The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

8 October 2005

Wretches without ink stains

The News-Journal sort of endorses the Delaware Supreme Court's decision not to force an ISP to reveal the identity of a blog commenter:

Smyrna Councilman Patrick Cahill and his wife, Julia, wanted the court to force Comcast to release the unique Internet identifier of the person who posted criticism on the Delaware State News' weblog. The Cahills claimed the remarks were defamatory, and they wanted the blogger's name in order to pursue a libel lawsuit.

We understand their concern. The remarks were scurrilous. By hiding behind the Internet's anonymity, the author showed an utter lack of backbone.

But freedom of speech would not amount to much if it were only guaranteed for pleasant, flattering talk. The rights of the unsympathetic pamphleteer must be guarded as well, so that everyone's rights will be preserved.

Fritz Schranck points out that the News-Journal editorial is itself unsigned, and adds:

In that respect, perhaps the Supreme Court was also quietly making a point to the state's newspapers, who are sometimes quick to take issue with the court's decisions in other cases.

After all, the old adage that one shouldn’t pick a fight with folks who buy their ink by the ton doesn't quite ring so true anymore — not when one can respond quite effectively with just a few thousand pixels.

Text of the ruling in PDF format here.

(Prompted by Lynn S.)

Posted at 9:42 AM to Blogorrhea