Friday, November 30, 2007

Nothing but the Truth: Who was that Masked Man? And why should Manalapan care?

That’s me --- to your right, my left. Every word I write, every fact I cite, every web post that 'bytes' ----you’ll be watching me. And you know who I am. But hey, that’s me. It’s what I do.

But it’s not what Mr. or Ms. or Messrs daTruthSquad, a New Jersey blogger, does. If 'Truth' wants to post in his/her/their own anonymity, that is up to him/her/them.

And in America, that should be OK. But Manalapan thinks it's not. And some bloggers don't, either.

I read recently where the founder and editor of the Alternative Press blog which covers news and information for the residents of Summit, Berkeley Heights, and New Providence is instituting a new policy regarding blog posts: No name, no gain. It is, after all, his blog and that certainly is his right. But he is wrong.

Posting anonymously is a perfectly reasonable way to express one’s opinion, with First Amendment protection and deep historical roots. Will there be rude comments and some profanity? Of, course. But that issue does not rise to the level of compelling someone or group to waive his or her basic First Amendment rights. The real answer to the issue is more postings, not fewer. But I digress; the real issue at center stage is with daTruthSquad.

This whole thing was spurred on when the Township of Manalapan [all 31 square miles of this landlocked municipality with a population of about 37,000], came down on blogger DaTruthSquad for writing bad stuff about the town. Apparently, Mayor Andrew Lucas and his Township Committee have never heard of the First Amendment.

Mayor Lucas, let me print it out for you here:
“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.”


This is the part of the Constitution that allows daTruth Squad to do what he/she/they do without letting you know who they are. Manalapan went so far as to actually spend tax payer dollars to pay their township attorneys in September to issue subpoenas to Google, asking the company to provide daTruthSquad's name, blog posts, unpublished drafts and any other information related to the site.

Oy! What were they thinking? And who is their town attorney? He/she should know better, too.

The Manalapan Township Committee would probably have asked The Lone Ranger to take off his mask. Or Batman to remove his cowl. And for Superman to put back on his glasses.

The Star Ledger editorial on the issue was dead right on:
“Politicians haven't changed much since 1776.... They still hate criticism, especially when they don't know who is behind it. Town leaders should take a refresher course in the First Amendment as well as the state constitution. Bloggers, like leafleteers, have a right to anonymity."
Go daTruthSquad: May we know who you are by your words alone.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just for the record, Lucas is a Republican and Roth and Klauber are Democrats. The Republican Mayor is on the outs with his own party. Why, because he is willing to go after his former personal attorney, the guy who got him elected, to satify the personal vendetta of Drew Shapiro. Shapiro is a Democrat who used to be a Republican. His enemy Jim Gray is now his close friend. Gray is a Republican who hates the attorney. Why you ask? Because Shapiro and Gray both got their political a$$es handed to them by the attorney. My question is why do I have to pay taxes to fund this bickering. Shapiro and Gray should dig into their own well financed pockets!

Anonymous said...

Well said.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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