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Although a groundbreaking decision was handed down in a U.S. court last month, few people online seem to be able to grasp the ramifications. As professional gossiper and internet sniper Rosemary Port has discovered, hiding behind an “anonymous” user name provides no protection from libel. Ms. Port was unceremoniously unmasked by Google due to a court decision in favor of protecting the reputations of individuals from internet cowards and liars. Having zero claim to fame on her own merits, Ms. Port hoped to develop a following among like-minded reputation wreckers by defaming the character of Liskula Cohen, calling her a “ho” and a “skank” on her obscure anonymous blog.
Ms. Port appears rather unrepentant, and is claiming to be in touch with her own attorneys (insert laughter here), while threatening to sue Google for releasing her identity per court order. How this lawyer is still practicing is a question for another article. Port is finding her own moral character and personal attractiveness coming under scrutiny, now that her proverbial ski-mask has been removed. While some say this is likely a situation of “the pot calling the kettle black”, I think judgment should be reserved until more details are forthcoming, and you better believe they will be. I’m sure Ms. Port has a few skeletons in her closet that will be quite likely to emerge given her elevated media profile. It might not have been quite what she hoped for, but if it was publicity she wanted, she’s been somewhat successful.
Despite most people being in favor of not allowing the internet to be a “libel free zone” where “anons” are free to roam the grassy knoll, sniping at whoever they please without recourse, Ms. Port does have a fan club of sorts. 4chan, Anonymous, and Encylopedia Dramatica, rallied to her defense. They are a loosely-organized group of “satirists” who promote child pornography, racism, violence, drugs, and other illegal pursuits. They’ve gone on a little campaign of their own, proclaiming they “govern the internet”, and twisting a case over libel into one of free speech.
An encyclopedic entry posted on ED in defense of Ms. Port’s right to online defamation of character, states about Liskula Cohen, “Not only is Liskula a skank, she’s a miscegenating kike bitch. Like any other Jewish slut, Liskula Cohen LOVES niggers.” At first glance this might seem too vile and disgusting to represent the mainstream views of Ms. Port’s supporters, but upon further investigation it becomes fairly clear that the champions of an internet without the most basic form of accountability and regulation, are absolutely the bottom feeders online. There’s a reason that they are so vocal about their supposed “right” to slander and libel with impunity while remaining anonymous on the net. Like a group of IRL misfits and cast-aways, they believe that internet is their escape from responsibility and accountability for their words and actions. These really are the people who ruin things for the rest of us, and cause a need for more laws and regulations, but that is currently the only method society acknowledges to restrain their destructive impulses.
The bottom line is this, despite the apparent culture of anonymity and unaccountability that exists online, you can and will be identified and prosecuted if you libel or slander someone who is prepared to assert their rights. The internet is not a rule free zone. It never has been. These malcontents need to face the reality that the net isn’t a virtual “get away” from the supposed harsh and oppressive nature of a civilized society, where people can’t be assaulted for “lulz”. The internet is an extension of civilized society, not an escape from it. This case simply reaffirms what should have always been obvious from the beginning, if you break the law, no matter the medium, you are still accountable for your crimes.