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[Maggie Gallagher (guest-blogging), October 18, 2005 at 12:17am] Trackbacks
Marriage Debate Digression:

There's a petition circulating in Massachusetts to define marriage as the union of husband and wife in the state constitution. In a bid to discourage anyone from signing the petition, a couple of activists have posted the petition names on the internet.

A friend pointed out to me the following post from Livejournal.com: http://www.livejournal.com/users/mmeubiquitous/119651.html?thread=253795#t253795

"You do realize, I hope, that the names and addresses of all the signatories will be posted on the web, since it's a matter of public record... if you signed, don't be surprised if it has reprocussions (sic) in your future. I, for example, am professionally a manager, and from time to time I do hiring. I will most certainly be vetting all applicants against the list of petitioners in the future to ensure I don't hire anyone who signed, because I wouldn't be able to trust them to behave professionally toward gay coworkers. . ."

No doubt it is mostly hot air. Still, does this whole thing give anyone else the creeps? Can anyone explain why?

Daniel Chapman (mail):
Well here in Wisconsin, we have a state law banning discrimination in hiring practice based on "creed" and "the exercise of a legal right." I think either of these categories would include the signing of a political petition. It would surprise me of Massachusettes didn't have a similar law.
10.18.2005 1:52am
Kyle H (www):
I think it is the possibility of future repurcussions based upon a political act. It strikes of an attempt at silencing people through fear. Signing the petition then becomes an act with much greater consequence than letting your representative know your opinion.
10.18.2005 1:55am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
It also seems similar to past attempts at forcing the NAACP to disclose its membership to the public. Kyle nailed it.
10.18.2005 1:58am
Blar (mail) (www):
It's not just one livejournal comment. There's a pro-gay-marriage website set up to publish on the web the names and addresses of everyone who signs the petition. As I expressed among other company earlier, it reeks of intimidation, and represents a further encroachment of partisan politics into everyday life. Publicizing home addresses is especially troubling, as they could be used by idiots to be nuisances (or worse). This is not the direction where we want our political culture to be heading.

People who favor same sex marriage and aren't sure what to think about this creative response to the anti-SSM petition should test their intuitions by thinking about how they would react to similar tactics by other groups, like when Focus on the Family sent Michael Moore's home address out to their loyal followers.
10.18.2005 2:05am
Justin Kee (mail):
"it reeks of intimidation, and represents a further encroachment of partisan politics into everyday life."

Is it more intimidating than denying a legal bundle of civil rights to someone because you morally disapprove of their choice of a marriage partner. Talk about an intrusion into "everyday life".
10.18.2005 2:58am
Jonny's_Light:
the statement of " I wouldn't be able to trust them to behave professionally toward gay coworkers," with out a doubt a leap of logic, that is not reason enough to not hire some one and would fall under the Hate Crimes Reporting Act.

This is very disturbing, just because some one is against gay marriage, does not mean one should be persecuted for their opinion or belief, whether it be gay marriage or abortion. Activism is not the right solution, especially when it comes to legal matters...
10.18.2005 2:59am
Antonin:
I'm a supporter of gay marriage, and a vehement one, who thinks opposition is mostly motivated by bigotry. But this is absurd.
10.18.2005 3:03am
John Armstrong (mail):
Wait, hold on a minute. Isn't this the same blog where I've read people defending the right of employers to hire whom they please? If a company wants to make sure each employee will act respectfully to every other employee and they believe that a prospective employee who has made statements (and signing a petition is a statement) the company views as discriminatory, are they compelled to hire the person anyway?
10.18.2005 3:04am
Syd (mail):
Do you approve of the names of people contributing to a political campaign being published on the web? This doesn't strike me as that different. I always assume that if I sign a petition, it's public information.
10.18.2005 3:07am
Justin Kee (mail):
"Still, does this whole thing give anyone else the creeps? Can anyone explain why?"

The arc of history is long, Maggie, but bends toward justice.
10.18.2005 3:10am
Quarterican (mail):
If you sign your name on a petition, as far as I'm concerned, it is (and should be) a matter of public record. That said, I disapprove *strongly* of this sort of threat. I mean, if someone were to take that list and use it to somehow publicly denounce the signatories I might find it distasteful but not unreasonable. Actual threats to do whatever harm possible (within the confines of the law?) are however unecessary and unreasonable to me, whether or not the stated threat is illegal. As someone who supports gay marriage vehemently, I must say thumbs down to "mmeubiquitous" on this one. Why is it creepy? Because I don't want to punish people for the thoughts in their head. Neither, presumably, do Ms. Gallagher or - I would hope - most reasonable people.
10.18.2005 3:25am
pdxnag (mail) (www):
Communist Party v. Subversive Activities Control Board

Just swap the parties.

My rant includes an anecdotal outer extreme example of an attack on liberty:

This guy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Sizemore
is sitting on a judgment debt where the measure of damages corresponds to the opposing side's costs for their public advertising campaign against an initiative campaign.


I would like to argue that the judge should have been limited by the First Amendment (even sua sponte) from granting the particular remedy of the award of speech costs between private parties.

What is most disconcerting with the gay demand for the extension of monetary privileges from the state (quite unrelated to Lawrence-privacy) is that the ACLU and the ABA appear to be active attackers of persons holding contrary views.
10.18.2005 4:00am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):

I, for example, am professionally a manager, and from time to time I do hiring. I will most certainly be vetting all applicants against the list of petitioners in the future to ensure I don't hire anyone who signed, because I wouldn't be able to trust them to behave professionally toward gay coworkers if they believe that it's okay to treat gay people as second class citizens.


Actually, according to his resume that he's posted online, he's a web designer rather than a "manager" with no mention anywhere of having had any responsibility of hiring anyone. Considering that according to his portfolio that he is "presently seeking a full time position," he ought to worry about getting his own house in order before making idle threats on the web.
10.18.2005 4:20am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
People who favor same sex marriage and aren't sure what to think about this creative response to the anti-SSM petition should test their intuitions by thinking about how they would react to similar tactics by other groups, like when Focus on the Family sent Michael Moore's home address out to their loyal followers.


Well at least they didn't run a webcam inside his living room to broadcast on television.

Oh wait.
10.18.2005 4:28am
Arvin (mail) (www):
My Lord! Next thing you know, you'll be telling me that I can't join the KKK and then expect everyone to love me and hire me. What is this world coming to?
10.18.2005 4:47am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I can't believe people are justifying this behavior...
10.18.2005 4:52am
Postpunk Xman:
Regardless of the motives of this specific individual, I'm perplexed at why anyone would consider this creepy.

I thought the whole point of signing a petition was to go 'on record', as a citizen, in favor or opposition of a particular policy.

It does seem in poor taste to refuse to hire someone based on innocuous political opinions, but not so much for bigoted opinions. Thus, it seems to come down to whether one considers anti-gay marriage forces to be bigoted or not.
10.18.2005 5:17am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
It's the addresses that I find "creepy."

"You do realize, I hope, that the names and addresses of all the signatories will be posted on the web, since it's a matter of public record... if you signed, don't be surprised if it has reprocussions (sic) in your future."

Whether refusing to hire someone who's publicly signed a petition you disagree with is immoral, illegal, or otherwise takes back burner to the fact that some nut is posting home addresses on the internet and hinting at "reprocussions."
10.18.2005 5:33am
Medis:
The "whole thing" isn't creepy, since publishing the names and addresses is perfectly fair. This particular person's proposed use of the list is somewhat creepy, but more just silly.

That said ... many people feel this issue is morally equivalent to something like anti-miscegenation laws. What would you do with the knowledge that someone supported anti-miscegenation laws? Would you be worried about their views on race in an employment context?
10.18.2005 5:38am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
"perfectly fair." hmmm... Either you're rather naive to the kind of crazies he could be intentionally or unintentionally soliciting or you don't care. I don't think I want to play by your rules.
10.18.2005 5:45am
Medis:
Daniel,

I support protecting people from crazies. But I don't support people who sign constitutional petitions but want to keep their identity secret. The whole point of a petition is to make the signatories' support a matter of public record.

So is the precise problem that someone has made it easy to get this information by putting it on the internet? If the information itself can be fairly made public ... and indeed, the whole point of the petition is to make a public record ... then I don't see why making it easy for the public to actually access that record is unfair.
10.18.2005 6:53am
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
I gotta go with Mr. Chapman on this one.

Call it 'creepy.' Call it 'irresponsible.' Call it 'blackmail.' Call it 'threatening.'

But, in the end, there is are certain realities in today's society. If you were an 'abortion doctor,' would you want your home address and phone number posted to anti-abortionist websites? If one of the extremists were to avail themselves of the posted information and do something 'harmful,' could the poster be considered an 'accessory' to the crime?

What about 'hate' mail or 'hate' e-mail generated as a result of the posted list?

As far as I am aware, there has been no, single, prescient decision made regarding what constitutes a true threat vis a vis the internet. However, I think the intentions of this individual in posting the names/addresses of signatores is obvious to the 'reasonable person.'
10.18.2005 6:59am
randal (mail):
Oh man. This is funny! Isn't it usually the libertarians who are all about being able to hire who you want? Employers should enjoy the benefit of the doubt when it comes to hiring?

But when you're on the short end of the stick, it's a different story, huh.

Taking a public position has repercussions. There's a reason it's illegal to have a voting system in which a voter can show who he voted for (e.g. via a receipt). At the same time, there's a reason petition signatories are public. An initiative requires a signifiant number of people willing to publicly support it in order to be seen as legitimate. But actual voting shouldn't be subject to intimidation.

Signing a petition is, by design, a public act. Don't sign it if you think you're going to be embarrased. And don't hire people who take public positions contrary to your business interests. Isn't this libertarianism 101? What's happening to this conspiracy, it's falling apart... due to homophobia of all reasons.

The especially sick part about this is how dismissive you are of the guy who doesn't want to hire homophobes. As an employer, you kindof have to decide between hiring gays or homophobes, because hiring both doesn't tend to work out well. Smart employers have figured out that gay-friendly is better than gay-unfriendly.
10.18.2005 6:59am
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
Medis: The issue here is not whether the information is or should be public. The issue is the amount of overt action required for an individual to access the information. It is the inference of intent demonstrated by efforts to access information or perform a specified act which informs decisions regarding the 'criminality' of behavior.

How much more difficult is it to establish 'intent' if no or little effort is required to obtain the requisite information? And, without establishing intent, how much more difficult will it be for society to hold 'crazies' accountable? How much more likely is it that a 'crazy' might act upon information that they would not have been previously disposed to access had it not been made so readily available?

Aren't these issues currently being debated as relates to 'privacy' and the internet? If such information access was accepted as 'perfectly fair,' then why would we be having such discussion?
10.18.2005 7:09am
randal (mail):
AGWETS:

It took me a minute to parse your post. But then I did. I think, however, that it's wrong.

We don't run America based on the actions or possible actions of "crazies". That'd be like if we started suspending civil rights based on the threat of terrorism.

Maggie's implied complaint is that non-crazies will use the information against signatories. But that's totally legit and, in the end, the point of public petitions.

On balance, the more readily available we make "public" information, the better. It's a leveling force. Information can hardly be considered public if it's prohibitively difficult to obtain by anyone non-elite.
10.18.2005 7:26am
Anonymous Reader:
I have to jump in on this conversation. It seems to me that several of the commenters who support this "publication" of names and addresses do not fear the possibilities that come with the disclosure. That's probably because their names wouldn't be on that list to begine with!! It seems to me that people who aren't impacted by a certain decision or disclosure are the first ones who would vote in favor of it, i.e. "no sweat off my back..." etc, etc.

But I am sure that if there was a list with the names and addresses of gay marriage supporters that was hinted at being used for "repercussions" these same commenters would be up in arms. And I would have to agree. Why? Well, I for one do not want to put my family or my community at risk if some anarchist or "crazy person" takes that information and uses it to score stupid political points. We're not talking about just receiving junk mail or junk email. Those types of activities are relatively innocent. But when someone is given the ability to come straight to my house and threaten my family, then I get concerned.

I would like to point out that entertainers, politicians, or otherwise popular famous people don't have their addresses blasted publicly for all the world to see for obvious reasons. Not saying that their addresses are hidden, but it takes a reasonable amount of effort to gain that type of information.

So, regardless of where you stand on gay marriage, everyone should be wary of these types of "threats". Also, public petitions therefore public signatories is a non-starter. You could post my name from here to Timbuktu and I probably wouldn't bat and eye, but when you put my name and address out there (why do you even need someone's address to begin with?), I get seriously concerned. I won't even comment on phishing or other identity theft concerns.

Anonymous Reader
10.18.2005 7:32am
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
I'm still not sure if you read these comments, Maggie, but here's my take.

If you sign a petition, it is a matter of public record that you support a certain political position. You should not object to having your support of that position made public, because that is exactly why you signed the petition. If these people are out and proud about their homophobic views, how can they possibly object to having their names published on the Internet? They signed the petition because they wanted people to know they are homophobic, and now people do know.

That said, I would support a hiring manager who was aware they were interviewing a person who is publicly homophobic to confirm with that person that, in their working life, they will not discriminate against any of their fellow workers because of their sexual orientation. I would not support a hiring manager refusing to hire someone merely because they signed a petition.
10.18.2005 7:49am
Medis:
AGWET,

I not quite sure I followed your posts. But I will note that there is an obvious distinction between something like posting the addresses of doctors who perform abortions and posting the names and addresses of people who sign a petition--in the latter case, the whole purpose of the petition is to create this public record, whereas in the former case the doctor has not volunteered to become part of such a public record. In general, that is why this isn't a typical privacy/internet issue ... because there is no sense in which this information is supposed to be private.

As for criminal issues ... I agree with the prior poster that you can't allow the crazies to dictate all your decisions. Moreover, unless you are willing to take petitions out of the public record (or maybe just not have petitions as a mechanism at all), then I don't find it plausible that the right line to draw is between public-but-on-paper versus public and on the internet. Again, the whole point is to make this information public, and I don't think it makes sense to then raise barriers to accessing that information.

I'm not sure what you meant about proving intent. Do you mean it would be harder to prove a crazie had accessed this list on the internet, rather than somewhere else (if so, I'm not sure that is true)? And how is that relevant anyway?
10.18.2005 7:53am
Cornellian (mail):
I would have thought that signing a petition to amend the constitution was a public act. You should have zero expectation of anonymity. How could anyone verify that the petition was legitimate without that information being public?

Re the poster's statement about being discinlined to hire someone who had signed the petition, it sounds like a pretty empty threat to me. But in any event, it strikes me as ironic that someone who apparently has no problem with the idea that an employer might fire someone for being gay is aghast at the idea of not hiring someone because of his opinion on same sex relationships.
10.18.2005 7:58am
randal (mail):
The more I think about this, the more crazy it makes me.

To the people who are worried about the "crazies" "threatening your family"... are you for real? The drag-queen-gang is gonna show up at your door with an uzi?

Should American politics recede behind a curtain of anonymity?

Please. If you find your own position embarassing, maybe you should consider why that is and rethink it.
10.18.2005 8:01am
Medis:
Anonymous Reader,

You say, "But I am sure that if there was a list with the names and addresses of gay marriage supporters ...." What exactly is this list? Are you talking about a list of people who signed a petition in favor of gay marriage? If so, then I would have no problem with putting such a list on the internet.

As for the address, I have been assuming the address was required on the petition itself (that has generally been true of the petitions I have signed in the past). If I am wrong, and the people did not voluntarily disclose their addresses, then that is indeed creepy. But if I am right, then again the whole point is that you have chosen to make all this part of the public record. That is the obvious distinction with your famous people and their addresses.
10.18.2005 8:01am
Cornellian (mail):
This isn't a "list of gay marriage supporters" (or opponents), it's a petition to amend the constitution. Such information has to be public in order to separate the fraudulent petitions from the legitimate ones. "Yes your honor, we have enough petitions to qualify for the ballot, but you can't get their names and addresses because they prefer to remain anonymous, but trust me, we have enough signatures and they're all legitimate."

Making that information available in the blogosphere strikes me as a useful anti-fraud device, much as we saw with the Dan Rather situation.
10.18.2005 8:04am
TJIC (www):
The aspect that I find interesting here is the agent theory question: one presumes that even if the poster really was a manager, working for someone else's firm, that the investors in that firm would not be choosing to winnow the pool of employee applicants based on opinions on political questions where the underlying population is in fact fairly evenly divided, and where the disagreement is usually civil. By this, I mean that an investor might choose to winnow out members of violent racist groups, or loud proselytizing animal rights activists who yell at coworkers for wearing leather shoes...but that the investors would not be well served by winnowing out all Republicans, or all Democrats, or other fairly centrist groups.

The result of such a winnowing is to decrease the pool of applicants, making it harder to staff all open positions.

If we accept this hypothesis, then how does an investor, through the mechanism of the company, stop ideological employees (like our hypothetical manager who's got a list and is checking it twice) from screwing up the hiring process?
10.18.2005 8:09am
Medis:
TJIC,

Well, that company will compete with other companies, and if some of those other companies have more efficient policies, then they will be more profitable. So just let your dollars chase the profits. And who knows? Maybe this manager would be right.
10.18.2005 8:17am
Anon7 (mail):
People are making this out to be much more sinister than it is.

No, I don't think there should be repercussions for signing a petition. However, the repercussions here are limited to "I won't hire you."
10.18.2005 8:21am
Simon (391563) (mail) (www):
Maggie-

Are these the same sort of creeps as you get from the idea of two men holding hands? Or living together in matrimonial bliss? Or are they a different sort of creeps? If they are different, do they have anything to do with our government's interest in our sex lives?

Just how many different types of creeps do you associate yourself with?

Simon

PS -- For the record: 1) Posting this information is impolite, but fair game (a la voting records &registration, campaign contributions, or the addresses of OB/GYNs who perform abortions); 2) threatening to not hire someone based on political views -- absent any evidence of those views impacting day-to-day work performance -- is inappropriate.
10.18.2005 8:36am
Medis:
I think that is the crux, Simon. Some opponents of gay marriage do not want to be seen as anti-gay (of course, some embrace that view). So this naked assertion of their opposition to gay marriage without an opportunity to "explain" their views strikes them as unfair. But Maggie may not exactly be the best person to make this argument, given that she has had many opportunities here to explain her actual argument against gay marriage, and still has not gotten around to it.
10.18.2005 8:44am
Huggy (mail):
Didn't someone do this with abortionist? And and the ACLU didn't like it?
10.18.2005 8:50am
Anonymous Reader:
Maybe my point was not entirely clear. I am not smart on the petition process, I would hope that there is some kind of verification process that checks to make sure that there is indeed a person named John Doe and he lives in 123 USA St.

But does the address information HAVE to be publicly available? So far what I've read is it's a public petition, etc, etc, etc. But again, what does that have to do with publishing a person's address? By the way, politicians are in fact "public" figures, so why should my address be listed and not theirs? And I'm not talking about their work address either.

I believe petitions should be a matter of the public record, but that there is no need for addresses to be on them other than for verification purposes. People made such a big deal about just allowing the cops/FBI to look at library records but now some people feel it's not that big of a deal to publish someone's name and address and possibly use that information for even more nefarious or suspicious motives? Call me paranoid, but that just doesn't make a lot of sense.

I may be totally out in left field on this topic, but there are people out there who would use this information for ill will. I'm not talking about hiring practices, shoot, everyone knows that you MIGHT not get hired if you have tatoos all over your body/face/whatever or if you have dred locks. So the fact that you sign a petition or not doesn't amount to a hill of beans. But the fact that these people are pushing someone elses address out there is what concerns me.

I'm sure I'll be blasted for possibly erecting strawman issues, but personal information is exactly that, personal. It's easy to sit there and assume that people would use it for harmless reasons, but why shut yourself away from reality. Identity theft is real. And that doesn't necessarily involved physical violence.

Anonymous Readers
10.18.2005 8:51am
Anonymous Reader:
Simon and Medis,

First of all, I'm sure Maggie may be a bit busy doing other things. Have you ever known the host blogger to comment that much about a topic?

Secondly, whether or not someone believes in gay marriage or not is irrelevant. THAT, my friends is a strawman! The example Maggie brought up is to illustrate the "creepiness" of the address publication, it has nothing to do with her stance on gay marriage:

No doubt it is mostly hot air. Still, does this whole thing give anyone else the creeps? Can anyone explain why?

Again, publishing someone's name associated with a cause is fine with me. A state/local govt verification agency or department should be tasked to verify the identity of the signatory. What does it matter to you or anyone else where I live? So that you can conduct target campaigns on who needs further "convincing"? These are the questions that should be asked.

Anonymous Reader
10.18.2005 9:00am
Cornellian (mail):
How would opponents of a petition ever question whether the signatures are legtimately from people actually living in the state if the address wasn't available? Should they just have to accept the unverified word of the person submitting the petition? Sounds like a license to fraud to me.

I'd really like my proposition on the ballot for a vote too, and I have more than enough signatures. Believe me they all live in the state - take my word for it - you'll have to because I'm not telling you their addresses.

A person's address, for the great majority of people, is a simple matter of looking up their name in the phone book, hardly private information.

Maybe my point was not entirely clear. I am not smart on the petition process, I would hope that there is some kind of verification process that checks to make sure that there is indeed a person named John Doe and he lives in 123 USA St.

But does the address information HAVE to be publicly available? So far what I've read is it's a public petition, etc, etc, etc. But again, what does that have to do with publishing a person's address? By the way, politicians are in fact "public" figures, so why should my address be listed and not theirs? And I'm not talking about their work address either.
10.18.2005 9:05am
Medis:
Anonymous Reader,

First, Maggie HAS been posting. In fact, in the post before this one (part of a series in which she keeps stating the same point but refuses to answer any critical questions), she actually promised that her next post would (finally!) get around to giving her positive argument against gay marriage. But then we get this "digression" instead. So her being busy doesn't explain this behavior, and as you can tell, I have pretty much run out of patience with what increasingly look like stall tactics.

On the address: I'm not sure it is right to say it is merely a matter of "verification". Rather, I think it is also a matter of identification. Of course, these concepts are connected: when John Smith signs the petition, you have to know which John Smith this person is purporting to be in order to verify that this John Smith even exists. But you also have to know which John Smith signed the petition in order to distinguish this John Smith from any other John Smith who may or may not have signed the petition. The address helps provide this identification (Which John Smith? The one at 1200 Mulberry Lane, Apt. 2G).

The address continues to serve that identification function on the website. Indeed, it would be pretty unfortunate if you could state that John Smith signed the petition without specifying which John Smith (here the name I chose is probably a liability to my example: consider rather a case in which there is a Eugene Volokh on the list).

So, I think your point comes down to the unfortunate fact that this information which is used to identify the person can also be used to send them a nasty letter. Even assuming the latter is a bad thing, do you have a practical alternative? Would you prefer Social Security numbers, for example?

Finally, we don't need to do this with famous people because there isn't a question of their identity (eg, when someone says, "Madonna released another crappy album today," we don't have to ask, "Which Madonna?"). Again, this happens precisely because ordinary citizens want to put themselves, as individuals, on a public record in support of some measure.
10.18.2005 9:17am
David Hecht (mail):
First of all, there is *no* obligation for the signers of petitions to have their names and addresses publicly revealed. Perhaps there should be, but there isn't: and the notion that the petitions can't be validated without that is--frankly--disingenuous. Electoral boards have been verifying petition signers and other participants in the electoral process for centuries without the need for the names to be publicly revealed: you check them against the electoral roll--which is not a public record either--and so it goes.

Second of all, suppose the following scenario: a pro-gay-marriage group in (say) Mississippi or Utah were told be someone that their petitions would be made public knowledge and scrutinized by potential employers with an (implied) eye to adverse discrimination. Are those who find the present situation shruggable still willing to be so sanguine? Or would we then hear a lot of harrumphing and bloviating about the supposed "right to privacy" of the petition-signers?

If there's one thing that's become obvious in the past decade or two, it's that the gay community and its supporters bang the drum of "privacy" when it suits them, but ignore it (by, for example, "outing" closeted gay conservatives) when it doesn't: this is merely another example of that double standard in action.
10.18.2005 9:17am
Anonymous Reader:
Cornellian,

You're partially right about the phone book thing, however, you chose to have your phone number or address listed as well as to how much information to disclose. Not to mention, it's locally displayed. Why would someone in Alaska care about someone's address in Florida?

Also, like I said, shouldn't the govt verify the addresses? I would hope that they verify the addresses prior to allowing that petition to stand on it's merits. Or do they assume opposition groups will do the work for them? Who would know better who actually lives in the state or is an out of state resident and if they're legitimate or not than the govt?

Anonymous Reader
10.18.2005 9:19am
Medis:
David Hecht,

Are you suggesting this petition was NOT a matter of public record? Or just saying that even if it was a matter of public record, it didn't have to be? Because the latter point may be true, but it is pretty much irrelevant.

And I'll say it again: if there was a petition in favor of gay marriage that was a matter of public record, I'd have no problem with posting it on the internet (addresses and all).
10.18.2005 9:31am
Sasha Albertini (mail):
That's my real name, and my real e-mail address, and I would sign the petition in support of gay marriage, and any lousy pathetic bigots who want to discriminate against me because of it, as is their right, can stick it in their ear. I don't want to do business with them anyway, let alone work for them.

Question: Would anyone feel different about this issue if a real manager with real hiring powers (not this poser) decided to offer a job contingent on signing the petition?
10.18.2005 9:40am
randal (mail):
Too true, Medis. Maggie's promised us an answer to the question, "How exactly will SSM threaten procreation?" Whatever the answer is will be incredible. If there's some mechanism by which fertile straight couples depend on gays staying single in order to have babies, I want to know what it is. Or at least obtain the movie rights. Starring Tom Cruise, Cate Blanchett, and Ashton Kutcher: "A Bundle of Sticks":

Cris: Oh Blanche, aren't you preggers yet?

Blanche: Those neighbors overloaded my gaydar, sending my reproductive system into shock!

[Knock knock]

Ash: Hello friends, can I borrow some sugar? I'm making Brad's favorite, Key-Lime-Stuffins.

Cris: Your gaytude gives my wife the infertiles!

Ash: Oh dear, I always forget that happy gays radiate fetus-fatal carcinogens. I'll just nip off and shoot myself. Wouldn't want to interfere with human procreation!
10.18.2005 9:42am
Medis:
randal,

Although we don't yet know for sure, I gather the answer also has something to do with us becoming Scandinavian. So I suggest a cameo by Annika Sorenstam.

And incidentally, I realize this is not exactly elevated debate, but that is what happens when one side is refusing to engage in the debate.
10.18.2005 9:47am
Adam (mail) (www):
I find this no different from making publicly available the names and addresses of donors to an anti-gay candidate. Seriously, what's the difference?
10.18.2005 9:53am
Cornellian (mail):
Petitions per se I don't care about. But when the petition is a legal step in the process of triggering a statewide vote to amend the constitution that's an entirely different matter. If that's the kind of petition you're talking about in Utah or Mississippi then yes, feel free to publish the names and addresses that are on the petition and I'll have no objection.

Since you seem to want the petitioners in Mass. to trigger the amendment process anonymously, I take it you'll have no objection to the ones in Utah and Mississippi remaining anonymous?

Second of all, suppose the following scenario: a pro-gay-marriage group in (say) Mississippi or Utah were told be someone that their petitions would be made public knowledge and scrutinized by potential employers with an (implied) eye to adverse discrimination. Are those who find the present situation shruggable still willing to be so sanguine? Or would we then hear a lot of harrumphing and bloviating about the supposed "right to privacy" of the petition-signers?
10.18.2005 10:01am
Cornellian (mail):
Do you take the word of a Kathleen Harris (or her Democratic counterpart) as to the election results, or do you, if you're the candidate or some other person with an interest, verify the results yourself? Would you like to have the option to do so? If you challenge the legitimacy of the petition in court, should that be a proceeding open to the public?

You can't conceal the identities of the persons's signing the petition without also concealing the evidence of whether the petition is legally valid, and you can't do that and still have an open court system in which the public gets to see that justice is being done.

Also, like I said, shouldn't the govt verify the addresses? I would hope that they verify the addresses prior to allowing that petition to stand on it's merits. Or do they assume opposition groups will do the work for them? Who would know better who actually lives in the state or is an out of state resident and if they're legitimate or not than the govt?
10.18.2005 10:04am
Neal R. (mail):
Ms. Gallagher, Many forceful arguments in favor of SSM have been made in these comment threads, and you have responded to none of them. So far, in five separate posts, you have put forward no substantive arguments in opposition to SSM, despite at least two promises that such arguments were forthcoming. With all due respect, what on earth are you waiting for?
10.18.2005 10:10am
Cornellian (mail):
Going off on a tangent again here (I seem to do that a lot) but it occurs to me to wonder how petition signature verification procedures compare to voter registration / verification procedures. You'd think there should be at least some rough parity where the petition has some legal effect (like triggering a vote on an constitutional amendment, a recall election etc.) but is this really the case?
10.18.2005 10:15am
Glenn:
There are all kinds of ways to look at this. It is easy to get caught up in an emotional reaction and decry the morality and ethics of the person who posted that Livewire comment about vetting his future hires against public petition signatures.

In the first place, I would not want to work for a company that permitted their HR department or managers the lattitude to hire or not hire based on a person's political positions. That is what would be really happening if a person with hiring authority were vetting applicants against a petition signature list. For all the world, it looks the same to me as vetting applicants against political registration except with a narrower scope.

What bedevils me about this whole discussion is that people even bother to take issue with such behavior. You might have a reason for concern if every employer in Massachusetts got together and decided to vet all their future applicants against the petition, or political registration. If that happens, all you have to do is elect a legislature that will pass a law forbidding such discrimination. That is what happened in my home town, and many others, with respect to homosexuals.

What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
10.18.2005 10:15am
Cornellian (mail):
The problem is that here, when you quote a line like "procreation is important to marriage" from some case, a reader is likely to look up that case, read the actual context and call you out on how the context makes the quote actually harmful to your argument rather than helpful.

The problem here is when you state some obviously true fact like "sex makes babies" people here are going to call you out on your logic and ask why that matters here rather than accepting that you've made some forceful rhetorical point.

The problem here is that when you bob and weave such as whether procreation is the essential purpose of marriage or just an important part of it, people call you out on that, and ask you which one it is.

In other words, here you have a pretty well educated, skeptical, critical thinking audience, and Ms. Gallagher's non sequiturs are not holding up very well in the face of that.



Ms. Gallagher, Many forceful arguments in favor of SSM have been made in these comment threads, and you have responded to none of them. So far, in five separate posts, you have put forward no substantive arguments in opposition to SSM, despite at least two promises that such arguments were forthcoming. With all due respect, what on earth are you waiting for?
10.18.2005 10:19am
Alex R:
I will join the chorus of those who insist that this digression is, indeed, a digression.

Come now, we can always find someone on the other side of an issue who has made an outrageous statement of some kind -- and an unemployed web designer threatening "not to hire" those signing an anti-SSM petition is outrageous for a number of reasons.

But I don't think that the Conspirators invited Ms. Gallagher to blog here to cast stones at the most ridiculous SSM proponents. She is here to present her reasoned arguments against same-sex marriage. I would also suggest that she ought at least to address some of the arguments of those commenting on her posts.

SO, Ms. Gallagher, what are you waiting for?
10.18.2005 10:20am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
To all of those who are focusing on the public nature of signing a petition and the workplace discrimination, YOU ARE MISSING THE POINT.

Yes, the petition should be verifiable, and signers should not be able to hide behind anonymity. If someone wanted to take out an ad in the New Yorker, I wouldn't have a problem. The "creepy" feeling comes from posting a list like this on the internet with a promise of consequences to come. There are a LOT of loonies on the internet, and this tactic seems designed to get the addresses into their hands.

I wouldn't have a problem releasing my name and address to this forum. It would probably be different if I had kids to think about, though. If I thought my address would get linked to from other sites though... not a chance. Lists like this one tend to find their way to the darkest corners of the web in a hurry, and the poster seems to either intend this result or not care one way or the other.

This is not an "anti-gay marriage" argument... it's a "how about we agree that tactics posing a potential risk to someone's home and family are out of bounds in civilized debate" argument.
10.18.2005 10:30am
Guest2 (mail):
"Reprocussions" -- what a delicious freudian slip!
10.18.2005 10:33am
pakayhall (mail):
Antonin said:"I'm a supporter of gay marriage, and a vehement one, who thinks opposition is mostly motivated by bigotry...."

Maybe Antonin could elaborate?
Please explain: WHY opposition to gay marraige is bigotry.

Consider:The supporters of gay marraige, such as Antonin, are in their usual mode of self-denial.

Conclusion:The threats of exposing a person for taking an oppposing view is... intimidation... and ...bigotry?
10.18.2005 10:40am
Medis:
Daniel,

I agreed the threat was somewhat creepy (although more silly than creepy).

But I don't get your other point. The crazies could get the list in the New Yorker too (in some darkest corner of the web, JudyGarland76 posts, "Check out the latest issue of the New Yorker, my gay activist friends. You know what to do!"). In general, this is the nature of public records ... they are available to the public.

So, if you are concerned about your kids, it seems to me the line to draw is at putting your name and address on a petition that will be part of the public record. Trying to put the cat back in the bag by saying, "but not THOSE members of the public!" seems completely ineffective to me.
10.18.2005 10:42am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Yes... some otherwise harmless person could get the information out of the new yorker and post it to a radical gay rights newsgroup featuring the membership of some unibomber-style guy living in front of his computer alone in the basement making letter bombs. Guess what? I think the act of posting the list on the internet is reckless in this situation too. This is not inconsistent no matter how much you dance to make it look that way.

Out of curiosity, doesn't anything about this statement seem wrong to you?

"So, if you are concerned about your kids, it seems to me the line to draw is at putting your name and address on a petition that will be part of the public record."
10.18.2005 10:52am
Anonymous Reader:
So basically wyou shouldn't sign a petition if you know what's good for you and your family. That's ridiculous on so many levels!! Isn't that exactly what the original poster was trying to get at? Let's forget the fact that he's a web designer or whatever, those facts are irrelevant. It doesn't matter what kind of job he has or whether he has the power to hire and fire. But the fact is that he's threatening some kind of repercussions JUST BECAUSE someone decided to exercise their consitutional rights and sign a petition. And the person conducting the repercussions can be anyone in the world, not just those who are responsible persons! Doesn't this sound extremely wrong to anyone?!!

I also wonder how they verify voter registration info and whether or not that is tied in with petition signer info. But the point is that someone is taking your personal information, which you have decided to include on a legitmate document/petition/what have you, and placed it for the world to see so that you can be "taken care of" in some fashion. Yeah, you're right, it can be as innocent as "phooey on you who signed that document" or as dangerous as, a firebomb through your window. Extreme? Maybe. But who are you to take that chance for my family or make that decision for me just because I decided to exercise my rights as a citizen?

Not to get off on too much of a tangent, but since this does have to deal with privacy concerns, why not then allow military recruiters access to the names, addresses, and phone numbers of kids in high schools? The information is in public domain right? Kids have cell phones, emails accounts, credit cards, etc. Their information is probably out there like anyone else's. I know that doesn't have a lot to do with publishing names and addresses on petitions, but where do you draw the line?

I'm sorry, but it seems to me that if you don't trust a petition that's been approved for consideration by the govt and what to challenge the signatories in court, then you probably have a losing argument to begin with since it would seem that you wouldn't want that "issue" to be voted on by the people at large. Am I wrong to think that?

Anonymous Reader
10.18.2005 11:11am
Thales (mail) (www):
Wow, the people who signed the petition must really lack the courage of their (bigoted, uninformed, biblical literalist) convictions if they're concerned about losing their jobs. Gee, maybe we should really worry about the chilling effect this could have on the vital matter of denying gays equal legal rights. What exactly is being advocated here, job-loss protection for people who are opposed to gay marriage?

Contrast the signers of the Declaration of Independence, another public petition of sorts, who were pretty sure they would be hanged if they were unsuccessful. Wow, I'm very impressed by contemporary political speech.
10.18.2005 11:13am
David Hecht (mail):
Medis,

I gather from your question that all such petitions are public records in Mass. My mistake...that is not the case everywhere and I mistakenly inferred that the threat was to publicise an otherwise protected record.

However I do think that merely because something is legal, does not make it moral. I remember when the oppo research got Judge Bork's video rental records released, since (at the time) they were not considered covered by the Privacy Act (it turned out he mostly rented Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies, so they didn't find the smoking gun they hoped for...). My guess is, there are lots of things all of us do on the internet that could plausibly be released to the public but aren't: and it's precisely when people threaten to use such "public" documents for retributory purposes that I have a problem...especially when there's no direct connection between the public act and the inferred private view.

In a nutshell, to assume that the signer of a "Defense-Of-Marriage" petition must ipso facto be "anti-gay" is--well--McCarthyite, in the most literal possible sense: fifty years ago, people who signed petitions that were circulated by covertly communist-front organizations were presumed to be communists themselves. I'd like to think that we've moved beyond that sort of thinking, espcially among so-called "progressives", in which category this fella on the internet presumably counts himself.
10.18.2005 11:16am
thedaddy (mail):
Smart employers have figured out that gay-friendly is better than gay-unfriendly.

REALLY? NAME SOME.

Smart employers have been quoted as having figured out that all sorts of "Socially Beneficial" activities eg. hiring the handicapped, hiring gays, not discriminating by race or religion, etc are beneficial to their enterprises. I have yet to see a situation where these activities contribute to the bottom line of a company (with the possible exception of avoiding legal actions against them).
Being required to hire these types of employees because it is the law can only be a cost because of the overhead required to keep track of all the politically correct mumbo jumbo that goes along with the laws. If you hire someone in any of the above (or other) catagories because you want to , not because you have to, it will probably be beneficial to your company. The right to hire and fire at whim is one of the great strengths of the American economy, laws regulating this activity are socialist in nature and undermine the capitalist system of wealth creation. Wealth creation as opposed to the socialists wealth consumption is what has made the american experiment the most succesful form of life on the planet in its entire history. Only self centered weenies such as our "friends" in the activist gay community want to change things so that they get to mess up everyone elses life so they can continue to make beleive that they are in some way beneficial to humanity. My position is that there is no test for homosexuality and therefore homosexuals want us to take it on faith that they are what they say they are. I choose to reject that there is such a thing as homosexuality, I beleive it is a self delusion to hide the fact that they are defective in their ability to relate, in a normal species specific way, to members of the opposite sex.

I also believe that the so-called "feminism" of the last 30 or 40 years has contributed to the rise in so-called 'homosexuals" both male and female.

"Marriage" for "homosexuals" is such an oxymoron that it would only deserve derisive laughter if it weren't for the crazed zealots who want to sneak it under the tent and force it on the rest of us.

I propose a referendum on "homosexual marriage" to see what the actual sentiment and beleif in the country is. I don't think the advocates of "homosexual marriage" would be willing to take the chance.

I say go Maggie.

thedaddy
10.18.2005 11:16am
Ken Arromdee (mail):
"In the first place, I would not want to work for a company that permitted their HR department or managers the lattitude to hire or not hire based on a person's political positions."

I am amazed by ideas like this. There are lots of companies I wouldn't want to work in, but I also wouldn't want to be unemployed. Sometimes being able to eat and pay rent is more important than working for someone you really want to work for.

"It doesn't matter because why would you want to work for them anyway?" seems to ignore the realities of the workplace.
10.18.2005 11:19am
Anonymous Reader:
See, people are mistaking the forest for the trees. What does it matter if you agree/disagree with gay marriage? It doesn't matter one bit. There are good people and there are bad people. Good people may look at the info and say to themselves, "hmmm... I didn't know that how he/she felt..." Bad people can look at it and decide that they will change their opinion, one way or another.

And please, are gay marriage proponents afraid of allowing the people to vote yea or nay on an issue? Isn't that what a petition does? If it's that big of a deal who does or doesn't sign a petition, I'd say you have bigger problems to worry about. My issue is with publicly displaying personal information.

There are good petitions and bad ones, it doesn't matter if I petition the govt to allow me to move to mars. The act of petitioning should be a apolitical process. Then if my petition meets the necessary threshold, then the people have a right to vote for or against it.

Anonymous Reader
10.18.2005 11:25am
guest:
I seem to be hearing conservatives demanding privacy with respect to signatures on a petition, which, as others have pointed out, is a PUBLIC statement of one's views. I don't get it though - haven't conservatives been opposed to privacy since 1973?
10.18.2005 11:45am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
You seem to be misreading "conservatives" on this post (I assume you mean people who don't like speech stifled by thinly veiled threats are by definition conservative?) and you definitely don't understand conservative opposition to the so-called "right to privacy."
10.18.2005 11:52am
MCO:
Why is it that we are taking as a given that signing a petition makes ones signature and address a matter of public record?

Leaving aside specific local/state laws regarding the public availability of petitions, wouldn't it seem analogous to voting on a referendum? Sure, you need to verify your name and address prior to voting to minimize fraud, but your vote woul dbe secret. Why is signing a petition different?
10.18.2005 12:07pm
guest:
At worst, the guy who put this list together is aggreggating already-public information (I'm assuming based on what I've read that the names/addresses of signatories were already public information). I fail to see what's objectionable about that.

As to the right to privacy (I hope you don't mind if I ommit the scare quotes), I think I do understand conservative opposition to it. There are a couple different strands. Strand 1 (the most prevalent) goes like this: Abortion is bad, Roe protects abortion, citing a right to privacy, therefore I am opposed to a right to privacy because I don't like abortion. Strand 2 is similar, but sometimes based on a good-faith, but misguided, belief that the constitution does not contain a right to privacy.

My point is that many conservatives are opposed to a right to privacy that protects a person's ability to make intimate personal decisions without having to disclose information regarding those decisions and without state interference. Yet apparently many of those same conservatives would support a right to privacy that prevents the dissemination of public information (i.e., whether or not they signed a petition), if they feel the result would be embarrassing or slightly inconvenient to them.
10.18.2005 12:10pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Gut reaction with no legal basis: Probably because the referrendum has authority based on its status as a referrendum. A petition has no authority outside of the persuasiveness of the names on the list.

Also, a referrendum is conducted by the state, which adds some level of credibility to the results. Since a petition is generally circulated by private individuals or groups, a higher level of transparency is required to make the petition trustworthy.
10.18.2005 12:10pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
The "scare quotes" as you phrase it, were there to separate the "right to privacy" associated with Roe and Griswald from the much more general right to privacy that you are referring to in these circumstances. I said you probably misinterpret conservative opposition to the "right to privacy" since it's obviously an irrelevant red herring here.

If you wanted to make a comparison to a constitutional argument (which no one is doing, you'll notice... no state action), it would probably be closest to privacy of thought and freedom of expression protected in the first amendment. Griswald's "Right to Privacy" was found in the penumbra of first amendment privacy rights among others.
10.18.2005 12:16pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
wouldn't it seem analogous to voting on a referendum?

Nope.

It's a civic obligation to vote if you're entitled to do so. How you voted is your own private business.

It is not a civic obligation to sign a petition. It is an entirely voluntary act: by signing a petition you publicly, voluntarily, align yourself with a political position. Should you wish not to associate yourself publicly with that political position, you should not sign the petition: there is no obligation whatsoever on you to do so.
10.18.2005 12:21pm
Shawn:
A couple thoughts:

1) I'm not sure why Maggie posted this as a blog entry. I agree it's something worthy of discussion, but given that she hasn't responded to any of the good arguments against her assertions, it seems like a less productive use of her time. (And here I assume she really wants to respond to these arguments.) So I find it a bit odd that she'd post what appears on the face to be an attack on pro-SSM people rather than a well-thought rebuttal.

2) Florida has a law refered to as the "sunshine law" which essentially requires all public records to be available without much hassle. In practice, it means it's all on the web. Anyone that knows my first and last name and roughly where I live, can find out my exact address, what I paid for my house, how long I've owned it, etc. What the guy in Mass says he'll post on the web my State would post as a matter of law.

3) Count the crazies that have killed or otherwise harmed abortion doctors. Count the crazies that have killed or otherwise harmed anti-gay petition signers. When was the last time you saw Joe Conservative Petition signer pistol-whipped and tied to a fence to freeze? Let's get some perspective here.

4) I would have no problem searching the petition list for the names of public figures and using that information for legal purposes. I would personally not use the names of non-public figures for any other purpose, though if I found a friends name on that list I would likely confront them on it.
10.18.2005 12:35pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I can't believe people are justifying this behavior...
I can. Participate in the political process, and you will get homosexuals threatening your employer; making obscene phone calls to your children; and making harrassing phone calls in the early morning to disrupt your sleep. I know this from experience. It is also why I am persuaded that homosexuality is something that needs to be shoved back into the closet.
10.18.2005 12:36pm
gr (www):
Isn't the whole point of a petition to publicly take a stand? Someone can still sign anonymously, no?
10.18.2005 12:47pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I'll keep plugging away at this, I guess...

If you refuse to sign a petition I disagree with because you know that if you put your name on that paper I will hunt down your family, it is not a triumph of my ideas over yours. It has nothing to do with weakness in your convictions. Conduct such as this has no place in civilized debate.

See all posts above.
10.18.2005 12:52pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Clayton: Participate in the political process, and you will get homosexuals threatening your employer; making obscene phone calls to your children; and making harrassing phone calls in the early morning to disrupt your sleep. I know this from experience.

Do you actually have any evidence for this happening besides your own word? And I'm genuinely interested to know what you mean by "participate in the political process" - which can mean anything from punching a ballot card to running for election.
10.18.2005 1:02pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Daniel Chapman (mail): If you refuse to sign a petition I disagree with because you know that if you put your name on that paper I will hunt down your family

Do you actually have any evidence that this is happening?
10.18.2005 1:03pm
gr (www):
Clayton Cramer:"I know this from experience. It is also why I am persuaded that homosexuality is something that needs to be shoved back into the closet."

Sometimes the jerks in this world just happen to find each other.
10.18.2005 1:05pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I don't need evidence. If you'd actually stay on topic, you'd remember that we're talking about a "creepy feeling" that comes with posting someone's home address on the internet and promising "reprocussions."

You would make a good rhetorical point though, if we were talking about pressing charges against the guy. I'm just saying it's bad juju. Whether intentional or not, his actions are threatening, and they put people at risk. There is no other reason for this behavior except to threaten and intimidate people into silence. This was wrong when it was done to abortionists, and it's wrong here. You're wrong to condone it.
10.18.2005 1:11pm
guest:

The "scare quotes" as you phrase it, were there to separate the "right to privacy" associated with Roe and Griswald from the much more general right to privacy that you are referring to in these circumstances. I said you probably misinterpret conservative opposition to the "right to privacy" since it's obviously an irrelevant red herring here.

If you wanted to make a comparison to a constitutional argument (which no one is doing, you'll notice... no state action), it would probably be closest to privacy of thought and freedom of expression protected in the first amendment. Griswald's "Right to Privacy" was found in the penumbra of first amendment privacy rights among others.


I don't think it is a red herring to bring up the constitutional right to privacy addressed in Griswold and Roe. I realize that is not the precise right that is called into question by the aggreggation and publication of names of signatories to a petition, but my point is simply that some people are quick to find a right to privacy when it supports policies that they personally prefer, and not when it doesn't.

People mock the Court's reasoning in finding a right to privacy in the penumbras of the constitution, but now you speak of a right to "privacy of thought" grounded in the first amendment. Could you elaborate on this right, or cite some authority for it? Because it never came up in my Con law class in law school, and a quick Westlaw search didn't return any cases delineating a right to "privacy of thought" grounded in the First Amendment. (Art. 19 of the Int'l Covenant on Civil and Political Rights does state that "Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference," but it's not clear to me that this language would prohibit publishing the names of people who publically declare their support for a political measure. And I don't know if you want to start relying on international instruments to make your case.).

You also cite "freedom of expression" as a possible basis for a right to privacy that would prevent someone from publishing a list of signatories' names. Could you elaborate on this? It seems to me that if the first amendment's guarantee of freedom of expression helps anybody, it helps the guy publishing the names. If you disagree, please cite a case (or some other authority if you can't find a case) that supports a right of privacy based on the first amendment right to freedom of expression.
10.18.2005 1:16pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Sure: Here are some cites to back up the freedom of expression argument. Hope you like Griswold.

"In NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449, 462 , we protected the "freedom to associate and privacy in one's associations," noting that freedom of association was a peripheral First Amendment right. Disclosure of membership lists of a constitutionally valid association, we held, was invalid "as entailing the likelihood of a substantial restraint upon the exercise by petitioner's members of their right to freedom of association."

"Association in that context is a form of expression of opinion; and while it is not expressly included in the First Amendment its existence is necessary in making the express guarantees fully meaningful."

As I pointed out in the 3rd or so post on this thread, I find the analogy to NAACP v. Alabama particularly relevant. Someone wanted to publicize their membership in order to intimidate and threaten people into opting against excercising their right to free association. In this case, the threat is meant to stifle free speech. The analogy isn't perfect because, as I said, there's no state action, and, as has been pointed out many times, there is no valid claim to privacy on in signing a petition, but I think it's close enough to justify a "creepy" feeling, wouldn't you?

Unfortunately I don't have time to find caselaw backing up my "privacy of thought" argument. I'm sure I could come up with something, but I'm not sure where off the top of my head. My reasoning is that the free speech, association, and free exercise clauses all protect the right of the people to have their own ideas or beliefs free from government intrusion. This is a form of "privacy" no one really objects to. I don't have time to back it up, though... so take it or leave it based on my personal reasoning.
10.18.2005 1:29pm
dweeb (mail):
Quarterican says "Quarterican (mail):
If you sign your name on a petition, as far as I'm concerned, it is (and should be) a matter of public record"

Why should it be public? Petitions are usually overseen by boards of elections, and the requirement for a signature to be counted is that the signer is a registered voter. It's essentially another type of vote, a pre-primary of sorts. Isn't the secret ballot an essential part of our system? Sure, publish the names of those who filed the petition, but all the arguments for a secret ballot also apply to signing a petition.

Those of you who support this practice, would you also support an election process where potential employers could obtain a record of how you voted?
10.18.2005 1:56pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Daniel Chapman: If you'd actually stay on topic, you'd remember that we're talking about a "creepy feeling" that comes with posting someone's home address on the internet and promising "reprocussions."

Ah. Well, if we're staying on topic, you'd remember that we're talking about the signers of a petition, presumably with any contact details they put on the petition, being publicly posted on the Internet. If you are not prepared to be publicly associated with a political stance, you should not sign a petition for that political stance. Signing a petition means taking a public position. It is, intrinsically, not a private act.

Now, if the "repercussions" promised were "I'm going to go round to your home and harass you personally" - or even threaten to do so, or make threatening phone calls - I think a creepy feeling would be entirely justified. However, when it's someone saying "I'm not going to hire you if you signed this!" I don't think a "creepy feeling" is justified. (Which is not to say that I agree with that as a hiring practice: I don't. I would agree it would be fair to check out that someone who signed such a petition isn't going to discriminate against LGBT colleagues, or make life unpleasant for them, or refuse to treat same-sex married couples as legally married, but not to refuse to hire someone just because they signed a petition.)
10.18.2005 1:58pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
dweeb: Why should it be public?

Why shouldn't it? That is the point of a petition: enough citizens are sufficiently concerned about a certain topic that they are willing to publicly associate themselves with that topic. If you are not willing to take a public stance, don't sign the petition.
10.18.2005 2:01pm
Observer (mail):
What's creepy about this is that the proponents of homosexual marriage have chosen intimidation rather than reasoned argument to try to win a political battle. That doesn't say a lot for their confidence in the strength of their argument.

IMHO, this is no different than publishing the addresses of obstetricians who provide abortions in order to intimidate them.
10.18.2005 2:10pm
guest:

IMHO, this is no different than publishing the addresses of obstetricians who provide abortions in order to intimidate them.


Actually, its easily distinguishable. I presume the doctors in your example have not made a point of publicizing their names and addresses. On the other hand, the WHOLE POINT of signing a petition is to publicize your support for a particular idea/political stance/whatever. For somebody to aggreggate the already-published names of petition signatories, and re-publish them is merely to redistribute information that the individuals themselves have already made public. At best, this supports the signers' purpose of making their support for the petition publicly known. At worst, it results in empty threats from some blogger who claims he won't hire people who sign the petition.

Abortion providers, however, often go to great lengths to keep their personal information private. To publish their addresses is to publicize previously private information. At best, it merely contravenes the doctors' wishes to keep their information private (or maybe not, if we're talking about the rare abortion provider who is not concerned about such matters). At worst, the abortion provider is murdered by a right-wing zealot.

Seems different to me.
10.18.2005 2:22pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Observer:

The guest poster above has already pointed out the difference between publishing information that someone has not made public (such as the home address of a doctor who carries out abortions), and re-publishing information that someone has explicitly chosen to make public (such as the name/address put on to a petition).

What's creepy about this is that the proponents of homosexual marriage have chosen intimidation rather than reasoned argument to try to win a political battle.

No one has yet actually found any examples of actual intimidation, though: the only quoted example was of someone who said he wouldn't hire someone if he knew they'd signed the petition because that would mean they wanted to treat lesbians and gays as second-class citizens.

That doesn't say a lot for their confidence in the strength of their argument.

It doesn't say a lot for the confidence of the anti-gays that they're unwilling to be be publicly associated with their homophobic stance, does it? If they were confident that their argument was strong and their stance was impeccable, why would they want to conceal their having signed a petition? The whole point of a petition is that you're making public your support for a political objective.

Does this remind anyone else of those nations who were willing to be part of Bush's "coalition of the willing" just so long as Bush didn't tell anyone who they were?
10.18.2005 2:47pm
Seamus (mail):
"I thought the whole point of signing a petition was to go 'on record', as a citizen, in favor or opposition of a particular policy."

No, the whole point of signing a petition is to get a candidate, or a referendum proposition, on the ballot. The reason we require a signature and identifying information (such as home address) is to make sure that the signers are really registered voters, and that they aren't signing multiple times.

If we seriously don't find anything wrong with publication of that information for the purpose of making citizens think twice before signing, then there's really no reason why we don't go back to the old system of requiring people to declar their ballots publicly on election day. After all, what do people have to hide?
10.18.2005 2:55pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Jes: I honestly think you're willfully avoiding the fact that the statement is meant as a threat to stifle debate, and at least callously disregards the fact that it places people in jeopardy if some nut on the net gets ahold of the list. Frankly, we're going in circles here. You're wrong. The tactic is despicable. Further debate is futile.
10.18.2005 2:55pm
adam (mail) (www):
Smart employers have figured out that gay-friendly is better than gay-unfriendly.

REALLY? NAME SOME.


See the URL I linked to:
The [Human Rights Campaign] foundation released its fourth annual Corporate Equality Index, grading 402 U.S. companies with at least 500 employees on their treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workers.

This year 101 companies got a perfect score, close to doubling last year's group of 56 companies that received 100 percent. The top-ranked companies ranged from Dow Chemical Co. and Chevron Corp. to bankrupt building materials company Owens Corning and Walgreen Co., the nation's largest drugstore chain.

Raytheon Co. became the first defense contractor to achieve a perfect score. This summer the Waltham, Mass.-based company become the first big military supplier to expand its equal opportunity employment policy to include transgender workers
10.18.2005 2:58pm
Noah Snyder (mail):
One of the best tools in the fight against bigotry is societal shaming of bigots. If one of my friends marched for the KKK, I'd want to know about it, I'd want to confront him, and I'd want them to know I consider him an immoral bigot.

Signing a petition banning gay marriage should be treated the same way. I'd like to know if one of my friends signed such a petition, so that I could confront my friend about his bigotry.

And if I had the chance to sign a petition supporting equal marriage rights, then I would be proud to have my name attached to it. And if I suffered some small consequences for that, I'm sure they'd be nothing compared to the real consequences gay couples are facing every day: being deported because they can't officially marry their partner, losing the rights to visit their children, having their own house taken from them when their partner dies.

I'd be proud to lose a job fighting this evil.

All that said, if there's any evidence that anyone was threatening physical harm to people on this list (as in the case of ant-abortion terrorists) then I'd support the lists being taken down. But my impression is that there is no such evidence.
10.18.2005 3:05pm
guest:

You're wrong. . . . Further debate is futile.


Hey, great argument technique! But see, the problem is that YOU'RE wrong! Which of course is so obvious that further debate is futile. You lose!
10.18.2005 3:25pm
Adam (mail) (www):
Information is good. Here's Lyndon Larouche's highest-dollar donors -- wouldn't you like to know you could avoid doing business with them?
10.18.2005 4:53pm
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
Medis, et al.: I am not suggesting that public records should not be public. What I am taking issue with is the ease of access which an internet posting creates. Rather than forcing an individual to make the effort to seek out the public information, it is now, in a literal sense, distributed to every home.

Yes, the individual still must make a 30 second or less effort to access the information. But, it is a predominantly anonymous effort, or, at least, requires considerable effort to determine who was accessing the information and why. Public records, up to now, generally required that individuals sign for, state their purpose for - in short, leave a record and make an effort to obtain the information.

Further, there is an inconsistency in the availability of public information via the internet. Thus, there is an inconsistency in the way people's public 'statements,' 'activities,' and 'records' are made available. Such inconsistency is not appropriate under the laws of privacy or equal access.

Further, this is not a case of 'hiding' from a 'public' debate. However, publically signing a petition is an expressed willingness to publically debate the issue. Posting addresses and phone numbers is providing an opportunity for people to 'privately' contact, harass, or otherwise 'confront' me. If they wish to stand, shoulder-to-shoulder with the petitioners asking for signatures and confront/debate me in the public forum, I have no problem with that. But, to hold me 'accountable' for a 'public' declaration by enabling opponents' access to my 'private' circumstances is not appropriate.

Do I get access to the private circumstances of those who would hold me accountable? Do I get to call THEM at home or work at any hour of the day or night? Do I get to ring their doorbell or picket in front of their home? If your answer is "no" because they did not sign the petition, then I point to an inconsistency in your logic. Why should they get the right to invade my privacy because of my 'public statement' while they hide behind a 'screen of privacy' created by their relative position on a public issue? And, if you respond that I should be able to access THEIR circumstance, what is the point of privacy laws?

As has been amply pointed out above, contact information is intended for VERIFICATION, not public IDENTIFICATION. This is the same with abortion doctors. Their degrees and specializations are, in fact, a matter of public record. Every professional, whether lawyer, teacher, doctor, whatever, has a PUBLIC record which verifies their credentials. So, posting an abortion doctors bone fides are simply posting a public record. Whoops. Seems to me that you find that to be something different. See my comments regarding 'inconsistency.'

The pertinent discussion of 'intent' is that those posting this information 'intend' to stifle signatories' public expression on a specific issue. The relevance of my earlier discussion of 'criminal intent' is the facillitation of potentially criminal acts vis a vis the 'immediate access' availability created by posting the list of home addresses and phone numbers.
10.18.2005 5:03pm
Anonymous Reader:
Wow,

Leave for a few hours and the argument degenerates into foolishness. First of all, Noah Snyder, you're way off base. I don't want to even attempt to deconstruct your ridiculous arguments, but please focus on the issue of a petition.

People keep saying, "where's the evidence of a threat?" or whatever. Are you actually advocating that someone be harmed BEFORE you'll think again about disclosing their information? Shouldn't the burden of proof be on the person who wants the info out there? I'm glad that I've never been threatened for my views... YET. We have to remember that not everyone operates from the same set of rules. I don't want to say that I think the worst in people, but I'm not as naive as to assume that everyone looks out for humanity's best interests.

Let's walk through an example. I sign a petition stating that I'm against same sex marriage. Whoopdeedoo, I'm a homophobe or bigot or whatever. And? What does that prove? I am free to think however I want to think and believe unless someone changes my opinions. Then some of you will attempt to shame me or my family. Hmmm, let's think. How will you do that? Will you put my info out there so that people can make obscene phone calls in the middle of the night? No, that's uncivilized, no one would ever do that. And what evidence do you have that they do/did/would? Maybe someone would come to my home and "convince" me? Or, they might note where my kids go to school and "convince" them? Come on, think it through.

I guess that's the level of discourse. Instead of changing hearts and minds one person at a time, people would rather attempt to scare or threaten other people into changing their opinions. That's just sad. I'm not saying that I've crushed your arguments, but please come up with better arguments.

Anonymous Reader
10.18.2005 5:25pm
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
randal: In sentiment, I agree with your statement -


We don't run America based on the actions or possible actions of "crazies". That'd be like if we started suspending civil rights based on the threat of terrorism.


Oh, but if we could only find a reality that met these sentiments. How blissful a world we would have.

Let's see:

We could eliminate 99% of firearms legislation given that the primary intent is keep those nasty, ole', evil guns out of the hands of those who MIGHT use them inappropriately; including out of the hands of those who have been adjudicted to be mentally incompetent (i.e., 'crazy').

We could take down all those aesthetically displeasing speed limit signs, since speed limits (not to mention seat belt and helmet laws) have been imposed to dissuade those who might be 'crazy' enough to drive at unsafe speeds.

We could do away with Anti-Trust legislation since it was specifically intended to prevent individuals from engaging in the creation of monopolies; monopolies being 'crazily' contrary to our shared ethos and the economic necessity of a 'free market.'

Taxes would be greatly reduced in that those that primarily go to fund programs helping the 'crazy' (mentally incompetent, mentally impaired, mental disease or defect [which, some would argue, by definition includes virtually ALL criminals], mentally disabled, etc.) would be unnecessary.

Law Enforcement could be greatly reduced in that we are not going to predicate a government-sponsored body on dealing with those 'crazy' enough to operate outside the sphere of 'acceptable' behavior.

The Patriot Act would not be a source of debate for it would not exist; we would not be suspending civil liberites due to the mere threat of terrorism.

X-Ray machines, metal detectors, and explosive sniffers would be removed from schools, airports, train stations, etc. because we wouldn't want to inhibit civil liberties on the pretext of 'crazies' doing something nefarious or inhibit terrorist action.

DNA and other 'identity' databases would be done away with.

Yes, what a wonderful world we would live in.

Unfortunately, given REALITY, I think our dream might be a bit specious; not to mention just a trifle 'crazy' in how disconnected from reality it really is to make the claim that our current legal system is actually premised on such a utopia. So, "Please. If you find your own position embarassing, maybe you should consider why that is and rethink it."
10.18.2005 5:52pm
randal (mail):
I don't need evidence. If you'd actually stay on topic, you'd remember that we're talking about a "creepy feeling" that comes with posting someone's home address on the internet and promising "reprocussions." There are a LOT of loonies on the internet.

This is suddenly becoming clear. Let me guess - you're at least 40 and watch a lot of network news? The "creepy feeling" is better known as paranoia. You're a homophobic technophobe.

So we're having this whole debate because a few paranoid homophobic technophobes are annoyed by their own "creepy feelings" about being paranoid homophobic technophobes. Just get some therapy and let's move on.
10.18.2005 6:10pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Daniel Chapman: I honestly think you're willfully avoiding the fact that the statement is meant as a threat to stifle debate

Actually, I really don't see how that works. See my question to Anonymous Reader, below.

and at least callously disregards the fact that it places people in jeopardy if some nut on the net gets ahold of the list.

I think you're overlooking the point that this information is necessarily publicly available. We're talking a petition. You don't sign a petition to be anonymous: you sign it because you want to publicly associate yourself with this political stance.

Further, you're hypothesising that somewhere there is someone who is both pro-gay marriage and nutty enough to think that harming people who signed a petition against gay marriage will do the cause good. It's just possible you're right: anything's possible. But the evidence is all the other way: I can think of half a dozen examples, right away, of gay people who were killed by anti-gay nutters - from Harvey Milk to Matthew Shepard - but not one public homophobe who has ever been killed or harmed for being anti-gay.

Even in this example that Maggie cites, the person threatening consequences for having signed the petition is "threatening" that should a person have signed the petition and has applied for a job with his firm, he won't hire them. That's really not "threat" on the same scale as Daniel White or Aaron McKinney, is it?

Anonymous Reader: Then some of you will attempt to shame me or my family

How does that work, exactly? If you're not ashamed of having signed a petition saying you're against same-sex marriage, how can making public that you have signed that petition "shame" you? (If you are ashamed of being against same-sex marriage, why did you sign the petition?)
10.18.2005 6:20pm
randal (mail):
My last post was perhaps a bit harsh. I'll rephrase it to be less insulting.

This is my distillation of this argument.

1. "I feel weird when someone puts my name on the Internet and makes threatening statements."

Ok, fair enough.

2. "The guy who said he was gonna do that is a meanie; I can't believe you're condoning it."

Fine, he's a meanie. No one's condoning it, like saying, "The point of petitions is for signatories to have their identifying info published on the Internet in a threatening manner."

We're just shrugging and saying, "Eh, whad're you gonna do?"

I mean, is anyone suggesting that anything actually be done? Like, make petitions private, or make republishing the info a crime? Seems like no. So really we're not arguing about anything. All my side is saying is, there aren't any changes to the process we're gonna make, so you might as well get used to it. Expect public information about you to make its way to the Internet. There are downsides to technology, but it's net-positive. That's the age we live in.
10.18.2005 6:40pm
Jonny's_Light:
I agree with Jesurgislac when he states, "You don't sign a petition to be anonymous: you sign it because you want to publicly associate yourself with this political stance."

One could argue that petitions are not meant to harm but by the very act of signing this petition one could incure employment difficulties, physical threats, etc. Even though the petition is legally able to be made known to the public, should these hot topic issues(SSM, abortion) be printed, since these do have the potential to harm? Granted, saying, that it can harm, is pure speculation, so there is not guarantee that it will actually cause any type of harm to anyone.

Ultimately, coinciding with a post I read about our founding fathers who did petition. They are as much liable for their name and signatures as are the people who take a stand against Same sex marriages. If one wants to stand on that soap box they should realize the criticism and scrutiny they may come under. It is just like voicing your opinion in a class, everyone in that immediate class will know your standpoint on the issue at bay.


I'm still unsure what she is searching for when she said "creepy" since no one seems to have nailed it on the head. Does it mean, that its creepy since for instance, the one man said he won't hire people who have signed that petition? On that link if you read it, the lady seems to be for Same-Sex Marriage, yet she calls him a bigot for not hiring someone based on their name being on that petition. Its interesting because basically she's saying she would hire someone who has publicy oppossed her view of Same Sex Marriage...

Someone help me find some solid ground...
10.18.2005 7:23pm
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
randal: Again we see a disconnectedness from reality in your arguments. It's 'inevitable' so get over it.

Alright.

Many socio-anthropologists would argue that 'murder,' 'incest,' and 'rape' are 'inevitable.' Shall we make no laws or take no action to prevent such occurrences due to their 'inevitability?'

Monopolies are the 'inevitable' consequence of competition? Shall we take no steps to mitigate the potentialities because of their 'inevitability?'

What you appear to have missed in the discussion of 'our side' (supposedly the opposite of "your side," whatever that means), is that we are suggesting that the posting of 'contact information' (i.e., home addresses and phone numbers) is inappropriate due to: 1.) the rationale for providing the information and (2.) the extreme potential for inappropriate use of the information. I have further argued that it is inappropriate in that it reduces to virtually nonexistent the necessity of whomever wants access to the information putting forth any 'identifiable effort' in obtaining the information; i.e., providing their OWN 'contact information' and 'appropriate rationale' for obtaining this information so as to be held accountable in their USE of said material.

This is not 'paranoia' in the strictest sense. Paranoia is defined as "Mental insanity marked by systematic delusions of persecution or grandeur." Thus, it is not 'paranoid' when we simply voice a recognition of the REALITIES of today's society vis a vis information availability on the internet and the potential of its nefarious use. In fact, ours would seem to be a less 'delusional' argument than one premised on 'it's inevitable, so get over it.'

As for the view that "there aren't any changes to the process we're gonna make," isn't that why we see debates regarding privacy and the internet? Isn't that why copyright and trademark issues are constantly being raised in reference to 'intellectual property' rights related to the internet, music and video downloads, ad infinitum?

Discussion informs change. Lack of discussion, a proverbial 'mental shrugging of the shoulders over inevitability' permits undesired consequences.
10.18.2005 7:23pm
Jonny's_Light:
A Guest Who Enjoys the Cite: Could Randal be making the argument of "Paranoia" in the sense that these people who made the petition to define Marriage between man and a woman, are for lack of a better term, scared(Paranoid), that their sanctity of marriage is being jeopardized by same sex marriage?

Randal is not opposing your view he seems to be throwing out the reason for the petition, since in his view is because the people are "Homophobes." Purely speculation but thats his rationale.
10.18.2005 7:37pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site wrote: we are suggesting that the posting of 'contact information' (i.e., home addresses and phone numbers) is inappropriate

Where did you find evidence that people are posting this information? The post was about a petition that people had signed, and that list of signers was being published.

Now, when I'm asked to sign a petition, there's normally two columns: one for your name, one for your address. It's always up to you how much of your address you provide. I've never provided my phone number, and rarely my e-mail address. Your assertion that contact details like home addresses and phone numbers are being published is nowhere actually specified: where did you read it? Can you link to it?
10.18.2005 7:57pm
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
Unfortunately, that's not what he is limiting his 'paranoia' comments to. In fact, his reference to 'paranoia' is specifically made in relation to the 'creepy feeling' discussion of name/contact information posting on the internet.

He THEN expands the ad hominem by tagging those who are 'paranoid,' or 'technophobic,' as 'homophobic' given that the petition itself is against the legalization of homosexual marriage. Thus, his argument related to 'paranoia' BEGINS and CONTINUES on the basis that we're 'paranoid' (which, by definition, means we are 'delusional') regarding the publishing of personal, 'contact information' on the internet; particularly given that such information labels somehow labels us as 'anti-gay.'

This is why he later 'retracts' this statement as "a bit harsh." He then goes on to rephrase his argument and in doing so, somewhat reshapes the parameters of it while still alluding to a certain 'paranoia' in that, given the inevitability of personal information being available on the internet, we need to 'move on' sans the suggestions he hasn't observed.

The 'creepiness' stems from Gallagher's inference and those posting above, including myself, of the potential for facillitation of nefarious ends. The stated intent of the individual posting the names/contact information is not only to create an illegal end, but is, on its face, nefarious, intimidation-oriented, and, no matter how limited, effectively free speech 'stifling.' What other negative, nefarious, or illegal potentialities could also be 'intentionally hoped for' as a result of the posting of this information? It is this 'intent' that engenders the 'creepy feeling' Gallagher originally refers to.
10.18.2005 8:17pm
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
Jesurgislac: Might I point you to the top of this page, where you will find the ORIGINAL post that started this whole discussion, to wit:


"You do realize, I hope, that the names and addresses of all the signatories will be posted on the web, since it's a matter of public record..."


The link for this page is: http://volokh.com/posts/1129609056.shtml

Thus, the answer to your questions - "Where did you find evidence that people are posting this information..." and "...where did you read it? Can you link to it?" - IS FOUND IN THE VERY PREMISE WHICH CREATED THIS THREAD.

Now, ignoring the obvious...

What we are talking about here is the necessary contact information for your signature to be 'validated' in relation to the petition itself. This is why there is a validation process. If the petition signer wishes to have their contribution counted in the final presentation of the petition, they have no choice as to how much information they provide; i.e., a specific minimum is necessary in establishing the individual's identity and voter registration, thus validating their standing.
10.18.2005 8:29pm
randal (mail):
AGWETS:

Nice summary of my posts. Which still stand, because no one has suggested anything. Should we write a letter to that guy telling him we feel his behavior is "inappropriate"?

You keep alluding to debates about online privacy etc., but haven't actually made an argument tying this to one of those debates. That's why I use the term "paranoid". There is an aura of delusion to your and Daniel's posts - you both seem irrationally afraid of the Internet based on vague notions that it's full of "loonies" and enveloped in a cloud of controversy over privacy. And at the same time, you scoff at demands for evidence of actual loonies or privacy concerns, falling back to the "creepy feeling" argument. Sorry, but that sounds exactly like paranoia to me.
10.18.2005 9:31pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site: The stated intent of the individual posting the names/contact information is not only to create an illegal end, but is, on its face, nefarious, intimidation-oriented, and, no matter how limited, effectively free speech 'stifling.'

Is it? Where is it stated that the individual posting the info from the petition to the web is "to create an illegal end" or is "nefarious, intimidation-oriented, and, no matter how limited, effectively free speech 'stifling".

The only information I have about this is what's quoted in this post: "the names and addresses of all the signatories will be posted on the web, since it's a matter of public record". That suggests to me that because the petition is a matter of public record, the information will be posted to the web - not "to create an illegal end" but because all such petitions are. I don't know if that's the case: I only know what it says in this post (and on the livejournal entry, which wasn't much more informative). So if you have a source of information that tells you differently, please cite it.

"Where did you find evidence that people are posting this information..." and "...where did you read it? Can you link to it?" - IS FOUND IN THE VERY PREMISE WHICH CREATED THIS THREAD.

No, it's not. Nowhere in either the livejournal post (which I read) nor in the post at the beginning of this thread, is there any evidence that people ARE posting this information.

What we are talking about here is the necessary contact information for your signature to be 'validated' in relation to the petition itself. This is why there is a validation process. If the petition signer wishes to have their contribution counted in the final presentation of the petition, they have no choice as to how much information they provide; i.e., a specific minimum is necessary in establishing the individual's identity and voter registration, thus validating their standing.

Thank you. That is data. Data is always useful.

Now, if you can show me that this data is being posted to the web by people who have nefarious motives for doing so? As I pointed out, neither the post nor the livejournal entry shows that people are in fact doing so.
10.18.2005 9:49pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Give it up, guest... I made the mistake of thinking I could reason with them... that's not their goal.
10.18.2005 10:37pm
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
Daniel Chapman: Sage advice taken - with the following caveat...

I don't 'give up,' I move on to more productive and rational discourse. As you suggest, it has become obvious that they are adopting a stance of willful ignorance to garner their '15 minutes.'

Well, my watch says that "time's up."
10.18.2005 11:51pm
Just A Guy:
Why would anyone sign a pediatrician?




Oh. Never mind.
10.19.2005 5:34am
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Daniel Chapman: I made the mistake of thinking I could reason with them

Actually, I think you made the mistake of thinking you could hector us without sufficient data. You made claims that threats had been made such as "I will hunt down your family", when no such threats could be said to have been made. That does seem to have been your first and essential mistake. Your reasoning would have been better if you had stuck to the provable facts.
10.19.2005 6:01am
markm (mail):
"I thought the whole point of signing a petition was to go 'on record', as a citizen, in favor or opposition of a particular policy."

That's a different kind of petition.
10.19.2005 11:53am
markm (mail):
What has not yet been considered is whether the original livejournal posting is just an empty threat. I don't know Massachusetts initiative petition requirements, but if it's anything like most states, at least tens of thousands of signatures are required, covering thousands of pages. So what exactly is this person going to do?

1) He could obtain scanned images of the petitions turned in, or obtain copies (since they are a public record) and scan them himself, and post the images on the web. However, these are not searchable. His threat to not hire you (in the probably unlikely event that he ever becomes a hiring manager) is empty, unless he plans to read through the entire collection of images for the name of each job candidate.

OTOH, a threat to pick a page at random, find an address on it that is local and recognizable, and toss a firebomb through the window would not be empty - but making such a threat would be a crime. The iffy point is when making it easier for a nut who would do that to find a victim becomes aiding and abetting the crime (as in the abortion doctor cases).

2. He could try to use an optical character reader program to convert the scanned images to text. I am no expert in these, but my impression is that the error rate from typed text is still over 1% in most cases, and acceptable error rates from handwritten text are only possible when either the program is trained to a particular hand, or the writer is trained to use a peculiar form of writing. When the document is in ten thousand different hands, there is very little chance that a long name like "Maggie Gallagher" would scan accurately. "Orin Kerr" might have something to worry about, but not if his handwriting is like mine!

3. He could try to type the names into searchable web pages - if he's got nothing better to do for a few months.

4. He could organize a number of like-minded people to split up the job of typing in the names into manageable sized pieces. Can you lawyers comment on when this would become an illegal conspiracy to (something or other)?
10.19.2005 12:20pm