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NJ Assemblyman Proposes Outlawing Anonymous Internet Flaming
March 7, 2006 7:56 AM   Subscribe

New Jersey Assemblyman Peter Biondi didn't like that he and his friends are getting flamed on the news portal NJ.com by people named, inter alia, "frenchtoast2." So he introduced a bill, and that bill would require "operators of interactive computer services" to make members' real names available upon demand, and allow content providers to be sued for contributory defamation. And he saw that this was good. And that was the first day.
posted by Saucy Intruder (35 comments total)

 
Of course! It makes perfect sense to promote civil public discourse by enacting draconian legislation. I can't believe I didnt' think of it first...
posted by setpounds at 8:02 AM on March 7, 2006


And in other news, more government eejits propose laws that are effectively unenforceable!
posted by antifuse at 8:09 AM on March 7, 2006


I hope this doesn't make people look unfavorably on the state of New Jersey.
posted by Gamblor at 8:09 AM on March 7, 2006


Perhaps Rep. Biondi would prefer this?

"...provides that any [citizen]...having looked into the acts of a jobholder and found him delinquent, may punish him instantly and on the spot, and in any manner that seems appropriate and convenient – and that, in case this punishment involves physical damage to the jobholder, the ensuing inquiry by the grand jury or coroner shall confine itself strictly to the question whether the jobholder deserved what he got. In other words, I propose that it shall no longer be malum in se for a citizen to pummel, cowhide, kick, gouge, cut, wound, bruise, maim, burn, club, bastinado, flay, or even lynch a jobholder, and that it shall be malum prohibitum only to the extent that the punishment exceeds the jobholder's desserts. The amount of this excess, if any, may be determined very conveniently by a petit jury, as other questions of guilt are now determined.... If it decides that the jobholder deserves the punishment inflicted upon him, the citizen who inflicted it is acquitted with honor. If, on the contrary, it decides that the punishment was excessive, then the citizen is adjudged guilty of assault, mayhem, murder, or whatever it is, in a degree apportioned to the difference between what the jobholder deserved and what he got, and punishment for that excess follows in the usual course.... "

HL Mencken
posted by sfts2 at 8:12 AM on March 7, 2006


The internet will just interpret New Jersey as damage and route around it.
posted by unSane at 8:12 AM on March 7, 2006


Every company that sells web hosting or operates data centers in New Jersey is going to have a real problem with this.
posted by davejay at 8:26 AM on March 7, 2006


If the populace of New Jersey can't be trusted to pump their own gas how can they handle the awesome power the interweb offers?
posted by Mick at 8:31 AM on March 7, 2006


What if the person who is flaming him has a real name of Mr. French Toast? But then again, what good is just the name going to do? Maybe the legislation should require the address, telephone number, date of birth, and place of employment as well. I mean if someone flames Mr. Biondi and he wants his Italian friends to pay them a visit, I'm sure it would make the "discussion" with the offender easier with this info.
posted by JJ86 at 8:35 AM on March 7, 2006


My name, Jose Hemanus
posted by Goofyy at 8:37 AM on March 7, 2006


He's a fool. He's throwing a tantrum because someone said mean things about him on the Internet, and so he wants names and he wants to lawyer up against them. Rebuttal is apparently impossible, so he's trying intimidation.

All that's done is throw the rather well-worded criticism into the national spotlight, as his silly-ass "suggestion" gets circulated across the country. Welcome to the Internet.
posted by FormlessOne at 8:41 AM on March 7, 2006


The silly thing is that if he'd ignored the comments made in those forums, many people (myself included) would never have seen or heard of them.
posted by mr_silver at 8:52 AM on March 7, 2006


operates data centers in New Jersey

I believe Digex, one of the largest hosting companies in the world (they're half owned by Microsoft, half-owned by MCI/Worldcom, the last I heard), has a large hosting facility in New Jersey. I could be wrong. I toured their facility in Maryland, and that sucker was nuclear hardened with diamond steel mesh separating the data center from the power center. That was cool beans.
posted by thanotopsis at 8:54 AM on March 7, 2006


Funny, I went to school with this Biondi's kids and lived in Hillsborough when he was mayor. Sadly, I can't say I am shocked by this, Central NJ politics is pretty dirty. Lot's of corruption, name calling, vendettas and polticos with a god complex.

Plan and simple this legislation is not about "civility" like he claims. What this is really about is Biondi and his cronies making sure that any criticism of them is stopped since it is apparent addressing it would be too difficult for him.

Thank god I got out of that corrupt police state years ago.

Note: name and address furnished upon written request.
posted by remo at 9:08 AM on March 7, 2006


For shame Rep. Biondi, I call you a poopie head, a mean old poopie head.

Since I live in NJ nd am on NJ servers, does this mean I have to run and hide from the idiot? Like we don't have enough heat about NJ, he's gotta add fuel to the fire.
posted by Like the Reef at 9:11 AM on March 7, 2006


I'd like to add a kudos to the anonymous posters on the nj.com site.

I also went to highschool in the town where Peter Biondi was a Township Planning Board member and mayor, and my parents still live there. I spent a couple of days visiting them last week.

The nj.com forum has been one of the best ways I've found to keep up with what is happening in Hillsborough, New Jersey, for a couple of years. It also provides one of the very few ways for people in the area to talk to each other about what is happening in the community in a meaningful manner.

Many of the posts are on the mundane side, such as "where are the best pizza places in Somerset County" or announcements involving charity events. But, others provide news and opinions on politicials, commercial services, and local events that the news papers don't cover.

The forum has had its share of name calling, and controversy, but it can't be said that a lot of the name calling isn't merited. NJ politics isn't pretty, and much of the criticism from politicians like Biondi might be traced more to citizens of the area shining some sunlight on questionable practices from political figures than to uncivility.

This legislation does seem like an effort to chill protected speech. I hope that from it springs an unintended consequence - a closer look at the politicians in the area and their reasons for fearing open debate and dialogue.
posted by bragadocchio at 9:14 AM on March 7, 2006


If the populace of New Jersey can't be trusted to pump their own gas how can they handle the awesome power the interweb offers?

The first time I got gas in New Jersey, I actually could not believe that they wouldn't let me pump my own gas. It was like I stepped into the past.
posted by empath at 9:21 AM on March 7, 2006


The first time I got gas in New Jersey, I actually could not believe that they wouldn't let me pump my own gas. It was like I stepped into the past.

Or Oregon.
posted by cairnish at 9:36 AM on March 7, 2006


So has anyone bothered to tell Biondi that, even if he was able to get their names, as a public figure he'd have to prove actual malice?
posted by RubicleSpoon at 10:08 AM on March 7, 2006


Ostensibly, the NJ no-self-serve law is about preserving jobs for gas attendants (both to have more jobs and because gas stations are safer if there are people there). Not so sure how well that maps to reality, but that is a frequently given reason.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:10 AM on March 7, 2006


"Rep. Biondi, I call you a poopie head, a mean old poopie head."

Seconded.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:16 AM on March 7, 2006


Like telemarketing regulations, this won't work. Data centres and hosting companies will just move to a less regulated enviornment.

US implements a national do not call list? Easy, call them from Canada or India.
posted by Deep Dish at 10:41 AM on March 7, 2006


Ostensibly, the NJ no-self-serve law is about preserving jobs for gas attendants

The joke often was that this measure was taken to prevent NJ residents from dousing themselves in gasoline and self-immolating to escape life in NJ.
posted by clevershark at 10:52 AM on March 7, 2006


So once the people's names are revealed will Biondi knock on their doors and start kicking their asses like Jay & Silent Bob?
posted by b_thinky at 10:56 AM on March 7, 2006


I used to work as a Legislative Aide for a Democratic New Jersey State Assemblywoman. This bill, and the story, is a non-issue because it's simply not going to go anywhere.

It's sponsored by a Republican, which automatically means neither of the conferences in the Democratic-controlled Assembly will take up the bill. When I was a LA during session periods one of my first tasks was to "look for bills Democrats sponsored that we can take up." A significant portion of my job was seeing bills like this on the Health & Human Services Committee pending list, which my boss was the Chair of at the time, and ignoring them.

As of now, you can see its status is merely that it's been introduced and referred to committee. Legislators introduce tons of these in addition to co-sponsoring others. Biondi himself has already introduced 60 bills for this legislative session, which only started three months ago.

For the bill to become law, it would have to be taken up by the Democratic-controlled Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee, then approved by majority vote in the Committee, then presented to the full 80-seat Assembly, then approved along with identical companion bill in the 40-seat Senate (also controlled by Democrats) before being signed by the Democratic Governor.

In other words, this won't happen.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:17 AM on March 7, 2006


I think that it maybe Biondi deserves to have his name associated with "poopie head" in the entire Interweb. I envision a time that people doa search on "poopie head" and see Biondi's name and vice versa. Then, and only then, will he understand.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:33 AM on March 7, 2006


The first time I got gas in New Jersey, I actually could not believe that they wouldn't let me pump my own gas. It was like I stepped into the past.

That's funny cuz the first time I was driving outside of NJ, I was appalled that no one came out to pump my gas for me.

Thank god I got out of that corrupt police state years ago.

Fifteen years for me and I'm almost completely healed.

My real name is French Toast.
posted by effwerd at 12:22 PM on March 7, 2006


Poopy Head
posted by edverb at 12:27 PM on March 7, 2006


"The internet will just interpret New Jersey as damage and route around it"

When a Utahn finds this amusing, you know NJ is a shithole.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:06 PM on March 7, 2006


Does not US law insist that a person be allowed to face his accuser? Is not an anonymous or pseudonymous accusation cowardly? Have we who lurk behind nicks forgotten the real world?
I do not know any of the people mentioned in this thread, but I find it hard to defend the actions of those who will not own them.
I am also an Oregonian happy not to have to pump gasoline.
posted by Cranberry at 1:19 PM on March 7, 2006


Hmm...we could write a wiki article with the subheading “poopy head.”
And he’d be all like: No. Way.
And wikipedia would be like: Yes way.
And he’d get up in their grill and be like: No way, ‘cause I’m a senator (or whatever).
And they’d be all like: Yes way, ‘cause it’s from Metafilter and they’re the best.
And then where’s he goin?
And we’d be all like: get me a juice box biatch!

That would be cool.

*eagerly waits for subpoena to hit this thread*
posted by Smedleyman at 1:27 PM on March 7, 2006


Does not US law insist that a person be allowed to face his accuser? Is not an anonymous or pseudonymous accusation cowardly? Have we who lurk behind nicks forgotten the real world?

Online forums aren't courts of law.

(Also, political speech made anonymously/pseudonymously has a proud history in American politics, actually. Surely you wouldn't call Madison, Hamilton and John Jay cowards?)
posted by RubicleSpoon at 2:56 PM on March 7, 2006


Say, cranberry, could you please post your real name and address here? Because, you know, those who lurk anonymously or pseudonymously behind nicks are cowards.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:56 PM on March 7, 2006


I've been wanting to do this all day, and I finally had the time...


posted by clevershark at 6:30 PM on March 7, 2006


"Of course! It makes perfect sense to promote civil public discourse by enacting draconian legislation. I can't believe I didnt' think of it first..."

You see, this is why the Republicans are winning...they have all the ideas. Next time they accuse the Democrats of not having any ideas, maybe you will understand.
posted by UseyurBrain at 8:06 PM on March 7, 2006


The internet will just interpret New Jersey as damage and route around it.

That's what I always do. *rimshot*
posted by Tlogmer at 8:25 PM on March 7, 2006


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