Constitution' means.

by Marc J. Randazza

There aren’t too many elected officials in Flori-duh that I respect. Orlando Police Chief Val Demings, used to be one of the select few. She hasn’t done a perfect job, and had a particularly embarrassing incident in which her gun was stolen. Nevertheless, my general impression of her has been that she is competent and ethical.

Not anymore.

Val Demings vs. the First Amendment

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Demings is threatening to sue an Orlando resident for creating a website that criticizes her performance in office.

Valdemings.com is run by Ezell “Easy” Harris, a frequent critic of Demings’, and contains a disclaimer stating the chief has no association with the site.

Demings’ attorney, Griffith J. Winthrop III, accuses Harris in an April 17 letter of “maligning” and defaming the chief. The letter also says Harris violated the law by using her “persona” and identity and claims Harris’ behavior is “malicious.”

Demings is demanding that the Web site be taken down and threatens to sue Harris if he refuses. (source) (links added)

Harris refused to take down the site – correctly claiming that he is “simply exercising his First Amendment rights.” However, Winthrop (Demings attorney) says that Harris is portraying Demings in a “false light.”

Winthrop would not elaborate on Demings’ claims or the logic behind them. He said he prefers to argue the matter in court. (source)

Poor Mr. Winthrop. When you represent a public figure and threaten a citizen for criticizing that public figure, you have to go to two courts — one being the court of public opinion. Winthrop and Demings need to simply back out of this hole slowly, apologetically, and contritely. If Winthrop does get a chance to argue this matter in court, it isn’t going to end well for his client.

I get a funny feeling that Mr. Winthrop and Ms. Demings are about to learn some valuable lessons about defamation law and litigation public relations. In fact, I’ll provide some here, free of charge.

Litigation Public Relations 101: The Streisand Effect

Shoulda kept your trap shut, Babs.

Shoulda kept your trap shut, Babs.

Once upon a time, Kenneth Adelman posted aerial photos of Barbara Streisand’s home on the intertubes. Streisand got all Barbara on him and sued him for $50 Million. Before the suit, almost nobody had seen Adelman’s website. The lawsuit generated so much attention that millions of people hit his site and the photo was picked up by the AP as newsworthy. Barbara’s tantrum caused the exact opposite effect that she had hoped for.

Just watch, as this story grows legs, how much traffic floods in to valdemings.com.

As of April 26, 2009 at 6:45 AM, valdemings.com had 1572 hits. I wonder how few it had before Winthrop sent his inadvisable letter. Lets see how many it gets over the next few weeks, because the blawgosphere is going to have a field day with this.

Why will the blawgosphere have a field day with this? Aren’t Demings’ claims supportable?

No they aren’t.

I don’t usually prefer to slam the lawyer in cases like this, but Winthrop is really asking for it.

“Truth is not always a defense,” Winthrop said. “I hope he [Harris] gets himself a really good lawyer,” he said. (source)

Even this guy has heard of New York Times v. Sullivan

Even this guy has heard of New York Times v. Sullivan

The last thing that Winthrop should hope for is for Harris to get a “really good lawyer.” Even a half-assed moron of a lawyer would know that Demings’ claims are unsupportable, and that Winthrop is completely off-base. In Massachusetts, truth isn’t necessarily a defense to a defamation action — if the speech is on a matter of private concern. Here in Florida, Winthrop is dead wrong. Whoever taught this guy defamation law should be fired.

Defamation Generally

In order to sustain a cause of action for defamation in Florida, the Plaintiff must show, at a minimum, that there were:

  1. False statements of fact;
  2. Published to a third person;
  3. Which caused damage to the Plaintiff.

Without those essential elements, there is no defamation. See, e.g. Valencia v. Citibank, 728 So.2d 300 (Fla. 3d DCA 1999); Cape Publications, Inc. v. Reakes, 840 So.2d 277, 279-80 (Fla. 5th DCA 2003); Linafelt v. Beverly Enterprises-Florida, Inc., 745 So.2d 386, 388 (Fla. 1st DCA 1999); Smith v. Cuban Am. Nat’l Found., 731 So.2d 702, 705 (Fla. 3d DCA 1999).

Defamation of Public Figures

As a public figure, Demings must prove the same elements shown above, but she will also have to prove “actual malice” on Harris’ part. While Demings may believe that this term fits, “actual malice” has a precise legal meaning, i.e.; known falsity or a reckless disregard for the truth. See New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964):

[There is] a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.

The purpose of the First Amendment is to ensure the unfettered exchange of ideas among the American people. See Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476, 484 (1957). Florida courts have held that the First Amendment requires neither politeness nor fairness. See Pullam v. Johnson, 647 So.2d 254, 258 (Fla. 1st DCA 1994); Mile Marker Inc. v. Petersen Publ’g LLC, 811 So.2d 841, 845 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002). Moreover, the Plaintiff must prove the actual malice element by clear and convincing evidence. Id.; Friedgood v. Peter’s Publishing Company, 521 So.2d 236, 239 (Fla. 4th DCA 1988).

In other words, Winthrop couldn’t have his defamation law more backwards. If his client thinks that she can bring a defamation action on these facts, she is in for a rude awakening. Not only is truth a defense, but even if Harris’ website does contain defamatory falsehoods, Demings’ case should not survive a motion to dismiss. Given that she is a public official, Demings would need to prove by clear and convincing evidence that Harris published false and defamatory statements while knowing them to be false, or while subjectively entertaining serious doubts as to the truth of the publication. New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254. Fortunately for Harris, all the statements on his website appear to be republications from other news sources or facts gathered from the public record.

What About “False Light”?

Winthrop doesn’t only allude to a defamation action, but claims that “truth is not always a defense,” and that Harris portrayed his client in a “false light.” I guess Winthrop can be forgiven for not knowing that this is a cause of action that no longer exists in Florida. Well, maybe not. But, lets cut the guy some slack. In all fairness, that has only been the state of the law for the past five months. Of course, every other lawyer in Flori-duh knows this, but maybe he was on vacation in the Andes or something.

Florida’s Anti-SLAPP Law

Florida has a particularly weak anti-SLAPP statute (SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation). However, if Demings brings this suit, it could be one of the select few cases that actually fall under § 768.295, Fla. Stat. (2008) – the Citizen Participation in Government Act. This statute provides as follows:

No governmental entity in this state shall file or cause to be filed, through its employees or agents, any lawsuit, cause of action, claim, cross-claim, or counterclaim against a person or entity without merit and solely because such person or entity has exercised the right to peacefully assemble, the right to instruct representatives, and the right to petition for redress of grievances before the various governmental entities of this state, as protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and s. 5, Art. I of the State Constitution.

If the demand amounts to more than mere chest-thumping, and Demings does actually bring a suit against Harris, this statute should apply. Harris would then be entitled to an expeditious resolution of the claim under a special motion to dismiss or a motion for summary judgment. If successful, he would be awarded reasonable attorneys’ fees, and coould be awarded damages as well. While this statute has not appeared in any reported decisions, there is a similar provision regarding Florida homeowners’ associations. See § 720.304(4), Fla. Stat. (2008), which prevents homeowners’ associations from filing similar suits against their members. That has only been used once, and it didn’t end well for the SLAPP perpetrator.

Conclusion

Three Orlando area bowlers expressions say it all <br> One quipped, 'Are you telling me these clowns never heard of New York Times v. Sullivan?'

Three Orlando area bowlers expressions say it all
One quipped, 'Are you telling me these clowns never heard of
New York Times v. Sullivan?'

Winthrop and Demings both ought to be forced to attend a remedial course in Constitutional Law. The First Amendment requires politicians and other public figures to have a reasonably thick skin and endure a substantial amount of harsh criticism. Unfortunately for Demings, she seems to lack that thick skin, and didn’t seem to get the best advice. Winthrop really should have known better.

My prediction: Demings will eventually be forced to back down. I can’t really see anyone being stupid enough to file a suit like this. Wait, scratch that, I’ve seen many lawyers dumb enough to file a suit like this. Despite Winthrop’s ill-advised statements to the media, I’m not betting that he is one of them.

And by the way, from the time I started writing this piece until I hit “publish” — the counter on valdemings.com rose to 1682.

I can hear Barbara Streisand singing now…

UPDATE: Mr. Winthrop contacted me about this posting. My terms of use make it clear that I will adjust stories if the subject feels wronged, and the adjustment is accurate and fair. I explained this to Mr. Winthrop, and he stated that he had “no problem” with the story. He might have made an error, but he certainly is a class act.


Save Cynthia Logan

April 14, 2009

If Def Leppard were around today, maybe they would name their album "Sexting"

If Def Leppard were around today, maybe they would name their album 'Sexting'

I have great compassion for Cynthia Logan, but she must be stopped. Well, more to the point, it is time to save her from those who are exploiting her for their own gain.

Cynthia Logan is the mother of Jessie Logan. Jessie Logan made what some might call a “bad decision.” She took sexually provocative photographs of herself and sent them to her high-school boyfriend. When the two of them broke up, he childishly sent them to all his buddies, and they forwarded them, and so on. Jessie recently took her own life, and as often happens her mom has been making the talk show circuit calling for “tougher laws.”

Jessie’s parents are attempting to launch a national campaign seeking laws to address “sexting” – the practice of forwarding and posting sexually explicit cell-phone photos online. The Logans also want to warn teens of the harassment, humiliation and bullying that can occur when that photo gets forwarded. (source)

I don’t want to cause any pain to the Logans, but lets assign blame where it is due before we start running off at the mouth that we should add new laws to the web of idiotic laws we already have. Why would Jessie be so despondent? Was it really all about “sexting?” Is the “sexting can kill” statement a whole lot of BS? Parry Aftab says that Sexting Can Lead to Death! On the other hand, Dr. Marty Klein tells us “Sexting” Can’t, Repeat, Can’t Kill Anyone.”

For the record, I’m going with the Doctor over the lawyer on this one.

What gets conveniently buried in this story is that just before Jessie Logan committed suicide, she attended the funeral of a 16 year old classmate who took his own life. What is completely omitted from the coverage is any call for personal responsibility — or perhaps any mention that our society’s absolute paranoia and erotophobia might have contributed to Jessie’s death. Why? Because the “fear of sex for profit” industry wouldn’t have anything to sell if those factors were taken into account.

The fact is that every damn kid thinks about suicide — it is a normal part of teenage hormone-driven angst – and teens require advanced parenting. Teen suicide doesn’t need an engine like “sexting,” and Jessie Logan is unfortunately not special. She’s just one of many teenagers whose parents didn’t see the warning signs and now they are looking to find someone, anyone, but themselves to blame — an eminently normal and forgivable reaction. I’m not saying that Jessie’s parents are to blame. They are as blame-worthy and blame-less as any parent of a teenager who commits suicide. They are blame-worthy for not seeing the signs, but blame-less because frankly, they can be almost impossible to interpret until after the fact – as virtually any parent or friend of a teenager who has taken his or her own life will tell you.

Do we need new laws? Is “sexting” really “dangerous” as those in the fear-mongering industry want us to believe? No, it sure isn’t. Lesson 1 is to communicate with your children about the over-arching issue here — teen suicide. When I was a kid, my parents suggested that if I ever wanted to kill myself, I could just decide to fuck my life up instead. I always kept that in mind as a backup plan.

Lesson 2 is to teach your kids to either not sext, or if they want to be comfortable with their sexuality and do so — to be prepared for the consequences. If those consequences arise, they just might need to understand that high school is only four years long, and once they get to college they can be whoever they want to be. I know a lot of girls who got tagged with the “slut” or “whore” label. You know how they dealt with it? Some reinvented themselves when they left for college. That’s part of the wonder of going away to college. Some just reinvented themselves in high school, turning Goth or some such silliness. Others reveled in the label and enjoyed their youth in a shower of promiscuity. Lets face it, sluts have more fun, and usually those doing the taunting are at their life’s unhappily low peak. You want proof? Go to your next high school reunion and look where the bullies are today.

Jessie Logan’s epitaph should not be written by the fear-mongering industry. If it is, there will be more Jessie Logans, they’ll just use stupid 18 year old logic to make permanent decisions about another temporary problem. But, if her epitaph is written by the fearmongers, we’ll have exactly the same number of teen suicides, but at least one more dumb law that encroaches on our liberties.

The bigger problem is the fact that the “fear of sex” business, both the right-wing religious nuts and the left-wing “junior anti-sex league” types has turned any exposure of a healthy interest in sexuality into something that an 18 year old girl needs to fear and be ashamed of in the first place. Instead of running around the country with shrill “warnings” about the “danger” of sexting — maybe Cynthia Logan’s message should be to tell kids that their interest in sex is normal and that there are options to suicide.

Losing a family member does not make you an authority on anything except grief. Cynthia Logan has the right to lecture on how to cope with losing a daughter — but losing a child does not give anyone the mental capacity to draft laws nor to lobby for other fools to draft them. In fact, it does the opposite.

Cynthia Logan should be forgiven for reacting foolishly. Any mother who loses a child shouldn’t be expected to think clearly. However, it is clear that she’s being exploited by people with a vested financial and political interest in fear mongering. It is up to us to stop that exploitation.


Clearwater Bait Shop Wins Round One

April 13, 2009

Posting the First Amendment is a code violation in some parts of this here wang.

Posting the First Amendment is a code violation in some parts of this here wang.

A Clearwater, Flori-duh bait shop has won its first round in a First Amendment fight over a mural on its wall.

U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore issued an injunction forbidding Clearwater from levying any more fines on the Complete Angler for its mural while the case is in litigation. The city also can’t fine the shop at 705 N Fort Harrison Ave. for covering its mural with a banner displaying the First Amendment.

The tackle shop’s owners, Herb and Lori Quintero, say a mural of game fish on an outside wall of their store is art. The city says it’s an unauthorized sign and a code violation. (source)


Vero Beach, Flori-duh Moves to Ban Adult Entertainment

April 7, 2009

Vero Beach, Home of the Beach Burkha

Vero Beach, Home of the Beach Burkha

Vero Beach, Flori-duh is moving to ban jello wrestling, mud wrestling, and any unauthorized display of the buttocks — which it defines as follows:

“For purposes of this section, the term ‘buttocks’ shall mean the area at the rear of the body which lies between two imaginary lines running parallel to the ground when a person is standing, the first or top such line drawn at the top of the nates (i.e. the prominence of the muscles running from the back of the hip to the back of the leg) and the second or bottom line drawn at the at the lowest visible of this cleavage or the lowest point of the curvature of the fleshy protuberance, whichever is lower, and between two imaginary lines on each side of the body, which lines are perpendicular to the ground and to the horizontal lines described above, and …”

In other words, ladies, you better get rid of those swimsuits. (source)