Todd Epp, professed author of one of the two components of the Hamiel-Turbak Berry Blog Control Act, is running a poll that smells of misdirection.
"Are anonymous defamatory blog comments protected free speech?" Mr. Epp asks. Of course they're not. Defamation is by definition a crime outside the protection of the First Amendment. Counsel for the plaintiffs might as well ask whether vandalism or domestic abuse is protected expression.
This loaded question sounds like a tactic to distract us from the real problem with the sloppy, dangerous House Bills 1277 and 1278. Contrary to the respected Dr. Newquist's assertion, no one is defending defamation. (I'm not even defending anonymity.) Bloggers and the ACLU are opposing an unconstitutional expansion of government power that favors the wealthy and well-lawyered, creates barriers to entry to the online marketplace of ideas, and chills free speech.
Vandalism is a crime, but you can't require every property owner to install security cameras to monitor their walls and yard.
Domestic abuse is a crime, but you can't require everyone to live in glass houses.
Defamation is a crime, but you can't conscript Internet users to work as speech cops for Pierre.
The question of the constitutional status of defamatory speech is irrelevant to the reasons to kill the Hamiel-Turbak Berry Blog Control Act.
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