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Thread: Award-winning anonymous blogger (Mudflats) outed by crazed legislator

  1. #16
    Elite Member MontanaMama's Avatar
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    Doogan sure looks like he's totally on board with the new America - protected freedoms and rights only exist in the event that he personally thinks you should have them on that day. Douche.

    I hope AKM pursues the violation of her civil rights by a gov't official in his official capacity using gov't property. Although Alaska seems to have a pretty high tolerance for allowing its elected officials to use public or gov't funds and property for their own personal vendettas.

  2. #17
    Elite Member WhoAmI's Avatar
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    t’s been a long time since we’ve had a good bedtime story at the Mudflats. We’re overdue. (Plumps your pillow, smooths the hair off your forehead and tucks you in. Scans the shelf and pulls out a nice hardcover) I know! Let’s have a parable.

    A parable is a brief, succinct story, in prose or verse, that illustrates a moral or religious lesson. It differs from a fable in that fables use animals, plants, inanimate objects, and forces of nature as characters, while parables generally feature human characters.

    Parables are lots of fun. And this one is not religious, but it does illustrate a moral lesson, but really it’s a political parable…a “paraliticable,” perhaps.

    (Opens the cover, and thumbs through) Here we go. This is the one. It’s always fun to take on a part in a story, so let’s say in this story, you are the mayor of a little town. A cranky mayor. The kind of mayor who yells, “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!” And it’s kind of sad because you used to be fairly well liked….but something about being the mayor just didn’t agree with you. But that’s another story. For now, you’re the mayor. Sometimes it’s fun to play the villain because it helps you understand what’s going on in his head. Ready?

    It’s a nice little town, and most everyone is happy with things. There’s the Queen of the Land who’s a bit of a disaster, but she’s so darn cute and spunky that most people overlook what she actually does because the idea of her is so appealing. But it’s not all peace and harmony. There is some rabblerousing villager who keeps making a fuss about things, including the fact that you, the cranky mayor, can be downright rude and condescending to the people of the village.

    A few months ago, these little pamphlets started circulating around town saying, “Did you guys know that the mayor actually said THIS?” You read this pamphlet, and feel the blood rising up your neck. Yes, you said all this stuff…but the nerve of that guy to actually tell people! You go over and yell out the window to the crowds below who are also reading it, “Are you people NUTS?? You pass around this stupid pamphlet calling me rude?? And you don’t even include your name and phone number so I can…hold you accountable? Get a life, losers!!” The villagers look at each other, dumbfounded as you slam the window. “Did he just call us losers? Who does this guy think he is?” they say to themselves.

    The next day you look out the window. There are a bunch of villagers again, reading a new pamphlet which says, “Can you believe the mayor said ‘Are you people NUTS? You pass around this stupid pamphlet calling me rude?….” The villagers are stunned. This guy is totally over the top. The new pamphlets get passed around, and soon there’s a gathering outside. Outrage is expressed.

    You think to yourself that this calling you out on what you say has got to stop. If these people are allowed to continue to complain, your job security may not be very safe. And how dare they make fun of you using your own actual words! It’s outrageous. “Where did these people come from?” you wonder.

    Suddenly you get an idea. You decide to send a spy out into the crowd. He dresses up like a villager, and slips out of the building into the throng of disgruntled townsfolk. After an hour or so, he reports back, taking the stairs two at a time, breathless, “Rumor has it (pant pant) there was some guy (pant pant) passing around these leaflets. Nobody knows who he is. (pant) Telling everyone what a total jackass you are, Sir.….I mean…um.. that called you a bad name.” The spy smiles really big, hoping you didn’t catch that. “You know. Because you called them losers.” The spy thinks to himself he had better just shut up now.

    Hmmm… So, what’s your move? (You stroke your chin and pace the room) Remember, you’ve been embarrassed. You’re really ticked, and there is NO way…I mean NO WAY you are ever going to actually apologize to these people. I mean, they’re just villagers! Some of them don’t even live in your district for cripes sake.

    There is only one answer. You need to find the guy who is writing the pamphlets and shut him up. You sit and drum your stubby fingers on the desk, and plan your strategy. “I don’t like you!” “You’re rude!” “Hey, get some stinkin’ etiquette, will ya?” The merciless taunts drift through the open window. You close the window, and address your cohort.

    “Is this the same guy that’s been passing out all those pamplets talking about the Queen?” The spy is looking at you fearfully. You haven’t realized that your face has gotten a little red, and you have sort of a far-off crazy look in your eyes because you haven’t blinked in a very long time. “You mean the ones that talk about the drawbridge to nowhere, and how she’s shooting all the unicorns? I…I think it’s the same guy,” stammers the spy. “Find him!” you hiss, pounding your fist on the desk.

    Months pass. Throughout the winter more pamphlets about the Queen emerge. They’re not particularly flattering. They always seem to be about “transparency” and “honesty” and that time when she was crowned and she said, “Hold me accountable!” that nobody seems to forget. It’s infuriating. Missives about you have dropped off, though. But it doesn’t matter at this point. You just. Can’t. Let. Go. Last night, you even awoke with a gasp after swinging your head violently from side to side on a sweat-soaked pillow muttering, “No….No….pamphleteer….must….stop!”

    The pamphleteer is your white whale, and you are Mayor Ahab.

    Down in the village, our little spy has been busy chatting up the locals. You keep bugging him all the time, and grabbing him by the shoulders and shaking. “Did you find out yet?” “Do you know who it is?” Frankly everyone’s getting a little bit tired of this game, thinks the spy, but nobody wants to be the one to tell you that you’re getting just a little well….obsessed. And you’ve got that weird throbbing vein in your forehead. So on it goes.

    Rumors start to surface that it might be the guy who owns a little tavern on the corner. It’s a nice spot, and is frequented by the villagers. It’s right across the street from another tavern, owned by friends and supporters of the Queen. There are many loyalists in the village, but good beer and good food know no politics, so our tavern keeper (and secret pamphleteer) is making a decent living, and after the last patron goes home, he’s writing furiously by candle light, trying to wake the village up to the abuses of the local government.

    The spy is finally able to confirm his information, and returns to the office. “Well, we know who it is but…it might cause some business or financial hardship for them if we announce it.” The spy looks at you. “It’s the guy that owns that fun little tavern on the corner. I really like that place.”

    “Well, if he was worried about feeding his wife and kids, he should have kept his mouth shut, shouldn’t he?”

    The spy ponders this. “So are you saying that only people who have nothing to lose should be able to speak up and express their opinions?”

    “Silence!” you bellow. “Get me a quill.” You rub your hands together and chuckle. This is gonna be fun. (And you’ve always wanted a part where you get to bellow, “Silence!” Right? I mean, who hasn’t?)

    Then sure enough, the next day a scroll arrives at the little tavern. “I, the Mayor, have learned that you, Joe the Tavernkeeper, are the pamphleteer! Tomorrow I shall make a proclamation to the entire village, announcing that you have been speaking out against the Queen, myself and various other miscreants village leaders. Do you have anything to say for yourself?”

    Joe can think of lots of things he’d like to say, but realizing that it’s going to be announced tomorrow in the square, and that there may be children present with delicate ears, he decides against it.

    And sure enough, the next day, the trumpets sound and the villagers gather round, and the announcement is made. It’s Joe the Tavernkeeper! (gasps and murmurs from the crowd) There is a lot of merriment and clinking of glasses in the Queen’s tavern. This may mean a lot of new business for them, when people decide to pass right by the tavern owned by the recently “outed” Queen-hater-mayor-basher-freethinkin’ S.O.B. across the street. As Joe walks home, he hears someone shout “We should throw a brick through his window!” “Which one is his horse?” There is laughter, and Joe isn’t quite sure whether he ought to worry about this or not.

    Now, Joe and his family are in a bit of a sticky spot. What will happen? Should Joe the Pamphleteer stop writing pamphlets? Maybe he ought to just tone it down a little. Or maybe he’ll refrain from writing about particular people. Or maybe he’ll just throw caution to the wind, keep doing what he’s doing, and hope he doesn’t find a brick on the breakfast table, or the shoes taken off his horse.

    But the Tavernkeepers are not the only ones affected by the news. (our imaginary camera pans down the street to look into the basement window of a local dairy maid) She’s been sitting by the fire, writing a little pamphlet of her own. She has some things she wants to get off her chest, that others in the village should know. She liked those pamphlets written by “JT” and felt like maybe she had something to say too. There’s a good story about the dairy business that the villagers might be quite interested to know. But the Queen’s not going to like it…. She stares down at the pamphlet.

    She thinks of the little tavern down the street. It could be big trouble for them. She thinks about her name being read aloud in the town square by that red-faced gloating mayor, as he points his finger at her. And she thinks of her job, and her children. She shudders. That would be too much…. And she slowly and sadly crumples the pamphlet and tosses it in the fire.

    (Closes book) And that’s the end of the chapter. We’ll have to find out what happens, and how it ends another night.

    This is the insidious parable of the impingement of free speech. Throughout the history of the United States, anonymous or pseudonymous free speech has played an important role in America’s political life. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay wrote together as “Publius” to pen the Federalist Papers. Benjamin Franklin had a whole host of pen names, male and female, that he utilized to introduce ideas and concepts into the public debate without attaching them to his particular persona. There’s something that’s just irresistible about a big naked idea that stands on its own in the middle of the village square, and asks the people what they think.

    The birth of the blogosphere has been an amazing thing. A forum was created where people are free, utterly free, to say what they really think. Letters to the editor require a name and a verification phone call, and thus tend to be toned down by most people. And shy readers may bypass the opportunity to speak altogether. But blogs have liberated all of us. You can be an elected official, a dairy maid, a minister, or a tavernkeep. You can be a flaming liberal or an uber conservative, and you have a blank slate to say how you really feel in the deepest corners of your mind, and your heart. You can rant, challenge, support, whine, or stun the world with eloquent prose. You don’t even have to tell anyone you’re doing it! It’s free speech, and it’s the ultimate intellectual freedom. And it’s all yours.

    That is of course unless some half-crazed mayor with a chip on his shoulder makes it his mission to figure out who you are, and announce it to the world against your wishes, and regardless of your own reasons to keep that information to yourself. One of the first rules of internet use is “Don’t give out your personal information on line.” We’ve all heard the warning. That sage advice is designed to keep us safe from all kinds of nastiness. There are some pretty malicious villagers out there. But cranky half-crazed mayors don’t care about that.

    It only takes looking through the comment section of this blog, or the Anchorage Daily News, or a host of others to see that there are few, if any, who use their real names. We have screen names for a reason. The screen name can reflect an opinion, cause a laugh, make a point, or tell a little bit about ourselves. Evenutally, if we become a regular, others will recognize us by that screen name and formulate opinions about us, just like in real life. Do we usually make sense? Are we intelligent? Are we completely full of BS? People will figure us out eventually. The once exotic “nom de plume” has become part of everyday life for most of us who hang out in cyberspace. And we love it.

    Society can be intolerant. Those with unpopular or minority views can have it tough. Walking into a shopping mall and explaining to the masses why you think Obama is a socialist, or why you think the world dodged a bullet by not electing McCain and Palin and then handing out your personal information, might be a risky thing to do, depending on the mall.

    Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical, minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. It thus exemplifies the purpose of the Bill of Rights, and of the first amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation. Supreme Court, 1995, McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission

    When we allow a person in a position of power and authority who holds elected office to abuse his or her power with deliberate malevolent intent to infringe upon the ability of a private citizen to utilize the right of free speech, we have crossed a dangerous line.

    I happen to be a big fan of the first amendment. I think the guys who signed it were too. And I think I understand why it got the honorary #1 spot.

    Good night, Mudflatters. (Hands you a teddy bear and turns out the light) And tomorrow, we’ll be on to something new.
    The Mudflats A Bedtime Political Parable

  3. #18
    Silver Member chattykathy's Avatar
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    It's rather tacky to go after a private citizen for expressing opinions.
    ""Somebody needs to talk to Alex Castellanos: he may not be doing sex right if he thinks an Obama speech is 'like sex'."~ Rush Limbaugh

  4. #19
    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    A private citizen exercising their constitutional right to privacy...

    going after Limbaugh is fair game, considering his bloated fathead is on billboards.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

  5. #20
    Silver Member chattykathy's Avatar
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    It's still tacky to go after Limbaugh, too, as he is also a citizen, but since he doesn't hide his identity, he should expect some criticism from those that disagree with him. This woman wanted to remain anonymous, she should have been allowed to do so, and tracking someone down through the internet you don't like is freaking creepy.
    ""Somebody needs to talk to Alex Castellanos: he may not be doing sex right if he thinks an Obama speech is 'like sex'."~ Rush Limbaugh

  6. #21
    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Rush Limbaugh is a public figure. If he can't take the heat, then he should get out of the kitchen.

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