Taking names and addresses

by Walter Olson on August 16, 2012

Shelby County (Memphis) has subpoenaed the identity of the authors of 10,000 anonymous comments at the city’s major newspaper, the Commercial Appeal. Some of the comments, on a school consolidation plan, exhibited racial animus, and the county may be planning to seek the striking down of a particular law on the grounds that the lawmakers who enacted it were influenced by citizens displaying improper animus. “It is hard to square this subpoena with long-established protections for the right to speak anonymously,” writes Paul Alan Levy [CL&P] After the subpoena, which the newspaper is resisting, touched off a controversy, two commissioners reportedly “placed partial blame on The Commercial Appeal for reporting the subpoena.” Eugene Volokh wonders why there would be anything wrong with the newspaper blowing the whistle: “I should think that anonymous commenters (past and future) deserve to know that their county government might try to do this to them.” [Volokh Conspiracy](& Alex Adrianson, Heritage Insider Online)

{ 4 comments }

1 Reuven 08.16.12 at 12:47 am

Wow! I’ll refrain from posting my usual “crackpot comments” in my local newspaper!

(The last one I posted was after a news report that Sunnyvale CA police are now carrying tasers. I commented: “They get to carry tasers, and I can’t even carry plastic bags.” They had just banned plastic bags in Sunnyvale.)

2 ras 08.16.12 at 2:40 pm

“the county may be planning to seek the striking down of a particular law on the grounds that the lawmakers who enacted it were influenced by citizens displaying improper animus”

Can we presume that the US Constitution could also be struck down because of the “improper animus” displayed by the original Boston Tea Party? BTW, who decides what sort of “proper” animus is to be considered acceptable?

3 Anonymous Attorney 08.17.12 at 12:16 pm

Soon, there will be brain scans of all of America to test for racial animus, executed by legions of overhead unmanned drones funded in a joint project by the SPLC and Holder DOJ. They’ll be in for a surprise when they find out that everyone’s a little bit racist.

4 MF 08.17.12 at 6:47 pm

Thought crime, anyone? How about the Precrimes Division? (My wife and I just saw ‘Minority Report’ again – great movie!)

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