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Recently Black Unicorn posted that he had sued [email protected], and settled
out of court. A couple of messages followed which were supportive of
his action. The text below is a rebuke to Unicorn. I post it in the
hope that it will provide dimension to the debate.
To Black Unicorn:
Once upon a time, two strangers found a dog. Alice said, "That's my dog:
I can clearly tell by its markings". Bob said, "No, I'm afraid you're
mistaken. See his ears pick up when I call his name". And so the debate
continued, until a third person, Sol, arrived. On hearing the pleadings
of Bob and Alice, Sol told them, "Stand 10 meters apart and put the dog
between you". Sol the scared the dog with a quick movement and a shout,
and the dog ran to its true master.
Likewise, when you were tested recently by net abuse, you went for
relief to your master, the government. This is what distinguishes you
from the rest of us. We might react against the abuse (or we might
not), but I think that none of us - or at least a very few - would have
gone to court for relief.
"I spoke to a Federal Court of Appeals Judge who I have known for
a number of years to try and poke some holes in the suit on
Despite your protestation, "I also don't like to be a bully", it seems
to me that your pursuit of this case was predicated on your ability to
be a bully and an insider. Like your colleagues Cantor and Seigel, you
emitted flamebait and then pretended offense at the inevitable flames.
You taunted [email protected] about his illness, reminding him at least three
times in one message to take his medicine. Nice behaviour for a person
who supposedly believes in privacy. It seems to me that you sized up
[email protected] as a person who could not fight back due to his illness, and
then you provoked him in order to establish grounds for your suit. I
believe that your case, which is apparently based upon testimony from
your friends, could not have succeeded in court. But it didn't have to,
did it? You only had to find someone who was ill, and then kick him
while he was down.
Was it Rousseau who said, "First, we kill all the lawyers"? The cost of
a lawsuit in the U.S. today can easily be over $100,000. The cost of a
contract murder is said to be $10,000-$50,000. Consider the economics.
I think there is a role to be played by lawyers in the future of the
net. The net does not like litigation, because it interferes with the
free flow of information. But it does like protocols, which are seen to
enhance the flow of information. Lawyers, by their training and
practice, are especially good at formulating workable protocols. If we
had a protocol governing the use of network resources by sick or abusive
users, your conflict with [email protected] might not have transpired, or else
a solution might have been easily achieved. Conflicts like this are
resulting in conversion of newsgroups on Usenet to moderated groups - a
very unfortunate trend in my opinion, as Usenet does not provide for the
removal of moderators. Here is a proper outlet for legal talent, not in
self-serving time-wasting resource-absorbing litigation.