Freedom of Speech and its limits

Recently some internet sites have been pumping out news and opinions reporting the reaction to Goodreads cracking down on those few who victimized authors with the goal of destroying reputations and careers in publishing. Some of the comments in this debate are angry; some are celebrating, and some are waiting to see if these changes are real.

I’m not going to go into detail about this issue. Instead, I want to look closely at freedom of speech and its limitations.

Do sites such as Goodreads and Amazon have a right to define limits to freedom of expression on their private sector internet sites? The answer is yes as you will discover.


The Limitations of Free Speech

If you read the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution carefully [it is short and to the point], you will discover that it was clearly meant to protect the opinions of American citizens from government harassment and persecution and in no way does freedom of speech mean you can say or write anything you want anywhere at any time without fear of censorship.

For example, Censorship in America.com says, “For much of the nation’s history, the First Amendment was not held to apply to states and municipalities.  Entities without any prohibition in their own charters [in the private sector these charters are known as terms of use] were free to censor newspaper, magazines books, plays, movies, comedy shows and so on. Many did, as exemplified by the phrase banned in Boston.”

It wasn’t until the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren [he served as Chief Justice 1953 – 1969] that the 1st Amendment was extended to local government—with no mention that freedom of expression in the private sector was protected by the U.S. Constitution.

Shaw Valenza.com says, “Federal free speech protections apply only to the government. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, for example, does not regulate private employers.”

North Iowa Today.com says, “A private-sector employer has a lot of latitude as to what’s permitted or not with respect to political speech, or pushing any view for that matter.”


The Consensus of the Public

In conclusion, “The [U.S. Supreme] Court has also decided that the First Amendment provides less than full protection to commercial speech, defamation (libel and slander), speech that may be harmful to children, speech broadcast on radio and television, and public employees’ speech. … Furthermore, even speech that enjoys the most extensive First Amendment protection may be restricted on the basis of its content if the restriction passes strict scrutiny.”

Even international law says, “Freedomofexpression is not absolute and every system of law provides for some limitations on it: For respect of the rights or reputations of others; for the protection of national security or of public order, or of public health or morals. This means that it is permissible to think the most evil and depraved thoughts, although giving expression to them may legitimately warrant a sanction.” Source: Centre for Law and Democracy

For sites such as Goodreads and Amazon, those restrictions are spelled out in their Terms of Use Agreements and these private sector businesses reserve the right to change the Terms of Use at any time.

Goodreads concludes its Terms of Use with “IMPORTANT: These Terms & Conditions of Service for Goodreads Services (“Agreement”) is a legal agreement between you and Goodreads Inc. By using or accepting the Services, you agree to be bound by the terms of this Agreement. If you do not agree to the Terms of this Agreement, do not use these Services. You agree that your use of the services acknowledges that you have read this Agreement, understand it, and agree to be bound by its Terms and Conditions.” For more details about the Goodreads Terms of Use, I suggest you click on the link and read them.

And if you go to Amazon’s Terms of Use, and you will discover, “Visitors may post reviews, comments and other content; and submit suggestions, ideas, comments, questions, or other information, so long as the content is not illegal, obscene, threatening, defamatory, invasive of privacy, infringing of intellectual property rights, or otherwise injurious to third parties or objectionable and does not consist of or contain software viruses, political campaigning, commercial solicitation, chain letters, mass mailings, or any form of ‘spam.’ You may not use a false e-mail address, impersonate any person or entity, or otherwise mislead as to the origin of a card or other content. AWS reserves the right (but not the obligation) to remove or edit such content, but does not regularly review posted content.”

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

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The many faces of a Modern Day Democratic Tyrant: Political Correctness: Part 2/2

The Free Dictionary.com may offer a better definition of political correctness: “Of, relating to, or supporting broad social, political, and educational change, especially to redress historical injustices in matters such as race, class, gender, and sexual orientation.”

I think that anytime we have a loud-mouthed group of people—often known as a mob—we have examples of the diversity of modern-day political correctness. And it doesn’t matter if these mobs are conservatives, liberals, libertarians, fascists, communists, organized cyber sociopaths (bullies and trolls) or fundamentalist Christians. When any group of any size uses its numbers as organized clout to force or limit the behavior of others—that is an example of political correctness gone mad.

Another example of political correctness across the political-religious divide is the parenting self-esteem movement that is often blamed on liberals.

But when you research this parenting movement to its roots near the end of the 19th century and discover who then promoted it starting in the middle of the 20th century, you learn that Christianity and the Church gave a hardy boost from the pulpit encouraging parents to inflate the self-esteem of children. 

In addition, the U.S. Catholic Church published textbooks for its parochial schools that promoted boosting self-esteem in children.  Can anyone make a case for the Church being liberal in its political/religious ideology?

The bully pulpit of political correctness that supports the method of permissive self-esteem parenting is loud and aggressive—proof was the viral politically-correct debate of Intolerance and Ignorance of Amy Chua’s book The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother starting January, 2011 on Amazon and in the media.  Chua even received death threats from some self-esteem parenting fanatics demonstrating how far a member of a politically correct mob is willing to go to support what he or she believes everyone should be forced to do.

Did you know that America’s Founding Fathers hated democracy and built a Republic with checks and balances, because they firmly believed that an unfettered democracy—what we have today—would lead to mob rule?

Our ignorance of history—which has led to a love of democracy—is causing us to surrender our freedoms at an alarming rate through the pressure of politically correct mobs from the left and right who both want to decide how everyone else should live his or her life.

For example, regarding abortion—the Pro-Life movement versus Pro-Choice—during the time of America’s Founding Fathers, “Following English law, abortion was legal in the American colonies until the time of ‘quickening’ in the fetus, when the baby started to move, usually around the fourth month of pregnancy.”

In fact, Benjamin Franklin did not object to abortion per se … and Thomas Jefferson put no moral judgment on abortion, either. Source: American Creation.com

What do you think of political correctness that aims to restrict the choices of so-called free and democratic people?

Return to The many faces of a Modern Day Democratic Tyrant: Political Correctness: Part 1

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!

The many faces of a Modern Day Democratic Tyrant: Political Correctness: Part 1/2

There are many examples of political correctness running wild through America that go far beyond the use of language as it relates to sex or race, and those examples of political correctness are driven by different mobs of opinionated, loud mouths often willing to overwhelm and shout out anyone who disagrees.

And some are willing to lie, mislead and bully to win their battle for political correctness and force their views on others.

For political correctness, the Urban Dictionary says, “See bullshit. Proof that George Orwell was way ahead of his time when he wrote his 1984 novel.”

And the Urban Dictionary goes on to say, “Something that started out as a sort of moral common sense (in the 1960s) – actually not a bad idea … However, the whole thing got utterly out of hand in the early 1990’s …” In addition, the Urban Dictionary says, “An inverted fascist philosophy that absolutely no-one should conform to unless they are an ignorant, bleeding-heart liberal idiot.”

After reading the last line in the previous Urban Dictionary paragraph, I had to disagree.

Political correctness is not exclusive to “ignorant, bleeding-heart liberal idiots.”

One example of political correctness gone mad is the conservative mostly white-male, married, older than age forty-five member of the Tea Party movement made up of bleeding-heart conservative/libertarian idiots who want to shrink the government to protect individual freedoms (or so they claim)—except for women who might want an abortion; anyone terminally ill who might want to end his or her life early to avoid a lot of pain and suffering, and anyone who wants the freedom to smoke weed (marijuana) without being arrested and sent to prison.

For another example of political correctness gone mad, I refer you to an Amazon reader review of The Myth of Political Correctness: The Conservative Attack on Higher Education by John K. Wilson published by Duke University Press in 1995.

“Buy this (book) and further create the great divide. It’s the same old story, we, the right are RIGHT and you, the rest of you, are wrong. And … you must be stopped. There is only one way … our way. They need to buy some land in another country and play king of the hill with each other. Source: Julie A. Crego

By the way, Duke University is a private research university—not a public institution—located in Durham, North Carolina and it was founded by Methodists and Quakers in 1838.

Doesn’t sound like a hot bed of liberal idiots to me. To discover more about Duke University’s lobbying efforts in Washington DC, you may want to read this piece at Duke Chronicle.com.

Continued on June 24, 2013 in The many faces of a Modern Day Democratic Tyrant: Political Correctness: Part 2

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Opinions versus the Truth – are they one and the same?

At the Talkers Magazine convention, Glenn Beck said he regretted some of his fiery opinions, because they caused a division in the country. Then he said, “I don’t wish I could take back the truth that was spoken but perhaps—not perhaps—many times I could have said it differently.” Source: Yahoo.com

Whose truth was Beck talking about? There are so many truths to choose from. For a few examples: gun control, global warming, abortion and separation of Church and State

Beck has supported individual gun ownership rights and is against gun control legislation.

He also thinks that there is a lack of evidence that human activity is the main cause of global warming.

On the O’Reilly show, Beck has said, “Abortion is killing–it’s killing someone.”

According to NewsHounds.us, Glenn Beck also wants to abolish separation of Church and State.

We now have a better idea what Glenn Beck thinks is the truth. Because someone like Glenn Beck has opinions on these issues, does that mean his opinions are the truth?

To discover the popular truth, what do most Americans think about these same issues?

On April 9, 2013, A new Gallup poll on climate change reported, “from what you have heard or read, do you believe increases in the Earth’s temperature over the last century are due more to the effects of pollution from human activities or natural changes in the environment that are not due to human activities?” 57% of respondents chose the human activities response and 39% chose the natural changes response. Source: National Center for Science Education.com

Therefore, the majority of Americans think that global warming is caused by human activity.

On the right to own arms, Gallup reported that 92% of Americans support background checks; 44% support an assault-weapons ban and 58% want a ban on high-capacity magazines. Source: Center for American Progress.org

Therefore, the majority of Americans think that there should be some tougher laws on gun ownership.

On abortion, Gallup reported on January 22, 2013 that, “Forty years after the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Roe v. Wade, significantly more Americans want the landmark abortion decision kept in place rather than overturned, 53% to 29%. Another 18% have no opinion, the highest level of uncertainty Gallup has recorded on this question in trends dating to 1989.” Source: First Amendment Center.org

Therefore, the majority of Americans think women should have the legal right to an abortion.

Regarding separation of Church and State: On July 14, 2011, it was reported that, “A whopping 67% of the American people agree that the First Amendment “requires a clear separation of church and state,” according to the 2011 State of the First Amendment survey released July 12 by the First Amendment Center.

Therefore, the majority of Americans think there should be a clear separation between Church and State.

It seems that almost everyone has an opinion and then thinks that opinion is the truth.

There is a minority that believes one truth and a majority that believes another. Then there are people that don’t know what to think.

What truth do you support in these issues, and do you support laws to legislate opinions into a truth that can get you arrested and sent to prison?

Does the majority force its truth on the minority?  Or does the minority force its truth on the majority?  And is it okay to lie to manipulate public support for your opinions—your truths?

Discover Another Sky-is-Falling Guru

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Who’s behaving badly? A culture of arrogance

Rape—experts say—is a crime of power and control more than sex. Underlying it all is a sense of arrogance, and on sites such as Amazon, we often have no idea who we are talking to or where they live because they are mostly hiding behind an anonymous, false identity.

The following list summarizes how I was treated starting several weeks after I posted a comment for a brief and poorly written review left by an anonymous Amazon book reviewer for another author’s book. What I wrote was not a review. What I wrote was a comment expressing my opinion of a review. I have since deleted that comment on Amazon and left another comment in its place in addition to explaining why I did it (six customers–guess who they might be—don’t think this post adds to the discussion and it was hidden—-click on “show post anyway” to read it).

1. You should consider therapy. (Anna Karenina is the second anonymous speaker. The first anonymous speaker, KarLynP, has since deleted his or her comment).

2. You cannot debate on a rational topic. (Anna Karenina)

3. You are told that before one can debate, there must be a person worthy of debating and that you do not quality.  (Anna Karenina)

4. Your comments are labeled as “ludicrous nonsense”. (Anna Karenina)

5. Some of what you wrote is called “nincompoopery”. (Anna Karenina)

6. You are accused of calling yourself a troll. (Rmahala Burlingame—this may be a real name)

7. You are accused of not using your brain. (Anna Karenina)

5. You are accused of being a somewhat privileged white male that fits the description of the average troll. (Rmahala Burlingame)

6. It is inferred that you are an “egotistical narcissist”, because during an Internet search of your name, one of the anonymous speakers discovers your Blogs, Websites, book reviews and comments that is your author’s platform, which is a modern-day necessity for any writer that wants to find an audience for his or her work. Building a complex Internet platform is part of the writing business today. (Old Rockem)

7. You are described as a “bloviating person”. (Rmahala Burlingame)

8. You are called a snob. (Rmahala Burlingame)

9. One of the anonymous speakers says that he or she is much more famous than you could ever dream of being and that you would never be as smart as him or her. (Anna Karenina)

10. You are told that your reading skills are so poor that you could not get into 1st grade. (Anna Karenina)

11. You are accused of being a stalker, because after one of the anonymous speakers, Anna Karenina (AK), left a comment on your Blog along with two IP addresses, you wanted to know who he or she was and searched for the location of both IP addresses, and one of them may have been AK’s place of employment, so you call but still don’t know who AK is because he or she was using an anonymous name and the place of employment says they have no way to trace who sent what. (genmar rienee)

12.  After all that, you start getting e-mails advising you to apologize to everyone involved inferring if you don’t, the situation will get worse.

13. After you refuse to apologize to this alleged mob of anonymous Internet stalkers and bullies, it gets worse.

14. On Goodreads, four people give your new book a one-star rating and on Amazon a one-star review appears written by an anonymous person—allegedly a SockPuppet—that could not have bought or read your book. In fact, when the four Goodreads one-star ratings appear, that book has only sold three copies worldwide and all from Amazon Kindle.  In addition, there are two, five-star Goodreads ratings. So three books have sold by the time there are six ratings and one Amazon review.

15.  Then all the one-and-two star reviews for your books sold through Amazon receive a large block of YES votes, and the four-and-five star reviews get many NO votes.

16. Then the sale of your work—novels that have been selling steadily for years—slips almost 40%.

Note: This is not the complete list. There is more, and this isn’t over.

If the definition of rape is correct, then my work and my reputation as an author has been raped by a mob of allegedly arrogant and mostly anonymous Internet bullies who may troll the Internet looking for ways to recklessly spread false and libelous statements.

What we might have here is an alleged culture of arrogance that has created a group mindset that anonymously trolls the Internet to damage the reputations of others—especially authors.

This alleged anonymous mob found me guilty without a trial, without a lawyer, and without a judge or jury. And because I dared to express my opinion about this issue on my Blogs, there was retaliation.

And it all started when I left a comment for one 2-star review of “Tough Cookie” by mystery author M. Ruth Myers. On March 19, “Tough Cooke” had eighty-six 5-star reviews, fifty-nine 4-star reviews, twelve 3-star reviews, one 2-star review (in the next paragraph, and one 1-star review. I also left a comment for the 1-star review posted by an Eileen DeMarco—her only Amazon review, and there is no way to tell who he or she is.

This is the one 2-star review of Myers’s ‘Tough Cookie’: “Too soft and expected situations with the most probable endings, could be written by the reader himself if they had read three novels.” – nancy d. mendez

My comment—my first opinion of the mendez review—was posted on January 20, 2013 the same day the mendez review appeared, and it said, “This isn’t a review. Learn how to write a proper review and then maybe someone that is literate will pay attention to you. I give this sorry excuse for a review one-star or an F-.”

In conclusion, if you are reading this and think of yourself as an open minded, fair person, you may want to read all the posts on this topic and click on the links to the originals before you pass judgment. The first comment from KarLynP, an anonymous speaker, appeared on February 16, 2013, and KarLynP never leaves another comment (and has deleted that comment), and I never did hear from nancy d. mendez, the person that wrote the review.

Anna Karenina (AK), the second anonymous speaker, left his or her first comment on February 22, 2013. AK seems to have left the most comments.

Old Rockem’s 1st comment, from the third anonymous speaker, appeared on February 24. Then number four, Rmahala Burlingame—I understand that this is a real name—left her first comment about ten minutes later.

The following links will take you to the posts I have written about this issue:

2-26-2013: Dealing with Internet Bullies

3-8-2012: The Internet is not a safe haven for being anonymous and behaving badly

3-13-2013: Taking it Global: Online Freedom of Speech versus the 6th Amendment

3-15-2013: Is this an example of defamation? — not protected by the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

3-31-2013: Ginmar: Alleged Cyber Bully, Troll and Stalker?

Note: When I contacted Amazon on this issue, I was basically told they would do nothing because what was happening was acceptable according to their guidelines, and that I should use similar methods to support my work. For example, get more people to vote “YES” for the good reviews and “NO” for the bad reviews—just like the alleged vigilantes were doing—and then have more people write good reviews.

But I don’t have an organized posse to help defend against this alleged mob of vigilantes that are mostly anonymous. Most authors are loners, introverts, and spend their time in front of a computer screen writing, editing, promoting, publishing, etc. And if I did what the alleged vigilantes are doing, they would criticize me for doing the same thing that they do and say it is another example of an author behaving badly.

Besides rape, libel, and defamation, isn’t this also discrimination?

Discover more here: Found Guilty because of Reckless and False Speech – based on true events

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Is this an example of Defamation?—not protected by the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

An anonymous Blogger going by the name The Smutty Lover wrote on Book Lovers Inc.com that  “the first meltdown was with author, Lloyd Lofthouse who tracked down a reviewer who gave him a negative review. He was so incensed by this he then tracked down the reviewer’s workplace in order for her to get fired.”


Libel (defamation) is the number one reason journalists get sued, and the average verdict is $2.4 million.

My reply to this misleading and defamatory statement follows the update:

[UPDATE: I left a second comment and last night, 3-18, my two comments telling my side of this issue have not been posted at Book Lovers Inc.com. Then, this morning, 3-19, I checked again and they are still not there. How does anyone get a fair hearing on an issue if a site that may have libeled and defamed him censors his comments that tell his side of the issue? And now others are repeating this allegedly defamatory libel on other sites.].

What I said, “Actually, this is wrong and very misleading—a perfect example of how a rumor spins out of control and distorts the facts.”

Let me make this perfectly clear, I have never tracked down a reviewer of my books who gave me a negative review—not once!

I have also never tracked down anyone that left a comment for a review I wrote of another author’s book. In this issue, I never read the book and I never wrote a review of that book. What I did was post a “comment” for a review of another book because that review was allegedly misleading, snarky and poorly written and the evidence suggests that what I wrote in my comment/opinion was correct.

In addition, you may click on this link to a post on my Website/Blog and read all about this particular issue in detail (I copied and pasted that Amazon thread where this took place into that post).

In this incident, I tracked down the possible location of one anonymous speaker using the name of Anna Karenina—in addition to three other speakers—who left a string of insulting comments about a comment I wrote about a review written for another author’s book on Amazon.

That review was not about any of my books.

When I moved the conversation to my blog and wrote about these alleged bullies that came out of nowhere about a month after my comment had been posted on an Amazon page of that other author’s book, one of four anonymous speakers—Anna Karenina—followed me to my Blog and left several comments and in the process left evidence that revealed his/her IP address.

Out of curiosity, I did an IP location search and found that he/she may have lived not far from where I live. Then Anna Karenina left another comment with a second IP address, and I discovered that this time the comment originated from the San Mateo County Office of Education.

And yes, concerned, I called because I wanted to know if students had access to that wireless system and I was told “no” and that there was “no” way they could discover who sent that comment to my Blog. It ended there. I did not try to get anyone fired. I never even suggested it. Even if I had, it may have been impossible because “Anna Karenina” was an anonymous name.

During the conversation with those alleged bullies on that Amazon thread, I was told that I should consider therapy; I was told that I cannot debate on a rational topic; my comments were labeled “ludicrous nonsense”; some of what I wrote was called “nincompoopery”; I was accused of being a somewhat privileged white male; it was inferred that I was an “egotistical narcissist”; was described as the “bloviating Lofthouse”, and I was called an “egotistical snob”.

In fact, Anna O’Karenina made it clear that she/he (I still have no idea if AK is a she or a he) is so much more famous that I could ever dream of being and that I will never be as smart as him/her.

I was also told that my ”reading skills were so poor that I could not get into first grade.”

Did I say some things that I regret. Yes, but I challenge anyone to find where I called any of these four anonymous speakers an egotistical snob, etc.

Two wrongs do not make a right and the four anonymous speakers were not innocent. And I had every right to know who my accusers were. The 6th Amendment to the US Constitution has a clause that says as much.


How to Prove Libel (defamation) and Slander.

And the US Supreme Court has already ruled that the 1st Amendment offers protection for anonymous speech on the Internet but only if it relates to political speech.

What is considered “commercial” speech does not receive the same protections and is protected only so long as “the communication is neither misleading nor related to unlawful activity. … In addition, fighting words and obscenity are not a protected form of speech.”

False misleading rumors taken out of context in a public forum like Book Lovers Inc.com—that damages a person’s reputation—may be seen as defamation.

Note: Because defamatory and misleading statements of this nature have spread across the Internet, the sale of my work has dropped almost 40%. Oh, and I was not “incensed”.

I was concerned.

To discover more about this issue visit:

Dealing with Internet Bullies

Taking it Global: Online Freedom of Speech versus the 6th Amendment

The Internet is not a Safe Haven for being Anonymous and Behaving Badly

Who’s behaving badly? A culture of arrogance

Ginmar: Alleged Cyber Bully, Troll and Stalker?

Found Guilty because of Reckless and False Speech – based on true events

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Taking it Global: Online Freedom of Speech versus the 6th Amendment

PBS.kids.org says, “Online bullying often called online harassment is a serious issue, and it’s getting more common.”

In fact, no one on the Internet—especially those that are transparent—is safe from an anonymous online bully, who uses the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution as a shield to abuse the character and/or reputation of individuals that are not anonymous online. For example, authors, who may also be publishers, often find their reputations as authors/publishers damaged by the comments of anonymous online bullies.

I have been doing extensive ongoing research on this issue due to my own run-in with a pack of these anonymous bullies recently (and a few years ago), and I have discovered that this is a problem that permeates Amazon (in addition to other sites such as Goodreads) affecting possibly hundreds and even thousands of people due to the fact that Amazon cannot, at this time, police itself efficiently or adequately to protect transparent people—mostly authors—that have become victims of alleged malicious and obviously premeditated attacks by anonymous people that demonstrate by their own words alleged sociopath-narcissist tendencies.

I have also come to the conclusion that we cannot blame Amazon.com for this toxic environment. Amazon is also a victim due to the “freedom of speech” dilemma. However, the 1st Amendment does not offer total protection from abusers.

1st Amendment Text: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Study these 1st Amendment words carefully. Nowhere does it say in the 1st Amendment that a private sector business and social network like Amazon.com cannot limit freedom of speech on its site. The key words are “Congress shall make no law …”, and Amazon.com does not make the laws.

In addition, The Freedom Forum clearly says that the First Amendment does not say anyone can say anything at any time, and the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an interpretation of speech without limits.

The Supreme Court has ruled regarding libel and slander: “Was the statement false, or put in a context that makes true statements misleading? You do not have a constitutional right to tell lies that damage or defame the reputation of a person or organization.” Source: Freedom Forum.org

The virtual world is a new legal arena and the courts are dealing with hundreds of libel law suits monthly and, true to form, legislation at the state and national level is moving slowly as this hot button issue over “freedom of speech” gives cause for caution. Our elected representatives do not want to be smeared with accusations that they are limiting freedom of speech so they must tread cautiously or lose votes.

However, there is another side to this issue that I haven’t seen expressed yet.  Freedom of Speech is only one of the rights/protections that the US Constitution offers its citizens. What everyone seems to have overlooked is the Confrontation Clause of the 6th Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The Confrontation Clause has its roots in both English common law, protecting the right of cross-examination, and Roman law, which guaranteed persons accused of a crime the right to look their accusers in the eye. In noting the right’s long history, the United States Supreme Court has cited Acts of the Apostles 25:16, which reports the Roman governor Porcius Festus, discussing the proper treatment of his prisoner Paul: “It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man up to die before the accused has met his accusers face-to-face, and has been given a chance to defend himself against the charges.” It has also cited Shakespeare’s Richard II, Blackstone’s treatise, and statutes.

By allowing people to hide behind an anonymous identity on the Internet and allowing them to write negative reviews/comments and even level ad-hominem attacks against easy to identify individuals who are transparent, the 6th Amendment rights of these transparent people have been violated because one cannot look his or her accuser/s face-to-face and eye-to-eye.

After all, how can any author, for example, who is transparent and working under his or her real name, defend against alleged anonymous bullies on Amazon.com (and similar sites such as Goodreads)—that leave negative reviews or even YES votes to support those anonymous, negative reviews/comments—and have a chance to defend his or her damaged reputation by facing his or her critic face-to-face and eye-to-eye?

In this example, knowing the history of your critic might be vital if it is discovered that an anonymous person leaving negative reviews/comments has a hidden history of this sort of behavior on the Internet spreading criticism, lies and ad-hominem insults in addition to using what is known as SockPuppets to gain an unfair advantage thus establishing premeditation—the law says that premeditation is the contemplation of a crime well enough in advance to show deliberate intent to commit the crime; forethought.

In conclusion, because going to court to resolve this hot button issue may be too costly and beyond the average citizen’s ability to pay for justice, this issue may be open to a lawyer or law firm to take pro bono or as a class action suit on a consignment and/or contingency basis. The defendant in this sort of class action case might be a consumer, social networking sites such as Amazon.com—an online community similar to a town, city, state or nation and therefore held responsible to uphold the protections offered by the U.S. Constitution to its Internet citizens.

In this case, a transparent victim online, such as an author or other individual, should have the right to demand knowing who his or her anonymous critic/accuser is that may be smearing his or her good name and/or product. After all, the online environment has created a court of public opinion that if unchecked may damage the reputation and well being of an innocent victim.

Of course, there may be a simple solution to avoid having this issue reach and be defined by the United States Supreme Court: When a transparent person claims his or her 6th Amendment rights when confronted by an alleged online anonymous bully, Amazon.com—for example—automatically provides an online form that the anonymous person may fill out revealing his or her real-life name, location and information leading to his or her online history that could then be verified before publication, or the anonymous person may decide to delete his or her review/comment and remain anonymous. If the anonymous person refuses to cooperate, Amazon may refuse to offer them a forum on its site and remove every review/comment made by that anonymous individual. Eventually, even the SockPuppets an anonymous person may have created might be revealed and vanish under such a policy.

To discover more about this issue visit:

Dealing with Internet Bullies

The Internet is not a Safe Haven for being Anonymous and Behaving Badly

Is this an example of Defamation?—not protected by the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Who’s behaving badly? A culture of arrogance

Ginmar: Alleged Cyber Bully, Troll and Stalker?

Found Guilty because of Reckless and False Speech – based on true events

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

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