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.

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

The Evolution of a National Burden – Part 3/7

If you have heard or read, as I have, that the US Founding Fathers did not support universal health care for Americans, it helps to compare medical care then with today and then remember that the Founding Fathers wrote a Constitution that was flexible and designed to change with the times as the country grew.

In fact, when the US Founding Fathers wrote the US Constitution, there wasn’t one country on the planet that had universal health care.

The first country that would have a universal health care system was Germany with Otto von Bismarck’s social legislation in 1883 (almost one hundred years after the adoption of the US Constitution).

Next was the UK when she passed the National Insurance Act in 1911 marking the first steps toward universal health care covering most employed persons and their financial dependents and all persons who had been continuous contributors to the scheme for at last five years.

As you have now learned, in 1787, the concept of universal healthcare did not exist anywhere in the world, so how could America’s Founding Fathers be against something that did not exist?

In 1792, America’s population was 4.2 million and its GDP was $223 million, the cost of defense was $1.2 million (.5% of GDP); interest on the Federal debt was $2.3 million (1% of GDP), the deficit was $1.4 million (.6% of GDP), and the national debt was $77.2 million (34.6% of GDP).

There was no welfare spending probably because 95% of Americans lived in rural America and produced most of the food they consumed from farming and/or hunting. If you live in a log cabin or a sod hut that you built and you grow or hunt the food you eat, is there a need for food stamps?

Today, 79.2% of Americans live in urban cities and do not grow or hunt the food they eat. These people buy food from markets.

In fact, less than 1% of America’s population claims farming as an occupation. The number of farms in the US is about two million. Source: EPA.gov

In addition, life expectancy in 1790 was age 34.5 for males and 36.5 for females, and “the views held by 18th century physicians are very different from those held by medical practitioners of today. Physicians in the 18th century had no knowledge of bacteria, germs, or viruses, nor of the fact that disease was spread by them. Therefore, they did not practice sterilization, or personal or hospital hygiene. … (and) Many people lived too far away from any doctors to use their services, and other people did not have access to doctors because of social customs or beliefs.” Source: US History.org

However, today, life expectancy in the US is about age 75.7 for males and 80.8 for females. Do you know how that increase in the average life span came about?

In the 218 years since 1792, the nation has changed dramatically. Today we have paved roads, railroad, airports, hospitals, electricity, X-ray machines, Cat Scans, MRIs, antibiotics, nuclear weapons, missiles, passenger aircraft, lasers, modern medicine, the Internet, etc.  In 1792, heat came from burning coal or wood and light came from candles. Most people went to the bathroom in an outhouse if there was one available. For most of the US, there was no toilets, running water, sewer systems, etc.

In addition, the first commercial electric power transmission in the US came near the end of the 19th century. Availability of large amounts of power from diverse locations would become possible after Charles Parsons’ production of turbogenerators beginning in 1889.

In 1792, there was no federal pension programs for old people such as federal employee retirement and disability ($119.9 Billion today); Social Security ($706.7 Billion today and funded through a worker-employee tax trust paid for by working people).

Did the nation need a national health care plan, retirement and  Social Security programs when the average person would be dead by age 35? Did anyone even think about it back then?

Beyond the occasional local community supported one-room school house, there was no state or national education systems. But the nation changed, and in 2010 the federal budget cost of public education was $139.4 Billion ($113.2 Billion was paid to the states by the federal government) and state and local costs of public education were $872 Billion funded by state and local taxes such as sales tax and property tax.


Does welfare make Americans dependent and do we have a welfare state in America today?
The answer is NO!

By 2010, America’s population was 308.7 million (compared to 4.2 million in 1792); its GDP was $14.5 Trillion; the cost of defense was $847.2 Billion; interest on the federal debt was $196.2 Billion; and although there was no socialist, life-time cradle to grave welfare system in the US (did you watch the above video?), the cost of welfare was listed as $502.3 Billion that is explained in detail by the CRS overview of federal welfare spending.

We often hear about the cost of big government. Well, the cost of running the federal government in 2010 was only $24.7 Billion for a federal work force, not counting the military or judicial system (federal courts), of 2.8 million people or 0.9% (less than 1%) of the total US population .

Sixty-four thousand work in the federal judicial system and 1.6 million serve in the military fighting America’s endless wars. By June of 2012, the civilian federal work force was down to 2.2 million or  .7% (still less than 1%) of the current 314.8 million US population.

From The Encyclopedia of Earth we learn that, “The tax mechanisms used during the first 150 years or so of U.S. tax history bears little resemblance to the current system of taxation. First, the U.S. Constitution restricted “direct” taxation by the federal government – meaning taxes directly on individuals. Instead, the federal government relied on indirect taxes including taxes on imports (tariffs) and excise taxes. Tariffs were the major source of U.S. government receipts from the beginning of the nation up to the early 1900s. For example, in 1800, custom duties comprised about 84% of government receipts. Internal federal revenue collections (which exclude tariffs on imports) as recently as the early 20th century were primarily derived from excise taxes on alcohol. In 1900 over 60% of internal revenue collections came from alcohol excise taxes with another 20% from tobacco excise taxes.”

As you have discovered, the source of federal government revenues has changed dramatically the last 200 years as the country changed along with the needs of her people and military.

For example, the cost of a musket to arm one US solider in 1792 would have been $250 to $500 in today’s money. For a comparison, a legal fully automatic M16 assault weapon used by US troops that has been registered with the ATF, and can be transferred to a private citizen currently sells for about $16,000, plus a $200 transfer tax.

The cost of one Nimitz-class aircraft carrier runs about $4.5 billion. The original USS Constitution, also known as Old Ironsides, was launched in 1797 and cost about $300,000 to build ($5.45 million in 2012).

Note: The Inflation calculator used  for this series of posts may be found at Dave Manuel.com, and the primary source for government spending was US Government Spending.com

Continued on December 5, 2012 in The Evolution of a National Burden – Part 4 or return to Part 2

Also discover Each President’s share of the US National Debt  and learn more from the National Debt Info-Graphic by President 1945 – 2012

_______________________

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!”