Feb 19, 2007

In support of Orthomom

I initially decided not to write about this topic. Enough people were already weighing in with their opinions and I felt I had nothing to add. I still think I have nothing to add, but one cannot simply ignore one of the biggest stories to hit the blog world in general and the jblog world in particular.
Orthomom is an anonymous blogger who dedicates her blog to writing about (mostly) issues relevant to the Five Towns (somewhere in NY, excuse my ignorance). She is the subject of a lawsuit filed by one Pamela Greenbaum against Google attempting to force them to reveal Orthomom's identity.

The basic background is that an anonymous commenter on Orthomom's site said some not so nice things about Ms. Greenbaum (the commenter called her a bigot and an anti-semite). Ms. Greenbaum is on the board pf something over there - the school or the comunity or whatever and has been involved in some decisions that, it looks like, others disagree with.

Does that make her an anti-semite? I doubt it (I am not sure what the decisions were, nor does it interest me all that much). Anybody in a public position makes decisions that some people will be against. The commenter was probably wrong for slandering Ms. Greenbaum in the way he did. He also has no courage as he slandered her anonymously. Gentlemen and gentlewomen, if you really feel the need to oppose people and stand up for your position, please consider putting your name behind your words. Anonymous comments are meaningless and are not taken seriously.

Now that got the criticism of the cowardly anonymous commenter out of the way. Ms. Greenbaum's lawsuit is surely destined to be thrown out of court. Other cases similar, and more serious, to this one have been thrown out on the grounds of free speech and lack of seriousness.

Ms. Greenbaum thinks she can censor the Internet to an extent. She is going to find out that she is wrong. Aside from bringing more attention to the issue under discussion and the comments made in her direction than would otherwise have been ignored and not noticed, she has shown herself to be not one who can take a punch. She should have recognized this as a lost cause and simply ignored the anonymous comment.

From her point of view, I understand, I think. She was hurt by the hurtful words. Granted, people should be careful with what they say and act responsibly, even on the Internet. The Internet, with its ability to remain anonymous, allows people much more liberties than they ever had before. One must use those liberties responsibly. However, she is involved in politics (be it school, communal or whatever), and this is what happens when one is in the public eye. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Her attempts at solving it via the courts only makes it worse for her.


  1. Excellent points. Wow what an episode in the Jblog world.

  2. Thanks for the support. Just a minor point regarding your assertion that Mrs. Greenbaum did this because she was hurt by the comments. Most elected officials have a thick enough skin to withstand being called a "bigot" in response to their public policies, which almost never please everyone in a given constituency. Had she just once e-mailed me a request to remove the offending comments due to the distress they were causing her, I would have strongly considered doing so. Instead, she went public with this frivolous lawsuit in an attempt to unmask me, giving the supposed offending comments a far wider audience, in addition to ensuring I can no longer remove the comments for fear of being accused of destroying evidence. So in essence, she made her own bed here.

  3. Orthomom- if you are checking back here to see follow up coments, I have a question for you. Has this forced you to alter your routine at all, in order to maintain your anonymity? And have you had to hire a lawyer to prepare defending your anonymity on the off-chance that Google gives her the information she seeks?

  4. Rafi:
    I have not altered my routine in any way - I have always been very vigilant about preserving my anonymity.

    And if Google does choose to provide the information (I don't expect them to do so without a fight of some sort), then I definitely will have to hire representation.


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