The idea of freedom of speech seems to be pretty straight forward. You don’t infringe on anyone’s right to say things. However, some Republican lawmakers in New York want to ban anonymous comments on blogs and newspaper websites in the Empire State.
The legislation, which has been proposed both in the State Assembly and Senate, would require New York-based websites such as blogs and the online hubs of newspapers and other media outlets to “remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post.”
“This statute would essentially destroy the ability to speak anonymously online on sites in New York,” an attorney with the Center for Democracy and Technology told Wired, which first reported the news on Wednesday.
Despite the obvious constitutional implications, the co-sponsors of the Internet Protection Act have described the legislation not so much as an assault on free speech and the open web, but more as a safeguard for people—say, politicians—who sometimes find themselves the victims of anonymous online invective.
Over the last few days, many Americans, including myself, have lost sight of what really matters overall. We have liberal bloggers pounding away at keyboards trying to show the Tea Party as evil. We have conservative bloggers pounding away at keyboards trying to show the NAACP as racist. We have libertarian bloggers pounding away at keyboards arguing against bloggers from either of the two primary affiliations.
It gets a little much and like I said, I’ve been as guilty (if not more so) than anyone. However, there are still real problems in this country that need to be addressed that shouldn’t get lost in the shuffle of who said what when.
We still have an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico to clean up, and there is need for a valid debate on whether more regulation would prevent another disaster like that one, or whether there were already plenty of regulations on the books that just weren’t enforced. There’s still room for a valid debate on how hard BP should get hit financially on this.
We still have sky high unemployment, and there is still a need for valid debate on how best to combat that. Folks like me see the best way is for government to get out of the way and let the private sector do it’s thing. There are others who think that government is the solution. Let’s have that debate in the blogs and the newspaper columns.
We have new financial regulations coming down the pipe. Let’s debate the merits and flaws of those, rather than what someone said in a speech. Let’s talk about whether the government had a hand in creating this mess or not. Let’s discuss the idea of “to big to fail” for a little while.
Facing a backlash from grassroots activists just a few days after saying denouncing the pledge he once made to protect Georgians from tax hikes, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and staffers tried to play damage control yesterday.
Just before Thanksgiving, Chambliss filled in a Georgia-based television station on some of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations. When asked if he was worried that violating Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge may be used against him in a potential primary, Chambliss responded, “I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge.” Chambliss also took aim at Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, saying, “If we do it his way, then we’ll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that.”
There has been some very scary things going on lately as more bloggers take on the story of Brett Kimberlin. Our own Kevin Boyd reported on this last Friday, pointing out the ties Kimberlin has with the State Department, a different angle that most have taken when exposing the convicted bomber.
But Conor Friedersdorf notes that some conservative bloggers willing to report on Kimberlin have been harassed thanks to a new phenomenon called “SWATing,” which has put people in very real danger:
In recent days, the conservative blogosphere has been abuzz about an apparently coordinated attempt to intimidate some of its own. Patrick “Patterico” Frey, an L.A. area blogger, Erick Erickson of Red State, and Robert Stacy McCain, a conservative journalist based near Washington, D.C., all report being subject to threats and harassment as a result of posts they’ve written.
I’ve been so busy the last couple of days that I’m just now getting a chance to weigh in on Philadelphia’s “blogger tax.” In case you haven’t heard, the city is charging bloggers $300, the cost of a business liscence:
For the past three years, Marilyn Bess has operated MS Philly Organic, a small, low-traffic blog that features occasional posts about green living, out of her Manayunk home. Between her blog and infrequent contributions to ehow.com, over the last few years she says she’s made about $50. To Bess, her website is a hobby. To the city of Philadelphia, it’s a potential moneymaker, and the city wants its cut.
In May, the city sent Bess a letter demanding that she pay $300, the price of a business privilege license.
“The real kick in the pants is that I don’t even have a full-time job, so for the city to tell me to pony up $300 for a business privilege license, pay wage tax, business privilege tax, net profits tax on a handful of money is outrageous,” Bess says.
It would be one thing if Bess’ website were, well, an actual business, or if the amount of money the city wanted didn’t outpace her earnings six-fold. Sure, the city has its rules; and yes, cash-strapped cities can’t very well ignore potential sources of income. But at the same time, there must be some room for discretion and common sense.
When Bess pressed her case to officials with the city’s now-closed tax amnesty program, she says, “I was told to hire an accountant.”