Faux Outrage, The Constitution, Privacy and The Blogosphere

Chris Prevatt’s post regarding Mike Tardif’s homophobic remarks has garnered quite a bit of attention here on the Liberal OC and amongst others within the blogosphere.  That post has received over 90+ comments since it was first posted on Friday and it even spawned another post from Chris earlier today and that has caught fire as well.  Folks over at the Orange Juice have weighed in not once, but twice and the Registers Steven Greenhut took a swipe at it as well.

Despite all the attention surrounding this let me assure you that the post was not intended to attract readers to our blog by capitalising on the hurtful and bigoted comments of Mr. Tardif.  The reason for this post was to send a message that if you are going to slur people in a heinous fashion we at the Liberal OC will not stand for it.  We never pointed the finger at Mike Tardif we simply pointed out that someone at Tardif Sheet Metal was behind making homophobic remarks.  Mr. Tardif admitted he was the person who made the remarks and thus outted himself.

As a result of all of this we have seen folks get on their high horse and feign outrage.  While I truly believe that some of these folks truly stand by the principle of “privacy” for anonymous posters, I believe that others are wanting to use this incident as a means to attack the Liberal OC and in particular Chris and myself.  Pedroza at the Orange Juice is a prime example of this faux outrage.

How soon folks seem to forget that on February 22nd of this year in a post by Art Pedroza they outted the employees at Rutan&Tucker for being on their blog.  If Pedroza and company are so concerned about the privacy rights of those visiting and commenting on blogs why would they do this to Rutan&Tucker?  Why is it okay for he and the Orange Juice to display a screen shot of Rutan&Tucker’s IP address?  How is outting Rutan&Tucker any different from outting Mike Tardif?

Well the answer to all those question is very simply this, they like Mike Tardif and they have an axe to grind with Rutan&Tucker and Patrick Munoz.  Simply put it is hypocrisy.  At the OJ what’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander.  All this faux outrage on some of their behalf is nothing more than an attempt to provide cover for a political ally and fellow opponent to Measure D.

Ironically the leader of this faux outrage Pedroza has taken the violation of “privacy” a step further.  “Do you want me to dredge up all your emails…I did save those emails Sean.”  He thinks it’s okay to post private emails exchanged in confidence, but he now screams that the privacy of “anonymous” bloggers is somehow sacred even though there is no explicit guarantee of privacy.

Thomas Gordon’s post about this deals with Constitutional protections and others have used the First Amendment to shield Tardif.  Let me remind Thomas and the others that the Constitutional protections are there to protect us from the government not bloggers.  Unlike Pedroza, I do believe that Thomas truly believes in the privacy of “anonymous” bloggers and I respect his position, though I do disagree with him on this issue.

Let this be a reminder to everyone that the blogosphere does not offer us privacy rights.  If we write something there is a good chance that we can be exposed.  Heck, Commie Girl used a 10 year old phone message/conversation and tried to pass it off as a letter written by me as a means to attack me.  So in the blogosphere anything appears to be fair game.

As far as the faux outrage from folks like Pedroza we should simply consider the source.  Let me remind you that this coward used the blogosphere to post a vicious attack against Al Amezcua.  He even resorted to posting comments that he claimed came from Mr. Amezcua’s ex-wife and family members even though he could not back that up or verify it.  Chris’ post regarding homophobic remarks and Mike Tardif was quite tame in comparison.

  25 comments for “Faux Outrage, The Constitution, Privacy and The Blogosphere

  1. anon
    March 11, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    “Let this be a reminder to everyone that the blogosphere does not offer us privacy rights.”

    The issue ISN’T whether or not the internet in general, or the blogosphere specifically, offers privacy rights. The issue is whether or not certain information gleaned form the internet is “personal and private” There certainly ARE instances where posting a person’s IP address COULD allow someone to track a person’s identity. THAT, my friends, is an invasion of privacy.

  2. Mike Tardif
    March 11, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    Mike Tardif, on March 7th, 2008 at 3:23 pm said:
    I have neighbors who live across the street from me who are gay. We have no problems – zero.

    I interact socially with gay people. I have invited gay people to play golf with me.

    If I have offended any gay people with my “supposedly” anonymous comments, I apologize. I intended to make an argumentative point, I did not intend to draw a comparison.

    So call me a homophobe if you like, that is your characterisation, it is not reality.

    Mike Tardif

  3. Mike Tardif
    March 11, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Art said: “Let me be very clear about this – the Orange Juice blog team WILL NOT uncover the identity of anon commenters. We reserve the right to talk about who is reading our site, but will not purposefully try to sniff out the identities of readers who want to comment but need to keep their identities secret.”

    Thomas said: “Anonymous comments left by anonymous posters should be just that or the option to do so should be removed.”

    Mike Tardif says: Concerning anonymous posting, these statements say it all.

    I agree that there is no guarantee of anonymity on the internet. However, if a blog allows anonymous posting, there is an implied promise of anonymity.

    The OC Liberal broke that promise.

    I appreciate Art’s promise to respect anonymous posters. Especially since, on occasion, he and I disagree – and I may feel that I need to rip into him as I have done in the past.

    Mike Tardif

  4. March 11, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Mike,

    Your remarks were homophobic. That does not necessarily make you a homophobe.

    I give you credit for taking responsibility for the remarks. You could have simply claimed it was an employee of your company who did it and spared yourself the drama. You stood by them.

    I believe you when you say you were simply trying to make a joke of the situation by making an over the top remarks. You may not have intended any malice. From what I know of you, you are a decent man. You jumped to Logan’s defense when they were slurred by Patrick Munoz.

    That being said your remarks were homophobic. We have all said things that are off color and inappropriate but that doesn’t necessarily make us a racist or a homophobe. (Memo to Commie Girl and Pedroza: Here is where you throw the 10 year old artists village stuff at me)

    You apologized and I believe your sincerity. The apology was pretty Munozesque however, by only apologizing if you offended anyone. I think your heart was in the right place and that is good enough for me. Besides you didn’t have your PR people write it like Munoz did.

    My intent is not to beat you up over this. I am simply tired of those folks that are beating Chris up over this. For the most part this is just faux outrage in order to further their bashing of Chris, myself and the Liberal OC.

  5. March 11, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    “I appreciate Art’s promise to respect anonymous posters.”

    Art outted Rutan&Tucker for being on his blog. Should they not have some right of privacy as well?

    All Chris did was point out that someone from Tardif Sheet Metal had made these comments.  The identity of the poster was still anonymous until you outted yourself and admitted you made them.

    How is Chris pointing out that someone from Tardif Sheet Metal commented any different from Pedroza pointing that Rutan&Tucker was on his blog?

  6. Dan Chmielewski
    March 11, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    IP addresses are not private

  7. March 11, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    There’s very little expectation of privacy when you’re visiting and leaving a comment on someone else’s blog – even “anonymous” posting isn’t anonymous to site administrators (as far as IP addresses go). That said, props to Mr. Tardiff for taking responsibility for his words.

  8. anon
    March 11, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    “IP addresses are not private”

    You guys keep missing the issue. It isn’t about whether or not an IP address is private. It’s about whether or not an IP address can be USED to identify someone who wishes to remain private. And once you go there, you go down the path of identifying a person’s other private information.

  9. Jubal
    March 11, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    I’m not going to tell the LiberalOC.com folks how to run their blog.

    Personally, I think it was a mistake to out Tardiff. To say that Tardiff outed himself is almost beside the point. Once the comment was identified as coming from his company, and given his activism in the city, it’s not hard to put 2 and 2 together.

    It would have been better to simply delete the comment and give him a warning not to post similar comments in the future.

    Whatever public statement this outing has made regarding TheLiberalOC.com’s stance on bigotry, an unavoidable byproduct is that anonymous commenters now know their anonymity is conditional. That may or may not dampen the robustness of the exchanges here if anon commenters are unsure whether they are crossing some invisible line and will have their identities revealed. I hope not. But it’s not as if there’s a public warning here that anonymous homophobic comments will result in the author being outed (that is, if we can figure out who it is).

    In my experience, simple, known and enforced rules of conduct are the best means of ensuring commenters don’t veer off into proscribed territory.

  10. just...asking?
    March 11, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Jubal,

    Most of us know there are fairly simple ways to dig on ip’s to find out some very accurate data. Anyone on a computer should know that his/her activities can be traced (just ask Elliot Spitzer).

    You do make some very good points re:rules of conduct and such. I’d say for the most part the 3 big blogs in OC, yours, OJ and this one do a good job of remaining pretty consistant in their practices.

    You all however have your times when rules are not applied consistanly. When some bloggers post under different names you’ve outed those. You’ve even thrown names, employers and job roles out while trying to name bloggers. You’ve pointed out when Art has come into OCBlog under different names. Art has also pointed out that crazy Stanley F. guy and others who get carried away. Ruttan and Tucker was not happy about being “outted” for reading OJ. You do a great job of striking most of the personal stuff, and I wish Art wouldn’t censor or edit comments. But here these guys don’t seem to delete anything (at least i haven’t know of it). So they play by different rules, so be it.

    One of the great things about OC blogging is that we can expect the unexpected, this medium is just not rigid or stagnant in its methods of sharing information. Thats a good thing! Otherwise every site would have the same tired rants (please read this SMS) and lose the quality that these conversations often deliver.

  11. who cares if you are anon
    March 11, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Mike Tardif is famous wow three articles on this one two sentence comment. Mike you are getting your fifteen minutes of fame. More articles about your little ironic comment than Obama in the last few days (yes this is sarcasm people)

  12. Mike Tardif
    March 11, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    Sean says: “The apology was pretty Munozesque however, by only apologizing if you offended anyone.” – ouch that smarts. I am going to have to think about that.

    Mike Tardif

  13. Dan Chmielewski
    March 11, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    “I’m not going to tell the LiberalOC.com folks how to run their blog.”
    and then you do… non-sequitur, no?

    “In my experience, simple, known and enforced rules of conduct are the best means of ensuring commenters don’t veer off into proscribed territory.”

    AndI don’t believe we tell you how to run yours. And I don’t see rules of engagement on your site either.

    Mike may disagree with our positions that gays and lesbians be given the same equal rights straights have to marry the person of their choosing, but equating gay marriage with bestiality was over the line. IP addresses are not private (please don’t make me list the software products you can buy to shield your digital identity) but Mike could have kept his IP address safe for about $50.

    Chris outed Mike’s IP address; could have been any of his employees or co-workers. Mike chose to out himself. Here’s some additional information but it pertains to bloggers not people who post comments to blogs. Commentors are akin to someone posting a message on a bulletin board. The following links apply to bloggers not to those comenting on a blog.

    C|Net’s guide to workplace blogging:
    http://news.com.com/FAQ+Blogging+on+the+job/2100-1030_3-5597010.html?tag=nefd.ac

    How Tor works:
    http://tor.eff.org/overview.html

    Anonymizer’s Anonymous Surfing:
    http://www.anonymizer.com/anonymizer2005/1.5/

    A list of fired bloggers:
    http://morphemetales.blogspot.com/2004/12/statistics-on-fired-bloggers.html

    The Bloggers’ Rights Blog:
    http://rights.journalspace.com/

    A Technical Guide to Anonymous Blogging (An Early Draft), by Ethan Zuckerman:
    http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/globalvoices/?p=125

    EFF’s Legal Guide for Bloggers, a larger, more comprehensive look at the legal issues facing bloggers:
    http://www.eff.org/bloggers/lg/

  14. March 11, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Hmm…Let’s see.

    First Amendment – Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. Yes, they’re both guaranteed. And yet, there are limits. While one does have the freedom to talk trash about one’s boss to a co-worker, doing so could be a career decision.

    As to the press, one must remember that freedom of the press is guaranteed to the one who owns the press – not to the one who reads it.

    When I first learned of The Liberal OC, I was rather surprised that anonymous comments are allowed at all. Many blogs from Kos to Town Hall require people who post to create an account with a verified email address. Now, why would that be, I wonder. Could it be to provide some degree of accountability? Could it be to provide recourse for really, really bad behavior?

    Regardless of the reason other sites require verification for posting, this site doesn’t. It’s a valid choice. That choice in no way means the site owner(s) abdicate any part of their responsibility for administration of the site. And administration includes putting a lid on anyone who posts truly offensive comments. There are several ways of doing that.

    In this instance, no individual was identified as having posted offensive comments. In fact, only the location from which the comments were posted, based on the IP address, was published.

    IP addresses are neither private nor secret. Your IP address is transmitted to every web site you visit. It’s transmitted again every time you click on a link or go to another page on the same site. IP addresses are stored in those delightful cookies web sites leave on your computer – yes, the ones other sites can read. Every advertisement on every page is capable of capturing your IP address. Every web server keeps logs of all activity on their sites. There are look-up tools for identifying IP addresses all over the web. There was nothing surreptitious or underhanded about how the connection was made.

    Mike Tardif has earned some small measure of respect, not for his totally offensive comments, but for having the spine to self-identify and take the heat. I would be hard pressed to shake his hand and I certainly wouldn’t buy him a drink but at least he stood front and center.

    Owners of web sites are free to administer them as they see fit. What Chris did in response to the highly offensive comments that turn out to have come from Mr. Tardif was entirely reasonable and well within his purview. FWIW, He has my gratitude and support.

  15. March 11, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Can we return to blogging about politics in OC/CA/the US from a progressive viewpoint.
    I’m frankly tired of reading more blogging about blogging.

  16. March 11, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    Sean,

    I spoke to Thomas Gordon at some length about all this today. We have offered a challenge to you. We have promised our readers that we will never go after their IP addresses. I wanted to retain the right to show who is reading our blog, but Thomas asked me to do otherwise. So here it is. We will never again do a post that depicts who is reading the blog. I challenge you to do the same.

    As Matt pointed out, it is a bad idea to out readers or commenters. It will ultimately undermine your readership. This is your blog. You are free to run it as you will. But I can assure you that on my blog we are not going down this road, not even remotely, ever again. Will you promise to do the same?

  17. March 11, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    I hear you Ed, but when people attack Chris, myself and this blog I must stand my ground. Chris did what he thought was right and I agree with him 100%. I would hope that all of our bloggers would come to Chris’ and the blogs defense when attacked in the manner in which they were.

    This will all die down soon enough.

  18. March 11, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    just…asking:

    Most of us know there are fairly simple ways to dig on ip’s to find out some very accurate data. Anyone on a computer should know that his/her activities can be traced

    Maybe you do, but my ability doesn’t extend beyond the ARIS WHOIS Database Search. And when one pops an IP into it, 90% of the time it reveals the ISP of that IP user, and that’s it.

    You all however have your times when rules are not applied consistanly.

    No, I’m not 100% consistent, but I try to get as close as I can

    When some bloggers post under different names you’ve outed those.

    I’ve never revealed who they are. Sometimes — usually when someone is antagonizing me or someone else while using a different name for every comment — I’ll point out that the various names are actually one person. But I never say who they are.

    You’ve even thrown names, employers and job roles out while trying to name bloggers.

    When?

    You’ve pointed out when Art has come into OCBlog under different names

    Nope. Never have. For one thing, Art doesn’t comment on OC Blog under different names. There are some anon Trannies who keep making that allegation — and I have corrected that misperception for them.

    Otherwise, I agree with your comment.

  19. March 11, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    “I’m not going to tell the LiberalOC.com folks how to run their blog.”
    and then you do… non-sequitur, no?

    No. I’m sure you think I contradicted myself, but even if that were true — which I dispute — it wasn’t a non sequitur. ;)

    I was merely giving my personal opinion and sharing from my experience running a political blog that allows unmoderated anon commenting. You guys can run this place how you wish. it was advice from a peer offered in a spirit of respect.

    “In my experience, simple, known and enforced rules of conduct are the best means of ensuring commenters don’t veer off into proscribed territory.”

    AndI don’t believe we tell you how to run yours. And I don’t see rules of engagement on your site either.

    There”s no persistently posted rules. However, I’m pretty vigilant about policing the comments to the point where I am regularly and wrongly accused of censoring opinions with which I don’t agree. As part of that, I am frequently re-stating the rules of the comments section, and over the years readers have become familiar with what those rules are. Plus, I think new commenters tend to intuitively figure out the rules by reading existing commenters.

    Again, advice offered from a peer in a spirit of respect. Try taking it that way.

  20. Dan Chmielewski
    March 12, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Matt — I have said before, sarcasm doesn’t always translate well. I was trying to be funny and sarcastic and failed at both.

  21. Mike Tardif
    March 12, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Sean Mill said: (Mike) … You apologized and I believe your sincerity. The apology was pretty Munozesque however, by only apologizing if you offended anyone.

    Mike Tardif said: … – ouch that smarts. I am going to have to think about that.

    Sean,

    You are correct in pointing out that my apology was weak.

    In my original post I referred to deviant behaviors which are illegal and suggested that by allowing gays full marriage rights that the gay community would be leading society toward the path of those deviant behaviors.

    I want to fully apologize to the gay community for making those hurtful references. Those were rude and uncalled for statements, call them bigoted if you will.

    I do however reserve my right to reasoned belief that allowing gays to marry will not lead to a beneficial outcome for society.

    I know that this further apology will not satisfy everyone. However, I do sincerely regret my original post for the hurt it has caused.

    Regards,

    Mike Tardif

  22. March 12, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    Mike,

    I want to commend you for standing up and apologizing. That is the mark of a true gentleman and I have much respect for you. I would hope that everyone would accept your apology and move on.

    I also respect that you stand by your principles, though I strongly disagree with your position. I do believe that you have a right to your beliefs and that you should not be condemned for them.

    Other than the comments which you apologized for you have always conducted yourself with respect and dignity. Though you disagree with folks you never come across as disagreeable. I wish I could say the same about myself.

    Thank you for standing up and taking responsibility. As far as I am concerned that incident is closed and I hope others here do to. We must now focus on making our community a better place for all. I know that you will be a leader in that effort.

    Believe when I say this Mike, you have my total respect. I hope this whole incident doesn’t prevent us from working together on making Santa Ana a better place.

    Thank you.

  23. Dan Chmielewski
    March 12, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    Mike – I alluded to this on another string but I join Sean in commending your tone in civilized debate. We do count friends on the Right as well as the Left. While i strongly disagree with your position on gay marriage, I believe you established your belief and ability to debate

  24. Bladerunner
    March 13, 2008 at 12:37 am

    I have no axe to grind with nor desire to attack the LOC. it’s a great blog, I enjyo reading it especially during an election season.

    I do believe that the decision to out Tardiff’s Company was a mistake. I think Jubal has the better practice over at Red County. Delete the offensive comment(and this was offensive) and warn the commenter that next time they will be banned.

    Most anonymous commenters have an expectation of privacy as to their identity unless they have committed a crime. if you’re going to out people, set up a standard so people will know where the maginot Line really is

  25. March 13, 2008 at 12:44 am

    Is anyone else amused (even mildly) that we keep using the term “out” when discussing the disclosure of Mike’s identity?
    In this context it’s truly ironic.
    And a sign of how far things have come that the term is in such widespread use.

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