Maybe you can’t be as bad as you wanna be on the Internet.
Reason.com, the online magazine published by libertarian mothership Reason Foundation, is on the receiving end of a federal grand jury subpoena.
The feds want Reason.com to provide information on the identities of anonymous commentators on a recent blog post.
Two or three of them had suggested shooting and/or tossing a certain federal judge into a woodchipper. Feet first.
In other words, typical website commentator blather for Reason.com, which seems to attract an inordinate number of ravings among its more thoughtful posts.
It is patently unfair: The website is filled with crisp writing and thorough analysis. (And I say this as someone whose reporting on prison privatization has been ripped by Reason writers.)
In this case, libertarian rock star and Reason.com editor Nick Gillespie blogged on the sentencing of Ross “Dread Pirate Roberts” Ulbricht.
Ulbricht was a mastermind of the notorious Silk Road website, a marketplace for buying and selling drugs. The judge gave him life. No parole.
On about June 2, a New York federal subpoena landed on Reason.com’s doorstep, demanding that the online magazine turn over identifying information on readers (IP addresses. Credit cards. Phone numbers, et al.) who made noxious comments as part of “an official criminal investigation of a suspected felony.”
And to please not talk about it.
The subpoena seems to be aimed at determining whether a credible threat had been made against the judge.
The shooting/wood-chipper comments aren’t pretty. But they are absolutely in line with the typical blog give-and-take between journalists and readers, and blog readers and other blog readers.
It’s a rough and tumble world out there.
I, for one, can’t begin to count the times someone has invited me to go jump into a woodchipper.
A Reason spokeswoman said they would have no comment, “on advice of counsel.” There’s a call out to the feds. We’re still hoping it’s all a terrible misunderstanding.
Meanwhile, for an entertaining First Amendment take on this, seek out Ken White popehat.com. Among his pungent woodchipper observations: “Is A Reference To Fargo, On The F**** Internet, Something That Should Concern The Government?”