David Rob Briley,
You came to our Christmas party. And a month later, you’re metaphorically pissing in our coffee? What gives?
Look, just to let you know how egregious this is, Bill Hobbs and I agree about nothing. If I were to say, "Bill Hobbs is the greatest guy ever," he would probably have to go seek therapy, convinced as he’d be that he was really the worst guy who walks the earth. If Bill Hobbs were to write nice things about me, I’d assume it was some kind of bizarre conservative trap.
And yet, your bullshit legislation has brought us together in opposition to it.
That’s saying something.
Here is your crappy proposed legislation:
An owner or licensee of a web site or web page shall have fifteen (15) days to remove any defamatory statements about a person from such web site or web page; however if the owner or licensee has been given notice that such statements are defamatory then that owner or licensee shall have two (2) days from the date of the notice to remove the statements from the web site or web page, whichever is less. Failure to remove defamatory statements as provided in this section shall create a presumption of malice intent.
And, Briley, I want you to understand the position you’ve put me in. I am now about to summarize Bill Hobbs’s points and stand before the world saying that he’s right. I ask you, where’s the legislation that says that when a politician causes me such public distress, he has to pay me $14.50? Because you’d owe me $14.50, for sure.
Okay, Here’s Hobbs’s most important points. One, your legislation presumes that anything anyone claims are defamatory statements are, which means that anyone who’s ever commented here with a bone to pick with me could spend all day sending me emails about things she felt were defaming her and I would, according to your crappy wording, have to take them down. I could write "Bunnies are the cutest animals ever." and Commenter X could decide that that statement somehow defames her, lord knows how, but Briley there are crazy people out here on the internet, and so it’s quite possible, and I would have to remove it or you’re going to presume I’m maliciously defaming Commenter X, even though, clearly there’s no defamation.
Who in his right mind would leave it up to the person feeling defamed to decide that defamation had taken place? If someone feels defamed and I disagree, let her take me to court. If the court decides I’ve done something wrong, then we can talk about what I have to do to make it right, but what you’ve drafted here? Where’s the judicial process?
And two, you want to make me responsible for what my commenters say? Really, what the fuck? Yes, it’s my blog, but I remove comments only if there’s a double post or if someone is revealing information I think could put someone else in danger. My stated policy is that each commenter is responsible for his or her own words and that, as far as I’m concerned, he or she retains copyright on those words. Those words don’t belong to me; they’re not mine; but you’d make me legally responsible for them?
How is that just?
To go back to my original point do you not see how this puts bloggers at the mercy of the nutters?
Here, let’s say that I’m a nutter and I go to your website and I see that you are on the House Constitutional Protections Subcommittee and I decide that that defames me. Never mind that any sane person could see that there’s no possible way that your statement of fact about your own activities could in any way apply to me, a person you saw once in passing at a Christmas party, I have decided it defames me. Under your proposed law, if I emailed you and told you I found it defamatory, wouldn’t you just have two days to take it down?
Don’t you see how ridiculous that is?
Here’s what I suggest, Mr. Briley. Start a blog. Hell, hire a charming, witty hard-ass blogger with a cute boob freckle to run you a blog (I know one who can be had for a mid-five figure salary). Get used to posting and receiving comments. See how easy it is to get busy and lose track of what’s being said by whom. Get used to the nutters your staff shields you from having direct access to you. Just blog for three months.
And then come back to this legislation and see if you wouldn’t make some changes to it.