From The Desk Of Conor Corcoran: This Is What Happened When We Asked Our Lawyer If We Ever Had To Worry About Being Subpoena’d For Our Commenters’ True Identities
The problem with running a new media enterprise is that there is an inclination to leave
the old media machinations of yellow journalism in the dust. The greatest American
historical proponents thereof –- Joseph Pulitzer (whose name is now, incredibly, the gold standard for audacious truth in public discourse) and William Jennings Bryant -– have been reincarnated by the likes of CNN and FOX, with their brazen manipulations of fact in the shameless pursuit of both limiting the scope of our public discourse and confusing the parameters of our debate. Homie don’t play that here in the 215, to use the parlance of our times.
It is against this backdrop that sites like our dear Philebrity maintain a comments section at the end of each post. The laudable compulsion to give voice to the voiceless in the pursuit of truth has, unfortunately, given voice to the voiceless, most of whom should remain as such, and for very good reason. And it now appears as though newspapers, websites, and the like may now be compelled to identify these faceless banshees of commentary.
After the jump, Conor reveals the price tag. Literally.
Opinions are like… the African-American/Israelite nutjobs who shout outside of the Gallery or the Clothespin, dressed like the Seven Dwarfs. They’re entitled to voice all the nonsense they like — in public — but they’ve no entitlement to promotion by private enterprise, be it space inside the mall, or the hosting of their feckless gibberish, in print or on our servers.
And those who do control the private enterprise of news have an obligation to be discerning. The success, indeed the very viability, of any news or gossip organization of any merit depends as much upon the stories chosen for promotion as the stories that are not. Don’t take my word for it -– David Foster Wallace had his meandering, though prescient, postulation on the importance of discriminating thought.
The pursuit of truth, especially by those with a liberal bent, rests upon a politically correct premise that everyone has an opinion and all of them should be heard, and thus, that the manipulation of what’s presented for public discourse is a cardinal sin. But if the wisdom of the years doesn’t impress upon you the importance of running a discerning comb through the tangled cheveux of what you allow to be published on your site, then take a shot of some cold ass truth, Herr Sweeney: The next time some asshole writes anything defamatory in your comments section, and you get subpoenaed to identify said libelous rapscallion -– Daddy charges a $5000 retainer at $300 an hour.
And as you should know by now, you’ve got to sin to be saved. Love you. Mean it.
J. Conor Corcoran
Here at Philebrity, we are no strangers to reaching for the telephone in a cold sweat, fingers trembling in fear, punching in a few numbers and asking as soon as someone answers, asking “Fuck! Are we gonna get sued for this?” Always, on the end of the other line is one Conor Corcoran, Esq., our resident go-to guy for all things scary and legal. Read more of his missives to Philebrity here.