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Vulgar Comment On Newspaper Site Costs Man His Job 643

Posted by samzenpus
from the sticks-and-stones dept.
DeeFresh writes "ReadWriteWeb has an article up today discussing an incident in which a school employee lost his job after leaving a comment on the website of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper. After the school employee responded to the newspaper's poll of 'the strangest thing you've ever eaten' with a feline-inspired vulgarity, Kurt Greenbaum, the site's director of social media, tracked down the commenter's identity through his IP address and reported him to school officials. When confronted, the school employee resigned from his job."
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Vulgar Comment On Newspaper Site Costs Man His Job

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  • by GPLDAN (732269) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:00AM (#30154942)
    I say everyone on /. should head over the St. Louis Post Dispatch page and post variations on the word. There must be 100 words in the English language for it, so let's get started....
    • I have eaten many different animals (or at least parts of them), including rattlesnake, crocodile, alligator, iguana, turtle, and many different molluscs, arthropods, echinoids, and whatnot from sea or river. I have also eaten squirrel, bear, dog, and cat.
      So, I can say I have eaten pussy, and you can interpret or misinterpret it any way you want. Oh, and woof-woof, too.
      • by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @11:12AM (#30156550)

        I have eaten many different animals (or at least parts of them), including rattlesnake, crocodile, alligator, iguana, turtle, and many different molluscs, arthropods, echinoids, and whatnot from sea or river. I have also eaten squirrel, bear, dog, and cat. So, I can say I have eaten pussy, and you can interpret or misinterpret it any way you want. Oh, and woof-woof, too.

        Yeah, I like Chinese food too.

    • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @10:13AM (#30155662)

      In America at least, you cannot be arrested for saying something stupid or even treasonous on the Internet. But that's it. That is the sum total of your protection. You can't be arrested, that's all there is to it. You CAN lose your job, lose any prospect for meaningful employment, lose your wife, lose the respect of your family, friends, and co-workers.

      Never write anything anywhere on the Internet, "anonymously" or not, that you would not want your wife, boss, friends, or children to read. Period. It's not difficult to understand, yet we continually find ourselves trying to defend these losers as if they are some kind of free speech champions. They're not martyrs, they're morons. Giving these guys an Anonymous Login is like giving them a bottle of Tequila. Sure, it's their right, but you hope they have enough self-awareness to know how stupid and ugly they appear after they indulge.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by omnichad (1198475)

        All the same, it's kind of rough when you whine to someone's employer. When I moved into a new town, I tried to rent a video at a rental store. Their policy was strict - I had to show them a utility or other bill to prove I lived there. I had just moved! I got a little angry and asked what they expect me to do. They asked where I worked, and I named my employer. I didn't get a video that night, but they called my boss and complained about me.

      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @10:23AM (#30155782) Journal

        Okay first off "pussy" is a word. Nothing more. No more offensive than saying "vagina" or "penis". Stop being so sensitive Americans.

        Second in a truly FREE country you should be able to do whatever you want *outside of work*, and not be fired for it. Just last week we read a story about a guy who was fired *on mere suspicion* of downloading child porn (and later proved to be innocent). That's just not right. Companies should not be able to fire people for non-work-related things.

        I'd sue this school for unjustified dismissal. Even if I eventually lose the case, it's worthwhile purely as a form of revenge (wasting the time of the principal and hopefully scaring him). I learned that tactic from RIAA. Also last week's Medium episode.

      • by webdog314 (960286) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @11:42AM (#30157150)
        I am amazed at the responses here on /. This is completely not about this moron's use of vulgarity. Of course he's an idiot, that's a given. More important is the fact that a paper gave what was supposed to be an anonymous poll with an obviously baiting question, and then used that information to track this guy down and ruin his life. In this case it was about some obscenities, but what's to say this couldn't have been about say, late-term abortion, or gay rights? Would you want someone tracking you down and exposing you over that information? Those topics are AT LEAST as enraging today as a couple of obscenities. The school employee was an idiot, but the guy at the newspaper is the one who should be arrested.
        • In this case it was about some obscenities, but what's to say this couldn't have been about say, late-term abortion, or gay rights?

          If you're not prepared to be called out by your boss/wife/kids for the controversial opinions you find yourself venting "anonymously" on the Internet, don't vent on the net. Save it for the local pub, or the diary you keep under your pillow. If everybody put their money and their reputation where there mouths were, civilization might just lurch forward a little bit.

          • by Maestro4k (707634) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @02:23PM (#30160354) Journal

            If everybody put their money and their reputation where there mouths were, civilization might just lurch forward a little bit.

            And where does a newspaper gloating about making someone lose their job for posting a single vulgar word twice on their site fall in there? I expect papers to have more ethics than that in a civilized society, so I think they've set civilization back a bit with this, not forward.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by KnownIssues (1612961)

        This is why I love Slashdot (I'm still too noob to call it /.)--I was all set to make my post in defense of the fired employee, but after reading the cogent arguments of the "5, Insightfuls", I've actually changed my opinion. It would be different if the employee had been fired because of an anonymous post made during personal time on personal equipment. But you don't have the same rights when using business equipment while on the job.

        On the other hand, I'm still disturbed that the site owner didn't resp

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by tomhudson (43916)
      For those who haven't figured it out, the summary is wrong. It's not "feline-inspired" [readwriteweb.com].

      In the comments section of the article, one user posted a single word response referring to a part of a woman's anatomy. Of course, the site's moderators quickly deleted the comment but it soon reappeared - obviously this juvenile was intent on having their say.

      A guy's sitting on a plane and - HOLY SMOKE - the POPE is in the next seat!

      Not wanting to disturb his Holyness, the guy discretely looks, and sees the pope is

  • TOR (Score:2, Informative)

    by mrpacmanjel (38218)

    Time to start using TOR: http://www.torproject.org/ [torproject.org].

    Here kitty, kitty!

    • Re:TOR (Score:4, Interesting)

      by elnyka (803306) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:18AM (#30155112) Homepage

      Time to start using TOR: http://www.torproject.org/ [torproject.org].

      Here kitty, kitty!

      Yeah, it will come handy for e-fooling around while on the clock using work assets <sarcasm>

      Your personal freedoms and right to anonymity end when you use equipment that is not your own (but your company) and you are doing it while on the clock for purposes other than those tasked to you while on the clock.

      At home (or out of your company's equipment) and while off the clock, certainly, protect your privacy and right of anonymity.

      While on the clock and/or using your company's assets, sorry dude, you have no right to that.

      • You assume he was on the clock. People do have breaks, and thus, what they do on their time is their business, no matter who owns the equipment.
        • by div_2n (525075)

          Wrong. The Supreme Court has already ruled that anything done on company computers absolutely IS the business of the company. There is no such thing as "your business" on a work computer. Period.

          If he had a personal laptop there with his own cell wireless or used a personal cell phone, no problem.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Spazztastic (814296)

          People do have breaks, and thus, what they do on their time is their business, no matter who owns the equipment.

          Wrong.

          I work for a school district in the Technology department and everything that you do on our laptops, in or out of the district, you can be held liable for. It does matter who owns the equipment because if you cause damage to a network using a laptop that belongs to us, we can be liable. Using your analogy I could plug in my thumb drive and watch Debbie Does Dallas on my lunch break on my laptop that belongs to the district, which would be a violation of the agreement I and everybody else signed when t

      • by Pollux (102520) <.ge.ten.atadet. .ta. .reteps.> on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:58AM (#30155488) Journal

        The issue to debate here is not whether someone should lose their job over posting a vulgarity on the internet.

        The issue to debate here is whether someone should lose their job over posting a vulgarity on the internet while at work.

        And if anyone would RTFA, they would have noticed that he made the post twice. The first time, they just deleted it w/o a second thought, but he reposted it. Again, he did it while at work.

        And, does anyone know what else was he doing on company time?

  • first Pussy? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MRe_nl (306212) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:03AM (#30154984)

    And yet Greenbaum seems to show no remorse...
    Asshole.

  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thyamine (531612) <thyamine&ofdragons,com> on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:04AM (#30154988) Homepage Journal
    How bored was this guy? He worked at a newspaper and decided 'Hey, I don't like that comment, let me track down who it is, where he works, and report him?' What is this, the second grade? There are two real options, delete it as being offensive or leave it. Maybe a third option if it was a threat of some kind, which you could report to authorities. But really?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by alen (225700)

      RTFA

      he did delete the comment and the guy from the school kept posting the same thing multiple times

      • Re:What? (Score:5, Informative)

        by ZekoMal (1404259) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:36AM (#30155248)
        According to TFA, it happened...twice.
      • So? Delete it multiple times, and block that IP for the rest of the poll's duration. ...still anonymously.

      • Re:What? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Rob the Bold (788862) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @10:31AM (#30155920)

        RTFA

        he did delete the comment and the guy from the school kept posting the same thing multiple times

        So what? How hard is it to delete it multiple times. That guy could be replaced by a shell script. And anyway, these reader feedback forums on newspapers' websites (and elsewhere) are just an open invitation for every crank, crackpot and wacko in town (and the whole internet) to post whatever vile, stupid, racist, crazy, nonsensical comment they can come up with.

        First, we had letters to the editor. You had to take pen or keyboard in hand, crank out a physical copy, mail it in and even then the editors only posted a sampling of the feedback on any given subject. Usually, the editors even tried to get a balanced discussion on controversial topics -- at least in terms of number of letters.

        Then we get the phone-in comment line. Any loser with a phone and time to burn could rant to his hearts content. The messages were kept short by the recording time limit, so the paper could print a bunch on the comment page. Uninformed illiterates could finally voice their ill-considered, illogical opinions in a public forum. But at least the finite amount of space on the page and the fact the editors had to choose which ones to print kept things to a dull but stupid roar.

        Fast forward to on-line comments. Space is practically unlimited, so the editors no longer even bother to review comments prior to posting. Anything and everything gets put up for all to see until someone comes around to delete the really bad stuff (racism, threats, pointless profanity, rabid non-sequiturs, etc.)

        Again, I say, if you create such a forum, you are begging for this kind of thing. Hunting down one guy for double-posting a profanity (and a slightly funny -- but cliched -- on-topic one at that) is really overkill, when there's plenty of really bad stuff to be dealt with. "Pussyman" was clearly singled out for personal reasons on the part of the newspaper employee for special treatment. Poster was a little stupid and childish, but the editor was mean and spiteful.

    • by cabjf (710106)
      It was probably part of his job to act as an admin to comments on the site. Also within that, it would be his job to block IP addresses of repeat offenders (at least temporarily to account for non-static addresses). In doing so, it's not much of a stretch that he might do some sort of look up on the address, either because he was interested in knowing where it came from or maybe to see if it might be a repeat offender.
      • Re:What? (Score:4, Informative)

        by clone53421 (1310749) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:41AM (#30155302) Journal

        Not a stretch, no, but an abuse of power.

        It's not a stretch that someone in the law enforcement would randomly want to run a background check on Barak Obama, but don't try it [wsbtv.com].

    • I agree.

      It was an anonymous poll.

      Part of the playing field in an ANONYMOUS poll is the ANONYMOUS part.

      If you see a post you don't like, you are free to delete it.

      Unless you find something that makes you suspect illegal activity is taking place, tracking down the submitter of a certain poll result is absolutely unjustified.

  • Not only that, but he's a fucking hypocrite. He called this guy's employer up with the goal of having him fired, and when cornered over the issue said:

    "Yeah, you caught me! I made him log on to his computer at work, visit STLtoday.com's Talk of the Day, read the item, type a vulgarity and hit the "submit" key.

    Interesting perspective. Thanks for your contribution.

    Oh, I didn't say he was fired. I said he resigned.

    "A vulgarity"? You mean the word pussy? OMFG WHAT WOULD JESUS THINK IF HE SAW THAT WORD? Guess what? People have sex.

    P.S. Forced to resign is much the same thing as being fired, especially since in this day and age he could probably have been sued for sexual harassment over such a comment, thus completely ending any future employability.

    Using the word 'pussy' on school time is simply not that bad. Of course, I can't attach these comments to the article itself, because comments are disabled there now even though the story is only three days old. Perhaps that's because most of the comments go something like this:

    YOU are the director of social media? tools to be leveraged to get businesses closer to their customers?

    what an awful story and it's even more embarassing that you squawk about it after the fact.

    Kurt Greenbaum is scum, and I will do my best to avoid their website in the future.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sopssa (1498795) *

      He didn't know it was an employer but probably thought that maybe some student. Still an asshole and idiotic thing to do tho.

    • Using the word 'pussy' on school time is simply not that bad. Of course, I can't attach these comments to the article itself, because comments are disabled there now even though the story is only three days old.

      I wonder if 4chan will catch wind of this. Kurt just opened a whole can of worms in this case. If he really thinks that one person being inappropriate is bad, imagine every AC from /. trolling his comment section.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Fred_A (10934)

      >"A vulgarity"? You mean the word pussy? OMFG WHAT WOULD JESUS THINK IF HE SAW THAT WORD? Guess what? People have sex.

      Not in the US they don't. Decent people have their babies delivered by Fedex. Only European heathens have sex.

      Pervert.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:05AM (#30154996)

    Kurt Greenbaum should be ashamed. There is no place whatsoever for that kind of behavior in America.

    Somebody simply wanted to freely express himself, and Kurt interfered. Absolutely pathetic.

  • Pay back (Score:5, Interesting)

    by headhot (137860) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:07AM (#30155002) Homepage

    Some one should track every thing Kurt posts and report back to his boss and wife.

    • Re:Pay back (Score:5, Funny)

      by csartanis (863147) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:46AM (#30155358)

      Did Kurt Greenbaum rape and murder a young girl in 1990? Heh, just kidding!

  • by filesiteguy (695431) <kai@perfectreign.com> on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:07AM (#30155008) Homepage
    Wow! I'd say that Greenbaum should be reprimanded for not performing his duties. I wonder where - in the St. Louis Dispatch policies - it states for employees to track down the ip address of those making offensive (but not illegal) posts and then contact the work.

    OTOH, why the heck did the teacher resign at first being contacted? I wonder how much more there is to the story than we're seeing.

    Lesson learned: When making anonymous posts, use either a proxy, an anonymous posting service (COTSE.NET), someone's open WiFi connection, or a friend's computer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      Lesson learned: When making anonymous posts, use either a proxy, an anonymous posting service (COTSE.NET), someone's open WiFi connection, or a friend's computer.

      He repeatedly reposted the same comment after its being removed, so the lesson is when trolling, use either a proxy, an anonymous posting service , someone's open WiFi connection, or a friend's computer. Actually the lesson is don't be a troll!

      What the guy who was forced to resign was doing was, in fact, trolling, by any definition of the word.

  • He resigned (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lord Byron II (671689) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:08AM (#30155018)

    It's not fair that they tracked him down, but if he resigned then he gave up without a fight.

    • 'Resign, or we will make it so that you'll never get another job in education.'

      Fight da man, weekend warrior Byron.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Since all our information is 3rd hand, at best, it is rather difficult to say whether he resigned or whether he "resigned".

      Some resignations are without incident; but a fair few, particularly in the immediate vicinity of unpleasant happenings, are basically firings by other means. In particular, given that teachers can often be pretty hard to fire because of union issues, it wouldn't wholly surprise me if(either because they are puritans, or because they already wanted to get rid of the guy for other rea
  • but a school employee who can't defend his free speech rights should not be working in a school in the first place...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by malkavian (9512)

      The problem with working in education is that your right to free speech is almost non-existant.
      Say something that some jumped up "think of the children" zealot doesn't like, and you end up having your right to be in the presence of "impressionable children" questioned. While they're questioning, you frequently end up not being allowed to do your job "just in case".
      With the option of quietly quitting, having all the hassle, but being able to get a place elsewhere, or having your name plastered across the me

  • For resigning, they would have taken that contract of out my cold dead hands! As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure I would do the same with the IP-logs from that Greenbaum. Take them from his cold dead hands... The poll was asking for it. *yay finally an internethero*
  • """
    We will not share individual user information with third parties unless the user has specifically approved the release of that information.
    """
        -- http://www.stltoday.com/help/privacy-policy [stltoday.com]

    • by kthejoker (931838) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @11:30AM (#30156906)

      On the very same page!

      We may disclose personal information if we or one of our affiliated companies is required by law to disclose personal information, or if we believe in good faith that such action is necessary to comply with a law or some legal process, to protect or defend our rights and property, to protect against misuse or unauthorized use of our web sites or to protect the personal safety or property of our users or the public.

  • He got it coming (Score:3, Informative)

    by elnyka (803306) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:13AM (#30155058) Homepage
    Not that I agree with the guy losing his job, but he should have known better. Posting vulgarities while on the job and/or using work-related assets (computer, e-mail, internet connectivity), and/or when representing the company, that's a big no no. This is specially true if you work in an educational institute.

    Now consider the following (bold text by me):

    http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/the-editors-desk/the-editors-desk/2009/11/post-a-vulgar-comment-while-youre-at-work-lose-your-job/all-comments/ [stltoday.com]

    By mid-morning, a number of folks had commented about their experiences with Bird’s Nest Soup, octopus, cow brains and rattlesnake. Then, while I was in our 10 a.m. news meeting, someone posted in reply a single word, a vulgar expression for a part of a woman’s anatomy. It was there only a minute before a colleague deleted it.

    A few minutes later, the same guy posted the same single-word comment again. I deleted it, but noticed in the WordPress e-mail alert that his comment had come from an IP address at a local school. So I called the school. They were happy to have me forward the e-mail, though I wasn’t sure what they’d be able to do with the meager information it included. About six hours later, I heard from the school’s headmaster. The school’s IT director took a shine to the challenge. Long story short: Using the time-frame of the comments, our website location and the IP addresses in the WordPress e-mail, he tracked it back to a specific computer. The headmaster confronted the employee, who resigned on the spot.

    So we have an individual who was using work assets to make not one, but two vulgar posts. It kinda makes you wonder how intent was this guy in checking that web page over and over (like many slashdoters do), re-posting the vulgarity as many times as needed... not the type of activity you are supposed to be doing while on the clock (after all, they give you a paycheck for work, not because you are pretty or something.)

    The school was in the right in asking the guy "what are you doing, ON THE CLOCK, with OUR COMPUTER ASSETS, posting the same profanity several times?

    It is also worth noting that the school didn't fire him, but that he quit on the spot... or so says the story, but that's irrelevant anyways. The guy had it coming.

    Now I can't way to see the juvenile posters making this a case of libertarian freedom of speech vs 1984'esque police control and the war on terror.

    • He got it coming

      Isn't that the point? Huh huh. Heh heh.

      Anyway, how do we know it was a vulgarity? He could have visited Vietnam. Or Korea. Something like that.

    • by ZekoMal (1404259) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:31AM (#30155200)

      Nah; I don't need to sully any of that. He resigned (we obviously do not have all of the information, because I honestly doubt that the conversation went "you said pussy twice!" and the guy went "GAH oh noes I quit! D:") because "concerned citizen" noticed that this was coming from a local school IP address. Now, this could have two variations: if it was an elementary school, it would seem strange. If it was either a middle or high school, well, it could have easily been from any student who felt like trolling.

      So, Mr. concerned citizen forwarded a message along the lines of "this e-mail address from your IP address said "pussy" twice on my website". If it had been any student e-mail, that would be the end of it because the teachers just do not have student e-mail addresses on file (usually). If it had been the headmasters e-mail address, Mr. concerned citizen would have been duly ignored.

      And then Mr. concerned citizen writes an article celebrating his ability to turn someone in for saying "pussy" twice. It's slightly difficult (and disturbing) to believe that Mr. concerned citizen had the local school IP address memorized to the point where a brief glance at the e-mail alert tipped him off that this was a serious issue.

      It will be a delight to see if this becomes a normal thing. You know, adults posting on a not-child oriented website and being punished for using naughty words. I'm sure the teacher wasn't on a lunch break, or wasn't waiting for 1200 copies to print, or wasn't waiting for his students to finish a test, etc. Almost as atrocious as someone replying to slashdot on the clock, with their employers computer assets.

      But maybe I just find the idea of being tracked to your job by a hypersensitive journalist a little off putting. Suppose he decides that he should moderate out disagreeable posts? He's well within his rights to do so, as a moderator.

      I just find it ridiculous that the adults have greater difficulty coping with foul language than the kids. Seriously, it's a word. Delete it and warn him if you really feel threatened by it; you don't contact the organization it came from. How comical it would have been if he had called them instead..."Hello Mr. Rumples, I have a serious issue to address. You see, someone from within your school said pussy....twice. On the internet."

    • by intheshelter (906917) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:31AM (#30155206)

      "Now I can't way to see the juvenile posters making this a case of libertarian freedom of speech"

      - And who can blame them after your juvenile post blathering about "being on the clock". Jeez, wake up and realize that nitpicking about being on the clock was never the point of this discussion. The point was why the hell was that asshole tracking commenters down? What kind of a dickhead reports someone for posting on the very message board that he left open for comments?

      Don't want comments, shut down that functionality. If you do want comments either moderate them or just deal with a few vulgar posts. And whatever you do, don't post the question "what is the grossest thing you've ever eaten" and not be smart enough to see the comments that are coming your way.

      While the posts were a bit juvenile and the guy shouldn't have done it during school hours, they aren't noteworthy enough to cost a person his job. The most juvenile act in this story was the vindictive way the guy was hunted down. Sorry, but put it in perspective and realize it's just one little word.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Maestro4k (707634)

        The most juvenile act in this story was the vindictive way the guy was hunted down.

        I agree with you mostly, but I think that's the second most juvenile act in the story. The most juvenile act was posting and gloating about having made someone lose their job over a vulgar word.

    • by SleepingWaterBear (1152169) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:42AM (#30155310)

      It is also worth noting that the school didn't fire him, but that he quit on the spot... or so says the story, but that's irrelevant anyways. The guy had it coming.

      Ok, we're all agreed the guy was an idiot idiot for posting at all. But he 'had it coming?' Really? Suppose instead he'd made two posts to slashdot in that time - a clear misuse of school property - would he deserve to lose his job then? What if he'd posted and reposted a critique on some sort of scientology blog - would he deserve to lose his job then? It seems to me that the reason this guy lost his job is because he violated the ridiculous community morals of a small town, not because of anything to do with misuse of school resources.

      At one point in my life I seriously considered becoming a teacher, but I realized that doing so would likely place me at the mercy of the sorts of unthinking bigoted responses we're seeing here. This attitude is at least part of the reason our public education system is failing - the work environment is so unpleasant that (with the exception of a few saints) no one with another option for a career would do it. Would you really want to work beside people who are so shocked by a couple one word internet posts that you can't work with them anymore?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ChowRiit (939581)

      I don't think the main point of the outrage is that he lost his job, but rather that the journalist in question violated his website's own privacy rules and then gloated about getting the guy in trouble. I'd simply expect better from a journalist (although, in retrospect, with people like UK tabloid journalists and Fox News I'm not sure why), and I think that violating someone's privacy and then gloating about it is outrageous.

      I do hope they fire this journalist, but I somehow doubt it.

    • by flyneye (84093) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @10:38AM (#30156002) Homepage

      I suppose I could've modded you overrated,but that wouldn't do much more than fan the flames.
            Let's look at this from another perspective.A Meta perspective.
              Was the man wrong for typing pussy into a WWW forum?
              A. From the standpoint of being an employee, you bet he was wrong.
                B.From a freedom of speech in an open forum that made possible his opinion/joke perspective, no he was alright. Moderation and site administration are the responsibilities of the site owner.
                Now the new question, was the paper wrong for tracking the man down merely to take out their anxiety on, when they enabled him and many others to write whatever they like without scripted moderation?
                A.If he were actually protecting taxpayers,children,business assets he would be right, but this isn't the case. He did it out of anger on newspaper time to grind his own ax and make his moderating job easier by denial of freedom of speech to someone that he didn't know posted from a school. Had it been me from my home and a confrontation from him had ensued, he would be getting his nose reset.
                B. This is just outright being a snitch to aquire feelings of self righteous vengeance. Were I the fired man, I would expend my resources to have the snitch investigated for anything useable to make his life hell. Alert the IRS to possible living beyond his means. Complain to the neighborhood association about any infraction. Complain to the police about any unusual noise or parking violations in front of his house.
              I don't think you can find any case of society accepting a snitch as a welcome factor to any community. In the micro society of prison they are eliminated immediately. In society we end up having to pay for witness relocation. In schools they are the kid taunted mercilessly till graduation and possibly beaten frequently.
              This amounts to the paper baiting the man who would've posted from his home,were that his location at the time. Truthfully I hope he gets a good lawyer and starts working the snitch and the paper over.
                Resignation is often offered to well loved and respected offenders at most jobs for fireable offenses. Since it was a school and a newspaper was involved of course he was offered the choice. DUH.
            Should the man have been smarter? yes
            Should the man have been fired? no
            Should the newspaper be exposed by a meta story? Yes, but that won't happen, Newsclowns won't rat on newsclowns anymore than a cop will out a cop.
              This wasn't news this was revenge and I hope the rat gets his.

       

    • by argent (18001) <<moc.agnorat.6002.todhsals> <ta> <retep>> on Thursday November 19, 2009 @11:16AM (#30156624) Homepage Journal

      It doesn't matter whether he "had it coming" or not.

      Contacting the school violated the stated privacy policy of the site, whether it was a student or staff. We're talking about a newspaper, for god's sake. A newspaper should be the first to stand behind their privacy policy. Reporters have gone to jail to maintain the privacy of their sources, and while the online equivalent of "letters to the editor" isn't quite in the same league as "Deep Throat", this was still unacceptable behavior.

      The St Louis Post-Dispatch needs to step up to the plate and bat for their own goddamn rights. If they DON'T do something about this violation of privacy, they weaken their own ability to protect their sources.

  • by tacarat (696339) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:20AM (#30155124) Journal

    We reserve the right in our sole discretion, but do not assume any obligation, to refuse to post, remove, or edit any messages or postings sent to the Site.

    We reserve the right to suspend or terminate your access to and use of this Site if, in our view, your conduct fails to meet any of our guidelines. We also reserve the right to change these terms at any time.

    Well, fire Greenbaum. STLtoday.com didn't reserve the right for him to track people down and harass them through their employer, nor did he use the agreed upon remedies outlined in the terms of service. I guess even the editors don't read those things.

    • by mbone (558574) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:45AM (#30155340)

      ...nor did he use the agreed upon remedies outlined in the terms of service. I guess even the editors don't read those things.

      Editors : we are altering our Terms of Service.

      Pray we do not alter them any further

    • by Venerable Vegetable (1003177) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @10:03AM (#30155556)

      Also following excerpts are from their privacy policy:

      Our web servers automatically collect limited information about your computer's connection to the Internet, including your IP address (but not the e-mail address), when you visit our sites. Your IP address does not contain personally identifiable information, nor does it identify you personally.

      We will not share individual user information with third parties unless the user has specifically approved the release of that information. In some cases, however, we may provide information to legal officials as described in “Compliance with Legal Process” below.

  • by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:23AM (#30155144)

    Still on the site is the story of how some guy killed and ate a cat (is that even legal?), but that is ofc fine, however the guy posting an innuendo obviously went too far!

  • by carou (88501) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @09:34AM (#30155232) Homepage Journal

    Clearly, the standards of journalistic integrity are going down.

  • So Freaking What! (Score:2, Informative)

    by realsilly (186931)

    I'm so sick to death on hearing/reading/learning of people who post something on the internet and lose their job over it. Regardless of whether the post was fictional or real, the man was not posting anything about the school he worked for. He kept the language to not use profanity, and whether someone reads it as 'pussy' or 'cat' doesn't freaking matter. There is no excuse for our society today for making people lose their jobs because of their personal life. A job is what the average person works for 8

  • by Bazzargh (39195) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @10:41AM (#30156052)

    Greenbaum is the social media editor at the newspaper. A while back he posted the results of a survey which showed that:
    61% of his readers did not want the editors deciding what comments were offensive [igreenbaum.com]

    Given his response to the comments on the article, I don't think he's any closer to understanding what he was told the first time.

  • by Microsift (223381) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @11:53AM (#30157394)

    The man at the newspaper who tracked the ip address, and identified the poster, should be fired. A newspaper should not be in the business of discouraging free speech. If the comment was offensive, it should have been moderated before publication (assuming there's a published policy against posting offensive material).

    I am just guessing at what the man said, but unless it referenced some criminal act, tracking him down and getting him fired is inexcusable. The newspaper should issue an apology, and give him a job with an equivalent salary and benefits for life.

     

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