An abuse of power

Whitewater has a Police Chief that regularly abuses his power in an attempt to identify an anonymous blogger. An article in the Wisconsin State Journal defines the situation. Here’s my favorite quote:

“The case law is certainly strongly supportive of anonymous speech, so long as it isn’t libelous … or part of a criminal conspiracy,” Ahmuty said.

City officials make it tough on those who dare to disagree. Add to that mix the paranoia of a couple of Common Council members and there’s the potential for real trouble. Some of us bravely plod along under our own names. Others feel more effective under the cloak of anonymity. Both have a place in guiding the future of our community.

We just saw where a local community member was denied his right to maintain privacy regarding his opinion of the high school facilities plan that puts athletics over academics. Our Founding Fathers surely would have disagreed with the way he was outed. They spent months arguing anonymously in the Federalist Papers for an opinion that would chart the course of a free America.

Comments

  1. No, Dan, I didn’t “out” him. A couple of us knew who he was, but he called the DA after Elmbrook school district filed an informal complaint and the MJS picked up on the story.

    If you have clues that I revealed an identity, let me know. As far as I remember, I didn’t even let on that it was a guy.

  2. Nope, Elmbrook did that all by themselves. (I take it they read the MJS, too.) I e-mailed Gibson to see if he’d give a statement on the ad, and it was his reply.

  3. But that MJS article didn’t have the author’s identity. The issue was Elmbrook sending a letter to the DA. Gibson must have called Sink, or Sink called Gibson to get a comment much like I e-mailed and he told her then.

    The identity didn’t come up until yesterday. It seems you have the timeline confused.

  4. BrkfldDad says:

    Ah… but you did let on that it was a guy, but that’s as far as you went! I know the buyer well, and had no clue from you it was him (nor from him!)

    Cindy Kilkenny // Mar 13, 2008 at 11:58 am
    It’s probably part of a discount package to include a group of NOW regional papers. I have no idea what the guy paid.

  5. Ah-hah! Good catch.

  6. BrkfldDad says:

    Doubt it… this is too polarizing of an issue. I believe that he would have been outed anyway, or that this would have made headlines, regardless of Cindy’s posting.

  7. No, not correct. The district made it clear when they sent their letter to the Waukesha District Attorney that they intended to get to the ad’s author. That was what triggered his reveal – the DA’s involvement. The media reported on the letter going to the DA.

    Ad runs –>my questions–>Elmbrook letter to DA–>I say district alerted DA–>MJS says DA alerted and prints in paper–>Hollowell contacts DA–>MJS reports Hollowell as author as found through DA

  8. I think Dan is missing the point that there is a law regarding this and the law was at risk of being violated. This guy should have been exposed regardless of who did it!

  9. We have a law that netted a fish that we didn’t intend to catch. I think the district attorney exercised good judgment. I don’t think Cindy’s comments on the situation have been inappropriate or inconsistent. She pointed out some problems with the system, with the tone of political discourse, and the nature of the exchange. The fact that she wanted credit for her observations is a tangent. I don’t think she claimed the current law was an abuse of power, just perhaps not working right.

    The Whitewater situation is another free speech issue, but on a whole different level. In particular, there appears to be a gross abuse of power by a governing official. One might extend ones attention to the Patriot Act…

  10. Dan, I admit I’m having trouble following your logic. You choose to blame me for Hollowell reporting to the DA. I reject your argument that my blog entry was the cause. You still miss in your assertion that I “alerted” Dr. Gibson about the ad. I think it’s safe to assume the man reads the newspaper.

    I think it’s fair to bring to the argument that in the original post the anonymous blogger is not in violation of the law where the ad writer appears to be in violation. The secondary argument: whether or not it’s good to let anonymous opinions be made regarding voting issues. To bring it all full circle, it appeared the founders thought anonymous opinions were fine as they made a few of their own.

  11. Ok, I finally get your point. You can trust me on this one: Gibson already knew the ad blew through the law as it is currently written. Heck, he probably had it all figured out before I crawled out of bed!

  12. Friendship was never in question. I could not figure out what you were driving towards, but the light bulb finally went off.