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Judge Orders Man To Delete Revenge Blog 590

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-you-take-requests-your-honor dept.
nonprofiteer writes "A Minnesota man violated a restraining order obtained by his ex-girlfriend by blogging about her mental health and sexual issues, and sending links to posts on the blog to her family, friends, and co-workers. The judge then extended the restraining order by 50 years, ordered the guy never to write about his ex on the Internet and ordered him to delete the blog he created. Even though there was no evidence that what he had written was false, the judge said the ex-girlfriend's 'right to be free from harassment' outweighed the guy's 'right to free speech.' 'I believe it's rare, if not unprecedented, for a court to order an entire blog deleted,' says technology law professor Eric Goldman."
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Judge Orders Man To Delete Revenge Blog

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  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @01:20AM (#38366326)

    He violated a restraining order. The first amendment issue isn't novel just because he happens to be talking about her on a computer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @01:20AM (#38366332)
    He was sending links to the blog to her family and friends... do you really think ignoring it until it stopped was really the best solution?
  • by Deep Esophagus (686515) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @01:21AM (#38366340)

    Only if he's a medical professional. HIPAA does not apply to the general public, only medical service providers.

    I'm really torn on this one... On the one hand, yeah, free speech. On the other hand... that borders on stalking, and possibly endangering her. On the other other hand, do we really need yet more government intervention to enforce niceness? Where do you draw the line at "you can be THIS much of a jerk, but any more and the law steps in"?

  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lehk228 (705449) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @01:30AM (#38366416) Journal
    harassing someone who has a restraining order on you is a good way to get locked up, carefully toeing the line of what your restraining order will let you do is a good way to get a 500 page restraining order where you have to ask the permission of the court to fart.
  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @01:38AM (#38366464) Homepage Journal

    Why bring up the ACLU? Any American who values the Constitution would be concerned.

    Because they'll take the fight to court on their own dime.

    LK

  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @01:41AM (#38366488) Homepage Journal

    restraining orders usually cover things like physical distance and direct communication. writing about her doesn't seem like a problem unless it was specified in the restraining order. he should be in the clear if he isn't slandering.

    From TFA:

    On December 22, Arlotta consented to entry of a six-month HRO that prohibited him from (1) committing any acts “intended to adversely affect [Johnson's] safety, security, or privacy, [emph mine]

    He started the blog the day after.

    it wouldn't shock me if this judge was some neo-feminist windbag. a lot of them are.

    It wouldn't shock me if you were a fucking idiot. A lot of anons are.

  • I call bullshit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @01:43AM (#38366504)
    There are some major assholes out there... and it would be great if they couldn't talk. But this is total bullshit. You should be able to rant and rave about your ex-wife/girlfriend on the internet or where-ever else you want. Her family could easily have blocked his emails. They didn't have to visit the site. They could have even complained to his ISP and the ISP could have terminated his account... something I've actually seen happen (I've worked for many ISPs over the years)

    The government baring you from mentioning a person for 50 years? That's just a tad too distopian for my tastes... even if the guy deserved it.
  • by moozey (2437812) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @01:45AM (#38366512)
    Sexuality is a touchy (and usually extremely private) subject and not one most people are comfortable talking about. Regardless of whether the man is publishing truths or not shouldn't matter, the woman has a right to her privacy and if the male in question wants to be so immature in the way he deals with his emotions then he deserves whatever reasonable punishment that gets thrown his way.
  • Like hell you do. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by westlake (615356) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @02:02AM (#38366598)

    I'll get him to relay messages to me and I'll post them anonymously to a blog.

    A word of advice:

    Don't step into someone else's shit until you know how deep it is.

    Conspiracy to violate a court order is not going to end well for you or for some nutcase revenge blogger ---- and maybe a stalker ---- who now has a new target in his sights.

  • Re:Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dhalka226 (559740) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @02:03AM (#38366604)

    For what it is worth, I agree with you. However I still don't agree with the premise that ordering the blog deleted does not overstep a boundary.

    If it was harassment, he should be arrested for harassment. If it was a violation of his restraining order, he should be violated and locked up. If he does it again, it should all happen again -- harsher and harsher.

    To me, the blog itself was not the harassment; he could have sat around on somedouchebaghateshisex.blogspot.com forever ranting into the wind and I doubt anybody would have cared. It was the way he essentially stalked her via sending his nonsense to her family and friends that crossed the line. That being the case, that is the behavior that should be punished and stopped. His right to be a dickhead and write his drivel should not.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @02:15AM (#38366660)
    they should let him hassle her so the other "ladies" can see it and learn how to pick better men. it would be for the greater good.

    "oh I just love bad boys." "wait, he's also bad to ME?! like, I am like so totally shocked!"
  • by SecurityGuy (217807) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @02:27AM (#38366726)

    I'm really not that bothered. I've long been on the "free speech, period!" bandwagon, but realistically all our rights have limits, and those limits generally start about where someone else's rights begin. You have religious freedom, so long as your religion doesn't involve deflowering underage girls, for example. We put you in jail for that. This guy isn't saying anything of value. He's just being a dick. At some point his right to be a dick has to give way to her right not to be harassed for the rest of her life.

  • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @02:32AM (#38366770)

    Well, you need to look into constitutional law a little more. First amendment rights vary according to the type of speech and the subject.

    Well, if you want me to read the first amendment, then I'm not finding anything about that.

    If you want me to look at the invisible exceptions that judges have 'interpreted' into the constitution, then I guess you're right.

  • by RobinEggs (1453925) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @02:40AM (#38366806)

    I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

    - Evelyn Beatrice Hall

    I disapprove of what you say, but I will conspire with you in ruining an innocent woman's life just to prove a point about free speech.

    - LK

    I think I like the original version better...

  • Yes... and no. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mark-t (151149) <[markt] [at] [lynx.bc.ca]> on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @02:42AM (#38366820) Journal

    "the judge said the ex-girlfriend's 'right to be free from harassment' outweighed the guy's 'right to free speech.' "

    I would agree that this is true, but only to the extent that the speech is actually part of a harassing communication, such as being sent to the girl's friends or family.

    If, however, he is simply speaking about his own experiences on his own website, and does not bother the girl's friends or family with invitations to read it, then I can see absolutely no compelling reason why he should be denied the right to express his opinions on whomever he desires to talk about.

  • Re:Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by snowgirl (978879) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @02:47AM (#38366846) Journal

    And precisely what were the options if he didn't consent? That's the crux, it might not be literally duress, but threatening sanctions if he didn't sign is hardly the same thing as signing an NDA to get a job.

    He could have contested the restraining order, and fought it in court. Possibly, he also consented to the restraining order in order to settle a criminal charge.

    Settlements hand out confidentiality clauses like they're candy, and this usually is detrimental to the individual receiving the settlement, yet no matter how horrible the confidentiality agreement sucks for the person later on in life, the clause is still enforceable.

    Shit sucks, he was informed of the consequences, and he consented. Now, he has to live with it. Life sucks, quite often in fact. However, in general it is not the duty of the court to let a person out of obligations that they gave informed consent to, just because they didn't realize how much the obligation would suck ass at the time.

  • by techhead79 (1517299) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @02:53AM (#38366886) Homepage

    And that really does seem to be how restraining orders are usually used: just one more weapon in the troubled relationship arsenal.

    Exactly! Don't want your husband around the child you both had? All you have to do is convince a judge to give you a restraining order. Pretend to be horribly in fear of your life regardless of what the man did or did not do. Restraining orders are used all the time as a tool to win. Grind your X into nothing. I've seen it done all the time.

    I personally think he should be allowed to say whatever he wants online. However he crossed the line when he contacted her family or anyone she knows. What's next? How much more control can we give someone over other people?

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @02:57AM (#38366900)
    I think the judge was out of line.

    I think a blogger should be treated like any other kind of speech or printing press. If the guy published a newspaper, a judge might order him to stop writing nasty editorials about his ex, but he wouldn't (likely couldn't) order the newspaper to shut down.

    Honestly, these recent court cases involving things like speech have been disturbing. Courts have been setting some very bad precedent in recent years, and I think we'd better watch our asses. I mean things like on the one hand, curtailing the speech of this blogger (although I think we can agree that harassing speech can be curtailed, his whole blog did not need to be shut down). And on the other hand, saying that corporations are "people" and can spend whatever campaign money they want, as a matter of free "speech".

    Does anyone besides me see a pattern here?
  • by blackicye (760472) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @03:01AM (#38366920)

    I think the judge was out of line.
    I think a blogger should be treated like any other kind of speech or printing press. If the guy published a newspaper, a judge might order him to stop writing nasty editorials about his ex, but he wouldn't (likely couldn't) order the newspaper to shut down.

    I see your point, but I liken this to starting your own newspaper for the sole purpose of telling the world how much of a psychotic bitch your ex was, and then trying to sell your paper to her friends, family and business colleagues.

    He is doing the rest of the Minnesota Male population a favour if he speaks the truth though :P

  • by LordLucless (582312) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @03:29AM (#38367010)

    Now if I stand outside that same person's house with a sign that says God hates them and God will burn them in Hell, that's perfectly fine for some reason.

    Well, yes - you're no longer threatening them. You're stating that you believe a third party is threatening them. You likewise wouldn't be arrested if you held up signs saying "Joe Blogs down the road hates gays and is going to burn them" - except, probably, to stop you libeling Joe Blogs. Sadly, I don't think God sues for libel.

  • by Maestro4k (707634) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @03:31AM (#38367014) Journal

    You have to question whether the intent was necessarily just to hurt her though. It could have also been, from his perspective, a way to defend himself from what he saw as slander from her. Clearly the judge didn't think so, but judges aren't infallible.

    If you really think that's in question, you should read the article more carefully. This guy didn't just create this blog, he then went on to: "Under pseudonyms, Arlotta then promoted the blog to Johnson's family, friends, contacts and employer as well as some unaffiliated parties, like the local media." It's rather abundantly clear he created the blog simply as a means to harass her. It was simply there so he had something to pseudonymously point friends/family/employers/coworkers/etc. to so he could humiliate and embarrass her. The fact he was doing this with pseudonyms is the real nail in the coffin, he obviously knew he'd get in serious trouble quickly if his used his real name to do so. He was quite willfully violating the restraining order against him. Frankly he sounds really, really obsessed, and potentially dangerous.

  • Re:I call bullshit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lisias (447563) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @03:35AM (#38367034) Homepage Journal

    He did something to deserve that restraining order.

    Yep.. He dated her.

  • by geminidomino (614729) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @03:40AM (#38367058) Journal

    It's just a coincidence that "somewhere" always seems to be when the poor, delicate female flower has gotten to do her damage.

  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tsa (15680) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @03:42AM (#38367066) Homepage

    And rightly so. Freedom of speech does come with responsibilities. Many people seem to want to forget that these days and interpret 'freedom of speech' as 'freedom to insult, harass, annoy and otherwise bother people.'

  • by LocalH (28506) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @03:57AM (#38367140) Homepage

    Misandry is not an acceptable substitute for misogyny.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @04:07AM (#38367180) Homepage

    That is a NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE case to build and successfully present. Sure, it sounds reasonable and logical and that tactic often applies and works against male parents. But to get a judge to rule against a mother is ... I want to use the word asymptote here when it comes to expressing how probable that is you know? It's 3am here though and the brain wants sleep.

    In my life experience, I got the kids but only through fortunate circumstances and even then the judge was reluctant and I was denied child support! (not that it mattered financially, but it certainly sent a message morally and practically)

    I dig the idealism but there isn't often "justice" in family justice. Men are second-class-citizens when it comes to family law.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @04:13AM (#38367192)

    And those existing harassment laws are exactly what this article is about.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @04:19AM (#38367220) Homepage

    You don't see where "trends" can and are followed in the justice system? One only has to watch the erosion of male rights in family law across all 50 states to see that even though "precedent" is technically not an issue here, there are trends and practices which continue to spread and develop in that area. This is the problem of the difference between theoretical and practical.

    The fact is, women get a lot more latitude than men. Women get a lot more forgiveness than men. Women get a lot more consideration than men. Women are innocent until proven otherwise beyond all possible and impossible doubt. Men are guilty... no... just always guilty even with proof to the contrary.

  • by Rei (128717) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @04:24AM (#38367236) Homepage

    Unfortunately, one can't control what they're attracted to. If you're attracted to guys who exude that sort of energy, aggression, sex drive, that "knowing what they want and going for it" attitude, etc, you can't just decide to not be attracted to it, any more than a guy who's attracted to women with big breasts can just decide not to be attracted to them.

  • by ComaVN (325750) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @04:39AM (#38367308)

    Perhaps not, but you can stop acting on the impulse.

  • by Rei (128717) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @04:56AM (#38367368) Homepage

    Stop dating people you're attracted to? Really, is that your suggestion?

    I think it's easier for a guy to say something like that because guys in general are more physical in their attraction than women, more based on looks. I.e., looks being equal, a shy girl in a bar has dramatically better odds of going home with someone than a shy guy in a bar. How a guy acts is hardly the only aspect of how attractive he comes across, but it is a major part of it. Here's an experiment for you: go to a club some time and only give a meek, timid "hey" to whoever you want to pick up, only respond with short, meek statements to what they say, avoiding direct eye contact, etc, and compare your results to going there and being assertive, self confident, and persistent. "Bad Boys" win because bad boys tend to exude behavioral traits that many if not most women are attracted to.

    One could say that this distinction -- far from universal, but definitely extant -- is a cultural phenomena. But there's certainly a reasonable genetic argument to be made for it as well, at least historically.

  • Re:Well... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by a whoabot (706122) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @05:03AM (#38367418)

    And rightly so. Freedom of speech does come with responsibilities. Many people seem to want to forget that these days and interpret 'freedom of speech' as 'freedom to insult, harass, annoy and otherwise bother people.'

    So, as long as King George was insulted and harassed and annoyed and bothered that people publically called and tried to convince others that he was a tyrant, then he would have just grounds for having these people prevented from saying so? I personally would be much more careful in formulating exceptions to freedom of speech.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @05:51AM (#38367652)

    There is an implicit addendum always with the religious of spirit. They have faith, ergo they believe in God and believe his teachings.

    So though the sign may only read, "God hates them and God will burn them in Hell" what it really says is, "God hates them and God will burn them in Hell (and I'm with God - I hate them too, I would like to see them burn in hell)"

    If I were gay and was picketed in that way, it'd be awfully big hearted of me to shrug it off. Most would feel harassed and what about the younger people who are coming to terms with their sexuality, how traumatic would it be? Religious beliefs should never be a free ticket to cause harm, suffering or misery.

  • by gmack (197796) <gmack@innerfir e . net> on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @06:05AM (#38367718) Homepage Journal

    Our ability to not act on our impulses is what separates the human race from the animals. Your comparison is bad because in bars/clubs there are no other way to judge people but on looks and is a competitive environment to begin with and that makes it a poor place to look for a potential date although I can see your real problem seems to be the implied "if I don't take what I can get I will get nothing".

    Years ago I broke up with a girlfriend after dealing with her constant lies, bad temper and generally manipulative behavior and I had to stop and think about my life since she wasn't the first girl I dated who behaved like that. I realized my problem was standards so since then I have applied a "am I better off with this girl than I am when single" filter to relationships and it makes made me notice a few things: worst case "lonely" is better than "pissed off" and that better girls had a bit of a learning curve but were worth the effort.

  • Epic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gd2shoe (747932) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @06:12AM (#38367748) Journal

    If you [...] without being prepared for the possibility of a kid coming out nine months later, I think you're kinda irresponsible.

    What? The most important decision in the lives of those to whom you owe your most fundamental moral duty?

    I really hope that's dry wit. It's not "kinda irresponsible". It's epic irresponsible.

    (And for those who would argue the point: epics have been written with that as a fundamental plot element.)

  • by Rei (128717) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @06:38AM (#38367874) Homepage

    Perhaps having a little more respect for women than a place to "stick your eleventh finger" might be a good start for you.

  • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @07:30AM (#38368152) Homepage

    In most of Europe, removing a blog like this is a no-brainer. Europe is more concerned with freedom of expression and freedom of the press than the US notion of "free speech". For Europeans free speech as a concept is to be able to express one's ideas and thoughts without harrasment or fear of political oppression.

    A blog designed to harrass a single person with no political agenda? "Censoring" that is the sane thing to do if you ask me. Society doesn't exist to protect one person's ability to make another one's life miserable.

  • Re:Well... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @08:42AM (#38368546)

    "judges don't find it clever when [non-members of the bar] violate the spirit of the law without violating the letter."

    FTFY. It's a game that only members of the club are supposed to know how to play and they don't take kindly to suggestions that the law can be understood without their help.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @09:10AM (#38368762)
    But then dating dirtbags because you can't fight a natural impulse, then complaining when they can't fight their impulse to be dirtbags is a bit rich. That's like someone who self harms suing a razor blade maker for making sharp razors - if you know it's going to hurt you, stay away, and if you can't, don't whine about it to the rest of us.
  • by somersault (912633) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @09:24AM (#38368898) Homepage Journal

    So you're not a guy? And you didn't say this?

    Here's an experiment for you: go to a club some time and only give a meek, timid "hey" to whoever you want to pick up, only respond with short, meek statements to what they say, avoiding direct eye contact, etc, and compare your results to going there and being assertive, self confident, and persistent. "Bad Boys" win because bad boys tend to exude behavioral traits that many if not most women are attracted to.

    Of course the macho act is going to go down better in a club, but that's because the type of person that would be a match for a quieter guy like me and probably a lot of other Slashdotters just isn't that into clubbing. I don't mind clubbing if I'm drunk, but in general I'm just not interested in clubbing or even being drunk.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @09:29AM (#38368950) Homepage

    On top of this, a restraining order is only as good as the resolve of the Judge that signed it. Both of those two men later violated the order we had against them (literally chased my wife and daughters at knife point, only to be held off by a total stranger with a 12-guage. (Thank you, if you're reading this!)), witnessed by over a dozen police officers (fuck you, Alaska State Troopers), admitted their guilt in court to the very same judge that signed the violated order...and walked out of that courtroom before I did, free men.

    Please name names and jurisdiction if possible. If police officers and judges choose not to respond at all to an assault with a deadly weapon (a serious felony in most states), it is definitely in the public interest to know that. I'm not saying you didn't do the right thing by leaving, just that corruption like this ought to be exposed to scrutiny.

  • by Rei (128717) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @09:37AM (#38369018) Homepage

    I'd contrarily state that: given the premise of "what you're attracted to can't be helped" and "it's unreasonable to ask someone to not date people they're attracted to", ridiculing women who end up getting treated like that is not productive, and that a better avenue of your efforts would be toward eliminating cultural acceptance of stalker-ish behavior from guys. And if you don't think we live in a culture that glorifies guys doing stalker-ish behavior, let me ask you something: how many times have to seen this plot in TV or the movies?

      * Girl leaves guy (or never goes out with guy in the first place)
      * Guy can't get over girl
      * Guy does something like punch the girl's new fling, stand outside her window blaring love songs, kisses her when she's not expecting it, or something of that nature.
      * Girl decides, "wow, this guy really loves me" and starts dating him.

    In the movies, we call that "a love story". In real life, we call it "stalking". And the ending is not romance, but a restraining order.

  • by Lord Apathy (584315) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @10:30AM (#38369524)

    Stop dating people you're attracted to? Really, is that your suggestion?

    Why not? That is what I had to do. I'm attracted to long tall blonds with huge racks and tight asses. But alas, I had to man up and realize that it was never going to work. There were just to much distance between us. That, and she kept calling the police when she would catch me looking in her window at night.

  • by Alranor (472986) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @10:38AM (#38369606)

    You know when I look at the Constitution, I don't find in there any place where it mentions a right to be free from libel. I do, however, find a right to freedom of speech. I have trouble seeing how an enumerated right is trumped by an interpreted right.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @02:19PM (#38372818) Journal

    This statement:

    I'd contrarily state that: given the premise of "what you're attracted to can't be helped" and "it's unreasonable to ask someone to not date people they're attracted to"

    Contradicts this one:

    a better avenue of your efforts would be toward eliminating cultural acceptance of stalker-ish behavior from guys

    Dating IS social acceptance. Women date assholes because they like them, which is the definition of social acceptance. If you can't change what people are attracted to you can't change what is socially acceptable. Men get sexual favors for acting like jerks, that's a more powerful incentive than anything sort of cultural stigma you might like to impose.

    Besides, your strategy has unintended negative consequences. If you were actually able to reduce the number of assholes in the world, that would just increase demand for the remaining assholes. That gives those assholes an even greater advantage over the women they date and abuse.

    Really, the key is to teach your kids impulse control. Just because you like something doesn't mean it's good for you. It's entirely appropriate to ridicule someone who can't learn this lesson.

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