Yeah But I Can Still Call Bernanke an Asshat, Right?
I sure hope so. Defamation is one thing but I know of very few people who would actually try to argue with me on the point of Bernanke's asshattery, even overpaid Fed lawyers.
In April, a North Carolina county official won a similar ruling after some anonymous bloggers on a local website called him a slumlord.
"Most people have no idea of the liability they face when they publish something online," said Eric Goldman, who teaches Internet law at Santa Clara University. "A whole new generation can publish now, but they don't understand the legal dangers they could face. People are shocked to learn they can be sued for posting something that says, 'My dentist stinks.' "
Under federal law, websites generally are not liable for comments posted by outsiders. They can, however, be forced to reveal the poster's identity if the post includes false information presented as fact.
Calling someone a "jerk" and a "buffoon" may be safe from a lawsuit because it states an opinion. Saying he wrongly "pocketed" public money could lead to a defamation claim because it asserts something as a fact.
"A lot of people don't know how easy it is to track them down" once a lawsuit is filed, said Sara J. Rose, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer in Pittsburgh.
Interesting that this should come out now, I received an email over the weekend from a JDA reader (who also happens to be a lawyer) who took issue with a side comment I made about one of our local newscasters. Whether or not my comments were validated by this newscaster's behavior, he argued, it bordered on petty name-calling and could open me up to all sorts of liability if newscaster in question were to stumble on the post. Of course who thinks about these things when tap-tap-tapping away for the greater good of humanity?
I will bite my tongue going forward but refuse to kiss Fed ass and will continue my liberal use of words like shill, hack, bastard, asshat, bonehead, motherfucker and/or cocksucker as needed. So sue me.
Or I could just do what the Fed does and start everything with "In my view..." and call it a day.