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Complaining of Intimidation, City Attorney Seeks to Punish Online Critic

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The Boston Globe reports that the town of Southborough, Massachusetts, is considering unspecified "legal action" against an anonymous online critic who complained about its process for selecting a new police chief. According to Town Counsel Aldo Cipriano, a commenter at MySouthborough.com who goes by "Marty" was trying to "harass and intimidate" members of Southborough's Police Chief Search Committee when he suggested that the committee had violated the state's open meeting law and had inappropriately favored the acting police chief. When Cipriano asked MySouthborough.com proprietor Susan Fitzgerald to reveal Marty's identity, she refused, citing the First Amendment right to speak anonymously. Cipriano warned her to preserve records of the search committee discussion on her site and to keep an eye on visitors' posts in the future, lest they again dare to annoy town officials with their criticism. "We strongly suggest that you more closely monitor remarks made on the communication site," he wrote in a letter to Fitzgerald last fall, "ensuring that when individuals speak to issues that they do so accurately and without false allegations of violating state law." According to the Globe, Cipriano turned down Fitzgerald's offer to post the city's response to Marty's criticism, saying "there was no need to defend the actions of the search committee since it had acted properly" and that "a simple response on the website was not sufficient given the seriousness of the situation."

[via Michael Graham

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  1. I wish it had been ‘joe’. I always liked that guy, I admit it.

  2. Hey Aldo Cipriano,

    SUCK MY DICK YOU STOOPID PIECE OF SHIT.

  3. Well, which is it? Either

    “there was no need to defend the actions of the search committee since it had acted properly”

    or

    “a simple response on the website was not sufficient given the seriousness of the situation.”

    I don’s see how it can be both.

    1. It’s Quantum Mechanics.

  4. Hey, Massachusetts! Even Putin doesn’t go that far.

  5. Massholes.

  6. Seriously, Madison should have just let New England go.

    1. You’ll note that virtually every story of idiocy comes out of only one of 6 New England states: Mass.

      1. What about New Jersey?

        1. New Jersey isn’t part of New England, Einstein.

          1. I think Einstein would know where New Jersey was, since he lived there. Proving that even geniuses are stupid.

            1. Still taking up perfectly good space on a bench, too.

      2. Connecticut had that cab driver who got prosecuted for felony weapons possession after he killed a passenger who tried to rob him at gunpoint.

        And Rhode Island elected Pat Kennedy.

        1. There’s just more Massholes to do stupid shit. The proper metric is douchebaggery per capita, not total d-bagging.

  7. I love the smell of officious arrogance in the morning.

    Smells like corruption.

  8. If you guys would put “Massachusetts” in the Massachusetts legal-outrage headlines as often as you put “Mississippi” in the Mississippi ones, it’d be a real shot in the arm for my eternally floundering (though eternally re-justified) Nuke Massachusetts campaign.

    k? thx

    1. Actually, I want to put welfare recipients to work digging a trench around it.

      Then, we tow it out to see and use it for naval gunfire practice.

      My way is more eco-friendly.

      1. 1) if welfare folks were willing to dig a trench, they wouldn’t be on welfare to begin with.

        2) Even if you could induce lazy bastards to dig a trench once they got a glimpse of the promised goodies provided by the Socialist Republic of Mass, they would simply defect.

        3) Eventually Mass would become so burdened with tubs of lard that it would snap the tectonic plates and flip over dumping the last 3 taxpayer in the state into the drink.

        Happy?

  9. “a simple response on the website was not sufficient given the seriousness of the situation.”

    Yes, exercising your right to free speech without prior authorization from your masters is a very serious matter indeed.

  10. If comments on a web forum ever really have the effect of harassing and intimidating public officials we’ll be getting somewhere.

    1. I would double my posting if I could be assured that it was causing officials discomfort.

      Triple it, maybe.

      1. That goes double for me, Fluffy. 🙂

  11. Zis conversation vill be recorded, mein freund…

  12. God, I hate Massachusetts.

  13. Dear Aldo-

    Eat shit and die, you officious shit-gobbling weasel.

    xoxoxo

    1. Fuck you, yo!

  14. So Aldo Cipriano, did the search committee hold any meetings that weren’t open to the public? Be advised that SOME courts have ruled that if you met at a bar or someone’s home to discuss it, you’re in violation.

  15. “ensuring that when individuals speak to issues that they do so accurately and without false allegations of violating state law.”

    Fuck him with highly polished brass knobs on. Fuck his lying, corrupt ass.

    If the law required people who spoke to issues to be accurate, practically every public official and politician elected would be receiving “legal action.”

    God these asshats have no shame.

  16. “I don’t think a messiah figure is going to be a terribly good launching point for the kinds of politics I’m talking about ? for someone who has very strong anarchist sympathies

    I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

    1. Damnit, wrong thread.

  17. If the First Amendment doesn’t protect me when I’m saying crappy things about politicians and officials, then what does it protect?

    P.S. Yeah, I miss seein’ joe around here. I learned a lot from joe.

    1. I’m not sure what you are missing: It obviously protects that type of speech – so long as it it conforms with the pre-approved messages.

    2. You wanna see joe? Then stand in front of a full-length mirror, turn around, drop your pants, bend over and then pull your asshole open as far as you can.

      1. Self goatse? No, that’s not quite right. Really, you’d need to be minding your own business when the sight presented itself to you.

        1. “Self goatse?”

          What’s a goatse?

          1. It’s related to the dickfer.

      2. Jesus Christ.

        Pathetic comments like that make me miss LoneWacko!

  18. Bastards get more brazen everyday.

  19. considering unspecified “legal action” against an anonymous online critic

    The Lonewacko Maneuver!

  20. Of course our critics have a right to speak, but…

  21. Serious question: does the first amendment really protect the anonymity of speech? It certainly prevents the govt from restraining or punishing speech acts (except in cases of fraud, threats, perjury, and other clear violations of rights), but does it really forbid requiring a speaker to identify him or herself?

    1. How do you enforce the identification without restraining speech? Seems like you’re saying “identify yourself to speak” and if you don’t identify, no speech for you. That would definitely be a restriction on your speech, wouldn’t it? Alternatively, it would be government compelling you to speak and controlling the content of your speech and that usually doesn’t fly, either.

      1. “”That would definitely be a restriction on your speech, wouldn’t it?””

        No.

        There is no federal shield for freedom of the press either. Ask Judith Miller of the NY Times.

        1. However, in this case the issue is at the state level. So it’s a little different. I guess it would depend on state laws.

    2. Which enumerated power would you suggest covers forcing people to identify themselves?

      So straighten your leg, for fuck’s sake.

      1. The Census?

        1. Everyone’s a pendant.

          Which enumerated power would you suggest covers forcing people to identify themselves in order to exercise their freedom of speech?

          Happy now?

          /Having just given the feds exactly

          1. My Name
          2. My age
          3. My address
          4. Stated that I’m not at risk of being counted anywhere else

          that I might be correctly enumerated and my eligibility for voting be determined, but otherwise set the form back incomplete.

          They are welcome to guess my gender and ethicity if they want.

          1. Everyone’s a pendant.

            heh!

          2. “”Which enumerated power would you suggest covers forcing people to identify themselves in order to exercise their freedom of speech?””

            It’s probably on the same page that allows the government to force you to identify yourself via a license and allows a background check requirement when buying a handgun.

            But seriously though, I get what your saying and we would be better off if government thought like that. But when was the last time the enumerated powers line won a lawsuit?

      2. The same enumerated power that covers forcing people to buy insurance from a private company?

        No? Hmmm…

        Then sorry, its a state secret. Can’t tell you because it would jeopardize national security. But you can trust me; I’m all about transparency in government…

      3. A couple of things:

        1. we’re talking about a state government, which is not limited to enumerated powers in Art I Sec VIII.

        2. my question was about the first amendment, not the constitution as a whole.

    3. There is some SCOTUS law on the right to anonymously distribute pamphlets or something like that. I can’t remember specifically.

  22. Nice of the Globe to tell us exactly what the comments were. Even the ACLU lawyer admitted that the town might have a legitimate case so I suspect the comments may have been a little more than just your average citizen complaint…

    1. Even the ACLU lawyer admitted that the town might have a legitimate case so I suspect the comments may have been a little more than just your average citizen complaint

      Sorry but if you read the article, the context seems to be that this ACLU lawyer/Boston College law professor allows for the possibility that there is a case IF the town could show “strong evidence to show real harm was caused and prove this is not meant only to harass ‘Marty’ or seek retribution”

      She seems to be speaking generally about these types of cases rather than giving her beliefs about the merits of specific case and the comments that were made.

      1. I understand that, and since we don’t know exactly what the comments were then we can’t judge as to whether or not they consititute harrassment or a threat.

        But of course, everybody here assumes the government is wrong, because that’s the dogma.

        1. I’d say it’s more based on percentage than dogma.

        2. If the comments were serious enough to constitute threats, we would have heard about it already. The town would be providing examples of the threats that were made.

          It’s hard to imagine how a blog comment could rise to the level of harassment, since the “target” is not forced to read it in any way.

          1. Scotch just can’t stop whoring for Lotsa Government. To him, any nibbling off the edges of the state constitutes anarchy.

  23. What I find funny is the guy that can have you arrested, jailed, and possibly prosecuted on phoney charges is calling free speech threatening.

  24. From the end of the link:
    This from the same Massachusetts liberals who oppose the Patriot Act? … So looking at Al Qaeda email is bad, but tracking down “Marty the disgruntled taxpayer” is OK?

    What a load of horse shit.

    What the fuck does this have to do with liberals or conservatives or anything.

    Is the Southborough city council and their attorney liberals and dirty hippies??

    And what does this have to do with the Patriot act.

    Some podunk town attorney is using threats and intimidation to shut down and harass critics, and this asshole decides this is an issue of right vs left?

    Michael Graham is a fucking moron.

    1. “”What the fuck does this have to do with liberals or conservatives or anything.””

      Nothing.

      I think it’s a side affect of people getting their morals from 24 hour news channels.

    2. Because the “patriot” Act encourages that kind of nosy behavior, what what?

  25. Think about what kind of Chief Cop a committee is going to choose, if they threaten criminal action against someone who complains about them online.

  26. Aldo – this post is intended to harrass and intimidate you.

    You are a fucking, worthless piece of shit.

    There – feel intimidated now?

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