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Thers mentioned this silliness from the New York legislature, and Time picked up on it too: The New York Bill that Would Ban Anonymous Online Speech.

As with all abridgements of fundamental rights, it is ‘to protect children’ and stop ‘cyber-bullying’, and not to identify whistle-blowers and disgruntled employees [just so you know].

First off, congratulations to the NY lege for finally investing in a spelling checker, as there are many fewer errors in recent laws than was once common in revisions of the Penal Law. There as still some problems with your command of the alphabet for subsections, but the spelling improvement is a positive step.

Tell you what, first pass a law requiring all statements by elected officials and government employees used by the news media to be accompanied by the name and position of the individual, and then we can talk about what private citizens get up to. As long as ‘unnamed sources’ and ‘senior administration officials’ can con people into wars, the voters have a real problem deciding who should be hanged for these lapses. Let government at all levels in New York give up its anonymity in the press first to prove that there are no conflicts with the Constitution in such a policy.

In case no one has told them, the owners of web sites get to establish their own policies on who can comment, just like the ‘letters to the editor’ policies of newspapers.


1 Steve Bates { 05.25.12 at 9:45 am }

The New York Lege has spelling problems in its Penile Law?

2 Steve Bates { 05.25.12 at 9:55 am }

Spelling aside, the various pseudonymous authors of the Federalist Papers are surely spinning in their graves.

I have published under my real name for decades, but faced with such a law I would make up a pseudonym just to defy it. Anonymous or pseudonymous speech emphatically does have a place in the discourse of a free society.

3 Bryan { 05.25.12 at 11:42 am }

The arraignment judge I appeared before had a real ‘thing’ about spelling. He would red-pencil forms and refused to accept charges if there was more than one misspelling. He used to go ballistic when the misspellings were contained in the law, which had to be quoted exactly. It was a mess. They would also produce laws with the same letter designation for two separate sub-sections, which was also a mess.

There is a long and justified history of anonymous speech in this country, including the use by newspapers of editorials with no byline, only a reference to ‘the editors’ or ‘the editorial board’. The NY legislature needs to read a little history and get out more often. They could start by reading the Federalist papers.