Thursday, November 08, 2007

School board threatens blogger

I got this link to a story from Galveston, Texas from Instapundit...
Tetley received a letter Monday from the district’s law firm demanding she remove what it termed libelous statements and other “legally offensive” statements posted by her or anonymous users, and refrain from allowing such postings in the future. If she refuses, the district plans to sue her, the demand letter states.

Tetley said she’ll review the postings cited by David Feldman of the district’s firm Feldman and Rogers. She’ll consider the context of the postings and consult attorneys before deciding what to delete.

“If it’s not worth keeping in there, I’ll take it out,” she said. “If in fact it is libelous, I have no problem taking it down.”

Libel Or Opinion?

Feldman said Tetley’s Web site — www.gisdwatch.com — contained the most “personal, libelous invective directed toward a school administrator” he’s seen in his 31-year career.

“It is not the desire of the School District, the Board, or this Firm to stifle free expression or inhibit robust debate regarding matters pertaining to the operation of the public schools,” Feldman wrote in the demand letter. “This is solely about the publication of materials that clearly go beyond that which is legally and constitutionally encouraged and permitted, and into the realm of what is legally offensive and actionable.”

Feldman cited 16 examples of what he says are libelous postings. Half were posted by Tetley; the other half were posted by anonymous users.

The postings accuse Superintendent Lynne Cleveland, trustees and administrators of lying, manipulation, falsifying budget numbers, using their positions for “personal gain,” violating the Open Meetings Act and spying on employees, among other things.

Tetley said the postings were opinions only.

“Everyone deserves to have their opinion,” she said. “I don’t think they have a right to make me, or anyone else, take down criticisms of them off the Web site. They’re not going to force us to take off our opinions because we have no other place to go.”
This I'm sure is a very serious issue to worry about amongst bloggers. Especially if you're covering more public affairs type stories as this obviously is. All I can say is be careful out there.

1 comment:

JP Paulus said...

Well, that kind of activity describes Uptown blogs and message boards.

The most vile stuff comes from "phantoms", people who forget that the 1st Aendment allows them free speech so they don't have to hide like Benjamin Franklin and others did befor ethe Constitution.

The posts with names / identifiable people, are posts that one can respect even if you don't agree with them.

i don't advocate censorship, but i wish the moderators & admins of such boards & blogs would use their influence to change the "zeitgeist" and create a more productive environment. Otherwise the problems that they keep focusing on won't change, and they will just get angrier and angrier.

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