TLP: SHOCK! Louisiana Politician Called 'Thug Mobster'
If there's any place where politicians, corrupt or not, can expect to be criticized pretty much constantly, Louisiana has to rank fairly high. Isn't that the state where governors follow one another into prison?
Anyway, Jefferson Parish interim president Steve J. Theriot may be a little too delicate for Bayou State politics. He's a bit put off at some of the anonymous comments made about him on the website of a New Orleans newspaper and wants the names. Louisiana has not been sucked into the Gulf of Mexico yet and is still part of America, which means, of course, that he has sued.
The suit, filed on May 7, requests that Nola.com, the online home of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, release the names of 11 users it accuses of malicious and defamatory statements. The comments, the suit says, have caused “embarrassment and emotional suffering,” along with a loss of personal reputation.And, of course, there's nothing like a complainer to bring out the nasty. The comments have continued with renewed vigor. One highlight: "What kind of a hellava Nazi scam are you trying to pull Heir Theriot ? You want to know who I am, well sue me...oh ! that's right, you already have."
Among the comments is this one, posted in January: “Theriot, just another Jefferson Parish politician thug mobster trained by his mentor John Alario, dressed up in a facade of respectability by a corrupt Louisiana Legislature.” John A. Alario Jr. is a state senator from Jefferson Parish and a longtime fixture in the state legislature.
James O’Byrne, director of content for Nola.com, said that the paper would fight to withhold the names.
There are cases in which the site would disclose names, Mr. O’Byrne said; for example, if a commenter threatened someone’s life. But this case is “fraught with peril,” he said. “I think the bar has to be set pretty high when a government agency wants to use its legal power to out its critics.”
"Politics ain't beanbag," goes one adage. There's another about heat and a kitchen ... you get the point. As the newspaper editor pointed out, this isn't about someone threatening to kill Theriot. It's about hurt feelings. Get. Over. It.
There are reasons for allowing commenters to remain anonymous. And I would say that even if The Lazy Paperboy had not sprinkled comments here and there on the Web. When people run for office, they know what they are in for. And when they are elected, the price of wielding official power is being open to public criticism. Even from assholes.