Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G

If You Can't Say Something Nice, Say It Where They Can't Read It

Cynthia Moreno was a student at University Of California At Berkley (you know, the birthplace of UNIX and LSD, so draw your own conclusions). She had a MySpace page where she wrote a little ditty called "Ode To Coalinga". "The older I get, the more I realize how much I despise Coalinga," before going on a massive rant about the place.

Well, a fellow named Roger Campbell, the principal at Coalinga High School, saw this and forwarded it to Pamela Pond, who edits the hometown paper, the Coalinga Record. Hometown pride took over as people started harassing Moreno for what she wrote. Her parents claim they got death threats and someone took a shot at their house. The parents' 20 year old business lost a ton of customers and had to fold up, forcing the parents to move out of town. So, they decided to sue Campbell, Pond, and the Coalinga Record on the grounds of invasion of privacy.

The judges ruled that the damages portion can go forward for the death threats and such, but as far as invasion of privacy, no dice. Because she posted the information to a publicly accessible web site, that made it fair game. Moreno claimed that she only used her first name, so there had to be some detective work to determine her identity. The judge basically laughed at this, pointing out that her page had her first name, her picture, and that anyone that knew her could discern her identity from reading her posts. Basically, she opened her mouth, she got nailed for it, and it's all her fault.

This is symptomatic of the world at large. With the rise of Political Correctness came the idea that everyone has a right to not be made fun of. While this is true for a lot of things (disabilities, homosexuality, non-Christian religions), it started being applied too broadly to every little thing a person does. Not only that, but it soon mutated into "Because I'm doing this, it shows my personal courage and defiance of the Establishment" when all it made them do was look like loons (including so-called "artists" who put up umbrellas in a park and declare it art, and anyone who doesn't get it is a moron. "The fact that you do not appreciate my genius proves you are not one!"). It took what was a matter of public liberty and forced it through the sausage press of personal choice. It overlooks a very basic problem -- you cannot control what other people think of you. Spin doctors work their magic on the media, not necessarily the public at large. There are some people who, when they first meet me, think I'm one of the smartest, coolest guys in the world. There are other people who think I am the biggest loser in the world, and they would think that even if Jesus Christ came down from Heaven, slapped my back, and called me "homeboy". The only right I have with the rest of the world is the right to be left alone. That doesn't mean, however, that I have the right to have everyone only think great things about me. That's narcissism bordering on megalomania.

We've seen plenty of times where people get fired from jobs for posting things about their work. Tom Tomorrow started drawing cartoons for a Xerox-lore newsletter, and even though readership was barely in the double digits, he still used his pen name. People forget that the world doesn't always pay attention to you, but when it does, anything you say can and will be used against you. Anonymous isn't just legion, it is protection. Heed it.
Tags: computers, destroying childhood memories, did not do the research, digital rights, don't try this at home, duh, important life lessons, news, stupidity, technology is a beautiful thing, wtf
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