Welcome those who found their way here from Colin McEnroe's blog (I miss him on WTIC).
I'm working a detailed database which will expose the horrific and racist language that's allowed on the News-Times/Topix message boards as well as a call to action and place pressure on the Danbury News-Times to end their relationship with Topix. Until then, feel free to look at a few of my past posts on offensive anonymous posts left on the message boards.
For those who post disgusting garbage on the News-Times/Topix boards, this should serve as your wake-up call.
A Texas judge has ordered an online news site to unveil identifying details about 178 anonymous commenters on the site. The order came after a couple, Mark and Rhonda Lesher, sued the numerous anonymous commenters posting to Topix.com for making what they considered to be "perverted, sick, vile, inhumane accusations" about them.
The Leshers were originally thrust into the Texas spotlight in 2008 after being accused of sexually assaulting an unidentified former client of Mark Lesher. That's when thousands of comments began piling up on the community news aggregator Topix to discuss the sexual assault charges. As with most things on the Internet, many Topix users felt free to let loose with nasty comments about the Leshers.
The Leshers were found not guilty of the charges after a criminal trial. That, however, wasn't the end of the 70-some individual threads posted to Topix about them. "It just... basically made us both feel like common criminals," the Leshers told the Dallas Morning News (via TechDirt). "It's like someone had basically raped us of our reputation and our standing in the community over and over and over again."
That's when the Leshers chose to sue a number of Topix's anonymous commenters (but, interestingly, not Topix itself). The law firm representing the couple, Connor & Demond PLLC in Austin, told Computerworld that the lawsuit was limited specifically to the posters whose statements were considered defamatory under Texas law.
The complaint filed by the Leshers details many of the comments made by the anonymous defendants. Some are certainly lower blows than others—insinuating that Mark drugs women and that Rhonda is the "Herpies Queen," and that the couple may have AIDS, among other things—but not all of the comments are as bad. Some merely accuse the Leshers of being liars, and others even say to wait for confirmation of some of the accusations.
Topix, for its part, appears to be doing its best to ensure that it only hands over exactly what is required, and not a bit more. Topix CEO Chris Tolles told Computerworld that the company takes privacy very seriously, and that the company would not "simply hand over all of our records" without reviewing the subpoena in detail. "We prefer to make sure requests are clear and specific and not overly broad," he said. According to the order, Topix has until March 6 to give up the information.
What happened in Texas could EASILY happen in Danbury...
On September 26, 2007, ten plaintiffs filed suit in response to an arrest of aday laborers at a public park in Danbury, Connecticut. Plaintiffs amended their complaint on November 26, 2007.
The amended complaint states that plaintiffs sought to remedy the continued discriminatory and unauthorized enforcement of federal immigration laws against the Latino residents of the City of Danbury by Danbury's mayor and its police department.
Plaintiffs allege that the arrests violated their Fourth Amendment rights and the Connecticut Constitution because defendants conducted the arrests without valid warrants, in the absence of exigent circumstances, and without probable cause to believe that plaintiffs were engaged in unlawful activity. In addition, plaintiffs allege that defendants improperly stopped, detained, investigated, searched and arrested plaintiffs. Plaintiffs also allege that defendants violated their Fourteenth Amendment rights when they intentionally targeted plaintiffs, and arrested and detained them on the basis of their race, ethnicity and perceived national origin. Plaintiffs raise First Amendment, Due Process and tort claims.
Plaintiffs request declaratory relief, damages and attorneys fees.