You sign, it's posted.
September 9, 2005 5:57 PM   Subscribe

Know Thy Neighbor --playing hardball with those who sign a petition amending Massachusetts' Constitution to end same-sex marriage there. All who sign it will have their names and addresses posted on the site. It's the brainchild of Thomas Lang and Alexander Westerhoff, one of the first gay couples married in Massachusetts. A little more here, including this: ...altering the state Constitution is a big deal, and if the backers of this (or any) constitutional amendment can't find 66,000 Massachusetts residents who feel strongly enough about doing so that they're willing to make their support public, then maybe the measure shouldn't be on the ballot after all. ...
posted by amberglow (227 comments total)

 
This is both awesome and brilliant.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:03 PM on September 9, 2005


and from the Boston Herald: Pair vows to out anti-gay wed signers: AG certifies ballot measure
posted by amberglow at 6:05 PM on September 9, 2005


I love this idea.
posted by odinsdream at 6:05 PM on September 9, 2005


and the reaction: Gay-rights backers, foes alike slam posting of names on Web

and an editorial against it--Intimidation on the Web
posted by amberglow at 6:08 PM on September 9, 2005


You will be able to access these names by town, last name, and street address.

Not sure what the point is . Yes, it's public information, but I can't help but think that this might promote some type of intimidation tactics.
posted by tomplus2 at 6:10 PM on September 9, 2005


Um, this isn't abortion we're talking about here. I don't think there are many homosexuals or straight supporters of marriage equality who think that God speaks to them and commands them to Kill Kill Kill.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:11 PM on September 9, 2005


Great, vigilantism. That's what this country needs right now.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:11 PM on September 9, 2005


the point is that those who look at the list (and use google) can know where not to spend their money, and that all actions have consequences, like the consequences if this hateful amendment is passed.
posted by amberglow at 6:12 PM on September 9, 2005


The trouble with things like this is that it could easily be turned around in other, less progressive areas of the nation. Sign a petition to allow gay marriage? Everyone on the internet knows now.

I wouldn't be surprised to find this a matter of public record, as it probably ought to be. However, this is just asking to ostracize people based upon their opinion, and that can get out of hand real quickly.
posted by Saydur at 6:13 PM on September 9, 2005


It is public information, and the Herald article itself outs some of the signers. We have a right to know this stuff, and too bad if people don't want to known--they shouldn't sign then.
posted by amberglow at 6:14 PM on September 9, 2005


"Sign a petition to allow gay marriage? Everyone on the internet knows now."

Okay.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:14 PM on September 9, 2005


How soon will it be until the GOP realizes this is an excellent way to bully their own agenda as well?

Or, what happens if someone uses the site to target some of these homophobes for violence?
posted by fenriq at 6:17 PM on September 9, 2005


I dunno, amberglow. Let's pretend for a moment that it was a petition to allow same-sex marriage, in Kansas, and Fred Phelps published the names and addresses of everyone who signed it on godhatesfags.com.

How would you feel about that?
posted by Ryvar at 6:17 PM on September 9, 2005


This creeps me out a bit. I'm all for gay marriage, but I'm also all for people having the right to express their opinion and vote - privately.

What good is this going to do, exactly? Can someone explain that to me? You're not going to change anyone's mind on the issue by publishing their name. Scare tactics aren't a good way of making friends, and last I checked, the gay community could certainly use friends. We could all use friends! So why alienate people by saying "This person disagrees with me and I think everyone should know about it." Doesn't seem to me to be a very productive strategy.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:18 PM on September 9, 2005


grapefruitmoon nailed it.
posted by danb at 6:19 PM on September 9, 2005


In the Herald article, the caption reads:
"Gay rights advocate Marty Rouse disses website"

"Disses"? That's no longer informal English?
posted by foonie at 6:23 PM on September 9, 2005


I'd be fine with it, Ryvar.

And i think it's very important to expose these things to the sunlight. It's not like voting--it's a signature on a petition. It is public info already.
posted by amberglow at 6:24 PM on September 9, 2005


It's not like voting

Disagree 100%. It's a slow-motion vote. Theoretically all "votes" could be administered via petition.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 6:26 PM on September 9, 2005


not at all Heywood. A petition to amend a constitution is the preamble to a potential vote, which happens later.

It's a registration drive. The organizations pushing this amendment will also use this info to get donations from and send mailings to the signers, so it's not at all like a vote.
posted by amberglow at 6:31 PM on September 9, 2005


Such a stupid idea. It sets ample precedent for future public lists of private voting. Just goes to show that the "fag-haters" aren't the only idiots who use intimidation tactics.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 6:31 PM on September 9, 2005


Scare tactics aren't a good way of making friends...

You know, neither is hatred, bigotry, fear and ignorance.

It sounds like what actually creeps you out is the fact that this is public information. If that's true, then you have a problem with something that this is just the result of. Do you also have a problem with sites like FundRace.org?

If not, why not? Obviously this information cannot be made non-public with far worse consequences than causing someone embarassment, such as corruption and lack of accountability.
posted by odinsdream at 6:33 PM on September 9, 2005



If slavery had been up for a vote, there'd still be slaves and slave owners.

If segregation had been up for a vote, there'd still be segregation.

If interracial marriage had been up for a vote, it would never have been legal.

Prove me wrong, somebody, please. Also, which party do you think would be on the wrong side of these issues today?
posted by mullingitover at 6:36 PM on September 9, 2005


A petition to amend a constitution is the preamble to a potential vote, which happens later.

signing a petition is not "not like voting". It is very similar to voting, and my point was one could substitute petition signing for voting since they are in fact so similar.

I think the information should not be public, regardless of the motivations of these particular petition proponents.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 6:36 PM on September 9, 2005


odinsdream : Ok, hatred, etc. are not good ways of making friends. So, are you saying that since the gay community is confronted with bigotry that they have the collective right to respond with scare tactics in order to further their cause?

Because that doesn't seem to be very productive at all. An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:38 PM on September 9, 2005


I'm all for the gay marriage.

I'm all for publically accepting responsibility for your political actions, even those as minor as signing a petition.

But it seems to me this 'outing' is done out of some strange mix of malicious glee and cowardly intimidation; in the future this innovation will be used primarily against the weak. You don't sign a petition expecting to be opened up on the internet, and that's both exactly why this tactic will work and exactly why it shouldn't be used.
posted by Nahum Tate at 6:40 PM on September 9, 2005


olins, I'm looking down the road, like eg. the legalization of pot here in California. Not so great having potential employers looking over this list, eh?
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 6:40 PM on September 9, 2005


The nice thing is, this is the permanent record. These records could be around 50 years from now, when society has advenced and can look back and see how ignorant and repressive these (still living) people were. Imagine if we had records of where everyone in the country stood during the civil rights era.
posted by mullingitover at 6:41 PM on September 9, 2005


If slavery had been up for a vote, there'd still be slaves and slave owners.

Congress, Lincoln, and the States that ratified the Constitution all voted to abolish slavery.

If segregation had been up for a vote, there'd still be segregation.

Had the Supreme Court STFU in the first place, Brown v. Board would not have been necessary in the first place. A vote on this issue was impossible following Plessy v. Ferguson.

And regarding interracial marriage, I'm not sure I follow your point. When was the concept of interracial marriage forced upon us?
posted by SeizeTheDay at 6:42 PM on September 9, 2005


amberglow, I'm pretty sure you know my position on same-sex marriage by now.

However, I don't think it's cool to be "outing" people for their political positions. It only causes schisms and divisiveness, IMHO.

YMMV, of course.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:43 PM on September 9, 2005


As I read further into the thread, I see Nahum Tate said it as well.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:48 PM on September 9, 2005


And regarding interracial marriage, I'm not sure I follow your point. When was the concept of interracial marriage forced upon us?
posted by SeizeTheDay at 6:42 PM PST on September 9 [!]


1967, Loving v. Virginia.
posted by mullingitover at 6:53 PM on September 9, 2005


Mmmm, loving.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:55 PM on September 9, 2005


Yeah, the 'Virginia is for Lovers' motto seems pretty ironic, given this.
posted by mullingitover at 6:58 PM on September 9, 2005


I'm a bit surprised that I didn't know about that case. Huh. Thanks.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:00 PM on September 9, 2005


I have decided that I am against people keeping opinions to themselves.

I think that keeping your opinion private leaves it largely unchallenged. By leaving it unchallenged, you will probably never have a need to defend it. If you never have a need to defend it, you will probably never have to question whether your belief is valid or not.

If you have an opinion about an issue that effects other people's lives that is so strong that you are willing to make those people live by your opinion, by ballot or any means, you should be made to examine that opinion very, very carefully. If you are unwilling to live with the ethical implications of having that opinion, it is maybe time to ask yourself if that opinion is correct.

I ramble.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:08 PM on September 9, 2005


heh, reading the Loving decision I see the Japanese American Citizens League argued for reversal. Booyah!
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:09 PM on September 9, 2005


Why don't the gay people just get "beards" and play along like all the good citizents in the GOP. If Cheney can do it all these years with that package of his, surely anyone can.
posted by snsranch at 7:13 PM on September 9, 2005


This is bad. I deplore the loss of privacy in modern life, even when it might promote a political issue with which I agree. Next time it might go the other way.
posted by caddis at 7:17 PM on September 9, 2005


what Joey said. I hope just the publicity about the site alone will make people examine their opinions on this. You feel so very strongly that gay and lesbian Massachusetts folks shouldn't be allowed to marry--or even have a civil union? Prove it.
posted by amberglow at 7:20 PM on September 9, 2005


How about the reverse? A nice site full of the names of the married gay couples and their address's.

If anyone proposed that (gay) people would have screamed their heads off about how the homophobes were targeting them.

They shouldn't do this unless they are prepared to do the opposite. That way both groups will know who each other are and where they all live, and the rest of us can cook up some popcorn and watch the show.
posted by a3matrix at 7:22 PM on September 9, 2005


Imagine if we had records of where everyone in the country stood during the civil rights era.

Guys like J. Edgar Hoover and Richard Nixon gave it a good try. In comparison, these people aren't keeping their lists secret, and don't have the coercive power of the federal government behind them.
posted by gimonca at 7:25 PM on September 9, 2005


caddis, yep. When push comes to shove, it won't be the right-wing hardliners who are hurt. This could really be bad alright. I can imagine it now. Listings of all the "gays" in my community so that wackos can abuse those who aren't even "out". We don't need that.

What is a better way to retaliate. What way is there to promote the issue, or promote an intelligent discussion of the issue. How is it possible to argue against deep rooted religious or other beliefs.

This is a tough one. I give it to you people on the blue.
posted by snsranch at 7:26 PM on September 9, 2005


Saydur writes "However, this is just asking to ostracize people based upon their opinion, and that can get out of hand real quickly."

What the hell else are you going to ostracize them on the basis of?
posted by mr_roboto at 7:35 PM on September 9, 2005


I admit I have misgivings about this, but at the same time, I can't think of a political position I've ever held that I'd be afraid to claim in public. (And some of mine are pretty unpopular where I live.)

When Georgia changed its constitution last year to keep me and my partner, both lifelong citizens of this state, from marrying- WITH 73% OF THE VOTE- I felt so ambushed and fag-bashed that I resented and feared ALL of the straight people around me for awhile... knowing that most of them, behind their smiles, had written the impossibility of my having a legally-recognized family into of the constitution of my OWN DAMN HOME STATE.

I'd like to know the names of those who felt that they needed this protection from my family, so that I wouldn't tar the other >22% of them with the same brush, if nothing else.
posted by BoringPostcards at 7:36 PM on September 9, 2005


The petition is not the place to play. Any fool can gather enough signatures on a petition to force some sort of vote, even given this stupid ploy. Attack the issue, or even the leaders of the opposition if you must, but not the people exercising their democratic rights. That sets a very bad precedent. One much more likely to hurt the liberal viewpoint than the conservative viewpoint over time. How about the opposition puts up a website with names of everyone who signs a petition favoring gay marriage and then it is used to deny housing, jobs, etc. ? These people are fools playing with matches and gasoline. Oh its all well and good, and lots of fun, until someone you know gets torched.
posted by caddis at 7:39 PM on September 9, 2005


What the hell else are you going to ostracize them on the basis of?

Perhaps it might be better to convince rather than ostracize them?
posted by caddis at 7:41 PM on September 9, 2005


I was conflicted on how I felt about the site till I saw this page, which I think is brilliant of them to think of and add. Very smart move.
posted by dobbs at 7:43 PM on September 9, 2005


On any divisive issue, this kind 'o thing is gonna create a lot more heat than light, create more fear than open dialog, do exactly nothing for changing anyones mind, and push everyone even further down the road of polarization and into 'them' vs 'us' thinking.

Think about it from the list-ee's point of view no matter what the subject or which side they're on. Make a public list surrounded with a lot of heavily weighted text and imagery and you've now very forcefully and clearly defined 'them', their team roster is now set in stone. What do you think they're going to do? Change their minds about it whatever it is? Get real, they're gonna decide the other side is even more radical and dangerous than they thought and feel even more justified in making their original decision. Some of 'em, who may have just left it at signing a petition, could start looking each other up and deciding what needs to be done about this new and even more personally threatening issue of list-making.

Take a separate example, abortion say. We all get to be on somebodys website described as either 'Baby Killers' or 'Woman Haters'? How is that gonna helpful or productive in any particular way?
posted by scheptech at 7:44 PM on September 9, 2005


Oh, and the opt-out page? Too late, once someone's seen your name on the list there's no way to go back and erase the memory.
posted by scheptech at 7:46 PM on September 9, 2005


The Supreme Court has ruled that Klansmen can be forced to march in parades without their masks.

This seems like the same thing to me... you are not guaranteed the right to intimidate your neighbors anonymously.
posted by BoringPostcards at 7:46 PM on September 9, 2005


Yea, calling Godwin, but this really reminds me of 1930's Germany. Not because anyone did anything specific to piss anyone else off, but because of the early tactics of creating a rift between segments of the population and the general population.

I've been seeing a Hell of alot of those damn "Calvin kneeling beneath the cross" stickers on cars lately. I don't like it. It's like when everybody all-of-a-sudden had Harley stickers in their back windows. In both cases, I'm thinking; "Fuck off, your not a real biker OR a real christian." But people want to cling to stuff.

It makes them feel safe. But I'm thinking they are really just sissies who are still scared shitless after 9/11.
posted by snsranch at 7:50 PM on September 9, 2005


scheptech, what I liked about the opt-out page was the part about 'If someone else signed your name...'. That page, to me, sets up a sort of barrier to anyone who was considering signing up others. In fact, the list being on the site in the first place makes it very difficult for that to happen, which is a very good thing.

Enough "not me's" and the whole petition is brought into question. I'd argue that but for the existence of this site, the vast majority of people on such a list who didn't put themselves there would never know about it.
posted by dobbs at 7:55 PM on September 9, 2005


scheptech writes "Oh, and the opt-out page? Too late, once someone's seen your name on the list there's no way to go back and erase the memory."

Heh. You're not quite getting the purpose of the opt-out page, I think. It's to notify the Secretary of the Commonwealth that there have been "irregularities" in signature gathering.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:58 PM on September 9, 2005


I love the gays as much as any straight man could, but I'm totally against this. Invasion of privacy & voter intimidation just rubs me the wrong way, I guess, even when it's for a cause I believe in.
posted by jonson at 7:59 PM on September 9, 2005


Also, these people are naive to think that someone who signs this petition is embarrassed for other people to know that they did. This sort carries little shame. Rather, most will be proud to see their name on the list, at least 66,000 most likely will.
posted by caddis at 8:03 PM on September 9, 2005


I can see both sides. (It's sometimes hell to be the moderate.)

On one hand, I find the tactic to be primarily one of intimidation. Were the addresses excluded from the online listing, I would be more comfortable with the tactic. I don't see any reason to publish the addresses.

However; the signers of the *public* petition are willing to mandate legal discrimination against other citizens. Ergo, it is only fair that people who disavow discrimination have an easy way to avoid doing business with those that would take their money, but refuse them the same rights as other citizens.

As Rutherford B. Hayes said, "Always try to have the courage of your convictions, and vote as your judgment and conscience dictate."

If your conscience demands that you demand discriminatory legislation, then by gods, have the balls to admit it.
posted by dejah420 at 8:03 PM on September 9, 2005


I get it, and agree, it's smart or a least very effectively self-serving. But, I'm talking about a significant side-effect of the tactic, as it were, a larger issue.
posted by scheptech at 8:08 PM on September 9, 2005


Here's another take on WHY this might be a good idea. What if I, as a part of a gay couple see that my neighbor down the street is on that list? This is something that might never come up in the routine "Hi, great weather we're having" neighbor conversation. But it MIGHT open a dialog for us. I would be able to say, when I see him/her, you know I noticed you signed that petition against same sex marriage. Can I ask what your concerns are?I have lived down the street from you now for several years and you are a good neighbor. I want to understand what people object to about my spouse and I being legally married." I'm not saying it would change anyone's mind but it might give someone a chance to really understand that there are gay people everywhere and that, with one exception, we are just like everyone else. If you don't have the spine to stand up for your "convictions" then you shouldn't sign petitions.
posted by Griffins_posse at 8:10 PM on September 9, 2005


You know, the most militant anti-abortion groups have website lists with names and addresses of those that perform abortions. They publish addresses with the hope that people will picket, harrass, and harm doctors in their homes, and it happens. Doctors get stuff thrown at them, fires are set on their lawns, and some have been shot at.

I know this isn't going that far, but it certainly is a step in that direction.
posted by mathowie at 8:11 PM on September 9, 2005


How about the reverse? A nice site full of the names of the married gay couples and their address's.

If anyone proposed that (gay) people would have screamed their heads off about how the homophobes were targeting them.

They shouldn't do this unless they are prepared to do the opposite. That way both groups will know who each other are and where they all live, and the rest of us can cook up some popcorn and watch the show.


You'd have a point if that was at all the "reverse" of this situation. These aren't just people who don't like gay marriage, these are people who are willing to sign their name on a public record saying they don't like gay marriage. Nobody is collecting this information without their consent, and it isn't the same as "all the gay married couples" being put on a list. I don't even know what the "reverse" would be; a list of gay couples who signed a petition against heterosexual marriage? That doesn't even make sense.
posted by odinsdream at 8:13 PM on September 9, 2005


How about the reverse? A nice site full of the names of the married gay couples and their address's.
If anyone proposed that (gay) people would have screamed their heads off about how the homophobes were targeting them.

every gay couple that i know who is married who be proud to have their names posted on any website. we've been fighting for equality way too long.

having lived in boston for the past 25 years, politics is a blood sport, believe me. the website postings are totally fair game. if this is the new political tool, why not use it?
posted by brandz at 8:16 PM on September 9, 2005


One of the issues that I often see liberals bash conservatives for is exactly this kind of tactic. This is a very conservative thing to do... punishing people for being different or holding the 'wrong' opinion. I've heard it summed up as "You have freedom of speech, but you have to be willing to accept the consequences of that speech."

Uh, guys? If there are consequences, then it's not freedom. Most folks think freedom of speech means 'freedom of consequences from the authorities', but in a country Of the People, By the People, and For the People, you can't really separate citizens from The Gummint. We are them and they are us. If we want freedom of speech, we have to grant freedom of speech.

If you think that posting the names and addresses of abortion doctors on websites is wrong, but you're okay with this tactic, then you need to rethink one of these two stances most carefully. I hope you'll decide in favor of freedom from retribution. Assholes are entitled to their opinions too. It doesn't mean they're valid, but prove your point with words, not by trying to shut them up.

I am appalled by 2005 America's intolerance for speech on 'the other side'. We've had major splits in thinking before, but I don't think the sheer lack of civility has ever, ever been this bad.

If it's okay to try to silence people, how long before they try to silence us?
posted by Malor at 8:16 PM on September 9, 2005


Ok, look-- might it be that this is why we have secret ballots to elect representatives who then vote on legislation, so we can hold elected officials responsible, rather than fighting amongst our neighbors?

Personally, I think this website is an excellent idea-- if you're going to be signing petitions to get odious propositions on the ballot, then you should be willing to announce you're support to the public. If reluctance to publicly put one's name out there as a supporter of a ballot proposition means that public referenda fall out of favor, then that's a good thing.
posted by deanc at 8:18 PM on September 9, 2005


I can see both sides. (It's sometimes hell to be the moderate.)

I don't know that moderation is even the issue. I support the cause, but I'm uneasy about the implications and precedents.
posted by jonmc at 8:19 PM on September 9, 2005


There's a fair bit of supporting evidence to the idea that if one makes one's approving opinion of same-sex marriage known in conservative places that intimidation and possibly violence would ensue. I don't think there's any recorded instances of gangs of militant homosexuals roaming the coasts, beating up unsuspecting straights.

So the whole "what if this was Fred Phelps" counterfactual doesn't illuminate this at all. If Fred fucking Phelps does something, it's freaky and scary and inhuman because it's Fred Phelps, yo.

One side's got a history of violence, the other side's got a history of getting the shit beat out of them. While this move is a little nervy, I still think that, ethically speaking, it's OK - public records are public records, and providing people with the tools to access public records is a good thing.

My main concern is that a signature on a petition is not the same thing as a vote for the amendment. Many people view petitions with the mindset that "This is important, we should vote on it," rather than "I want this to pass," and it would be a shame if people inferred a political position where there was none.

If it's okay to try to silence people, how long before they try to silence us?
posted by Malor at 8:16 PM PST on September 9


Alternatively: if you're so worried about people hearing what you're saying publicly, why are you saying it in public?

(I understand your concern, and dispite the snark I share it; I just think free access to information is key. Eliminationist rhetoric is the real culprit.)
posted by Coda at 8:21 PM on September 9, 2005


Some people have said what I'm about to say, but I want to say it again.

This is NOT A PRIVACY ISSUE.

The point of adding one's name to a petition is to proclaim in a public manner that one is in support of the petition's objective. Petition signers do not exist solely for the purpose of being counted as numbers -- their names are not collected simply so they can be verified as actual signatories and not simply ticks on paper.

If one signs a petition, they should know and understand that they are making a public proclamation of support. That's the whole point. Lang and Westerhoff are making public information more accessible -- no more and no less.

fenriq: How soon will it be until the GOP realizes this is an excellent way to bully their own agenda as well?


If I signed a petition, I'd be proud of my decision and willing to stand by it. It's not unreasonable that 65,825 people in Massachusetts would feel the same way about signing on against gay marriage... and it makes sense that if an issue such as this is destined for a private, anonymous vote in the polls, the public process to get it there should be as transparent as possible, given that it's a matter of civial rights to the opposition.
posted by VulcanMike at 8:22 PM on September 9, 2005


If Fred fucking Phelps does something, it's freaky and scary and inhuman because it's Fred Phelps, yo.

An action is wrong because of who does it?

I loathe Fred Phelps as much as any human could, but that's a dangerous mode of thought. If Fred Phelps wrtes his congressman or organizes a boycott, does that mean we should stop doing those things because they're now scary and inhuman? He's scary and inhuman because of his beliefs not the methods he uses to express them.
posted by jonmc at 8:26 PM on September 9, 2005


If you think that posting the names and addresses of abortion doctors on websites is wrong, but you're okay with this tactic, then you need to rethink one of these two stances most carefully.
posted by Malor at 11:16 PM EST on September 9


The two are not analogous.

If you want to publicize my name because I ride a unicycle, and there are people out there who hate unicyclists and might like to take away our unicycles, that's harrassment. *You* are the aggressor, and I deserve some protection from you.

If you want to publicize my name because I want to make a law stating that unicyclists are dangerous and should have their unicycles taken away from them, then *I'm* the aggressor, and those whom I want to attack have the right to know who it is that's attacking them.
posted by BoringPostcards at 8:26 PM on September 9, 2005


I'd also argue that this sort of process is especially important in the more modern ballot initiative process, given that the very sponsors of these efforts are not from our towns, regions or even our states -- in a lot of cases, the efforts are supported by organizations and individuals that don't even have the right to vote on or sign those very petitions. There are serious efforts to manipulate our laws through seemingly grassroots ballot initiative movements, and those who contribute to the success of these efforts should feel the public's eyes on their backs.
posted by VulcanMike at 8:27 PM on September 9, 2005


signing a petition is expressing your view in public ... period ... this HAS to be public information ... ask yourself this - would you really trust the government to keep the names private? ... how would anyone be sure the signatures were verified properly?

being public information, it was a foregone conclusion that someone start doing this ... and it'll probably be more common in the future

petitioning one's government is a public act and people have to be willing to bear the consequences of being seen in public doing that ... if they're not willing to do that, then they're not accepting the responsibilities that come with freedom
posted by pyramid termite at 8:28 PM on September 9, 2005


An initiative is a public sponsored piece of legislation that can be submitted for a vote to the legislature or general public. -Ohio Code

This is the most accurate way to think of it -- a ballot inititive is a way for the public to act in place of the legislature in the introduction of law. In turn, rather than the legislature voting for that law, the public acts in place of the legislature and votes.

We can hold our elected representatives accountable for the legislation they sponsor, and the idea of letting them sponsor legislation anonymously would be considered ridiculous by most people. That same logic should apply for those in the public who sponsor a ballot initiative.
posted by VulcanMike at 8:35 PM on September 9, 2005


Whether any of us think posting names of pro-choice doctors is wrong or right will not stop those names from being posted online anyway--That's freedom of speech. We have freedom of speech too, and if you speak by signing this petition, we'll tell the world. Posting public information online is done all the time--this is just a targeted version of it. (And they could have posted phone numbers too, but didn't). If you're going to amend a Constitution, the info gathered is public--your proposed action is a big deal, and affects the public.

Unless you make all petitions and public info private, this will happen for all sorts of issues.

I'd also like to throw in that many of these petitions are gathered under false pretences--in Massachusetts: Wagner says it happened on street corners, shopping malls and parking lots. Workers were hired to gathered signature for two petitions: one bans the slaughter of horses for use as food. The other prohibits same sex marriage. But Wagner says, if you think you signed the horse petition, your signature may actually be on the one banning gay marriage.

So, even the people who are running the petition drives know that unless they deceive people they won't get enough signatures.
posted by amberglow at 8:35 PM on September 9, 2005


Well all of you who think this is such a great idea, how would you feel when someone posts your name on a list of people supporting a gay marriage bill and then employers use that list to deny you employment? I believe that the employers would not be violating any laws in such action. Given that very many employers are conservative, but even if only a few are, how would you feel about this? On the flip side, do you seriously think anyone who signs this petition will face any negative consequences, other than social, for having their name posted on some website? As a political ploy this seems flaccid, but as a precedent it seems dangerous, at least to me.
posted by caddis at 8:35 PM on September 9, 2005


Also, it is not about the information being public or not. As with many publication/privacy issues as of late, it is about ease of access and how too easy access can be abused.
posted by caddis at 8:38 PM on September 9, 2005


It's a matter of degree. Publishing names on the net along with the usual 'advertising material' for context is a completely different order of exposure and treatment of those names than previously.

I think it would be fine to suggest one should be willing to engage in some sort of fighting activity post-signing but there's a lot of personally battered, beat-up, and afraid folks out there who deserve to have their voices heard on the issues of the day just like anyone else. They should just clam up if they're not willing to 'fight', whatever that's conceived to be?
posted by scheptech at 8:40 PM on September 9, 2005


caddis, you can sue if that's why you're denied employment (in many states, but not Federally). It's an Equal Opportunity thing. You have recourse if public information is used that way.
posted by amberglow at 8:42 PM on September 9, 2005


Well all of you who think this is such a great idea, how would you feel when someone posts your name on a list of people supporting a gay marriage bill and then employers use that list to deny you employment?

it's not like you would ever know this, you know ... why would i want to work for an idiot like that, anyway?

good workers are hard to find ... i'm a good worker ... i'll get a job somewhere

by the way, how are people going to memorize over 60,000 names? ... some employers don't even bother to call references or past employers ... do you really think they're going to go through 60,000 names to see who's against their pet cause?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:42 PM on September 9, 2005


how would you feel when someone posts your name on a list of people supporting a gay marriage bill and then employers use that list to deny you employment?
posted by caddis at 11:35 PM EST on September 9


There's a reason it's called "taking a stand" when you take a stand for something you believe in. Here in Georgia, it would be perfectly legal not to hire me for my political beliefs.

How would I feel? I'd be pissed. I'd also be glad I knew that employer was a bigot before I went to work for him/her/it.

And you're right, nobody on this list is going to suffer for it. They are the majority, after all. That's why I find it so telling that nobody wants to be on the list... if it isn't fear of retribution, what is it? Plain old shame, maybe?
posted by BoringPostcards at 8:43 PM on September 9, 2005


BoringPostcards, in both cases, the 'poster' of the information is attempting to punish other people for exercising their freedom to do something. In one case, that's riding unicycles; in the other, it's passing a law against unicycle riding.

In either scenario, the poster is the aggressor, trying to punish someone for doing the 'wrong' thing. It's the exact same behavior, for the exact same reason... punishing a perfectly legal behavior. The only difference is the poster's stance on unicycles, which is irrelevant.

I'm not sure how you managed to convince yourself that it's okay in one case but not the other.
posted by Malor at 8:45 PM on September 9, 2005


caddis: The government has a responsibility to provide all of this information in as easy accessible a way as possible. That's how it's supposed to work -- that's why people are questioning the posting of public notices in newspapers these days, since the Internet is so much less expensive and more accessible.

Our representative government exists to act in our interests and on our behalf, in part because we cannot all be legislators ourselves. The Internet allows an unprecedented level of information access, and that means the possibilities for new heights in the governmental operation of this country -- posting the names of citizen legislators, and all information that belongs to the public -- is in the best interest of our democracy and our country.

Scheptech makes a great point too -- if you're not willing to stick your neck out for the ballot initiative you signed -- an extra-ordinary method of legislating -- then perhaps you should have sat back and worked through your elected representatives and the standard legislative process to get your concerns heard.
posted by VulcanMike at 8:45 PM on September 9, 2005


Malor: That's some twisted logic. There is no "punishment" inherent in the distribution of public information, especially when it's the distribution of public information relating to legislation.
posted by VulcanMike at 8:47 PM on September 9, 2005


yes, vulcanmike ... it may be a cliche to say so, but i think the founding fathers would be amazed at those who were afraid of having it be known that they signed a petition ... when they who founded this country risked much, much more than that
posted by pyramid termite at 8:48 PM on September 9, 2005


Vulcan, the purpose in posting this information is to try to shut people up... to keep them from expressing an opinion. You can't possibly argue that it has any other purpose.

That is, very simply, wrong. You can dodge around in mental acrobatics to avoid this if you wish, but it remains wrong.
posted by Malor at 8:51 PM on September 9, 2005


For some folks, just signing a petition is stepping out. It's risk-taking, it's fighting, it's taking a stand, just in itself. Don't forget, this can cut both ways for either liberal or conservative causes. Are we suggesting only the bold, the strong, the secure should be able to sign petitions? Anyone too poor, old, or weak to wanna take it to the next confrontationtational level should just keep their pens to themselves?
posted by scheptech at 8:53 PM on September 9, 2005


scheptech, no, we are suggesting that people understand what the hell signing a petition means. It's not like clapping in an audience. It's a public record, and putting your name on it means people will read your name on it.
posted by odinsdream at 8:56 PM on September 9, 2005


Malor, are you against people reading public record? If not, are you against people who did read a public record sharing what they read with someone else? With a dozen people?
posted by odinsdream at 8:57 PM on September 9, 2005


Vulcan, the purpose in posting this information is to try to shut people up... to keep them from expressing an opinion. You can't possibly argue that it has any other purpose.

You mean, the purpose of posting the information is to play the blame game? Am I at a White House press conference?

This is about accountability, Malor. Members of the public are accountable for introducing legislation outside of the legislature -- it's an additional burden they assume through their decision to (publicly) proclaim their support via signature.

If anything, the decision to post these names holds more true to the original intent of the law than our current "standard" public information methods do -- when such concepts were first introduced, the act of signing a petition was much more out in the open -- there was a time where centrally posting public information at a place of government was an efficient and highly public way of disseminating such information.

Just because the government has not efficiently kept up with evolving technology in light of its obligations to disseminate public information doesn't mean that the efforts of inidivudal citizens to make this information more accessible is harassment. We'd never get anywhere if nothing happened becuase it was true to the spirit of the law, but wasn't status quo.
posted by VulcanMike at 8:59 PM on September 9, 2005


nice point - or:

those unwillling to risk anything in the name of Democracy stand to lose it.
posted by troutfishing at 9:02 PM on September 9, 2005


Ryvar: Let's pretend for a moment that it was a petition to allow same-sex marriage...

folks have already chimed in on this, but I'll add that I'd be proud to have my name and address on the petition in your example. I would not be afraid of people coming to my home and accusing me of signing the petition in your example. so your example would not be intimidating to me.

Heywood Magroot: I'm looking down the road, like eg. the legalization of pot here in California. Not so great having potential employers looking over this list, eh?

This is probably pretty unique to my situation, but I'm pretty sure that part of the hiring process at my job involves evaluating potential employees on how much fun they're likely to be at the bar after work. Were pot legal, I'm pretty sure that part of the hiring process at my job would involve evaluating potential employees on how much fun they're likely to be at the hookah bar after work. That would probably be a pretty unique situation, too.

mr_crash_davis: However, I don't think it's cool to be "outing" people for their political positions. It only causes schisms and divisiveness, IMHO.

what are political positions, but schisms and divisiveness? politics isn't a game of "heads down, thumbs up!" democracy doesn't have to have everyone striking the ostrich pose. see next.

Joey Michaels: If you have an opinion about an issue that effects other people's lives that is so strong that you are willing to make those people live by your opinion, by ballot or any means, you should examine that opinion very, very carefully. Having examined your opinion, if you are unwilling to live with the ethical implications of having that opinion, it is maybe time to ask yourself if that opinion is correct.

bears paraphrasing.

Malor: "You have freedom of speech, but you have to be willing to accept the consequences of that speech."

yes! exactly! speaking freely has consequences. because many people are good, the good consequences make up for and obviate the bad ones. or at least that's the idea.
posted by carsonb at 9:04 PM on September 9, 2005


In either scenario, the poster is the aggressor, trying to punish someone for doing the 'wrong' thing. It's the exact same behavior, for the exact same reason... punishing a perfectly legal behavior. The only difference is the poster's stance on unicycles, which is irrelevant.
posted by Malor at 11:45 PM EST on September 9


Not at all. If I name you as a person who rides a unicycle, then I have attacked you because of your lifestyle. If you name me as one who would take away your unicycle, then you have attacked me because I attacked you. That's self-defense, and generally not a bad thing.

And as I pointed out upthread, the Supreme Court has said we don't have the right to anonymously threaten our neighbors who ride unicycles. And if I sign a petition to take away your unicycle, I'm threatening you.
posted by BoringPostcards at 9:04 PM on September 9, 2005


I'm very very uncomfortable with this. As Malor says, it's meant to intimidate those who hold an opinion, regardless of the hoops you try to jump through justifying it. Your own words say it as clear as day, when you speak of consequences for having an opinion on an issue by outing said person on the internet.

Regardless of the public nature of a petition, this strikes me as heavy handed and wrong, no matter what spin about "public access" you try to put on it. The sole purpose of this "plan" is to make people change their mind not on the merits of the position, but because their name is on the internet. To me, it boils down to that: you're not trying to "win" with the strength of your position and logic, you're trying to win using cheap tricks. If you think this is justified because the other side used nasty tricks in the past, well, there's little I can do to convince you, other than to say I believe in the purity of arguing and convincing someone with the strength of your belief.
posted by Drylnn at 9:07 PM on September 9, 2005


This is going to look a lot more like intimidation to your average individual than accountability.

Dosn't saying individual citizens must be 'held accountable' for the petitions they chose to sign sound more than a little repressive?
posted by scheptech at 9:10 PM on September 9, 2005


Drylnn and scheptech: Are we suggesting only the bold, the strong, the secure should be able to sign petitions? Anyone too poor, old, or weak to wanna take it to the next confrontationtational level should just keep their pens to themselves?

There's no confrontation implicit in this situation. These people are signing a petition and their names are being posted. They've taken a stand, and that stand is being recorded and disseminated. Again, this site is not set up so that people can throw rocks through these peoples' windows -- it's set up to make sure that their support is known.

If the fact that people will know they signed the petition is too much for someone to handle, then they should not be signing the petition, and should instead contact their representatives and/or wait for enough bold people to sign the petition openly and then vote anonymously in the polls.
posted by VulcanMike at 9:10 PM on September 9, 2005


consequences for having an opinion on an issue by outing said person on the internet.

I'm not going to let this stand. This is not about people who have an opinion. This is about people who have an opinion and write their name on a public legislative document that will be filed with the state and permanently stored for anyone to view.

There is a distinct difference. If one doesn't understand what they're signing, that's their fault.
posted by odinsdream at 9:12 PM on September 9, 2005


i'm sorry: i should say that the italic text attributed to Joey Michaels is not a direct quote. my next comment, "bears paraphrasing." refers to the fact that the bit attributed to Joey Michaels was altered by me.
posted by carsonb at 9:13 PM on September 9, 2005


Honestly, I think a lot of people have a problem with the very idea of a public record. Public, like free, means all the time, constantly, and the implications can be staggering. There are a lot of people in the world.

If you think it's okay for public record to exist as long as "not too many people hear about it," you ought to really examine the logic of your position.
posted by odinsdream at 9:14 PM on September 9, 2005


Hmmmm, one of these people lives very, very close to me. Maybe I should go knock on their door.

With my daughter.

And my wife.

- Just another transwoman's late night thoughts...
posted by andreaazure at 9:14 PM on September 9, 2005


Exactly, odinsdream.

To me, it boils down to that: you're not trying to "win" with the strength of your position and logic, you're trying to win using cheap tricks.

This is all so ridiculously backwards -- everyone needs a civics lesson around here. People sign petitions with a false sense of anonymity -- those posting the information online are not trying to win using cheap tricks -- signing public petitions comfortably because the current governmental means of distributing this public information grants you some degree of anonymity is cheap.
posted by VulcanMike at 9:15 PM on September 9, 2005


Drylnn: the strength of your belief.

that's a great metaphor. practically poetry.
posted by carsonb at 9:16 PM on September 9, 2005


Vulcan, the purpose in posting this information is to try to shut people up... to keep them from expressing an opinion. You can't possibly argue that it has any other purpose.

That is, very simply, wrong. You can dodge around in mental acrobatics to avoid this if you wish, but it remains wrong.
posted by Malor at 11:51 PM EST on September 9


I know this wasn't to me, but... the point is, if people are going to amend the constitution of my state or nation to make sure the the rights of that state or nation exclude me and my family, at the very least I SHOULD HAVE A RIGHT TO FACE THOSE PEOPLE AND KNOW WHO THEY ARE. Cowards are always the first to attack- notice how many Web sites don't allow you to speak until you create a name (even a fake one) for yourself? And on the ones that don't, have you noticed how much idiocy, hatred, and bile is posted under the name "Anonymous"?

If some idiot wants to type blather into the void and is afraid to identify himself, no real harm is done. But if that idiot is going to change the very nature of the state I live in, to the detriment of me and my loved ones, I at least deserve to see them and not have them strike at me invisibly from behind a veil.
posted by BoringPostcards at 9:19 PM on September 9, 2005


This is all so ridiculously backwards -- everyone needs a civics lesson around here. People sign petitions with a false sense of anonymity -- those posting the information online are not trying to win using cheap tricks

With all due respect, I disagree. They (the website authors) have acknowledged that these people are on the petition, so I think they decided that a sort of intimidation is the right way to go about this. You might think they're just posting it so that friendly neighbors can go knock on their door and discuss it with them, and I concede that is possible. If that is the case and ONLY those types of discussions go on, I wouldn't have a problem with it. I just think its unlikely, especially with inflamatory comments on the webpage such as "they think some families shouldn't exist". They want to create a more widespread consequence for being on the petition, regardless of the reason that the person signed the petition, and I don't like it. Is it legal? Yes. Do I think its the wrong way to go about it? Yes, but I concede (in discussions with friends) that I could be way off base.
posted by Drylnn at 9:22 PM on September 9, 2005


They (the website authors) have acknowledged that these people are on the petition

Ugh, I was editing and messed up.. that should have said

"They (the website authors) have acknowledged that these people on the petition are unlikely to change their view
posted by Drylnn at 9:23 PM on September 9, 2005


They (the website authors) have acknowledged that these people are on the petition, so I think they decided that a sort of intimidation is the right way to go about this.

since when is it intimidation to point out that people who stand pubically for something have in fact done so?

by this logic, people should never send letters to the editor of their local paper ... because people might see their names and "intimidate" them

in extreme cases, you may be yelled at, pushed around, have property vandalized, etc etc ... you are only intimidated if you allow yourself to feel timid
posted by pyramid termite at 9:28 PM on September 9, 2005


If individual citizens -- people that live next door to me, shop at my store, teach my kids, treat my illnesses, protect me from crime -- were stepping out and making a public against what I perceived to be my civil rights, "they think some families shouldn't exist" would be about the least inflamatory thing you'd hear out of my mouth.

Take this as a "the gay people want to marry, but that's not really important and they should play nice" thing, and I suppose it does look a little over the edge. Take it as a "my fellow citizens want to deny me my rights as an individual simply because they don't think my love for another person is as worthy as their love for another person" and Lang and Westerhoff are being pretty tame and tolerant.
posted by VulcanMike at 9:31 PM on September 9, 2005


Look, if this were a website where the authors encouraged people to submit the names and addresses of those they overheard expressing anti-gay opinions and rhetoric, that would be wrong. It would be based on hearsay, the whole thing would have overtones of neighbors snitching on each other, and the process would be wide open to fraud and libel.

However, this is placing data of a public, legal document on the World Wide Web that petition signers voluntarily signed their name to. The name and address of every single legislator who voted on every piece of legislation is out there. If citizens are so motivated to participate in the legislative process, they need to do the same thing, and that's why petitions exists-- to create this kind of accountability. If it's too much for someone, they shouldn't be signing public petitions that are recorded by the state government.
posted by deanc at 9:33 PM on September 9, 2005


...making a public statement against... Drylnn and I may disagree on this issue, but in typo world, we are brothers.
posted by VulcanMike at 9:33 PM on September 9, 2005


This seems to be legal, since the information is a matter of public record, but it is a terrible idea and anyone who embraces it is because it is being used for their side now will probably wind up regretting it.

This is intimidation, pure and simple, and intimidation, even for the best of ends, is never acceptable in a democracy. Does anyone really want to go back to the time before the secret ballot? Because that's what this kind of thing is trying to do.

All this nonsense about it being public information is just trying to put a happy face on destroying people's right to hold private political beliefs. The government makes keeps these records to protect against fraud, not so unpopular political movements can be silenced. You'd think gay rights activists would understand the importance of that.

It's not even clear to me that all the people who sign this petition would necessarily support the amendment, perhaps they merely want it put to the people to decide, and would vote against it themselves. Maybe they want to see it put to the people and fail, and thus reaffirm the state's support for same sex marriage.

I see a lot of talk about responsibility and taking a stand. That is crap and you all must know it. Responsibility does not mean being subject to the whims of a community that doesn't like, responsibility does not mean the threat of harassment or intimidation. There might not be any explicit threat from this yet, but this is just one step on the road to becoming something more akin the Ku Klux Klan than a civil rights group. It's the same sort of thinking, just without the violence, yet.

This is cheap and underhanded, dirty politics at its dirtiest. This is NOT about inform people, people gain nothing from knowing which one of their neighbors holds which political belief, except the ability to harass or intimidate those with whom they disagree. This is absolutely sickening and many of those who claim to be the biggest supporters of democracy are the ones championing it, which only makes it all the worse.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:34 PM on September 9, 2005


since when is it intimidation to point out that people who stand pubically for something have in fact done so?

I'm no expert, but I can't recall other petitions being outed in this manner for this purpose online. They probably do exist and I'm just ignorant of them. I don't think people sign petitions thinking that they'll be posted for every activist on the other side to see along with their contact information. Maybe they should think about those consequences (which is the point people are making on here), but I can't help but see this latest action as intimidation in conjunction with the quotes and such on that website.

by this logic, people should never send letters to the editor of their local paper ... because people might see their names and "intimidate" them

People have the expectation that their information will be published. To take an example from my local area, a woman sent an editorial to the local paper criticizing the sheriff, and the sheriff took that information, looked up the rest of her mailing address and sent her a nasty letter. Was that a reasonable expectation for the writer of the letter to get that kind of response? Perhaps people are ignorant of the idea of a public petition and how information can be shared, but I don't think this was the best way to educate them (aka, intimidation, and I think this is intimidation in a different way from an editorial letter).

I realize there are fairminded people who want only to talk to those people who signed the petition, but there are probably some nutjobs who will wrongly use that information. The combination of these and my earlier arguments make me nervous about the whole thing.

Like I said though, I'm asking other people to see if I'm way off base (off of metafilter). I concede its possible that I am.
posted by Drylnn at 9:35 PM on September 9, 2005


Drylnn and I may disagree on this issue, but in typo world, we are brothers.

Indeed. We are all a band of typo brothers.

I'm just glad we can have a civil conversation on the issue. I was concerned I'd have to wade through legions of "You're some sort of bigot" posts when I originally posted.
posted by Drylnn at 9:36 PM on September 9, 2005


It's not even clear to me that all the people who sign this petition would necessarily support the amendment, perhaps they merely want it put to the people to decide, and would vote against it themselves. Maybe they want to see it put to the people and fail, and thus reaffirm the state's support for same sex marriage.

Exactly what I was trying to get at with my discussion of the reasons why people signed. I definitely agree with the gist of your post about the issue. I just can't word it eloquently enough to help people understand, which I guess is my failing.
posted by Drylnn at 9:41 PM on September 9, 2005


This is cheap and underhanded, dirty politics at its dirtiest. This is NOT about inform people, people gain nothing from knowing which one of their neighbors holds which political belief, except the ability to harass or intimidate those with whom they disagree. This is absolutely sickening and many of those who claim to be the biggest supporters of democracy are the ones championing it, which only makes it all the worse.

No--what's absolutely sickening, dirty and cheap and underhanded is attempting to restrict others' rights.
posted by amberglow at 9:42 PM on September 9, 2005


The government makes keeps these records to protect against fraud

Has anyone come across any good ballot initiative history links? I'm Googling right now, but the best I've found is links to a term paper on the issue, whose summar mentions how the concept has been completely corrupted from its original intention. Obviously, some of this isn't making sense because the current use of the concept is at odds with the concept itself.

It would be good even to know when it was first introducted -- I have this vision in my head of early, early America where signing and posting such an inititive would be front and center in a town, and since communities were smaller, it wouldn't be necessary to even post an address -- simply a name on a paper, as would surely be required, would be sufficient to completely indentify the person and their support and thus non-anonymous identification would be on the same level this site is establishing.
posted by VulcanMike at 9:45 PM on September 9, 2005


I hope Metafilter hasn't become that sort of place :


But I doubt it has.
posted by troutfishing at 9:45 PM on September 9, 2005


amberglow, you really, really need to look at the big picture. What's at stake here has NOTHING to do with the issue of gay right, it has nothing do with the issue at hand, and everything to do with the tactics being used.

This is like not being able to see the difference between supporting the Nazis and supporting their right to free speech. I wouldn't sign this petition, but I don't want to think that my private information will be posted on the internet because I hold a position someone disagrees with. That sort of thing could kill a democracy. Don't let your hate for these people take you down a path like that.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:46 PM on September 9, 2005


I see a lot of talk about responsibility and taking a stand. That is crap and you all must know it.

yeah, see if anything ever changes in this country if no one's willing to talk about it pubically ... or sign a petition

it's not crap ... this is the way it's always worked and the way it always has ... people take their stands in public and yes, they are confronted for doing so

dryinn - I'm no expert, but I can't recall other petitions being outed in this manner for this purpose online.

they outed themselves when they SIGNED the public petition

a newspaper would be within its rights to publish the list of names on a petition ... would you object to that?

I don't think people sign petitions thinking that they'll be posted for every activist on the other side to see along with their contact information. Maybe they should think about those consequences (which is the point people are making on here), but I can't help but see this latest action as intimidation in conjunction with the quotes and such on that website.

in other words, people should be able to express these opinions publically, but they should never be talked to or disagreed with about them?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:48 PM on September 9, 2005


Vulcanmike says: "There's no confrontation implicit in this situation. These people are signing a petition and their names are being posted. They've taken a stand, and that stand is being recorded and disseminated. Again, this site is not set up so that people can throw rocks through these peoples' windows -- it's set up to make sure that their support is known."

That, sir, is bullshit. It is an action taken to shut people up. You are trying to suppress ideas you don't like by punishing the people involved. This is a classic conservative tactic, and you can bet your ass they're going to be all over this. Talk radio is going to be full with yet more accusations about 'those damn liberals'. And, in thise case, they'll be right.

The sophistry and handwaving about 'teaching these people that these documents are public' are exactly that. You don't like their opinion, and you're going to punish them for that, by making sure the whole world knows exactly who signed a petition you don't like.... by providing it in easy-to-use database format.

Well, sir, when the shoe's on the other foot and the Reverend Phelps of the world can now look up sinners by zip code, I hope you remember that you're in favor of him having easy access to that information. The three-click hitlist... and you're in favor.

The antidote to speech you don't like is more speech, not retribution.
posted by Malor at 9:50 PM on September 9, 2005


It would be good even to know when it was first introducted -- I have this vision in my head of early, early America where signing and posting such an inititive would be front and center in a town,

actually, in small town america, one would go to the town meeting and in front of your neighbors and everyone, state one's opinion ... or even propose something

there was no requirement that one be liked for it

there are many places, even today, where things still work that way ... and then others worry about being identified as 1 in 60,000 petition signers
posted by pyramid termite at 9:53 PM on September 9, 2005


Does anyone here really think this information is public for the purpose of making people "accountable" for hold an opinion?

Does anyone really think that's how a democracy should work? That everyone voices their opinion publicly and faces the consequence? If so, should we bring back the public vote? That brought a lot of "accountability" for supporting unpopular ideas.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:53 PM on September 9, 2005


Wikipedia to the rescue. Sounds like my scenario as described here is a somewhat reasonable asssumption -- in over 100 years, since the modern concept was introduced, the dissemination of signature information doesn't seem to have changed much...

====

In the United States the initiative is in use, at the level of state government, in 24 states, and is also in common use at the local and city government level. The initiative has been recognised in the US since at least 1777 when provision was made for it by the first constitution of Georgia.
However, the modern U.S. system of initiative and referendum originated in the state of Oregon in 1902, when the state's legislators adopted it by an overwhelming majority. The "Oregon System", as it was at first known, subsequently spread to many other states. Well known U.S. initiatives include various measures adopted by voters in states such as Washington, Oregon, and California.
posted by VulcanMike at 9:53 PM on September 9, 2005


a newspaper would be within its rights to publish the list of names on a petition ... would you object to that?

Can you show me times when they have? If its commonplace, then I'll concede you're right, but I can't think of any time I've seen petition names posted in the paper, complete with address.
posted by Drylnn at 9:54 PM on September 9, 2005


The antidote to speech you don't like is more speech, not retribution.

Exactly. What happened to winning on the merit of your argument rather than the need for these types of activities?

I can't possibly see this list being used to educate people and reasonably discuss with them their viewpoint. If that activity does go on, it'll be in the minority compared to threats and intimidation tactics by "crazies" reading through the names.
posted by Drylnn at 9:58 PM on September 9, 2005


That, sir, is bullshit. It is an action taken to shut people up.

only a coward would shut up

You are trying to suppress ideas you don't like by punishing the people involved.

disagreeing with a person's public actions is not punishment ... it's democracy in action

The sophistry and handwaving about 'teaching these people that these documents are public' are exactly that.

it's not sophistry, it happens to be the truth ...

Well, sir, when the shoe's on the other foot and the Reverend Phelps of the world can now look up sinners by zip code, I hope you remember that you're in favor of him having easy access to that information.

why not? ... he's nothing but a blowhard anyway

haven't you ever noticed that he's very, very careful not to do anything illegal?

The antidote to speech you don't like is more speech, not retribution.

republishing lists of people who sign public documents IS speech
posted by pyramid termite at 9:58 PM on September 9, 2005


having heard the discussion this far, and being a member of metafilter in fair standing, i do propose a vote on the issue.

[mathowie should chime in any minute to ask:] all in favor of halting discussion forthwith and taking a vote on the issue say "aye"
posted by carsonb at 9:58 PM on September 9, 2005


Amberglow, in this case, the subject matter is absolutely unimportant. It could be dahlia-lovers under attack, or as BoringPostcards was saying, unicycle lovers.

People have the right to believe that dahlia lovers and unicycle riders are evil and dangerous, and they have the right to do so without retribution. Your job, as a unicycle-riding dahlia lover, is to convince them (and everyone else) that those ideas are wrong.

The way to convince them is not by being vindictive, but by being persuasive.

This is not persuasive behavior. It's just intimidation. You should know better. Win on the merits of your argument. It's a good one. You WILL win eventually.

At least, you will if you're allowed to speak without retribution.
posted by Malor at 9:58 PM on September 9, 2005


Let's see...the brunt of the argument pro same sex sex marriage thusfar has been that we should hold, as our standard as a society, that each member of that society is entitled to equal treatment. That is our standard. We don't always get there, but that's the ideal. That is not convincing enough for some people. They must now create a petition that codifies their personal belief that gay people are unlike straight people in society and should be treated differently. What tactic would you suggest we counter with? I don't think anyone on that list is placed in danger. And as to the shoe being on the other foot, I speak as part of a couple that was married in San Francisco. Believe me, in the days subsequent to our ceremony, we were INNUNDATED with solicitations for products, house refinance, credit cards, car loans. Our name had spread far and wide. If we're about the concept of denying basic tenets of community life, let's ask that each participant stand up and state their position, and accept that said position is now common knowledge. I want to know who NOT to sit next to at the parties.
posted by Griffins_posse at 9:59 PM on September 9, 2005


There's no confrontation implicit in this situation.

Well, we're apparently seeing the same thing completely differently. I think some folks are going to see this as extremely confrontational indeed. If it becomes common practice to set up a website and tally names on either side of an issue, wherever those names come from, whatever the currency or accuracy of the information, or in whatever context they're presented, it'll be effectively a restriction on free participation in the political process and an essentially undemocractic influence.

I'm wondering about the legal angle on this thing. How much responsbility do the website operators have for maintaining a 100% accurate list. What if someone says a mistake was made and that mistake is harming my business interests and personal reputation, somehow the list is incorrect and the site is partly responsible for disseminating incorrect information about me? Suit-worthy? What happens when someone uses the opt-out page? How much effort is the site obligated to make to update the publics perception about the persons new status? Is simply deleting their name enough since that name can't be so easily removed from the publics memory? Like that.
posted by scheptech at 10:01 PM on September 9, 2005


Well, sir, when the shoe's on the other foot and the Reverend Phelps of the world can now look up sinners by zip code, I hope you remember that you're in favor of him having easy access to that information. The three-click hitlist... and you're in favor.

Bring them the fuck on. There are laws in this nation protecting me from being silenced and for being murdered and discriminated against for my ideas, and thus I am willing and proud to have those ideas recorded. If everyone walked around in fear of retribution for their opinions, nothing would ever change.

That is perhaps the difference here (pyramid termite already made this point) -- nobody who is secure in their opinion on any side of an issue is going to be swayed by the fact that their name will be out in lights. Thus, this website should make no difference in the outcome of the ballot signing efforts and if it does... then maybe those fighting for gay marriage have fought a better fight over all of these years...
posted by VulcanMike at 10:02 PM on September 9, 2005


Griffins, I would suggest you counter with the tactic of defeating the initiative on its merits, which shouldn't be hard in Massachusetts. The same way everyone should try to deal with any political idea they don't like.

Also, part of our idea of a community is that some things are free from community scrutiny, they are private. Beliefs are part of a private sphere, we should not be held accountable to the community for them.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:03 PM on September 9, 2005


Beliefs are part of a private sphere, we should not be held accountable to the community for them.

legislation ... or a constitutional amendment are NOT part of the private sphere ... those who propose such things are in fact accountable to support and defend them
posted by pyramid termite at 10:07 PM on September 9, 2005


And while we're at it, why don't we make VOTING RECORDS public too?

Hmm, maybe we can't... maybe they're anonymous for a reason. And perhaps, just perhaps, people who signed an initiative should be protected too?

SHAME on you people arguing that this is okay.
posted by Malor at 10:08 PM on September 9, 2005


Is my vote private pyramid? That's a fairly simple question no one on this thread has answered yet, because my vote in an election and my vote on a petition are very similar, yet you would throw my privacy for one out the window so quickly, and I can't imagine you'd do the same for the other.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:08 PM on September 9, 2005


Is my vote private pyramid? That's a fairly simple question no one on this thread has answered yet, because my vote in an election and my vote on a petition are very similar

How you voted is private. That you voted and that you are registered to vote (and what party you're registered with) is public information.

Signing a petition to place an initiative to a public vote is NOT like voting. One is PUBLICLY petitioning the government. Maybe if people realized that, there would be fewer initiatives places on the ballot. I can't say that would be a bad thing.
posted by deanc at 10:11 PM on September 9, 2005


I think the debate comparing it to a vote is a little offtrack, as ostensibly, a petition is public record. I'm not sure that those signing it are aware of that, and I'm not sure this is the way to educate them, by outing them on a webpage.
posted by Drylnn at 10:12 PM on September 9, 2005


It's not even clear to me that all the people who sign this petition would necessarily support the amendment, perhaps they merely want it put to the people to decide, and would vote against it themselves. Maybe they want to see it put to the people and fail, and thus reaffirm the state's support for same sex marriage.

Wait, I'm confused. If they are signing the petition, then they are banning same-sex marrage, right? How could you sign this with the intent of putting it "to the people to decide" if it is this petition that is amending the state constitution?
posted by Boydrop at 10:14 PM on September 9, 2005


In a hundred years, people are going to be ashamed of their great-grandparents' names appearing.
posted by callmejay at 10:15 PM on September 9, 2005


People have the right to believe that dahlia lovers and unicycle riders are evil and dangerous, and they have the right to do so without retribution. Your job, as a unicycle-riding dahlia lover, is to convince them (and everyone else) that those ideas are wrong.

posted by Malor at 12:58 AM EST on September 10


Sure, they have they right to believe that unicycle riders are evil. But do they have the right to anonymously gather and decide that they will take away the unicycles, without facing the people who will be left immobile? I don't think they do. I think they have to face the people they're hurting, and that, apparently, is where we differ.

It's SO easy to pass judgement on people that you've never met, and are in no danger of meeting. It's almost like they aren't real people, but just an idea, and that makes it easy to hurt them. If I'm going to take away your unicycle, I should be man enough to look you in the eye while I take it away and tell you to start walking.
posted by BoringPostcards at 10:15 PM on September 9, 2005


Is my vote private pyramid?

yes ... but advocacy, including proposing legislation or constitutional amendments, is not ... what i don't think you're seeing here is that it would be impossible to have a referendem process without the public being able to verify for themselves that the signatures were genuine

considering that political and single issue groups spend thousands of dollars going through public petitions trying to verify that these signatures are in fact genuine ... and that not all these groups can in fact spend that kind of money ... there's an actually argument to be made for making this information available online, so that ANY interested party can go through them and verify the signatures and addresses and challenge them

anonymous petition signing is a really bad idea ... why should i trust the government to verify without public oversight?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:17 PM on September 9, 2005


People are confusing the creation of legislation here and voting.

If you don't want be responsible for for creating legislation you can ABSTAIN . . .

Legislators do it all the time.
posted by Boydrop at 10:17 PM on September 9, 2005


Wait, I'm confused. If they are signing the petition, then they are banning same-sex marrage, right? How could you sign this with the intent of putting it "to the people to decide" if it is this petition that is amending the state constitution?

The petition is for a vote, not to directly amend (I think).
posted by Drylnn at 10:18 PM on September 9, 2005


The initiative is a way of attempting to modify the laws of a state, and thus it functions almost exactly like a vote in an election. To completely dismiss the comparison also ignores the fact that we would never think of letting people know how someone votes, but you want to publish this information without so much as a second thought.

Boydrop, the petition would merely place an item on the ballot, it can not, in and of itself, amend the constitution.

The people that support this will have to face their critics, if and when they receive enough votes and have to campaign for the ballot item. This is not like people secretly gathering to take away people's unicycles. The taking away of unicycles must be voted on by the people.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:19 PM on September 9, 2005


those who propose such things are in fact accountable to support and defend them

I can see holding the folks who draft and conduct petitions publicly accountable, as they are anyway, and obviously there has to be some way to verify the accuracy of their lists.

I don't see that any private citizen after signing a petition should obligated to do anything further about it at all. They have already freely participated. They should be allowed to simply go about their own private business from then forward. They should even be allowed to change their minds and vote differently when the time comes. I don't see how they should be held accountable to support and defend their decision to sign a petition. It's up to them and they should be freely allowed to do so based on their own judgement at the time.
posted by scheptech at 10:21 PM on September 9, 2005


pyramid, of course the information should be public for the purposes of challenging it. The question here is about an organization putting information up for the express purpose of letting people know who signed it. This is not meant to make sure that the signatures are legitimate, it is meant to make "out" the people who support the petition. There is a world of difference.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:21 PM on September 9, 2005


The initiative is a way of attempting to modify the laws of a state, and thus it functions almost exactly like a vote in an election.

no, it doesn't ... as after the petition is approved, then people vote on it

there are two seperate processes going on here ... one is public, by necessity ... the other, voting, is private
posted by pyramid termite at 10:23 PM on September 9, 2005


Ah, thanks Bulgar and DryInn. I'm now back in the "I'm not so sure about this" camp.
posted by Boydrop at 10:25 PM on September 9, 2005


I think . . .
posted by Boydrop at 10:26 PM on September 9, 2005


pyramid, of course the information should be public for the purposes of challenging it. The question here is about an organization putting information up for the express purpose of letting people know who signed it.

the reality is, you can't have one without the other being possible

i wouldn't bother doing it, personally

but if a petition comes up for gay marriage in my state, i'll sign it ... and if some ditzy group decides to publish my and everyone else's names as immoral people who are going to hell

screw them ... just screw them ... they won't "intimidate" me from signing it, because it's MY choice to feel intimidated, not theirs
posted by pyramid termite at 10:27 PM on September 9, 2005


Well, hey! Phonebook records are public. You know, all this time, I thought that the abortion haters were doing something terribly, terribly unethical by posting the names and addresses of abortion clinics and doctors on their websites.

But now, I see the light! It's public records! It's perfectly okay to republish public records. And if a few abortion doctors get hurt, well, gee, maybe they'll stop performing abortions. They published their information. Why, they even KNEW it was public information before they signed on the dotted line. They knew what they were getting into. Let 'em die!

I guess those abortion haters were just fine, upstanding Americans after all. Silly me.
posted by Malor at 10:28 PM on September 9, 2005


Oh for God's sake, Malor. The two sides of the gay marriage issue are civil rights vs traditional values. The two sides of the abortion issue are murderer vs individual rights. The closest Planned Parenthood to where I live in Massachusetts was the one where an abortion foe rushed in and killed people. Nobody has rushed into a gay wedding and comitted violence, nor has anyone rushed into an anti-gay-marriage meeting and committed violence. Give it up, it's starting to get offensive.
posted by VulcanMike at 10:32 PM on September 9, 2005


You know, all this time, I thought that the abortion haters were doing something terribly, terribly unethical by posting the names and addresses of abortion clinics and doctors on their websites.

and all this time, i thought people went to abortion clinics and doctors by knowing what the address was

if you can think of a way to have people who want abortions know the address and no one else, i'm interested to hear it

you're making a poor argument here
posted by pyramid termite at 10:33 PM on September 9, 2005


I need to sleep so this will be my last comment for the evening. The issue here is not about whether or not this information should be public, nor about the issue at dispute in the petition.

The issue here is a organization standing up providing a list of people who are enemies of their cause. This is about attempting to intimidate people for their political beliefs. The state does not keep these records to ensure that people are held "accountable", it does so to protect against fraud. This does nothing to prevent fraud. A private citizen, looking at a list of names, can not detect voter fraud. There is not purpose to this other than to provide me with a list of people who the site owner thinks are bad people. The absolute best use of that information is to ostracize people for their opinions, and that should not be a goal in our society.

This is no better than a list of their political enemies or a proscription list. It does nothing to further the debate, and it does nothing to make their point. It only serves to embarrass people for their beliefs, something that is the antithesis of genuine liberal values. You can act all tough about what you would do if someone tried to do it to you, but I frankly don't care. Democracy depends on people feeling free to support what they think is right, without fear of retribution. It is not someone's "choice" to be intimidated, that's dangerous thinking. We need to make sure we keep intimidation far from our politics, it's just bad for everyone.

I hope most of you that support this are just ignoring the principle for the sake of the issue involved, like ambermoon, because if someone actually believes that a democracy functions better when people with unpopular beliefs are shamed, that's scary.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:36 PM on September 9, 2005


And if a few abortion doctors get hurt, well, gee, maybe they'll stop performing abortions. They published their information. Why, they even KNEW it was public information before they signed on the dotted line. They knew what they were getting into. Let 'em die!

I guess those abortion haters were just fine, upstanding Americans after all. Silly me.
posted by Malor at 1:28 AM EST on September 10


Dude, you seem like an intelligent guy who is deliberately not listening. Come on... do you really not see the difference between people living their lives, doing things that are legal in this country, and people who want to anonymously gather and stop others from living their lives as they see fit?
posted by BoringPostcards at 10:43 PM on September 9, 2005


Democracy depends on people feeling free to support what they think is right, without fear of retribution.

and my last comment ... freedom depends on people supporting what they think is right, whether there is retribution or not

because if someone actually believes that a democracy functions better when people with unpopular beliefs are shamed, that's scary.

it's inevitable ... catagorizing people as "bigots", "commies", "moonbats", or "wingnuts" is fairly common ... it's not often useful, but there it is ...
posted by pyramid termite at 10:45 PM on September 9, 2005


I'm reading in these comments words like "vengence" and "scare tactic" and "punishment." I don't see that at all. I call it "information."

There are very few things that I feel strongly enough about to bother signing a petition: Gay Rights, Abortion Rights, legalizing street drugs, and keeping the bible (including Intelligent Design) out of science classes. I would be happy to have my name and address published by anyone opposed to these ideas.

On the other hand nobody is pressuring these people to sign their names to a petition. If they are afraid of the scrutiny, then I think they are not completely convinced in the rightousness of their agenda.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:47 PM on September 9, 2005


The initiative is a way of attempting to modify the laws of a state, and thus it functions almost exactly like a vote in an election.

That's incorrect.

Votes in the election on the ballot issue following a successful initiative are exactly like votes in an election, because they are votes in an election.

Signing the initiative petition is essentially providing campaign support for the following ballot proposition, in that it enables the proposition to be placed on the ballot.
It is not like voting, it is like sending a campaign donation. Which is, as you'll note, public and easily accessible information.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:48 PM on September 9, 2005


Malor, do you even live in the United States? To me it sounds like you don't understand why petitions to place referenda on the ballot are public documents. I mean, people have said it over and over again and you just stick your fingers in your ears.

Would we let our legislators vote without letting us know who voted for what? No. Would we be comfortable with petitions full of fake names and fake addresses? No.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:01 PM on September 9, 2005


It's not the existence of the information, it's the use of it by private parties as an 'enemies list' that's new here, good post btw, very web-relevant.

Anyhow, once these guys survive, assuming they do, for more than three months without landing in court we can expect to see more enemies lists? Great, should be interesting as mistaken identities, duplications, and people who sign every petition going are revealed. Not going to do much for public participation in the process though.
posted by scheptech at 11:01 PM on September 9, 2005


If I'm going to take away your unicycle, I should be man enough to look you in the eye while I take it away and tell you to start walking.

(for the record, I agree with BoringPostcards, but the above just makes me crack up every time I read it.)
posted by Vidiot at 11:27 PM on September 9, 2005


Anyhow, once these guys survive, assuming they do, for more than three months without landing in court we can expect to see more enemies lists?
posted by scheptech at 2:01 AM EST on September 10


Actually, a funny thing happened when the NRA started an "enemies list"... so many people wanted to get on it that the NRA eventually shut their list down due to high traffic, but other folks volunteered to keep the list going.
posted by BoringPostcards at 11:33 PM on September 9, 2005


It seems pretty simple to me: if I sign a public list attempting to dictate the way certain people live their private lives in the nation in which I live, then I'd have no problems with my name being on a public list that is attempting to dictate the way certain people live their private lives.

Some people here seem to think that if they were to sign that public list then it should not be made public. That doesn't seem to make sense.
posted by dazed_one at 12:18 AM on September 10, 2005


Before we get our panties in a knot: have any of the people on the list complained?
posted by mullingitover at 12:25 AM on September 10, 2005


Some people here seem to think that if they were to sign that public list then it should not be made public. That doesn't seem to make sense.

posted by dazed_one at 3:18 AM EST on September 10


Stop the presses! Someone gets it.
posted by BoringPostcards at 12:30 AM on September 10, 2005


scheptech writes "It's not the existence of the information, it's the use of it by private parties as an 'enemies list' that's new here.."

I doubt whether it's new (see abortionists -- although perhaps it is new with respect to public legislation-changing petitions) but this is the real issue isn't it? Not whether information is public but whether and how such information should be published and what access and republishing restrictions ought to be in play.

For the record I think this is intimidatory. My signing a petition shouldn't carry with it the possibility that my personal details will be presented how any editorializing private advocacy group wishes.

I'm reminded of the thread in the grey a couple of months ago (where naxosaxur had a meltdown of sorts) where a script was written that would associate freely available public pictures of users with their names on the MeFi page. People weren't happy about it despite the likely innocent intentions of the protagonist.

The issue isn't that people should be denied access to public documents such as photos (or petition signing records), it's that we all generally have an expectation of there being a step or 2 in the process of retrieving those records and that they are not published under someone else's headline in intimidatory terms as seems the case here.

If their mission statement which in part states === "KnowThyNeighbor.org believes that the general public has the right to easy access of such information and makes no assertion as to how this information should be used by the public" === included an exhortation for people not to intimidate or hurt or otherwise harass individuals on the list then they would be acting a little bit more responsibly at least.

And the bigger issue becomes a consequent reluctance of people to sign any petition in the future because unlike previously, where some effort was required to identify details of signatories, they will feel that it's not worth it. Most people would likely want to have a say but don't want private sector editorializing-led potential consequences - and these have nothing to do with being accountable per se, they are more to do with unknown hidden risks such as verbal harassment, assault or property damage.

So leave the records with the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachussets and allow access only through that office with restrictions on republishing would be my vote. Not that I have one of course...but still..........this whole issue is something that ought to be looked at by legislators worldwide.
posted by peacay at 1:25 AM on September 10, 2005


Damn that state....Massachusetts!
posted by peacay at 1:28 AM on September 10, 2005


this is for the most part a really excellent discussion; i am glad i found metafilter.

i'm pro same-sex marriage, and not at all afraid to go on the record for it. (well, actually i am against government-sponsored marriage altogether and would like it replaced by a contract between however many people of whichever genders want to sign on to it, but that's for another debate.) while we have government-sponsored marriage, i believe it is discriminatory to deny it to same-sex partners.

yes, the record is public. if goverment agencies were to publicise petition signatures on their own websites for the purpose of verification and accountability, i wouldn't have a problem with it. hm. well, actually i would have a problem with publicising people's home addresses, so i guess i would get to take that up with the government. i think people should be educated to expect the "public" part of the record, and i prefer that to be done by the agency to which they address their petition.

i don't at all like the whiff, the appearance of intimidation when it comes to somethind related to voting. i don't like the idea of a random person creating a website and using the public record to create a list of "enemies". even without any incitement whatsoever, i don't like it. i think this is an idea that is bound to backfire, and i think the cause of legalising same-sex marriage doesn't need the additional grief.

and yes, indeed, the antidote to speech i don't like is more speech, and not of the intimidating kind.
posted by piranha at 1:57 AM on September 10, 2005


This is silly. There is a world of difference between making a listing of abortion doctors, calling them murderers, not so subtly inciting your followers to harass or kill them, and then crossing their names out when a doctor has been murdered.

That's called intimidation, and inciting crime. It is completely illegal, and is worth a stint in Federal pound-you-in-the-ass penitentiary.

On the other hand, petition signatures are public for a reason, and in a capitalist society I have the perfect right not to buy from, sell to, or associate with another private citizen or company on the basis of their beliefs. Allowing people to mine the data to know which neighborhood busineses or neighbors not to associate with is a downright healthy public service!

Nobody bats an eye at the boycotts of companies that "believe" and act on the belief that sweat-shop labor is a great way to go. How is it any different for socially progressive Americans to refuse to associate with or enrich those backwards enough to block others from achieving equal legal status?
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 6:53 AM on September 10, 2005


coda: "public records are public records, and providing people with the tools to access public records is a good thing."

There's access and there's access, however. I feel that representative democracy benefits from not operating at Internet speed.

If people have to go to the Secretary of State's office and look at actual signatures on paper petitions, it's going to take time and effort. On the other hand, if they can just click on a website and pull up names and addresses, a misguided few might decide to be vigilantes.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:55 AM on September 10, 2005


The reason why I have a problem with this is that it is the kind of tactic that can be used by very dangerous people, in other contexts, to persecute others. This tactic will probably have little practical effect on this issue. It may make the people doing it feel tough, but it will not change anything politically. But it will help justify some very very bad things in the future. In that sense it is a retrograde step.
posted by chaschas at 7:03 AM on September 10, 2005


Optimus Chyme wrote: Would we let our legislators vote without letting us know who voted for what? No.

Sure we would
. It's not unheard of for a voice vote to be used in Congress to help its members avoid individual accountability (fourth paragraph).

That being said, there's a reason we call them "public" officials and "private" citizens. I think the linked website is a bad idea.
posted by the_bone at 7:41 AM on September 10, 2005


I have a bunch of lists: which ones are "bad" and which ones are "good"?

A list of companies that do business with Israel.

The home addresses of abortion clinic employees, culled from a phone book.

The marriage records of homosexuals married in SF or Massachusetts.

A list of people that signed a petition to bring a ballot initiative to ban gay marriage.

The marriage records of interracial couples.

The voting records of government representatives.

The home addresses of the members of an AME Church.
posted by fet at 7:46 AM on September 10, 2005


Before we get our panties in a knot: have any of the people on the list complained?
Read my additional links, way up top. The people who are unhappy about it are the very people who decided to start the petition--the Mass Family group, and their friends (like former Mayor Flynn of Boston. There are NO random everyday signers yet--the petition process was only just approved. I see this as a forestalling measure more than anything else, from the only state that allows legal marriages so far, and in which it's been a success, and has not harmed traditional marriage nor has it led to a breakdown of society. All arguments made in support of this hateful amendment. You can't counter with another amendment nor can you counter with arguments once the process has been certified. All you can do is try to stop the Amendment process--this is a good and novel way to do so.

Other people have said it better but: DO NOT SIGN A PETITION TO AMEND A STATE or the US CONSTITUTION UNLESS YOU KNOW THAT YOUR INFORMATION IS PUBLIC, AND WILL BE MADE PUBLIC. PUBLIC INFORMATION IS PUBLIC.

Just because that info hasn't been easily available in the past does not mean that it will always be so.
posted by amberglow at 7:48 AM on September 10, 2005


carol anne:
If people have to go to the Secretary of State's office and look at actual signatures on paper petitions, it's going to take time and effort. On the other hand, if they can just click on a website and pull up names and addresses, a misguided few might decide to be vigilantes.


Pretty much how I feel. There's a lot of lazy people out there who're willing to harass others just because it's laid out on the plate. Look at how many more people write angry letters to their Senators/letters to the editor/etc. if they're able to click on a form and enter their name on freerepublic or moveon.
posted by fet at 7:48 AM on September 10, 2005


amberglow: So instead of allowing your fellow citizens to vote the measure up or down based on its merits, you'd rather shout down the people that have signed something that you disagree with?
posted by fet at 7:49 AM on September 10, 2005


Fet: I'd like to confront these people with my family, and ask them a simple question:

"What is it about us that threatens you or your marriage so much that you signed a petition that would take away hundreds of legal rights?" I promise to listen for up to an hour, saying nothing back (unless specifically requested to do), and then leave.

You can't buy intel like that.
posted by andreaazure at 8:03 AM on September 10, 2005


When it comes to something that's already been ruled legal and just, shouting is all that's left. Do not take away rights. Do not attempt to change a Constitution to restrict others. Do not act unAmerican. If you demonize a whole group of people, expect the same back. If you lie about us and about marriage and family and what a threat we are, expect your actions to be publicized.

You can't hide, especially in the only state out of the 50 that actually has given those rights to the people who deserved them. If you guys don't realize that national money is pouring in to the petitioners and their groups to fund this, and that this is their most visible loss and they'll do anything at all to kill it, i don't know that you understand the stakes for us and for all Americans. On many issues, not just same-sex marriage.
posted by amberglow at 8:05 AM on September 10, 2005


And read my double petition link further up to see how these groups operate. They're not even upfront about it when it comes to signatures. I wish this had been done for all the states that already passed amendments. And i hope to God it'll be done for those where the process is just starting.
posted by amberglow at 8:07 AM on September 10, 2005


"You can't hide..."

Of course, implicit in that statement is "because we will find you". And then what? Harassment? Violence? What's going to happen to these people who can't hide?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:32 AM on September 10, 2005


nothing has to happen--it's more than enough that it's publicized. We're not violent like them. We don't bash on the street. We don't call them worse than terrorists. They're making a public statement--we're helping them let the world know.
posted by amberglow at 8:43 AM on September 10, 2005


"nothing has to happen"

I agree, nothing has to happen. But I think the likelihood of something happening is increased by putting this list up where it's easily seen by people who might use the information to harass, or threaten, or hurt other people. You say "We're not violent like them", but that's disingenuous and you know it. You, personally, may not be violent, but there are surely others on your side who are, just as there are violent people in any segment of the population. Additionally, "We're not violent like them" infers that everyone who signed the petition is a violent person, which is ridiculous. Most people aren't violent, regardless of their stand on a particular political issue.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:52 AM on September 10, 2005


So even though the majority of people aren't violent, we have to "censor" this data and make it difficult to access because of some hypothetical minority of ultraviolent gay people?

Anti-abortion zealots have proven a number of their members to be dangerous murderers. Meanwhile, GodHatesFags makes barely-veiled (biblical) threats of death and destruction towards gays.

By contrast, where have gays militantly threatened to injure or destroy heterosexuals, even those using destructive means to prevent gays from enjoying the full rights they are entitled to in society?
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 8:59 AM on September 10, 2005


"So even though the majority of people aren't violent, we have to "censor" this data and make it difficult to access because of some hypothetical minority of ultraviolent gay people?"

I don't recall calling for censorship, so you're barking up the wrong tree with that tactic.

'Anti-abortion zealots have proven a number of their members to be dangerous murderers"

Which number is that? Four? Five? Out of how many? Certainly it's far short of "all", isn't it?

"where have gays militantly threatened to injure or destroy heterosexuals"

I didn't say any had. I said I believed the likelihood of people being harassed or threatened or hurt was increased.

Did you have this screed pre-typed and you're just flinging it randomly at the next person to post, or what?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:04 AM on September 10, 2005


Excuse me, your strawman is burning...

where did I say "all" anti-abortionists are murderers?

Did you have this screed pre-typed and you're just flinging it randomly at the next person to post, or what?

And what kind of silly ad hominem is that?
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 9:47 AM on September 10, 2005


crash, show us one instance ever of violence done to anti-gay people--ever. just because something might just hypothetically happen even tho it never ever ever has is no reason to hide these people's info. Us posting here proclaims our affinities and beliefs, and anyone who wants to be a detective can find us and hurt us too--it's true of everything that's public. When making public statements, there's no privacy.
posted by amberglow at 9:54 AM on September 10, 2005


You can't hide,

How is this not a threatening thing to say? It's a red flag, fightin' words.

Still haven't heard in concrete terms, what exactly, is the envisioned fate for these petition signers. They can no longer hide therefor ... what?
posted by scheptech at 10:00 AM on September 10, 2005


It's not a red flag or fighting words--it's a statement of fact. When you sign a petition to change a Constitution, it's public. You can't hide. You can't lie about not signing away my rights. You can't pretend you didn't sign it. It's public, and the only threat is that we'll make sure it's public and distributed. That's it.
posted by amberglow at 10:03 AM on September 10, 2005


About hiding, and the idea of being at least somewhat anonymous as to having signed this petition:

Philosophically, the supreme court has always protected anonymity in public discourse on the basis of the idea that this protects unpopular minorities from governmental retribution for their unpopular ideas and wishes.

Seeing as how the deck is already heavily stacked for heterosexuals and those that wish to maintain the status quo of heterosexuals having a monopoly on the rights that come with marriage, these "repeal gay marriage" people are (unfortunately) hardly an unpopular minority that can claim fears of persecution by the government or some kind of mob majority.
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 10:09 AM on September 10, 2005


mr_crash_davis: If I remember the Gay Agenda correctly, their houses will be spruced up, outfits color coordinated, tofu will be cooked, and The Traditional Family Will Be Destroyed!11
posted by odinsdream at 10:16 AM on September 10, 2005


these "repeal gay marriage" people are (unfortunately) hardly an unpopular minority that can claim fears of persecution by the government or some kind of mob majority

So if this majority group can be, um, 'influenced' in this way (by the threat of personal, er, contact?) then it would potentially be much more problematical for any minority group no?

This is the main con arg, it's this particular aspect of the democratic process (petitions) that's at risk here. This is why it's undemocratic in spirit, it's designed to have a chilling effect on the petition process, to hobble or slow it down.

To see it you maybe have to separate it from the specific issue of gay marriage. Consider the bigger picture or perhaps substitute in another issue where minority groups are attempting to get something to a vote and would need protection from harrassment to do so.
posted by scheptech at 10:23 AM on September 10, 2005


Still haven't heard in concrete terms, what exactly, is the envisioned fate for these petition signers.

Well, for one thing, such a list makes personal boycotts possible. If I know Shop A is owned by a bigot, I will go to Shop B instead. Everyone's got a right to be a bigot, but everyone's also got a right to be a boycotter. I don't want to actually hand the local bigot my money and improve his life. I will travel farther and pay more money to avoid supporting the local bigot who runs the gas station, grocery, restaurant, or whatever.

Also, bigots, I suspect, tend to raise bigots, and I don't want my kid playing with bigots and going to the homes of bigots. A quick check of this list will help me know what kind of neighbors I have and what kind of kids my kids are hanging out with.

Of course, I might know these people and decide that I like them anyway. Maybe I'll decide that they are just too old-fashioned or afraid to ever understand, and that I still think they're good people. On the other hand, I might take another look at my neighbors and realize I just don't trust them.

If there's a scandal in this story, it is that the government publishes the information. Once it is published, there's nothing wrong with publishing it again.
posted by pracowity at 10:44 AM on September 10, 2005


scheptech: quite.

See the 9th circuit ruling (Supreme court denied review) for Planned Parenthood v American Coalition of Life Activist:

here and here.

Point is, free speech is protected unless it contains threat(s). What does or does not legally constitute a threat needs apparently to be decided on a case-by-case basis.

This certainly wasn't a blanket injunction against posting names of people who hold certain beliefs or perform certain services or actions.

Minority groups need protection, by virtue of being a minority. But we are specifically talking about a sizable majority group here.
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 10:45 AM on September 10, 2005


Let's look at this debate from a Christian viewpoint (since the majority of anti-homosexual legislation and propaganda is based in this viewpoint). The majority of Christians tend to agree that the Bible is the supreme and undisputable law. The Bible clearly states that on judgement day, all things hidden in the human heart of each person will be brought to light.

By this logic, anyone who was bold enough to establish their opinion on this issue by signing a petition should be bold enough to own their opinion in full view of the public. If you have to do things in secret to achieve objectives that you believe are right and true, then you're not really practicing the teachings of Christ. You can't walk a fence between what you believe and teach your children, and what you pretend to tolerate in public.

Own your ideals.
posted by deusdiabolus at 11:08 AM on September 10, 2005


Also, bigots, I suspect, tend to raise bigots, and I don't want my kid playing with bigots and going to the homes of bigots. A quick check of this list will help me know what kind of neighbors I have and what kind of kids my kids are hanging out with.

If you are the person in the crosshairs of that bigotry, I can absolutely understand the desire to keep one's self out of harms way. That said, I also belive that isolating bigots (especially those who might be fundamentally decent people who for some reason are clinging to irrational prejudices) often makes that bigotry more intense, by making them feel more persecuted and more prone to a "us against them," worldveiw. Just a thought.
posted by jonmc at 11:17 AM on September 10, 2005


In fact I consider it one of my personal duties to try to engage people on their prejudices and maybe help them see past them and change. That's part of the battle, too, just like legalities and keeping bigots from weilding power.
posted by jonmc at 11:18 AM on September 10, 2005


This is just wrong. It's legal. It might (possibly) be politically effective. It's obviously possible since it's been done but it's still wrong.

When I first thought of the ethics of posting the identities of petition signers I was mostly concerned about the addresses being included but after a little more thought I concluded that the whole thing was unethical.

One of the reasons we have secret ballots is to make it harder to pressure citizens to vote a certain way. Our boss can't threaten to fire us if we don't vote for John Smith because the boss can't verify whether we voted for John Smith or Julia Johnson.

Petition signers don't have similar protections but they should. The government needs to have the means to verify that the signer is a registered voter, that they have not signed the petition multiple times, and that it's actually the voter that signed but there's no reason to make the identity of petition signers public.

Making information other than signers identities public is likely to discourage some people from participating in the political process. If I lived in Hawaii, then I doubt I'd sign any petition since Hawaii requires name, date of birth, and social security number to given. I'm not going to give my SS number and date of birth to anyone regardless of how much I support their petition. This makes it easy for any legislature to sabotage the recall or proposition process by requiring the signer to disclose private information.

Making signers identities public is also a threat to a functioning democracy. It makes the petition signers subject to external pressure. An employer can tell someone that they must sign a petition or be fired. This tactic was used in Venezuela during the Chavez recall campaign.

Voter initiatives are a fairly recent innovation. and citizens who sign petitions don't have the same protections that they do when they vote but they should. Anyone who uses the defects of the current system to intimidate voters is scum no matter what their cause. I'm disappointed to see such tactics being used to support a cause I believe in.
posted by rdr at 11:23 AM on September 10, 2005


So would it be censorship if the government published the list of petitioners (the only reason for which presumably is so that the bona fides of each signatory can be verified or challenged) like usual but outlawed any further publication so as to avoid the editorializing of a private advocacy group? If the government owns the data once it's submitted, surely they are allowed to exercise copyright control no? The information is still available, just with restrictions on republishing.
posted by peacay at 11:28 AM on September 10, 2005


In fact I consider it one of my personal duties to try to engage people on their prejudices...

Yeah, sure, sit and chat with Archie Bunker all you like. Boycotting bigots doesn't mean refusing to talk to them. But I won't give them money that might better go to supporting a non-bigot selling the same service. And I'll engage bigots myself; I don't need to let my kid hang out in creepy fundamentalist households.
posted by pracowity at 12:05 PM on September 10, 2005


This is (as many others have pointed out) a very interesting discussion, and one that I suspect crosses party lines, as well as classes, ages, and sexes.

Soneone alert the sociology department!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:29 PM on September 10, 2005


but outlawed any further publication so as to avoid the editorializing of a private advocacy group?

Wouldn't that be prior restraint on speech, and therefore unconstitutional?

And government typically doesn't hold copyrights -- governmental information may be secret, but it's almost always public domain AFAIK.
posted by Vidiot at 12:31 PM on September 10, 2005


"where did I say "all" anti-abortionists are murderers?"

You didn't. amberglow said "We're not violent like them", implying everyone on the other side was violent and no one on his side was. I said that's a ridiculous statement, there are surely violent people on both sides. You said "'Anti-abortion zealots have proven a number of their members to be dangerous murderers"" which really didn't have anything to do with the conversation amberglow and I were having, other than to say "this group over here is violent too". In the context of that conversation, I was responding that, again, a few violent people who belong to a group doesn't mean everyone in that group is violent.

I hope that makes sense.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:49 PM on September 10, 2005


" just because something might just hypothetically happen even tho it never ever ever has is no reason to hide these people's info"

Again, I'm not saying it should be hidden, so to keep repeating it over and over like it's gospel isn't helping.

What I am saying is that posting this list on the internet and then pointing to it with stuff like "You can't hide" seems unnecessarily inflammatory and likely to attract someone who may wish to use it for nefarious purposes, whatever they may be, and it would probably only take one such instance to end up doing more harm to gay rights than any good that might come from posting the list.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:55 PM on September 10, 2005


there are surely violent people on both sides.

Isn't it funny tho, that there hasn't been one violent act in response to the many State Amendments, outright hatred and demonization expressed all over the place from Congress on down regarding this issue. Show us one violent act by the side wanting the same rights as straight couples. Just one will do.
posted by amberglow at 12:56 PM on September 10, 2005


The time for being afraid of invisible and nonexistent violent people who might hurt the cause is long gone. We're not going to be polite about those who actively work to harm us. Nor should we be. Republishing public information is nothing, and if it unsettles you, then realize the importance of these rights, and realize the importance of stopping these amendments. Can't stand the heat and light? Then don't sign the petition.
posted by amberglow at 12:59 PM on September 10, 2005


Yeah, sure, sit and chat with Archie Bunker all you like.

Interesting choice of examples. The whole point of Archie Bunker's charachter (at least as Carroll O'Connor and Norman Lear saw him) was that despite his irrationality and prejudices, it was impossible to truly hate the man (especially since the writing of the show made great efforts to explicate how he got that way) because on some level he knew his prejudices were irrational, and thus he could be reached. AsJesse Jackson said when campaigning in the white Midwest: You can talk about Archie Bunker, but Archie has changed a lot more than the guy he works for.

It's not the Fred Phelpses and Matt Hale's I'm talking about reaching here. Just to be clear.
posted by jonmc at 1:13 PM on September 10, 2005


So, amberglow, you're totally cool with every married homosexual couple in Massachusetts listed on a webpage for "public information"?

As you said, "Republishing public information is nothing."
posted by fet at 2:03 PM on September 10, 2005


Protecting the identities of marginalized groups with a history of being victimized by intimidation and violence is a bit different than protecting the identities of a large, socially and politically dominant group under little danger.
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 2:07 PM on September 10, 2005


It's public information. You're not protecting anything by not posting it on the web... just making it more difficult to access.
posted by fet at 2:17 PM on September 10, 2005


That's silly. How information is presented is critical. Aggregating unclassified information can make the resulting anthology classified. And a document with names and addresses that must be viewed in a stuffy office somewhere by appointment is different than an electronic database searchable by last name and street that can be viewed in one's PJs.
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 2:21 PM on September 10, 2005


So, amberglow, you're totally cool with every married homosexual couple in Massachusetts listed on a webpage for "public information"?

Of course--as long as marriage license info is public in Mass.
posted by amberglow at 2:31 PM on September 10, 2005


It'll take me a while to think of a reply to peacay but I can reply to amberglow's last comment immediately. Massachusetts has about 4,000,000 registered voters. According to the second link the petition drive needs to gather 66,000 signatures. No matter what anyone else does they can't miss getting 66,000 signatures so this is a lost battle. The next battle will be defeating the amendment on the ballot or some action in the courts.

Unfortunate though it may be the majority of people oppose gay marriage so the problem is going to be how to win a vote without majority support. As the republican right has shown it's possible to do it by discouraging voter participation, confusing the issues, or by better organization. I'm not advocating these tactics I'm just saying that it's possible to win elections without majority support. You'll notice that I didn't list intimidating voters as a tactic. That's because it won't work if you're in the minority. In fact it will work against you. If I were an anti-gay marriage political operative I wouldn't even have to spin posting the names as intimidation. It just is. In order to win this conflict people's hearts have to changed and I can't see how "playing hardball" will do that.
posted by rdr at 2:38 PM on September 10, 2005


rdr, I think you pretty much nailed it. Sacrificing the democratic process, intimidating people who disagree with you, is fundamentally anti-American. I'm incredibly disappointed with the pro-publish people on this thread.

It's about punishment, retribution, and intimidation, and they're okay with that.

This is something Bush and the brownshirts do... suppress opinion they don't like. I honestly thought liberals were better than that. It's obvious some are. There have been some very, very good posts in this thread.

But the fact that so many of you are so clearly willing to violate the most fundamental part of our social contract, for a short-term temporary advantage on a single issue, is disgusting. The bedrock principle on which our society was founded is diversity of opinion and respect for the right to free expression without retribution. It's legal to do what you're doing, and technology makes it easy, but it's still wrong.

This is one of the better web groups I know, full of the best and brightest... if even this group doesn't clearly understand the foundation of our republic, I do not think it is likely to survive in its present form.
posted by Malor at 2:56 PM on September 10, 2005


there's a lot of people who just don't get it ... being a "little bit public" is just like being a "little bit pregnant"

you either are or you aren't

and i am NOT willing to trust the government's verification of signatures on petitions ... one of the most fundamental parts of our social contract is that we be able to verify what our government is doing

knowledge is not retribution ... saying that so and so signed a petition is not suppression ... and one of the obvious consequences of taking public action and giving one's name when doing so is that everyone can know about it

anonymous petition signing is sure to be abused
posted by pyramid termite at 3:40 PM on September 10, 2005


Malor, the great civil rights struggles of our time were won by those who were publicly willing to stand up for themselves. People publicly sat at lunch counters and were arrested for their troubles (arrest records are public). People publicly marched to advance their rights to vote. Registering to vote was, itself, a public act that made ones actions a matter of public record.

What I find amusing is that the push to keep information secret is being advocated on behalf of those who are trying to roll back civil rights.

Voting is anonymous. I think that's a good thing. When you're publicly petitioning the government and donating money to candidates, I think it's unwise to try to suddenly claim, "this is not anyone else's business!"

You can look up opensecrets.org to see who donated to crazy candidates. THink that's a bad thing?
posted by deanc at 3:41 PM on September 10, 2005


So, amberglow, you're totally cool with every married homosexual couple in Massachusetts listed on a webpage for "public information"?

where i live the cities are small enough that all marriages are listed on a page in the newspaper ... as are births, deaths and divorces
posted by pyramid termite at 3:47 PM on September 10, 2005


Isn't it funny tho, that there hasn't been one violent act in response to the many State Amendments

So, if I find one example of violence in response to the state amendments, you'll concede the point? I'm not saying there is, but it seems a bold statement that you're SO certain there hasn't been one act of violence due to some nutjob's reaction to these amendments. I could be wrong, but I would think there's been one, and it just didn't make CNN (you just asked for "violent act", not "murder", which probably would make CNN).
posted by Drylnn at 3:59 PM on September 10, 2005


Malor, the great civil rights struggles of our time were won by those who were publicly willing to stand up for themselves. People publicly sat at lunch counters and were arrested for their troubles (arrest records are public). People publicly marched to advance their rights to vote. Registering to vote was, itself, a public act that made ones actions a matter of public record.

None of these actions have anything to do with this list. You can protest for gay marriage rights without being handed a list of people petitioning against you. The civil rights movement didn't need a list of their opposition, rather they believed in the strength of their viewpoint overcoming the obstacles in their way. I think that's why I have a problem with this.

What I find amusing is that the push to keep information secret is being advocated on behalf of those who are trying to roll back civil rights.

Either something that is right and good and true is good for ALL people, or we're no better than a bunch of thugs.
posted by Drylnn at 4:05 PM on September 10, 2005


deanc:

Actually part of the reason I have such a strong reaction to this is the history of firing black citizens if they registered to vote. This is obviously a different situation. Voter registration records are public as they should be but harassing people based on publicly available information has a nasty resonance for me.

The standard for public participation should not be whether you're willing to get arrested, beat up, or fired for exercising your civil rights. Obviously, I'm only replying to Deanc comment here and not addressing this thread's subject.
posted by rdr at 4:06 PM on September 10, 2005


Voter registration records are public as they should be but harassing people based on publicly available information has a nasty resonance for me.

For the record, I don't endorse harassing people based on publicly available information. However, trying to cover up that publicly available information isn't good either.

But that's the thing-- blacks were willing to take a public stand and register to vote, risking their jobs to do it. The answer, at the time, was not to attempt to make voter registration anonymous (was it?).
posted by deanc at 6:21 PM on September 10, 2005


but what about when you're specifically trying to restrict others' rights with your actions? And this was telling--it may not even be legal-- ...Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders argued that the referendum was illegal because it would overturn a decision of the Supreme Judicial Court, the 2003 marriage ruling won by that legal advocacy group.
...Responding to Reilly’s decision to let the 2008 effort go forward, Mass Equality issued as statement saying, “We are profoundly disappointed that Attorney General Reilly did not stand behind the plain and direct language of the Constitution which expressly forbids any initiative petition that would overturn a judicial decision. Reilly had the opportunity to save Massachusetts from a terrible, ugly public fight filled with toxic rhetoric that will harm gay and lesbian couples, their families and all citizens of the Commonwealth. ...
posted by amberglow at 6:28 PM on September 10, 2005


Malor >>> "Uh, guys? If there are consequences, then it's not freedom."

That's a joke, right? I came late to the thread, but seriously, that is a joke?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:02 PM on September 10, 2005


did not stand behind the plain and direct language of the Constitution which expressly forbids any initiative petition that would overturn a judicial decision.

Wait... the people cannot decide to push for a law that overturns a judicial decision? What if its indirectly overturning it... as in, they pass the law and then later they realize it would overturn a past decision... would that make the original petition invalid and nullify the vote/referendum on such? Something doesn't sound entirely right about that.
posted by Drylnn at 8:39 PM on September 10, 2005


i think you have to go back to the courts, and not ignore them and their decisions, no? like appealing or bringing a new case instead of turning to the legislature when you don't like a court decision.

The idea expressed by some here that freedom and public airing of information is only ok when it's convenient and nice is really ridiculous. People fought for our rights. People fought for our freedoms. People fought for a more open government and sunshine laws. None of this was nice or convenient, and it almost always involved undelicate and impolite tactics at times.
posted by amberglow at 8:47 PM on September 10, 2005


Where do i sign up?
posted by Dreamghost at 10:28 PM on September 10, 2005


Ultimately, most of this discussion and the effort that generated it in the first place will be for naught. The only way this can work out, really, is that eventually the highest court in the land will have to rule on this as it did on equal rights in education and as it continues to do regarding various civil rights. The reality of the situation is that a long time ago, within the context of a community that could not forsee such a thing happening because that's not how it worked at that time, the entire religious concept of marriage was intertwined with the state's version of the legal entity of a united couple. The Supremes will have to undo that blend and reassert the separation of Church and State. But that will be a while coming. I hope it comes in my lifetime. If not mine, I desperately hope my son's lifetime and that he will be kind enough to file for us in absentia.
posted by Griffins_posse at 10:41 PM on September 10, 2005


I wish I had time to read through all these comments right now, but I have some things to pick up. So I'll just say that my initial reaction to reading this post was "fuck yes". If there's anyone who deserves to be dragged out into the street and shot in this country, it's gay-haters and everyone who takes advantage of fear and misunderstanding for political advantage. These people deserve to be intimidated for what they do to gays (and everyone else they don't understand).

Of course, nobody deserves to be dragged out into the street and shot. And this is intimidation. Nothing else. The only thing that's ever overcome the dumb instinct in crowds to ratchet fear up to the level of the most afraid is persistent, patient reminding that it's wrong. As a rule this doesn't and can't work, no matter how satisfying it would be to see it put into effect. And since I know that, the satisfaction wouldn't last very long. I disapprove.
posted by saysthis at 11:04 PM on September 10, 2005


By the way, not all states say that initiative petitions are public records. See, for, instance, the California Public Records Act:

Notwithstanding Sections 6252 and 6253, statewide, county, city, and district initiative, referendum, and recall petitions, petitions circulated pursuant to Section 5091 of the Education Code, petitions for the reorganization of school districts submitted pursuant to Article 1 (commencing with Section 35700) of Chapter 4 of Part 21 of the Education Code, petitions for the reorganization of community college districts submitted pursuant to Part 46 (commencing with Section 74000) of the Education Code and all memoranda prepared by the county elections officials in the examination of the petitions indicating which registered voters have signed particular petitions shall not be deemed to be public records and shall not be open to inspection except by the public officer or public employees who have the duty of receiving, examining or preserving the petitions or who are responsible for the preparation of that memoranda and, if the petition is found to be insufficient, by the proponents of the petition and the representatives of the proponents as may be designated by the proponents in writing in order to determine which signatures were disqualified and the reasons therefor.

That's the way to do it IMHO. The gay rights people are going to incite more of a backlash if someone does something threatening or violent to any of these people. The right wing will use their well-honed powers of spin to provide a blowback that the pro-gay marriage would wish they never stepped into. And no community can police the actions of everyone in its community. It's one thing if the records are in PDF form, in its original state, but it's completely another when they are searchable and mappable.
posted by calwatch at 12:27 AM on September 11, 2005


Griffins, you're absolutely right, but until that time, we have to fight state-by-state. I'm disappointed in our national GLBT organizations for not taking it to the Supremes already--there were plenty of couples being hurt and willing to go--with Bush's 2 new picks i fear it's going to be impossible now.
posted by amberglow at 8:54 AM on September 11, 2005


amberglow said: Show us one violent act by the side wanting the same rights as straight couples. Just one will do.

the FBI can show you 22 (in 2000) (pdf). i just grabbed one of their hate crime reports at random.

yes, the number of anti-heterosexual hate crimes is extremely low compared to anti-gay hate crimes (probably in general something like 1% of all bias crimes). but there are gays who act violently towards heterosexuals.

i would really prefer it if those of us fighting for civil and human rights would not use intimidation tactics. i associate those tactics with the dark side, *little wry grin*.
posted by piranha at 6:09 PM on September 11, 2005


> the FBI can show you 22 (in 2000) (pdf).

That link didn't work.
posted by pracowity at 1:39 AM on September 13, 2005


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