Silencing Internet Speech

How are your tax dollars being used? To silence rude blog commenters:

In the comments section of the post, six readers published reactions that drew the investigative ire of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. In a federal grand jury subpoena dated June 2, the U.S. District Court commanded Reason.com to turn over “any and all identifying information” we had about the individuals posting those comments.

The subpoena led to a gag order, which is written about in the link above, and also here and here.

This is not about being proactive against a serious threat. Countless trolls, Facebook users, and Twitter users make stupid comments about a litany of things by the second. It’s about what these particular commenters were commenting on (the immorality of the drug war) and the target of their ire (a federal judge). Because in this country, you can make threatening or disparaging remarks all you want if the target is a celebrity, an athlete, a transgender celebrity, or a family-owned pizzeria. But heaven forbid the federal government becomes aware of your overheated phony threat to see someone within their employ fed through a hyperbolic wood-chipper.

The Reason Foundation will have the resources to navigate these challenges. The rest of us self-published bloggers exercising our free speech rights are probably not as fortunate. We should absolutely be able to speak truth to power and call out the immorality of a whole host of public policies. This story proves that we do….until we don’t.

Be careful out there.

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