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School District Threatens Suit Over Parent's Blog 291

Posted by kdawson
from the speech-in-a-deep-freeze dept.
penguin_dance writes "A Texas School District is threatening to sue a parent over what it terms 'libelous material' or other 'legally offensive' postings on her web site and are demanding their removal. Web site owner Sandra Tetley says they're just opinions. The legal firm sending the demand cited 16 items, half posted by Tetley, the rest by anonymous commentators to her blog. The alleged libelous postings 'accuse Superintendent Lynne Cleveland, trustees and administrators of lying, manipulation, falsifying budget numbers, using their positions for "personal gain," violating the Open Meetings Act and spying on employees, among other things.' The problem for the district is that previous courts have ruled that governments can't sue for libel. So now, in a follow-up story, the lawyers say the firm 'would file a suit on behalf of administrators in their official capacities and individual board members. The suit, however, would be funded from the district's budget.' So far, Tetley hasn't backed down, although she said she'll 'consult with her attorneys before deciding what, if anything, to delete.'"
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School District Threatens Suit Over Parent's Blog

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  • by dkf (304284)
    Delete the part where you ask them to not eat your shorts. Then add a bit saying "see you in court". And get ready with the counter-suit.
    • Re:Easy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mike89 (1006497) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @07:14AM (#21265081)
      Sorry to comment-jack, but I think you guys here on Slashdot will be interested in this, it's the first chance I've really had to discuss it, and it's extremely relevant to this thread.

      Sorry in advance that it's poorly written, my brains frazzled from studying and I don't have time to plan it properly.

      About 6 weeks ago I was 'removed' from my school (in Victoria, Australia) for writing a blog. I'm eighteen, doing my VCE (Year 12) and two days after writing it my Mum was called and asked to bring me in (and asked to pull me out of work specifically for it.. she didn't, so they waited at the school until seven so that they could do it that night).

      The blog in question was satirical, and made fun of numerous things about the school (spending so much on toilets when they're still so crap, our health teachers poor understanding of some contraception methods, the fact we put had 'annual festivities' to impress visitors from Japan, my new VET Multimedia teachers, a picture of a condom found on the floor in the Year 7-9 toilets (12 to 15)). I named some names (of the teachers, and one student who made a webpage which received an award despite coming straight out of 1995). I realise in retrospect I did a lot of things wrong, but hear me out.

      I was told, in the 'meeting', that I was not to come back to school. Clear my locker out and leave. She (the principal) would 'speak to the region' and I'd probably get transferred. I had 4 weeks to go, then exams. Excluding holidays. In the first week, nothing was done, we waited to find out what was happening (heard very little). Then 2 weeks of holidays (which of course no-one works), then the next week we were told I'd be sitting my SACs at my house (with teacher supervision) and doing my exams at another school 30 km away. In the meeting, I'd offered EVERYTHING to keep myself there. I apologised, my Mum tried to get her to address the more pressing concerns in the blog (neither of my VET Multimedia teachers were qualified to teach the course), but she ignored this. I was told to take the blog down or they'd speak to their legal team (apparently some parts were defammatory).

      In the end, I was able to contact my teachers - through her.. A very slow process. Now, it's exam time. I've done alright so far, but my ENTER score is seriously going to suffer from the fact I missed out on the most crucial part of the year. Does the school care? No. The Department of Education said that her actions were completely reasonable.. This is despite the fact she was also mentioned in said blog, as the handicap parking spot in the car park was removed and, ala, a spot for her showed up :).

      So, this isn't the first case. Oh, and wish me luck with my exam tomorrow..

      If you want to ask questions, just reply here and I'll answer them. Don't waste your time flaming me, I realise in retrospect to watch what you say online, but come on.. it was meant for a cheap laugh, and my serious attempts to address the issues were ignored. It was a creative outlet for me and it's seriously affected my future.. alas, I have no recourse it'd seem. Also, anyone who commented on the blog was banned from all Year 12 events - Muck up day, valedictory (graudation) dinner, etc.

      Australia.. so much for a free country.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Mike89 (1006497)
        Note: I should point out.. I'm aware Australia doesn't have freedom of speech laws. Also, I was a grade A student (for most things), and my final mark will still go on my previous schools records.. so really, they haven't lost out at all.

        Oh, and one of the unqualified multimedia teachers ended up not being at school the next day - she (unsurprisingly) had a Professional Development day. Apparently they were completing their Multimedia certificate to be qualified to teach, but weren't legally allowed to yet.
      • Re:Easy (Score:5, Informative)

        by bombastinator (812664) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @07:46AM (#21265193)
        Timer to hire a lawyer.

        I don't know much about Australian law, but I suspect that if the local press is not somehow denied access to the site, merely threatening to sue them anyway even if you don't have a case will likely garner you enough press time to embarrass them a lot more than the website.

        They may allow you back in or to retake the test in simple self defense. You will likely be seeing some hardball. The accusations on your site can be enough to keep an elected official out of office or get a superintendent fired. Again consult the lawyer first, but pointing out that it will get into the local news may cause a really amazing effect.

        Also don't assume that t6hey are necessarily telling you the truth about what is defamatory and what is not. A lot of that stuff is opinion and not thier opinion to boot.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Mike89 (1006497)

          They may allow you back in or to retake the test in simple self defense. You will likely be seeing some hardball. The accusations on your site can be enough to keep an elected official out of office or get a superintendent fired. Again consult the lawyer first, but pointing out that it will get into the local news may cause a really amazing effect.

          They're not letting me back in, school is already over. The exams are already in progress.. it all happened at the worst possible time. Also, there was libel in

          • by drsmithy (35869)

            Also, there was libel in one portion - I relayed on the fact several people call one of the teachers a pedophile (In the opinion of many people, he's the creepy teacher.. A lot of my female friends have told me tales of him 'perving' on them on free dress days).

            No-one "perving" on 16/17/18 year old girls is a paedophile. Creepy, maybe - but even that's dependent on how "hot" said girls think he is.

            • by Mike89 (1006497)

              No-one "perving" on 16/17/18 year old girls is a paedophile. Creepy, maybe - but even that's dependent on how "hot" said girls think he is.

              Try the age range of 12 to 15 (Secondary School, Year 7 to 9, in Australia). A family-friend in Year 9 told her Mum that they don't like it when he's around them (he always volunteers to do things like Year 7/8 Swimming Sports), and when Mum spoke to her Mum and told her the name of the person I mentioned, she was like "Oh my, that's the name of the teacher my daughter

              • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                by rastilin (752802)
                That's a career killing comment, no wonder they freaked out. If the evidence is stacking up they probably should be fired but it's still not a good idea to post something like this on the internet since he could be assaulted. If he hasn't done anything it would be solely your fault. Besides, he could just be creepy and his actions be misinterpreted. Unless you have actual proof it's irresponsible to say things like that.

                Without checking your actual post I can't know what you said but from the snippets you'v
            • A teacher in a position of power hitting on his/her students period is a bad thing- much worse when said advances are towards students who are minors.
        • by ameoba (173803)
          They may allow you back in or to retake the test in simple self defense. You will likely be seeing some hardball. The accusations on your site can be enough to keep an elected official out of office or get a superintendent fired. Again consult the lawyer first, but pointing out that it will get into the local news may cause a really amazing effect.

          We're talking about a bad website written by an angry teenager. The only reason this would have an effect on any rational adult's vote is that the whole issue po
      • Re:Easy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Da Fokka (94074) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @08:06AM (#21265273) Homepage
        You have to understand that the actions of your school against your are the result of their fear of negative publicity. Use this to your advantage. It looks like some of your criticism was legitimate. Contact your local newspaper and tell them about the issues you have. You have a right to proper education and if you are being denied that right, you have the right to tell people about the main reasons you are not getting the education you deserve.
      • Re:Easy (Score:4, Funny)

        by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @08:12AM (#21265289)
        In my opinion, there is a fine line between opinion and libel. For example, if you have "in my opinion" in what you're saying, then that makes it an opinion, in my opinion. However, I may be wrong, but I don't feel wrong, in my opinion.

        If what you mentioned contained libel, then this probably won't work. But in my opinion, if it weren't for the libel, I would personally consider suing. All you need is to document the financial loss you incurred when they harassed you, assuming it is considered harassment, which I won't say whether or not they did.
      • by hey! (33014)
        Simple rule of slashdot comment-jacking. Go ahead, but if you are doing it from your old Commodore computer expect people to be a bit skeptical.
      • As a few other commenters have pointed out - you have admitted your mistake, offered to make amends and still been ignored. The handling of the situation has been appalling.

        As for what you said - without reading it (and the exact wording and context) I can't offer any opinion on whether it was a legal but unsavoury commentary on the school and its teachers or if it did cross the line into libel. But it really would be worth getting a lawyer to address things. This may not be cheap but - you are an A student
      • by DreamerFi (78710)
        Good luck with your exam tomorrow. Best way to "show them" is to ace it. Go for it!
      • by Skapare (16644)

        If you are going to live in a non-free lawyer-infested country, you need to host your blog anonymously in a far removed country somewhere else.

        FYI ... I have had to deal with school boards and school administrators in various circumstances, several times. I have observed a nature that fits every one of them I have dealt with, and seems to fit every one that makes it to the news. That nature is that the people who run them are people that wanted to be politicians because they enjoyed being in positions of

      • Good luck with your exam tomorrow. Don't forget to rest - hours stolen from night-time sleep are fool's gold. I should know, that's how I messed up my last exam.
      • by keithjr (1091829)
        On behalf of all of Slashdot, let me be the first to say "Good Luck, friend."
      • I almost had a problem like that when I was in high school. Now this was many years ago, to many that I don't want to go into. The school news paper was nothing but a mouth piece for the jocks and victorian society, i.e. people with all the money. It was not even worth wiping your ass with that rag.

        My friends and I being nerds had access to our own computers, C-64, a damn good printer, and a copy machine. We did what any pissed off geeks would do, we started our own underground newspaper. But we whe

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @06:11AM (#21264859)
    First, why not link to the blog, you dumbass editors?

    Second, from just what's written in the summary, it's a pretty clear case of someone using their blog to accuse school officials of wrongdoing. It doesn't sound at all like "opinions". It sounds like accusations and innuendo. I'm not sure how responsible this person is for the comments, but the articles themselves are pretty libelous if untrue.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dkf (304284)

      First, why not link to the blog, you dumbass editors?
      Dumbass submitter you mean

      • by Myopic (18616)
        Did Slashdot change to a system where submitters choose what stories go on the front page? I thought that's what the editors did. I thought it was their job to do some quality control on what got posted (even though they have long neglected that duty).
    • Actually from what I've read it's a case of less than astutue public officals being repeatedly embarassed for wasting and squandering public funds and failing to take advantage or having knowlege of federal grant money. take a look at the Blog [gisdwatch.com] and see if you agree. would you think this is libelous?

      I wonder what the school Principals and teachers think about how much money they are spending to silence us. Especially when they promised each teacher a $250 stipend for their classroom and then took the amounts

  • by xzaph (1157805) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @06:21AM (#21264897)
    Since it's not linked in the op, the site in question is http://www.gisdwatch.com/ [gisdwatch.com]
  • Absolute defense. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ihlosi (895663) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @06:22AM (#21264899)
    The alleged libelous postings 'accuse Superintendent Lynne Cleveland, trustees and administrators of [...] using their positions for "personal gain," [...]


    The suit, however, would be funded from the district's budget.'



    Isn't truth an absolute defense to an accusation of libel ?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by westlake (615356)
      Isn't truth an absolute defense to an accusation of libel ?

      The law rarely deals in absolutes. The shotgun approach where you fire off dozens of accusations in the hope that at least some of them will stick suggests a malicious or reckless disregard for the truth.

    • If the poster can prove that any factual statements he made, are true, then he has a strong defense.

      But, at what cost? Any well financed institution can easily run your legal expenses into the the tens of thousands - and very possibly more.

      Then there is the issue of your time, if you have a full-time job, or if you are full time student, or parent; you just may not the time to spend the next few years in the court room. Big institutions know this.
    • Re:Absolute defense. (Score:4, Informative)

      by telso (924323) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @10:32AM (#21266511)
      Until a week ago I thought that truth was an absolute defence to libel. Not always so. Although the law differs by jurisdiction, what you say may have to be in the public interest. If a politician sleeps around with married people and then tries to outlaw adultery, that's in the public interest to report; if your neighbour sleeps around with married people, that's not in the public interest (unless the married person or that person's spouse is a public figure). People are entitled to their privacy, and if the public would not care about Joe Blow and you defame his character, you're going to get in trouble.

      Also, on the jurisdictional issue, this site [cippic.ca] lists a few places where truth is not an absolute defence (including "some US states"). And you should note that if you publish something online, then since people can read it in jurisdictions where truth is not an absolute defence, you may be able to be sued in those jurisdictions, even if you and the person you're talking about have never been to that jurisdiction. And lastly, the burden of truth (not just belief in truth of the statements, but actual truth) is on the person making the statements.
      • Arguably, school officials are public figures.

        The jurisdictional issue is a real problem. Unchecked, it amounts to whoever has the deepest pockets. Launch lawsuits in as many jurisdictions as possible and then sit back and watch your target get buried in paper and ink. The Scientologists used jurisdiction to bring the DoJ to its knees, which is telling giving the vast resources of the US government.

        This is what happens when 2 out of the 3 branches of your government are composed entirely of lawyers and
  • by imsabbel (611519) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @06:22AM (#21264903)
    Just because its a blog doesnt it make any less real than posting it as leaflets on lampposts.

    If the accusations are true, than they will lose.
    If they arent, they have every right to defend themselves against this libel.
    • by Colin Smith (2679)
      With libel you have to prove they're true. If you don't have the evidence, you lose.
       
    • by flynns (639641)
      Also, it's the government. The government can't sue for libel, but, effectively, they are. It's fucked up.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by julesh (229690)
      Just because its a blog doesnt it make any less real than posting it as leaflets on lampposts.

      If the accusations are true, than they will lose.
      If they arent, they have every right to defend themselves against this libel.


      That's not entirely true. There's a defence to libel called "honest opinion", which basically means that the statements made are clearly intended to be interpreted as opinion rather than absolute statements of fact. This does, in fact, mean that blogs (a medium that is commonly used for di
      • Calling your site a "blog" and using sensationalist headlines does not magically change statements of fact to opinions.
        • lying: Everyone lies about something, so unless the person cites specific examples that are relevant to school administration, I don't think a libel case would stick
        • manipulation: See above, but it's probably even harder to prove that some statement is intended to manipulate (isn't that what almost everything anyone says meant to do?)
        • falsifying budget numbers: This is a fairly speci
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bogtha (906264)

      To make your analogy accurate, you would have to include the fact that people came along afterwards and wrote additional things on the leaflets she put on lampposts, and they are suing her for those statements as well.

    • by jcnnghm (538570)
      At least in the US, blogs aren't protected by journalism laws, whereas a pamphlet very well may.
  • by WibbleOnMars (1129233) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @06:48AM (#21264997)
    I don't know the details of this story, whether there's any merit in the school's arguments or not, because I haven't read the original blog (and even if I did, I'd be reading a one-sided biased view), but they are being seen to have gone in heavy-handed with the lawyers, and the result is that a small local dispute has been syndicated in Slashdot, and probably plenty of places elsewhere. Effectively by calling in the lawyers, they've turned a small amount of bad publicity into a very large amount of much worse publicity. This is something I've noticed happening a lot lately (most obviously with the RIAA etc). So regardless of the merits of the case, the lesson seems to be if you're considering calling the lawyers, you'd be wise to try less drastic steps first to get your point across. And if you're on the receiving end of a nasty letter from the lawyers, blog about it in a way that focuses on how it affects your rights, and make sure Slashdot gets to hear it.
  • Elected Officials (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dreamchaser (49529) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @06:49AM (#21264999) Homepage Journal
    These are elected officials we are talking about. School board members are chosen by election. The rules for libel are far different for public figures than for private individuals. This might get interesting. The defendent's speech is political in nature so we're talking First Amendment issues here.
    • It is much harder for a public figure to go after someone for libel, but does an elected official that most people don't even know count as a "public figure"? Calling all IANAL's out there in /. land.
      • by pla (258480) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @08:45AM (#21265465) Journal
        does an elected official that most people don't even know count as a "public figure"?

        In most places, these people have more power than the rest of local government combined. They usually control over two-thirds of the town/city budget, they have the power to make the life of anyone with children a living hell, and they usually have so little oversight as to make them nearly bulletproof in a scandal.

        Even if you don't have kids, you damned well better have an interest in what goes on with your local school board (unless you don't care how rapidly your excise and property taxes go up).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)
      I think it's at least odd if not sad or offensive that the school budgets will be used to prosecute this even if school districts can't directly sue anyone. The fact that they are doing this makes me suspicious of their arguments. Not that it really surprises me, educators and school administrators sometimes are known to go on goofy power trips, but knowing nothing about this case, I should try to be fair about it. It's also possible that the parent just has some kind of axe to grind because of some perc
      • by Steve B (42864)
        I think it's at least odd if not sad or offensive that the school budgets will be used to prosecute this even if school districts can't directly sue anyone.

        If (as described) they are suing as individuals in order to do an end-run around that, then tapping the school budget to fund the lawsuit is no different from tapping the school budget to fund a weekend in Aruba.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by spockman (532973)
        I also find it very interesting that it appears that school funds would be used to what utimately sounds like funding private lawsuits. Isn't that one of the misues of funds that the blogger is talking about?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chris Burke (6130)
      I like the observation that court precedent says you can't be sued for libeling the government, so instead they decide they're going to sue on behalf of the individuals in their official capacities (because the alleged libel wasn't about them in their private life, it was about their performance in their official capacities).

      Their "official capacities" are being members of the government. So what good is the precedent if it only protects you from suit for libeling the government, if they can just sue on be
  • after I RTFA i didn't see where they mentioned the actual content in dispute. Could someone point out where this libel actually is on the site? I would like to read what GSID is actually trying to remove before I form an opinion on the matter.
  • The blog (Score:2, Redundant)

    by beezly (197427)
    The blog is at http://www.gisdwatch.com/ [gisdwatch.com]
  • by carou (88501) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @07:24AM (#21265117) Homepage Journal
    One might almost say, it sounds like Tetley's bitter.
  • by GauteL (29207) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @07:41AM (#21265163)
    "falsifying budget numbers, using their positions for "personal gain," violating the Open Meetings Act and spying on employees,"

    These are all very serious accusations of criminal behaviour from members of the school board. Unless Tetley has any proof of these accusations I can see why they could be considered libelous.

    Whether or not it is good publicity to sue is another matter.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Yartrebo (690383)
      Those aren't serious allegations. These are run of the mill things. Who doesn't fudge budgets? Who doesn't use their position to advance themselves or their relatives (ie., nepotism)? Who doesn't spy on their employees (ie., read employee email or go hunting for personal webpages)? I'm not sure what the Open Meeting Act is, but if it's anything like the Freedom of Information Act, who follows that to the letter?

      The thing is, unless these administrators are angels (and they're probably human, not angel), the
      • by JoelKatz (46478)
        As they come from a chronic speeder who fails to take seriously our great nation's speed limit laws, I see no reason to consider your argument seriously.
      • Those aren't serious allegations. These are run of the mill things. Who doesn't fudge budgets?
        Well, while short-term fudging is common (due to things like payments getting delayed, etc.) long-term fudging is serious and indicates that there's probably serious trouble hidden. Uncovering this sort of thing is exactly what auditors are supposed to do .

        Who doesn't use their position to advance themselves or their relatives (ie., nepotism)?
        Nepotism is a serious allegation. If the relative is any good, they can get their position without it, and who would want to hire someone who isn't good? (Answer: someone not fit for the job)

        Who doesn't spy on their employees (ie., read employee email or go hunting for personal webpages)?
        Those two things are different. Employee email is generally sent with the expectation of some degree of privacy, but personal webpages are voluntary publication to anyone who cares to read. Looking for public info isn't spying, looking for confidential info is. OK?

        The thing is, unless these administrators are angels (and they're probably human, not angel), the allegations are probably true. These are things people of average moral character do on a normal basis. People of good moral character usually don't do this, but then again, I doubt they'd make it into a management position. Management usually goes to 'yes' people, not people with strong morals.
        Sounds like you've had to suffer from terrible management somewhere along the line. I really feel for you.
  • I have seen this too many times in too many places. People in power or in fame somehow believe they have an entitlement above others... actually, I have seen that in people without power and fame as well.

    I would love to see this one go to court. I would love to see these anti-free-speech government employees ousted from their elected, self-serving positions.

    When I read through the blogs, there are definitely some serious issues that need to be addressed. Unfortunately, there aren't enough state and feder
  • This dispute is hardly surprising if you know something about the background issues. For anyone interested, here's a link to a 20/20 report called "Stupid in America" [youtube.com]; a little over 40 minutes long, but very informative. After watching the report, it seems to me teacher's unions are mostly to blame; they don't take shit from anyone and resist making any changes at all to the system. All they ever seem to want is more money, even when it's clear to everyone else that private schools, and schools in other cou
  • I know this Australia we are talking about and not the US, but I thought most countries don't see blogs as journalism, and in the states, they haven't allowed blogs to be protected the same way journalism is (protecting sources and such). If blogs aren't journalism, then why are blogs considered libel?

    This is just one parent expressing their opinion, and God help us if you can be sued simply for expressing your opinion.
    • If blogs aren't journalism, then why are blogs considered libel?

      Because in this one particular case it suits a government agency to consider a blog to be journalism.

  • by parkrrrr (30782) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @09:42AM (#21265889)

    The alleged libelous postings 'accuse Superintendent Lynne Cleveland, trustees and administrators of ... using their positions for "personal gain,"...'

    the lawyers say the firm 'would file a suit on behalf of administrators in their official capacities and individual board members. The suit, however, would be funded from the district's budget.'
    If the second isn't an example of the first, what is it? If they want to sue personally to attempt an end-run around the law, they should be prepared to pay for it personally.
  • by hey! (33014) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @10:02AM (#21266153) Homepage Journal
    This is why you need an independent judiciary. A judge should look at the kind of legal flim-flammery the district is attempting and smack them down hard for abuse of process. Of course this is Texas, so who knows what will happen.

    Sometimes, you can get away with breaking the spirit of the law on a technicality. Sometimes. But when you can, it is because in our system, the entity whose illegal actions are the highest priority to restrain is presumptively the government. It is better for a citizen to get off on a technicality than for the government to claim an iota more power over his life than it is strictly allowed to. But this doesn't go the other way. The government can't use a technicality to claim more power of the citizens' lives than it actually has.

    This is why "running government like a business" doesn't work. The government has duties that a business does not, and things that individuals can sometimes get away with the government can't, or at least shouldn't. One of the duties the government has is to respect the right of individuals to criticize it.

    Even individuals aren't allowed to evade their legal duties by legal fictions. You have a legal duty to pay taxes. You can shelter income by taking advantage of quirks in the tax code, but you cannot shelter it by creating ficticious transaction that create the appearance of losses. That's fraud.

    What the school committee is doing here is fraud. It is managing this lawsuit and even paying for it, under the fraudulent pretenses that it is not a government action. It makes accusation of fraud against the officials involved all the more credible. It would be one thing (still dubious) if they took legal action as individuals; perhaps it would be simply misguided. But they're playing a shell game here, using their official powers but hiding them under an unconvincing cloak.
  • by Vexorian (959249)
    I admire this school's efforts, undermining the threat of freedom of speech.
  • I live in Houston but my brother lives in Sante Fe, TX which is in Galveston county. I can attest to the type of tactics that are used by many on the school board as well as the local law enforcement. I do not know the parties in question but after reading the blog I can believe most of the accusations happening without much arm twisting. Is there proof? Probably but that proof is in the hands of the very people it would condemn. Is that a ShredCo truck i see rounding the corner? My brother spent 3 years de
  • Those seem to be pretty serious charges. Unless you have some basis, you can't just go around accusing people of those things and expect to not have problems.

    Now if she wrote about the quality of education or other opinion based it would be different, but accusing them of financial gain via the budget, that is a tiny bit different.
  • It is OK to be offensive. That's right. Racial slurs, ethnic slurs and religious slurs are all better than censorship. Do society a favor. Act incensitive. Even if you think you can mild it down, don't. People have gotten too used to the idea that their right not to be offended stand in the way of other people's rights to tell the truth. Time to give the "niceness lobby" a verbal slap in the face. Because so far they have set the world's greatest democracy on a way to becoming a tyranny. Have you
  • Sounds familiar (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SupaYoda (531436) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @12:28PM (#21268245)
    I used to run a regularly updated blog that covered, among other things, a situation in the town I live in. Basically, a group of local politicians (or their cronies) hijacked the offices they were voted out of by filling the open spots of mayor and city council that were conveniently vacated by the people that won the election. Those people who had been elected (not the ones who were voted out and later appointed) left under a series of very suspicious circumstances, leaving the impression that they were bullied out of office. The ones that came back served local business interests. The locals, fed up with what was going on, decided that the best way out was to dissolve the city and be annexed into the city next door. Upon following the state law, this group of locals was successful in their efforts and were supposed to have a vote on the annexation. The town "leaders" didn't want that to happen, so they fought the election in courts-- which they lost. So they racked up a large amount of debt for the town, the town that agreed to annex pulled out because they didn't want the debt, and our town never saw an election.

    The local media picked up very little of the story, so I called the town out on its actions on my blog. It got quite a bit of attention from the locals.

    The town officials didn't dare come after me, but one of the local business leaders (and a friend of the council and mayor) did. He showed up on my doorstep, came inside my home, and raised his voice in front of my toddler daughter and paid no attention to the fact that he was scaring the crap out of her. While I used no names or businesses or people, and there was more that one person who could have fit the description, the business owner told me that he had the right to sue me. I spoke with no less than four lawyers who told me that he was delusional. The owner's rationale was this: If I wrote a convincing blog that affected the outcome of a local election, the town would be absorbed into another town that has building codes and zoning laws, and he'd have to spend money to get his buildings up to code. So he would sue me for the money he "lost". During the meeting, he fiddled with his pocket and asked me questions like, "What was your intent in publishing this?" Yes, I was being recorded, and I suspect he was fishing for something because someone told him he had nothing.

    Nevertheless, he said that I'd incorrectly stated someone else's opinion. (This person was also never named.) While I'd talked to the person previously and published their correct opinion, that opinion changed when I spoke to them afterward-- leading me to believe that he'd had a similar visit. I had no way to back up my claims, so I went ahead and corrected the statement with an editor's note. I was also told that I'd incorrectly identified the mayor as being the owner of a particular business, but there were no defaming statements made, so it was no big deal. I've since been told that the mayor IS the owner, so I just took the sentence out altogether to avoid confusion. They even tried to say that I'd misquoted the mayor, but the quote I'd published was a quote from the local newspaper and was noted as such. Not to mention, the reporter had a taped recording of what the mayor said, regardless as to what he meant to say.

    My little meeting actually DID change the way I wrote, and it made me an even bigger thorn in their side. Since they were going to play hardball, I started collecting paperwork to back up every single thing I wrote, and they could no longer tell people I was lying. I even published pictures of the "park" they claimed to have on their publicity website and turned some heads, and they had to change the wording to say that they were going to have a park in the future. (I got a couple of phone calls from state legislators about that one.) When they passed a city ordinance to discourage a peaceful demonstration at a town event, I published the ordinance and pointed out in the wording that they could still prot
  • Orthomom blog (Score:3, Informative)

    by thegameiam (671961) <thegameiam@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @01:01PM (#21268795) Homepage
    This happened recently, where the anonymous blogger "orthomom" got sued by a School Board member for saying nasty things about her. The suit was thrown out of court. Some details are available here [blogspot.com].

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern

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