Saturday, March 22, 2008

N.J. Attorney General attacks juicy college gossip site

The brouhaha over, a college gossip website, raises some interesting questions. The first thing to know about the site is that all posts - discussing the sexual orientation and proclivities and other personal information about people on various campuses - are anonymous. Of course, I'd want to remain anonymous with posts like this one: "OK, lets here [sic] he [sic] votes for worst professor...."

The New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram is attacking this website indirectly rather than head on. According to Milgrim JuicyCampus may be violating the state's Consumer Fraud Act by suggesting it doesn't allow offensive material but providing no enforcement of that rule - and no way for users to report or dispute the material. I suspect that she is using this method of attack to avoid defense claims of "freedom of expression" and "freedom of the press." But it seems to me that cowards who use anonymous posts to demean other people are not covered by these freedoms. We have laws against defamation and libel. But these laws can't be enforced if you don't know who defamed or libeled you. (It's true that legitimate journalists use anonymous sources, but the writer's by-line is there for all to see and sue.) So, it would seem to me that a direct legal attack against the website owner, Lime Blue of Reno, Nev., would be much more effective.

But I think there is a more important aspect to all this fuss. The only reason that Juicy and other seemingly salacious websites work is because of our uptight attitudes toward sex. Anyone living in New York these past few weeks has seen the effects of these views. Governors being attacked not for what they do politically but for who they have sex with. With the immature way the media covered these stories there will be more and more Juicys cropping up. If there is a buck to be made, someone will take advantage of the situation.

Although most of the posts on Juicy are relatively innocuous, a few, it seems to me, could easily be defined as defamatory or libelous. For example: "Skankiest Alums: I vote (Name withheld-Dan)--that slut pulled more trains than the little engine that could! 03-22-2008/Wake Forest U." Or "(name withheld-Dan)
Biggest slut at NYU??? She fucked my friend and then blew me a month later...No class at all. 03-21-2008 New York University."

I'm not sure why anyone would read this garbage, but If you want to hurt someone, at least have the courage to own your action.

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