Patterico's Pontifications


End of Section 230 Protection for Bloggers?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:53 pm

According to the blog McIntyre v Ohio, an anonymous blog devoted to promoting anonymous speech, Senator Joe Lieberman has proposed stripping blog hosts of the immunity they currently enjoy from liability for things their blog commenters say.

If legislation like this ever actually passes, I’ll be shutting down comments.

Those who followed the recent smack down of a serial troll at Popehat will no doubt remember that Ken invoked section 230 as the reason I cannot be held responsible for stupid things said by my commenters. I have the finest comment section on the planet, but you can’t prevent idiots from walking in the door if you are going to have open comments. And there are always the Kilgore Trouts of the world, too: people who deliberately plant inflammatory or racist comments on sites to smear the blog proprietors.

What effect would stripping out section 230 immunity have on the exchange of ideas — especially ideas advanced by anonymous people? Both good and bad, I suspect, but mostly bad. I might still be willing to publish comments from people I know and trust — but anonymous commenters could not be allowed to speak. That would be bad to the extent that valid, well-documented ideas and news from anonymous commenters were to disappear.

There would be one silver lining. You see, anonymous commenters (and bloggers) are also responsible for a lot of disinformation. And there is far too great a tendency for people to believe factual assertions by anonymous bloggers or commenters. Just because an anonymous blogger or commenter says something does not make it true. I specifically note this in part because I myself have been the victim of anonymous people making up “facts” about me. And it’s surprising how often people lap that kind of thing up.

So a revision to section 230 would be mostly bad. But given how often anonymous speech is not factual, you’re not going to find me crusading on this particular issue. I’m all for free speech; don’t get me wrong. But reducing the power of anonymous trolls to spread lies is no trivial matter.

UPDATE: Famed free speech attorney Marc Randazza sounds much more concerned, saying: “It will be a grave day if this amendment succeeds.”

UPDATE x2 4-2-12: As a handful of you have guessed, this was an April Fool’s hoax perpetrated by me and a few other bloggers. In reality, I would be very concerned with a law like this. Details in an upcoming post.

This may be my favorite April Fool’s joke yet. If you go back and re-read my comments in the thread, you’ll get an idea why.

5-6 commenters guessed and had their comments immediately moderated with a note from me asking them to keep the secret. (They all did.) I have now released those comments with a note explaining that they were released from moderation today.

UPDATE x3: My post on the deconstruction of the joke is up. You can read it here.

Is the media ever going to ask ‘Lefty Dream Boat’ Van Jones about Freedom Fighter Music?

Filed under: Scum — Morgen @ 11:27 am

[Posted by Morgen]

[The following post is by Morgen, formerly of Verum Serum. Morgen is a uniquely talented researcher and writer who has broken several major stories. (When I say “major” I am not exaggerating. For example, Morgen is the guy who found the video of Sonia Sotomayor talking about how courts make policy — and the infamous “wise Latina” speech. Major, OK?)

The video embedded in this post is classic Morgen. It’s worth watching all the way to the end.

I am thrilled to have even one blog post from Morgen, and I hope he will consider submitting many more. Please give him a warm welcome. — Patterico]

So Van Jones was on ABC’s This Week today. I didn’t watch it but he was there to pitch his new book, Rebuild the Dream, so it’s a safe bet that he spoke about how corporations and the 1% have been benefiting at the expense of the middle class. Fair enough. He won’t get an argument from many Tea Partiers that the political influence exerted by big corporations has corrupted our society, and government. But what sort of alternative does Van Jones ‘dream’ about?

Van Jones does not deny his radical roots but the way he speaks about this would lead most people to believe that he is referring to his youth. That it’s ancient history. I don’t know about you, but the years immediately following 9/11 are not ancient history to me. Like a lot of Gen X’ers, 9/11 was a wake-up call for me to get serious about life, and the challenges facing our nation. Van Jones is only slightly older than I am, and I suspect this was no different for him.

So is Van Jones ever going to answer for the fact that in 2002 he conceived and created a music label, Freedom Fighter Music, which published at least two highly incendiary albums, advancing views far, far outside the mainstream? In 2009 I exposed Freedom Fighter’s WarTimes, leading CBS to speculate whether this was the final straw leading to Jones’ resignation from his role in the White House. But no comment from Jones. WarTimes is just god-awful, narrated by Mumia Abu-Jamal, with an interview appearance by Van Jones himself, and featuring lyrics calling for the defeat of the U.S. in Iraq, proclaiming Uncle Sam the ‘real terrorist’. And even worse, if you can believe. (You can view a YouTube video I created with excerpts from WarTimes here.)

But with so much media focus now on racial violence, and the liberal media – and the White House – seemingly doing nothing to try to calm things down, I think it’s a good time to expose another track produced by Van Jones and his organization. In another era, with a Republican in the White House, this is how Van Jones saw fit to contribute his time, money, and promotional clout to the cause of ‘racial justice’:

[UPDATE BY PATTERICO: So it’s clear, the visuals starting at 3:10 are Morgen’s editorial comments.]

Simply despicable…and it’s outrageous that the person behind this is parading around the country lecturing America about ‘fairness’, when in a rational world, one where the mainstream media still did real reporting, he would have absolutely zero credibility and moral authority.

Which brings me to my closing question: does the New York Times consider Van Jones a ‘lefty dream boat‘ in spite of…or because of…his past advocacy of violent, anti-American views?

— Morgen

Addendum [Morgen]: Thanks for the warm welcome, and for not knocking me around for asking you to sit through a 4+ minute video like this. To follow up on Patterico’s note above, I actually produced the entire video. Working with the original audio of course. I’m sort of hoping one of Jones’ defenders tries to deny he had anything to do with this. April’s Fools joke? Yeah, they wish. So let me save Media Matters a little time. The name of the album this track appears on is Shame the Devil: Hip-Hop Tells The Truth About The Prison Industrial Complex. You can see a reference to it on the old Freedom Fighter web site here. The actual audio came from here – the track is called ‘John Law’. Who knows, there is probably worse than this on the album, have yourself a listening party if you want. But I keyed in on this track because the members of the band who wrote and performed this (the Red Guard) were former employees of Van Jones and remain closely connected to him (or at least organizations he founded). I see no point in dragging them into this, but there is really no way Van Jones can deny culpability for putting out this garbage. And the media can easily confirm all of this…if they had any desire to. But I guess it’s no fun to embarrass one of your heroes.

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Thanks to Ace for the link.

Signs of Supreme Court activism worry Reagan administration lawyers

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Karl @ 8:33 am

[Posted by Karl]

David Bernstein correctly notes a more accurate title for this page one propaganda would be “Lawyers Who Voted for Obama Want his Health Care Law to be Upheld“:

It turns out that the only “Reagan Administration lawyers” they are able to quote are Charles Fried and Doug Kmiec, both of whom quite publicly endorsed candidate Obama in 2008.  Kmiec, in fact, was rewarded with an ambassadorship for his service.

As for Fried, one of his former constitutional law students, Dan McLaughlin, observes:

It is fair and accurate to describe Prof. Fried as a former Reagan official and former member of the GOP legal establishment. But it is deeply misleading to suggest that he speaks today for some element of mainstream thought on the Right, or to tout his views on Obamacare without presenting to readers his support for Obama, his effective divorce from the modern GOP, and the extreme nature of his views on the government’s ability to make you buy broccoli.

The L.A. Times bias here is probably not merely ideological.  After all, they could certainly use a newspaper mandate.


The Righteous Mind

Filed under: General — Karl @ 7:38 am

[Posted by Karl]

This is generally not the opening usually seen for a Nicholas D. Kristof column:

Conservatives may not like liberals, but they seem to understand them. In contrast, many liberals find conservative voters not just wrong but also bewildering.

One academic study asked 2,000 Americans to fill out questionnaires about moral questions. In some cases, they were asked to fill them out as they thought a “typical liberal” or a “typical conservative” would respond.

Moderates and conservatives were adept at guessing how liberals would answer questions. Liberals, especially those who described themselves as “very liberal,” were least able to put themselves in the minds of their adversaries and guess how conservatives would answer.

That may not be surprising to conservatives, but — if the study is correct — it is likely shocking to so-called liberals.  One of the authors of the study, University of Virginia psychology professor Jonathan Haidt, has written a book, The Righteous Mind, from which Kristof summarizes an explanation for the disconnect:

Americans speak about values in six languages, from care to sanctity. Conservatives speak all six, but liberals are fluent in only three. And some (me included) mostly use just one, care for victims.

“Moral psychology can help to explain why the Democratic Party has had so much difficulty connecting with voters,” writes Haidt, a former liberal who says he became a centrist while writing the book.

I am generally skeptical of pseudo-science trotted out in the service of politics.  Liberals who are usually quick to discount scientific (especially biological) explanations for phenomena inconvenient to their ideology are much more flexible in trotting out “studies” to paint the right as racist neanderthals.  Kristof veers near this territory in his column, but it’s not clear that Haidt buys all the implications ideologues draw from such studies.  Indeed, the NYT book review from William Saletan suggests Haidt does not think much of much psycho-punditry himself:

The usual argument of these psycho-­pundits is that conservative politicians manipulate voters’ neural roots — playing on our craving for authority, for example — to trick people into voting against their interests. But Haidt treats electoral success as a kind of evolutionary fitness test. He figures that if voters like Republican messages, there’s something in Republican messages worth liking. He chides psychologists who try to “explain away” conservatism, treating it as a pathology. Conservatism thrives because it fits how people think, and that’s what validates it. Workers who vote Republican aren’t fools. In Haidt’s words, they’re “voting for their moral interests.”

I plan on reading the book and expect I may disagree with chunks of it.  For example, Saletan says the book is short on solutions for ideological segregation, but one suggestion is to attack gerrymandering.  That may sound good to a psychologist, but political scientists have not found gerrymandering to be an important cause of political polarization.  If people like me do not read the book, who will?  Liberals are probably more likely to ignore it.  They will be reading less objective, less scientific twaddle on the subject from Chris Mooney, which even Kevin Drum doesn’t buy (As someone on Twitter whose name I didn’t get permission to use noted, Mooney might consider that he is the exact sort that has caused more educated conservatives to become skeptical of scientists).


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