Rumproast reprise

Just when I was starting to enjoy my little blogging vacation, I have gotten sucked back into the ugly vortex that is the political blogosphere. This time it is about a subject near and dear to my heart: internet anonymity. Everything worth saying about the subject has already been said here, at the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Anonymous communications have an important place in our political and social discourse. The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that the right to anonymous free speech is protected by the First Amendment. A much-cited 1995 Supreme Court ruling in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission reads:

Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical, minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society.

The reason the subject of internet anonymity has come up now, is that a blog called Hillbuzz (I made some comments about them here in December) is claiming their anonymity has been compromised by Obama supporters at a website called Rumproast.  In turn the Obama supporters claim they are being harassed, but oddly enough, at the same time, they have freaked out and closed down their main forum. The main subject of discussion involves the identity of Rumproast blogger JohnD, who started a website called “stupidpumas” on WordPress, and later at stupidpumas.com and pumafail.com, and whether he has published real names and photos of anonymous persons.

At one point, “JohnD” invited me to “dialog” and brought all the Rumpsters along.   I have since removed all the Rumproast threads and aired out my blog, but the four letter words I had to put in my filter are still there. After the “dialog”, they also stalked me for ages at various blogs, discussing comments I had posted on non-political blogs at length on their forum and linking to a photograph they said was of me. One of them impersonated me at Pandagon; the Pandagon admin deleted the account of my stalker, but would not provide me with the IP of the person who did it.

I am not happy about the Rumproast visit to my clean and quiet blog.

While I don’t publish either real names or IP’s, I do link bloggers with their sock puppets. Here are the names JohnD has used on this website, commenting:

and on his own blog:

  • as “johnd” and “obotinchief”: Hanging it up (on this thread you also see johnd consumed in flames at the same time as TheBigotBasher rises from the ashes like a Phoenix, with nearly identical links given to stupidpumas.com and pumafail.com respectively.)
  • and the thread about outing economics professor Dakinikat.

UPDATE: Part of Rumproast proprietor Kevin’s narrative is that the excesses of the misogynist bullies that take refuge at his blog are outliers, not condoned or encouraged by him in any way. He lays out this position on his Hillbuzz FAQ post where he states, “…but I deleted the comment the minute I saw it and basically told TheBigotBasher to bugger off. I do not support, nor have I ever supported, the outing of people who blog or comment under aliases, regardless of what I personally think about them.”

Riiiiggghht.

Going back to “The Dialog” let’s take a look at another Rumproast regular, “Strangeappar8tus”, who has control of enough editing keys at the Rumproast to author his own posts. “Strange”, as he is nicknamed:

For anyone with enough morbid curiosity, the other posts here where “Strange” commented are

For diehard Rumproast sniffers I have also resurrected, hopefully for a very short time, some posts I wrote some time ago on a private, non-unsearchable test blog when it became clear members of Rumproast were stalking and impersonating me and posting photographs they said were of me. For those with the time to search defunct blogs with the Wayback Machine, some of the posts contain old links and screenshots of now-disappeared forum discussions.  I have also restored the Rumproast members’ all time search favorite, Farewell Strangelove, my tribute to the Strangeappar8us courtship which I found both so touching and so repugnant. We still have Paris, eh, Strange?

So is the current bru-ha-ha just about one rogue blogger, or is Rumproast an astroturf machine that regurgitates predigested talking points while spying on and trying to disrupt progressive non-misogynist bloggers?  Is the Rumproasters’ real goal to  “cut away from the herd” in their “neutralize and release” program, or was that just talk?   Has Rumproast achieved “plausible deniability”?  I sort of hope the Hillbuzz people can get to the bottom of it.

ANOTHER UPDATE:

It just occurred to me, when PumaPAC founder Murphy did a radio broadcast on the line with Jennihillary, the Rumproast regulars showed up en masse to comment on the radio stations blog.  Some of the comments were pretty over the top.    And unlike their Rumper Room forum, Rumproast doesn’t have the capability to scrub these blogs…yet.

Interview between Jenniforhillary and Darragh Murphy of Puma PAC on KPFT November 13,  2008:

Advertisements

29 Responses to “Rumproast reprise”

  1. Alessandro Machi Says:

    I’m curious about the free speech ruling. It doesn’t make sense that anonymous people can harass others who use their real names. I wonder if I read the entire ruling if I would additional comments that might discuss the issue of anonymous people outing those who use real names.

    In 1995, the internet was barely functioning, blogs in their present state did not exist, nor did youtube, nor twitter, nor, and on and on it goes.

    Anyways, you are not outing anyone since they are not real names.

  2. Nijma Says:

    Anonymous political speech goes way back to Benjamin Franklin. Same thing, whether it’s electronic or a pamphlet broadside. Here’s the text of the ruling:
    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=000&invol=U10296

    Why should anonymous people harass anyone, anonymous or not? The people who do these things never use their real names. It’s basic cowardice.

  3. myiq2xu Says:

    Rumproast is what happens when trolls get their own blog.

  4. paul Says:

    Nijma,

    What’s Strange’s ip addess?

  5. paul Says:

    I mean, Strangeappar8tus. Since your comments are moderated can you somehow work the city name into your post? Thanks, a PUMA.

  6. Nijma Says:

    Good to see you, MYIQ. In this case I think they got their own country.

  7. wordup Says:

    Am I the only one secretly hoping that a suit will come to court and that those who maligned any and all Obama critics as racists will have to pay damages?

  8. Nijma Says:

    Sorry about the moderation, wordup. I have now taken “racis” out of the spam filter, so anyone can discuss it.

    Lawsuits, yes. That’s what our country is founded on.

    Part of what I sense is behind Alessandro Machi’s point about anonymity is the potential difficulty of enforcing defamation laws.

  9. Alessandro Machi Says:

    Kevin actually banned my IP for responding to their snarky and reputation damaging verbal assaults (once again by people not using real names), against me in their ” semi secret rumpus room”.

    When the day comes that anonymous idiots are outed for impugning people who use their real names, I’ll be in line with my lawsuit.

  10. Nijma Says:

    Paul, no, it’s not moderated at all, just a few four letter words in the filter. For some reason, I just found your comments by accident in the spam queue, where I never look. “Strange” is in the eastern U.S., I don’t think that’s any secret, but no, I’m not giving out any IP’s. Wouldn’t it be funny if he turned out to be Michael Turk?

    Strange is certainly no friend of mine, but neither is PumaPAC. Murphy deleted my account the same day she launched her “Islam Sucks” campaign.

  11. Nijma Says:

    Alessandro, I don’t want them to be able to edit my words or simply ban my IP when I say something they don’t have a good answer for, which is why I invited them here. Any mention of my name is now banned at Rumproast. They actually have a search and replace program that prevents anyone from typing it.

  12. Alessandro Machi Says:

    Rump Roast has a secret rumpus back room where they really talk crap about people. Once again, not using their own real names, they attack others who do use their real names and say derogatory, slandering things about them.

    It’s still hate speech.

  13. Nijma Says:

    Alessandro, the Rumproast forum is not so secret, it’s been on their sidebar http://www.rumproast.com/index.php/forums/comments/rumper_room/ since they started it. (It’s not publicly visible now, but I suspect it continues offline.) The Pumas have long known about it and fumed about what they were saying about them there. The really secret decoder ring stuff, like the Goat Girl Club and what kind of comments it was not okay to post, was always imparted by email.

    I should think that they could be sued. There are ways to register blogs anonymously, but only for legal activities. I would think that in the case of illegal activity, the right legal documents could unlock their identities.

    Here’s the link to Electronic Frontier Foundation on defamation:
    http://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/liability/defamation

    The WordPress TOS also link to this page.

    I see the main question as being whether calling someone a racist is defamatory or just an idle comment, like saying they’re icky. I would say it’s defamatory, also that it could have serious repercussions for the person’s employment, not to mention personal safety. (If only misogyny was viewed with such distaste!) The Rumproasters use the “racist” label to describe anyone who supports a candidate they don’t like, even when the candidate has a very positive voting record on racial issues. They also conflate the views of individual commenters with the views of anyone else who comments on the same thread, hoping those who read their poison will not take the trouble to sort out what that person actually said.

  14. Alessandro Machi Says:

    Here’s a scenario. The Trolls at Rumproast, who don’t use real names (and that is exactly why I can call them trolls), name call others who they don’t like or disagree with as racists and scammers and whatever other libelous terms they feel like farting out of their brainuses.

    If the person they are badmouthing in print ever has an actual confrontation with someone else, the EMPLOYER could be sued for hiring the person was branded a racist or what not.

    It could even lead to the temptation to frame that person, that attack the employer by accusing them of not doing a proper research on the person.

    In theory, faceless, nameless scumbags accusations are not foundational, but when they apply their libel to a person using a real name it can cause that person problems.

    • wordup Says:

      Hi Alessandro
      There was always a link to rumper room on the Rump Roast website. The hatred of women expressed in that forum was staggering and while they may not have been coordinated with the sophistication of an Axelrove attack, there were frequent exchanges on how and where to swarm the next victim.

      The forum was most likely scrubbed on the advice of an attorney who found evidence in support of a Rico claim there. Little Kevin was wetting his pants a week ago when this whole fiasco broke.

      At any rate, I think it’s important to remember that at this point Rump Roast is nothing more than a marginalized hate site. The principle of not outing fellow writers was defended by two of the best bloggers on the planet, Joe Cannon and Lambert Streither, who ,like you, have enough courage to use their real names.

      Little Kevin K. made an ass of himself last week with his effusive thanks for their support. He seemed to think that it conferred some kind of legitimacy on what he chooses to do on his blog. It doesn’t, and I can understand why his wife must have been appalled Hillbuzz’s threat to make her a party to their lawsuit.

  15. Nijma Says:

    So Alessandro, who do you think most employers rather hire, someone without any internet presence or someone who has been called a racist by an anonymous person whose motive’s are not immediately clear? If you had a short list with, say five names on it, and you googled all of them, … you would probably hire someone else rather than take a chance, right? And that person would probably never know why they weren’t hired.

  16. Nijma Says:

    Wordup: Rump Roast is nothing more than a marginalized hate site

    Is there any reason to believe they are NOT authorized, either officially or unofficially? Riverdaughter’s experience with blogosphere 2.0 wasn’t limited to just DailyKos, that type of thing happened all over the internet.

    • wordup Says:

      No, I don’t have any reason to believe that they are not authorized. Nor do I have any reason to believe that they are authorized.

      Do I believe that their brand of hate is facilitated and encouraged by some very important people? Absolutely.

      This is why I hope that the Hillbuzz suit goes very publically forward. It might answer some questions about the degree of involvement that the Obama machine has had in the personal destruction of citizens who have done nothing more than exercise their right to express their opinions.

  17. Alessandro Machi Says:

    Definitely hire the person with no internet presence because that is more efficient. These attacks are pre-meditated when done by a blogger not using a real name onto a blogger who is using a real name, and I believe eventually the culpability could spread to the blogging software provider IF, that software provider ignores the complaints from people who are using their real names against those who are not.

    There should be a SPECIFIC SPOT ON BLOGGING COMPLAINT FORMS that states….if you use your real name on the internet and feel you are being attacked by an anonymous source, please check this box.

  18. Nijma Says:

    I don’t see a different between an anonymous user and someone using a real name. Defamation is defamation.

    What if an anonymous person reveals their identity at some point, or what if they are outed beyond repair? There have been bloggers who started out as anonymous but decided to use their real names later (Riverdaughter is one).

    I suppose the host service is ultimately responsible–Wordpress includes it in their TOS and so do some others–but given the sheer volume of blogs out there, they won’t know unless someone contacts them.

  19. Alessandro Machi Says:

    I would just be speculating, specifically because they are not using real names.

  20. Alessandro Machi Says:

    Going back to the example of the employer. They type in the person’s name. If there are no direct slanders against that person’s name, then the harm is lessened.

    I’m not adamant in my position since I am basing it on myself and don’t know how it affects people who don’t use their real name.

    I do see that there could be damage to someone who is trying to build a name via their writing. However, where it gets dicey for me is bloggers not using real names who post their opinion about real people.

  21. Nijma Says:

    Using a pseudonym certainly makes it easier to be uncivil. Kevin’s identity is very easy to find, and he is one of the more civil Rumpsters, although that’s not saying much — he has had his moments. There’s another one that has been mostly civil, a publicly known activist whose identity is fairly easy to find if you google the right circumstances.

    There can be many reasons for using a nom de guerre. One might be to express ideas that others might want to shout down; another might be to shout down someone else’s ideas. I guess I don’t see it as good or bad in itself. It’s how people use it. If the reason they are anonymous is to make it easier to intimidate someone who is exercising their right of free speech or to try to avoid responsibility for unethical or criminal behavior, then that’s the real problem.

  22. Nijma Says:

    Going back to the example of the employer. They type in the person’s name. If there are no direct slanders against that person’s name, then the harm is lessened.

    When I type in my name, it comes up on Huffington Post’s list of political contributors for a campaign speech I paid to get in to (Chelsea–she’s pretty good). I’ve also paid to hear speeches presented by the Council on Foreign Relations, but no one keeps track of that. (It was before I had heard of the great Illuminati conspiracy.) While I understand the need for donor names to be reported to the appropriate agency, and understand why they need to make it publicly available to anyone with the energy to look it up, I never dreamed it would be online and so readily available.

  23. Alessandro Machi Says:

    Unfortunately, Hillbuzz seems to sink farther and farther republican with every new post they make. They also don’t print all of my responses. What troubles me about that is they are serious posts and if someone is afraid to post stuff about Clinton/Palin on the same ticket, I have to ask why?

    More importantly, why not entertain it as a discussion and get all of the pro’s and cons out into the open. Why subvert such an important idea and then suddenly just have a hardened opinion on it?

    CannonFire did the same thing. Very odd.

  24. Nijma Says:

    Clinton/Palin? When both of them are such party loyalists? I give you two chances of that: slim and none.

  25. Alessandro Machi Says:

    Party loyalists is a given. It is difficult to have a base without being a party loyalist. But right now, most politicians, if they truly had a choice, would rather NOT be a party loyalist so they could vote their conscience instead of voting out of fear that they will be Rudolph’d.

  26. Nijma Says:

    Vote their conscience? On what planet? The last time I checked, no one can get elected without campaign contributions from K Street.

  27. Nijma Says:

    Obviously that’s a pretty big oversimplification of Poli Sci 101, but it’s still basically true. Of course there are lobbying groups that support one type of political philosophy or another, and politicians who do consider the interests of individual voters along with the interests of business (which by the way I think is a legitimate interest — I wish more social liberals were fiscal conservatives — or maybe the other way around). Politicians must be pragmatic first or they will never be reelected to enact any agenda. Sort of a catch-22. It won’t change until our system of campaign finance changes. And who votes on that?… and how did they get elected?….. yeah, not very likely.


Comments are closed.