That joke called the First Amendment

Well, the quick way is to wait on a bridge, but the reality of that approach is likely to be less successful! This all starts with an article in the LA Times today (at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-james-woods-twitter-lawsuit-20150730-htmlstory.html). The object of trolling is James Wood, the actor. He has had many successes and in most of those moves he plays the badass opponent you don’t want to cross, not even when you have the Rock at your side. I had to take a little look at what I first saw that included him. Raid on Entebbe was the first movie, yet I did not realise it at that moment as it was a ‘Charles Bronson movie’ (the mind of a teenager tends to be super focussed). So James as the Captain with the glasses was not the focus of the viewer (me). I started to watch movies because James Woods was in them around the time ‘Best Seller’ was released. He had already drawn attention through Videodrome, Against all odds and Cat’s Eye. All this matters, because the way we perceive an actor (especially outside of America) is when we watch his work, not the gossip page, not some glossy magazine where dubious statements drenched in non-liability grammar. It is possible that the generation after me will form an opinion of him from his starring role as Hades in Hercules (you get the concept). So did he have issues? I am pretty sure that he has issues, which does not mean he dove into the narcotics, which several actors from the 80’s did. The fact that glossy magazines got away accusing people of murder ‘due to unnamed sources’ adds to the stress here. But what is the case? Actor James Woods filed a $10-million lawsuit this week against an anonymous Twitter user, alleging defamation and invasion of privacy. In my view there are two options, either that person is an American, or not. If not it basically becomes an FBI case (I will get back to this). Leila Knox, an attorney with the San Rafael-based First Amendment Coalition gives us some of the goods. As she states “You have to go straight after the individual”. Which is all fine and good, yet since its official adoption of December 15th 1791, the text: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances“, has become a bit of a joke. There is no doubt in my mind that the originators had the best intentions in mind, yet for no less than 30 years the 1st amendment can be regarded as an international joke. (I will get back to this too). The next part in the article is “The next step is to subpoena the ISP, which must alert the user that he or she is being sued and that there is a request for the user’s identity to be revealed“, not just that, but the ISP can actually start a case of defence for the troll and file for quashing the subpoena. Mark Lemley, director of Stanford Law School gives us in addition the following: ““The hardest part is proving that the statements were made with bad intent” and were not accidental, said Lemley, who spoke in general and not in reference to the Woods case. “It also depends on how careful the poster has been to cover their tracks.”” in this we see the first issue and as to answering this, I will also get back on the two previous points. You see, I am all for ‘freedom of speech’, yet in that light, this freedom also needs to show a form of accountability. When we see that there is a need ‘to cover their tracks’, whilst there is supposedly freedom of speech, you know that something is wrong. So the fact becomes, should the ISP be allowed to act in the way it can? I agree that to some extent it should be protective, but when a person is hiding behind anonymity so that this person can lash out, I have to see the situation that the victim of this lashing has a right to face his/her accuser. Is that not a direct right too? In the second, when we consider the 1st amendment in another way we get the following: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances“, let’s take this one step at a time. ‘Or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press‘ I believe in the spirit of this, but are we not allowed to know the speaker? You see in those days, freedom of speech was done in writing or in words. In words meant that the person did this in view of others. That means that this person was a known person, even if that person was a stranger and was viewed for speaking his/her mind. The aggrieved person could face the speaker and defend the presentation. When in writing it was harder but overall we would know who spoke, because the true speaker would sign their view, if this person did not, than it was either a question the writer would ask people to answer for themselves or it could be rejected all together. The press has become an even more debatable joke. The Daily Mail for example with “source close to the family” (MH370 disaster), this is not the only case, what is also important is that we saw an issue in 2014 the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) decided to investigate a case whilst using only 1 of 83 plaintiffs. These are UK cases, and they are aligned to this issue. You see, when we look at The Atlantic, we see an issue in the article ‘Why Newspapers Often Don’t Call Out Politicians for Lying’, it states that it is a complicated controversy, which on the surface it is not. You see a statement is either true or false. Now, we must allow for a view that is regarded as ‘the eye of the beholder’, which is fair enough. A Republican will see matters differently from a Democrat and if that person explains his/her view that should not matter and the truth is still told. So the issue now becomes is it the truth or is it flaccid? That issue comes to mind when we consider the quote “diminish their perceived objectivity, especially among unsophisticated news consumers“, from there we get ‘there is no truth, there is just a flaccid context because the reader could be regarded as stupid’, that would make you feel loads better wouldn’t it? So we now have a little bit of an issue, in one part the press needs to get a lot more leeway, so that it can bearing a point of view across, which is still informing the public, yet, we cannot allow for the press to continue to the extent it had for too long a time. In all this the 1st amendment is as I regard it a joke in today’s society, yet altering it is equally dangerous, because I believe in an accounted freedom of speech. In that view, the anonymous person is not a person perse, this person is a mere fabrication of nothing. Now, this is a dangerous statement from my side and I realise that. There is a clear need for anonymity, especially as there is a need to truly protect a person from prosecution, but such a person does not go out and states “James Woods is a cocaine addict”, which more than malicious. You see, as we regard a person with issues on alcohol and narcotics, the view of him is altered. In his case it will affect his ability to gain jobs. In a world where he relies on public opinion (even more than a politician), there is the need to make sure that people cannot make claims against others unless they can back this up. As far as I have been able to tell, James Woods has never been in court for any criminal transgression, and he seems to keep a decently healthy lifestyle, the fact that he has been in two relationships with women 40 years younger than him seems to vouch for that part. In all this I still have a partial issue with the quote by Leila Knox. She speaks the truth, but is she correct? The quote “One has the right to go out and speak and not be identified”, is truthful, but was it speaking? Basically James Woods fell under psychic assault, moreover, the assault can be regarded as intentional malicious assault. It is malicious as there is no evidence and no publications that James Woods has been addicted to drugs. the fact that this could be the statement of a person who does not know James Woods, making the claim malicious, an intentional act to do harm, at which point the victim (James Woods) has every right to face his accuser (Abe List), so now we get to the point how to solve this. Now for the case, there is little chance of James Woods to get a decent chance of confronting his attacker. The law seems too flaccid to do anything and in defence of the FBI, if they have to track down every defamation case they will never get to do the things they need to actually get done. You see, I am over some of these trolls, as we see how they just attack for the mere fun of it. Wouldn’t it be great if there was some anonymous hackers group that could give aid to these victims, a group that would retweet the accusation, but now with the added identity and address of that person, would that not be great? An approach that is enlightening and dangerous at the same time, because at times there are people who must be able to rely on anonymity, those people who do not attack, but speak out for their own hardship, they need protection, I do not deny it, making the first amendment a dangerous thing, because the more it protects the oppressors, the less it regards the victims, which was never the intent of the first amendment. So has the first amendment truly become a joke? The fact that people hide behind it whilst the location of the transgressor (read troll) is not a given is one side to this statement, the fact that the press can insinuate with impunity for mere profit is another part. Twitter seems to do whatever it can, to remain the ‘innocent disseminator’. When we look at this we legally get “The defence of innocent dissemination is intended to protect people such as newsagents, booksellers, librarians and internet service providers (ISP) who unwittingly publish defamatory matter without negligence on their part“, which is Australian Law, but the US has something very similar. And in all this, Twitter for the most has left interactions to almost zero, which gives strength to their ‘innocent dissemination’ even though the Troll has been removed, it is relatively easy to create a new profile, so that the troll can strike again. I think that on a case to case basis Twitter needs to re-evaluate its choices. It is not impossible that Twitter becomes another reddit through the bashing by trolls, which means that Twitter people will seek another venue at some point. For now Twitter is highly accepted in the business community. If that changes and trolls take over, the loss of accounts could spell long term hardship for Twitter, taking into account how quickly social media evolves, hanging onto the community as they have, Twitter did a fine choice in remaining the innocent disseminator. Yet the future is slightly altered. I personally believe that losing thousands of accounts due to a few trolls is a bad choice, not intensely protecting them would also send a stronger message to the people at large. So when in the speculated scenario where the people in a street learn that someone’s 15 year old kid has been trolling the hell out of some could be a revelation, especially for the troll. If a troll is nothing more than a cyber-bully, why do we give them protection? Aren’t we supposed to be united against bullies?

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