news sites beginning to prohibit anonymous comments

Anonymous Speechit was only a matter of time.

the claims by some that certain forms of speech including slander/libel, defamation, and forgery are protected under the first amendment simply because they are spoken or written anonymously is coming to an end. according to an article by stephanie goldberg on

Like those bathroom-stall messages, online comments on news stories can be difficult to police. For years, many publications have tried to strike a balance between encouraging open communication among readers and maintaining civil discourse. But a few sites, fed up with rude or inflammatory comments, are taking bold new steps to raise the level of dialogue.

i applaud these news sites that are attempting to engage their readers in a responsible manner. while it is certainly possible to fake a name, an email, and even a credit card, these websites are taking positive steps toward ensuring that the comments offered in response to online articles are, in fact, not hateful, libelous, or a part of a greater campaign of defamation. (besides, even fake email addresses can be tracked back to a single ip address ;-)

news websites are beginning to realize that the continued tolerance of anonymous comments, especially those that make unsubstantiated claims, contain hate speech, or are designed to defame others actually undermine the website’s credibility over the long term. the credibility of news websites that allow unbridled anonymous talk slowly comes to resemble the bathroom stall and not the reliable news source they seek to be. and just like journalism that reports on whispers and rumors, for every significant scoop that unveils a conspiracy or exposes a crime, there are hundreds of sites that do little more than spread gossip and make claims that smear others.

while it is true that anonymous speech allows some to say things that would otherwise go unsaid, credibility over the long term resides in the consistent verifiability of a story’s source. and when an anonymous source is shown to be involved in a systematic campaign of media manipulation for the purposes of discrediting a perceived rival, then we have moved from a realm of protected speech to the basic elements of slander/libel and defamation on the civil side, and in some cases, forgery, identity theft, and criminal impersonation on the criminal side.

a site is only as good as its sources. put your name on what you write. use your own name, write responsibly, and don’t cite rumors and whispers. don’t make sensational claims, and never attempt to use any form of protected speech to commit crime – it always backfires.

and oh yeah, i almost forgot: there is no such thing as anonymity on the internet!!!

from aol news: scholarly squad debunks biblical ‘discoveries’

Dr. Robert R. Cargill in Bet Shean, Israel

Dr. Robert R. Cargill in Bet Shean, Israel

chanan tigay at aol news has written an article entitled, ‘scholarly squad debunks biblical ‘discoveries’.’ the article features some of the work that members of asor’s media relations committee has done to counter the recent sensational claims that have come out of an evangelical ministry that calls itself noah’s ark ministries international. they claim to have discovered noah’s ark. i have responded to these ridiculous claims on my blog (here and here and here and here).

the article highlights the work done by scholars, real archaeologists, and bloggers in combating sensationalism in biblical archaeology.

does this look like styrofoam to you?

Styrofoam Ark

The 'snow' on the 'ark' appears to be decorative styrofoam packing beads.

the noah’s ark ministries international folks have released a video and are standing by their claim of their so-called ‘discovery’ of noah’s ark. [ht: jim west]. i have documented the problems with their dubious claim here and here and here.

let me ask you, and be honest: does this ‘snow’ in the ‘ark’ look like styrofoam to you?

bigcitylib thinks so, and has a post to explain why.

see for yourself. watch the video about the 1:40 mark and tell me.

and what’s with all the knocking on wood?? are you wishing for luck that no one finds out that while you’re video taping your ‘exploration,’ that no one notices you can’t see your breath in the snowy altitude at the 0:50 mark or that the ‘snow’ you sweep away at the 1:50 mark is perfectly round and not wet? and where is the water dripping on the floor? it was wet at the beginning when you filmed the ‘entrance.’ and what’s with the hazmat suits? i didn’t see those guys come in…

busted! turkey’s culture ministry is now ‘investigating’ noah’s ark ministries international

Noah's Ark Sinkingyou read about it here earlier. and now, they’re getting busted.

Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has launched an investigation into claims by a research team named Noah’s Ark Ministries International that they have found Noah’s Ark.

The ministry has also initiated an investigation into state officials of the province of Ağrı, including Deputy Governor Murat Güven, Provincial Tourism Director Muhsin Bulut and an official from the district governor’s office in Doğubeyazıt, who were present at the press conference in Hong Kong where the explorers made their finding public.

“A statement was made from abroad, claiming that Noah’s Ark has been found. There were Turkish state officials present when the statement was made. We are investigating the technical and legal aspects of the issue. How did these objects get there [to Hong Kong] and under whose authority were the officials present there? We are investigating this,” Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay said.

Günay also stated that they were happy for the Hong Kong explorers to carry out research on Mount Ağrı but noted that the ministry doubted they asked for permission before doing their research. He also sent a strong message to Turkish scientists who claim that Noah’s Ark is not in Turkey.

is it too early to say it???

chicago maroon: e-mails in dead sea scrolls case may implicate prof norman golb

ilana kowarski of the chicago maroon (the university of chicago’s newspaper) has run a new story on the raphael golb / dead sea scrolls / identity theft scandal entitled, ‘e-mails in scrolls case may implicate prof.’ university of chicago oriental institute historian, norman golb, is quoted regarding the arrest and prosecution of his son, raphael golb, on multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, the unauthorized use of a computer, and aggravated harassment.

the article states:

Raphael allegedly targeted and harassed intellectuals who disputed his father’s theory that the Dead Sea Scrolls originate in Jerusalem, rather than in Qumran, where the Scrolls were found. He allegedly harassed scholars by disseminating false accusations about them in public blogs and through e-mails to their friends and colleagues. The prosecution wrote that this allegation is supported by e-mails to other members of the family, including Dr. Golb, in a January 19 pre-trial motion.

norman golb responded with a cleverly-worded comment:

Dr. Golb wrote in a statement Friday that the evidence does not prove his involvement.

that is to say, norman golb is not denying that he was involved, but rather is saying that the evidence released in the new york district attorney’s response to his son’s motion to dismiss the charges against him does not prove his involvement.

norman golb’s response is not unlike the response he gave to canada’s national post in response to san diego natural history museum director mick hager, when hager stated:

“It seems curious at best, that untraceable e-mails were sent to the board of directors of the San Diego Natural History Museum prior to the opening of our Dead Sea scrolls exhibition, making unfounded claims and citing Norman Golb as an expert. Even more curious is that the same thing happened in Seattle, Kansas City, Charlotte and now Toronto.”

to this, golb replied via a letter to the editor of canada’s national post:

“I am unaware of any facts supporting these unusual assertions.”

that is to say, golb then did not deny involvement prior to his son’s arrest, but stated that he was ‘unaware of any facts’ to support that allegation. of course, once his son was arrested, the ‘facts supporting these unusual assertions’ were made public via indictments and other publicly available court documents. thus, golb’s statement to the chicago maroon is not a denial, but rather is his understanding of the evidence that will be presented in the coming trial of his son. he feels that the facts/evidence does not prove his involvement. a jury will decide.

likewise, according to the article, norman golb is now claiming that he is the victim in this case:

Dr. Golb suggested Cargill had taken issue with a sour turn in a scholarly debate, leading to the court case. “As the consequence of a long-standing academic dispute, a campaign of personal attacks is now being waged against me and my family. Claimed ‘evidence’ is being grossly distorted for unworthy purposes and removed from context,” Dr. Golb wrote in the statement.

so apparently, as long as one is on the offensive attacking other scholars behind a veil on anonymity, it is a legitimate endeavor. but, as soon as the curtain is pulled back and the true identity of those behind the green curtain is exposed, and the perpetrators are rightly prosecuted for their alleged crimes, this is a personal attack.  this is a victim mentality at it’s finest. go figure.

norman golb also stated:

“It is perfectly normal for any academic family to express indignation in the case of its members being silenced, excluded, and misrepresented or, to all appearances, plagiarized. In the present case, fair-minded people with knowledge of the circumstances will quite readily come to understand who the victims and the victimizers are.”

again, golb is apparently attempting to frame his son’s defense about his ongoing claim that he and his views have been unfairly ‘silenced, excluded, and misrepresented or, to all appearances, plagiarized,’ and not about the crimes allegedly committed by his son, raphael, in this specific case. it appears as if golb is either attempting to justify his and his son’s actions as just retaliation for the treatment he believes he has received over the past few decades, or, that he is attempting to divert attention from the criminal charges in the case against his son by arguing the defense one might expect in a civil suit against him, his sons, and his employer, the university of chicago.

it is also interesting to note that this is the first time (that i can recall) that norman golb himself suggests that he has been ‘to all appearances, plagiarized.’ his son accused someone of it, but this is the first time i’ve seen norman golb himself use the word in this case.

i replied in the article:

“A little professional jealousy can be a powerful motivator for scholars, encouraging them to focus on their work and produce new and better scholarship. However, when this jealousy, greed, or malice reaches a point where an individual is furtively, yet tenaciously and ubiquitously attempting to smear another scholar to the extent that Raphael Golb and perhaps members of his family are alleged to have done, it runs the danger of crossing into civilly actionable and even criminally actionable activity,” Cargill said in an e-mail interview.

the article also mentions one of the most implicating emails in the scandal:

The court documents allege Raphael sent e-mails to his brother and mother from alias accounts, including one dated July 24, 2008, that says, “By the way, if Dad has some comment on the latest Charles Gadda [an alleged alias of Raphael’s] exchange, he can send it through your e-mail, that way there would be no trace of it in his account.”

the full extent of the publicly available evidence against golb is available here and here.

interestingly, the article did not include some of the answers i gave in response to questions asked by the article’s author regarding the case.

i was asked about our notifying the oriental institute and university of chicago administrators about norman golb’s activities. specifically, i was asked about an exchange of letters between me and oi administrators and the university’s general counsel. the questions and answers were as follows:

>>When were letters sent to the Oriental Institute?

we first contacted the oi about norman golb in late in 2007. beyond that, i have no comment.

>>What did those letters say?

out of respect for the private correspondence between us and the oi, i shall not divulge the contents of the email.

>>To your knowledge, did the Oriental Institute take any action as a result of this correspondence?

i have no knowledge of whether or not the oi or the university of chicago have opened an ethical misconduct investigation or a criminal activity investigation into the actions of norman golb.

shortly after our exchange of letters in feb. 2009, the oi promptly removed a document dr. golb had written about me from the oi website. a few weeks later, raphael golb was arrested.

(the oi’s announcement noting the removal of the document is here:

>>If the allegations against Raphael Golb are true, do you think Prof. Golb or the University of Chicago are at all responsible for the alleged crimes?

no comment.

a legal word on free speech

a colleague sent me this recently.

Polito v. AOL Time Warner, Inc., 78 Pa. D. & C.4th 328 (2004)

The First Amendment is not intended to protect unconditionally all forms of expression. Clearly those people who have committed no wrongdoing should be free to participate in online forums without fear that their identity will be exposed under the authority of the court. But, if an anonymous Internet speaker engages in tortious or criminal conduct, the protection of the right to communicate anonymously must be balanced against the need to assure that those persons who choose to abuse the opportunities presented by this medium can be made to answer for such transgressions.

accountability in the event of criminal conduct can outweigh one’s expectation of anonymity.

court docs detail raphael golb’s harassment of robert cargill

Raphael Golb

Raphael Golb is accused of multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of forgery, identity theft, impersonation, and aggravated harassment.

on march 5, 2009, raphael golb, son of university of chicago oriental insitute historian norman golb, was arrested on 51 felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer. golb’s arrest set in motion a bizarre and twisted path towards his trial, complete with motions to dismiss the charges, motions to suppress evidence seized during his arrest, and the use of these very motions to further attack his victims with the verbatim claims made by the very aliases he still refuses to admit being. golb claims his impersonation, forgery, and identity theft amount to nothing more than ‘satire’ and ‘free speech,’ but yet is not confident enough in his own defense to admit that he made the very ‘speech’ in question.

but for many of us, raphael golb’s arrest only marked the latest phase of a three-year old investigation into his identity and activity. the passing of time may have caused many to forget just what the golbs did that led to this point. additionally, many never really knew much of what the golbs were doing furtively, behind the scenes, to harass and intimidate their victims. everyone could read ‘charles gadda’s’ posts on the internet, but because i did not discuss the case publicly prior to golb’s arrest, many are unaware of the actions taken by raphael, joel, and norman golb behind the scenes to damage their victims, including me.

recent filings in the case of the people of the state of new york v. raphael golb have made public some disturbing emails and other communications sent by the golbs to one another detailing how they should harass and intimidate me and effectively “ruin my career.” i knew that some of this was going on, but prior to the hard evidence provided by the new york district attorney’s office in publicly available court documents, i had no idea the extent to which the golbs were determined to damage my career and me personally.

below are some excerpts from a recent court filing detailing emails sent between norman golb’s sons, raphael and joel, detailing their motives and intent to ‘harass and unsettle’ me, and to explicitly damage my career.

Excerpts from

Indictment No. 2721/2009


66. Defendant’s animosity towards victim Dr. Cargill also bears an eerie parallel to the Wise incident. Robert Cargill was working on his Ph.D. when he was the subject of an anonymous smear campaign by the Golb/Gadda aliases that lasted over a year. Much of this smear campaign seemed designed to prevent him from getting his Ph.D. Thus, Dr. Cargill was at a crucial phase in his academic career (working on a Ph.D.), just as Dr. Wise was at a crucial phase in his career some twenty years prior, with respect to tenure. Also, defendant’s harassment of Dr. Cargill included insinuations that he had copied another’s work.

Defendant’s intent to harass Dr. Cargill is evidenced within email communications:

78. The harassment count as to Dr. Cargill differs from the harassment counts as to Drs. Schiffman and Goranson, because the defendant did not impersonate Dr. Cargill. Since the defendant did impersonate Drs. Schiffman and Goranson, it is reasonable to infer that one motivation for the impersonation was to harass them. With respect to defendant’s actions towards Dr. Cargill, email evidence assists in showing the defendant’s intent to harass Dr. Cargill. For example, on January 19, 2008, there is an email discussion between Golb/Gadda alias Robert Dworkin and his brother Joel Golb, about a proposed email to Professor Carter, Chair of the UCLA department in which Robert Cargill and his Ph.D. advisor Dr. Schniedewind worked. Joel Golb takes issue with some proposed language that reads “…my intent in writing to you has not been to harm Mr. Cargill’s academic career prospects”. Joel Golb writes: “Clearly, for all who read this, one of the purposes of Dworkin’s devastating letter will be, precisely, to destroy the career prospects of a really nice guy” [emphasis added].

79. Further discussion regarding a similar proposed email to Professor Carter took place on March 13, 2008. On March 13,2008, Joel Golb writes that he approves of the proposed email, and writes that it “will merely serve to harass and unsettle a bit… ” (emphasis added).

80. On March 15, 2008, in an email between Joel Golb and Golb/Gadda alias Jesse Friedman, about Drs. Cargill and Schniedewind, Joel Golb indicates the possibility that “both their careers may well be ruined.”

81. Multiple emails were indeed sent to Professor Carter from Golb/Gadda aliases complaining about Dr. Cargill and his Ph.D. project. Dr. Cargill’s apparent Christian background is attacked, and he is even accused of copying someone else’s work. On January 18, 2008, and several times thereafter, emails were sent to Professor Carter and multiple other UCLA email accounts from Golb/Gadda alias Don Matthews. On February 8, 2008, and several times thereafter, emails were sent to Professor Carter from Golb/Gadda alias Emily Kaufman, with multiple UCLA employees copied. On February 9, 2008, and at least one time thereafter, emails were sent to Professor Carter from Golb/Gadda alias Steve Frankel, with multiple UCLA employees copied. On March 19, 2008, an email was sent to Professor Carter from Golb/Gadda alias Joshua Reznick, with multiple UCLA employees copied.

82. From the period of June 2007 to June 2009, Golb/Gadda aliases Steve Frankel, Carlo Gadda, Don Matthews, David Kaplan, Emily Kaufman, Jesse Friedman, and Robert Dworkin sent dozens of emails to hundreds of “” recipients, as well as other individuals, all attacking Dr. Cargill. The volume of defendant’s alias creation, and his planning with others, speaks to the deliberate intent in conducting defendant’s operation.

83. Defendant’s pattern of conduct, and surrounding facts, further indicate that defendant’s motives were less than innocent. For example, the campaign surrounding Dr. Schiffman was clearly designed to damage his career based upon the content. The impersonating emails crafted by the defendant even specifically indicated that Dr. Schiffman’s career was “at stake”. Such conduct as to Dr. Schiffman is relevant as to defendant’s intent as to Dr. Cargill.

84. As previously indicated, there is no legal requirement that harassing communication must be made directly to the victim. In fact, it is apparent that this type of harassment, when made indirectly to the victim through dozens of communications with hundreds of the victim’s colleagues, can be more harassing than direct communication with the victim. Defendant knew that these emails would ultimately affect Cargill in a manner designed to harass and alarm him. In fact, sending emails to third parties is more offensive than sending emails directly to Dr. Cargill. If Dr. Cargill received direct harassing emails from any of defendant’s dozens of aliases, he could simply delete the email, and block each successive sock puppet email account. It would be easier for Dr. Cargill to block the email accounts than it would be for the defendant to keep creating new accounts. However, Dr. Cargill cannot block or delete emails sent to dozens or hundreds of his associates. Rather, he is forced to field question after question from others about the negative content of the emails. Notably, this pattern of attack was taking place at a crucial period during Dr. Cargill’s academic career, and it attacked the basis of Dr. Cargill’s Ph.D. project.

85. In sum, the inference from the totality of defendant’s conduct is that the defendant maliciously spread false information with the intent to harass, annoy, alarm, defraud, deceive, and injure.


the above speaks to the specific motive and intent to do harm to me and damage my career. in fact, the intent to do damage is quite explicit. after living through that experience, and after coupling golb’s sons’ activities with the signed letters from the hand of norman golb, it appears that they were all in it together. dr. golb would write formal letters of complaint and appear above the fray, while the sons would attack me relentlessly online using aliases in coordination with norman golb.

having contacted the director of the oriental institute directly, and having corresponded with the general counsel‘s office of the university of chicago about dr. golb’s activities, and with no real action being taken to investigate norman golb’s ethical and professional behavior in this matter, i must assume that the university of chicago has full knowledge of these proceedings, and is tacitly endorsing them. either that, or they are culpable of negligence in this matter, in that they have as of yet taken no action to stop golb, or even to investigate the matter.

again i must ask: is this the kind of behavior tolerated or promoted by the oriental institute? by the university of chicago?

the bigger question is: are the premeditated and well-coordinated deeds of norman golb and his sons actionable in civil court?

now where have i seen this before? using aliases to support or attack an idea

Sabrina Eaton

Sabrina Eaton of the Cleveland Plain Dealer

‘ellie light’ is the pseudonym used by someone who loves and supports president obama. according to several news agencies, ‘ellie’ has been sending letters to the editors of various news outlets supporting the president and bashing the media for daring to criticize him. one editor, sabrina eaton of the cleveland plain dealer, bagan to notice that the same letter, often word for word, was sent to different papers by the same alias, ‘ellie light,’ but stating different local addresses within the expected readership of each of the papers. when eaton wrote a story about the phenomenon and exposed the alias, ‘ellie’ wrote in response continuing to bash the press coverage of president obama, but never answering eaton’s questions of ‘ellie’s’ identity. for instance, eaton asked ‘ellie’:

But why did all those letters say you lived in all those different places? It seems quite peculiar.


This email of yours has apparently been published in scads of newspapers. Each of them lists you as residing in their circulation area. How can you simultaneously reside in Kellogg (Michigan), Midland (Michigan), Follansbee (W.Va.), Myrtle Beach (S.C), Waynesboro (Va), Vallejo (Ca.), Mansfield (OH), Salinas (Ca), and Three Rivers (N.M.)? I also found your Haiti email printed in the paper in Lebanon, (PA). That one claimed you reside in Cornwall.

How did your missive end up in all these different publications, citing all these different residences for you? Where do you actually live? What do you actually do for a living? Are you sending these emails at the behest of any organization or politician? Are you the same Ellie Light who was once a reporter for the Bergen Record? Please respond ASAP because I plan to write about this.

Sabrina Eaton
Plain Dealer, DC Bureau

‘ellie’ did respond, but answered none of eaton’s questions about her identity. and this reminded me of something very similar that has been taking place for the past three years with regard to the dead sea scrolls: the case of ‘charles gadda’ and raphael golb, who is under indictment in new york for, among other things, forgery, aggravated harassment, identity theft, and criminal impersonation, all stemming from a letter writing campaign used to promote a certain view of the origin of the dead sea scrolls and to attack scholars that disagree.

it is, of course, not illegal to pose as a different person and send the same letter to a bunch of different newspapers online. but when one is exposed as being deceptive online and attempting to use aliases to feign the appearance of widespread support or outrage, it makes the cause for which one is advocating appear weak. in fact, appearing to require a bunch of aliases to write scathing letters to press agencies with the hopes of drumming up some invented controversy in support of a cause makes the entire cause look so weak, it’s embarrassing. is it illegal? no. but it makes the one for whom you are advocating (in this case president obama) look like he needs to depend on fake supporters to prop up his ideas.

however, what is illegal would be the following hypothetical situation: the person behind ‘ellie light’ writes an article accusing sabrina eaton of plagiarizing ‘ellie light’s’ real-life father. then, ‘ellie light’ takes out a gmail address in the name of sabrina.eaton (at) and proceeds to email the real sabrina eaton drawing her attention to the false article. when eaton does not respond, the alias emails sabrina eaton’s colleagues and, in the first person singular, admits to the false plagiarism that ‘ellie light’ originally posted in the internet. because gmail, yahoo, and other private email providers are commonly used as alternative personal email addresses for professionals who are required to use their corporate email addresses for business correspondence, this impersonation could cause many to assume the email is legitimate, and this impersonation could cause eaton’s employer to question her work as a journalist. that kind of forgery and impersonation would be criminal. and as absurd as the above hypothetical situation sounds, it is the very thing for which raphael golb, son of university of chicago oriental institute historian norman golb, stands accused of in new york superior court.

so let’s recap:

  • using aliases on the internet is legal.
  • using aliases to promote one’s point of view is and create the appearance of widespread support or outrage is deceptive, and is embarrassing and perhaps even counterproductive if exposed.
  • defaming, harassing, and libeling others on the internet using aliases is potentially a civil crime remedied in civil court via civil law suit if it can be proved who is behind the aliases.
  • impersonating others and forging their name in emails to confess to false accusations of plagiarism with the express purpose of harming one’s credibility as a professional crosses the line into criminal behavior.

in a business like journalism or academics, where the credibility of one’s written work is central to one’s success in one’s job, this kind of forgery and impersonation with the intent to damage one’s credibility and therefore livelihood would potentially be criminal.

one should be very careful when writing letters of protest or support on the internet. for those who wish to do so, here are a few tips to follow when writing on the internet:

  1. don’t use aliases.
  2. don’t say anything on the internet you wouldn’t say in your own name.
  3. and for the love of god, don’t be a prick online.

there is no such thing on the internet! all is known by someone, and when it becomes known, the prophetic words of 2 samuel 12:12 become very true.

southwestern baptist theological seminary acquires dead sea scrolls fragments

A Fragment of the Dead Sea Scrollsaccording to an associated press article, southwestern baptist theological seminary has acquired fragments of the dead sea scrolls.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is set to unveil three newly acquired biblical Dead Sea Scroll fragments.

Southwestern spokesman Thomas White says the fragments acquired Tuesday include Scriptures from the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Daniel.

first it was princeton theological seminary and the university of chicago who owned scroll fragments. then azusa pacific acquired some fragments. now it’s southwestern baptist who has some.

my question is: how many fragments are in private hands? and why didn’t southwestern baptist state from whom they purchased the scroll fragments?

Southwestern purchased its fragments from a private collector for an undisclosed amount and is in negotiation for future pieces.

azusa pacific university stated very clearly that they purchased their fragments from lee biondi of biondi rare books in venice beach, california. why is the seller’s name not being disclosed in southwestern baptist’s transaction? i can understand not wanting to state the amount paid (which helps combat looting and illegal sales of antiquities), but keeping the seller’s name anonymous??

congrats to southwestern baptist. who is next? fresno state? pasadena city college?

la times article examines cyber bullying in south korea

apparently, i’m not the only one having to confront issues of cyber harassment.

internet crime continues to be a growing problem worldwide. in addition to hacking, internet scams, and online theft, issues of cyber libel, defamation, and online harassment are also a growing concern. as many know, i suffered from online harassment for nearly two years. fortunately (or unfortunately), raphael golb, son of university of chicago oriental institute historian norman golb, crossed the line and expanded his smear campaign from the civil to the criminal to include acts of forgery, identity theft, criminal impersonation, and aggravated harassment – crimes for which he has been arrested and is being prosecuted by the new york district attorney’s office. (details are available at

john m. glionna wrote a jan 2, 2010 article for the los angeles times entitled, ‘Cyber bullies reign in South Korea.’ in the story, he speaks to the growing concern of cyber bullies, noting that because

99% of citizens between the ages of 10 and 39 use the Internet, cyber thugs carry inordinate social weight.

In recent years, celebrities, authors and ordinary South Koreans have been subjected to relentless online assaults — at times with disastrous, or even lethal, effects.

the article focuses mostly upon legislative efforts to quell online ‘insults’ made anonymously, but these efforts rightly raise questions of free speech. but make no mistake: the practice of cyber bullying, online intimidation, libel, de facto accusations in the form of baseless hypothetical questions, and outright defamation (or whatever you want to call it) against individuals from beneath the presumed cloak of anonymity is growing. and while everyone wants to preserve the right to free speech, repeated, targeted attacks on individuals (anonymous or not) with the intent of harming their professional development or otherwise causing them fiscal damage is still illegal.

cowards that hide in the shadowy recesses of the internet for fear of being sued for saying things they would otherwise never say in their own name is growing to absurd proportions, and defamation, libel, and cyber bullying laws are just now beginning to catch up with the various technologies like blogging, message boards, distribution lists, and discussion groups that are used to commit these crimes on the internet. and, much like at the outset of the internet, when many claimed that pesky, traditional laws like sales tax and copyright were no longer valid, new defamation rulings are beginning to make their way into the legal system.

however, in the end, cyber libel is still libel, and is remedied in civil court, whether it is done under an attempted internet anonymity or not. indeed, the very purpose of using aliases is to duck libel and defamation accusations in the first place. if you can’t get caught, you can’t get sued (or so the thinking goes). how much more are one’s motives laid bare when one opts for using an alias to make criticisms of another?

of course, for raphael golb, civil suits concerning defamation, harassment, and libel are merely secondary at this point. for when defamation and libel cross from the civil realm into the criminal, and smear campaigns evolve from repeated targeted criticism and harassment to identity theft, impersonation, aggravated harassment, and forgery, then one has committed serious crime, for these are still very illegal, whether they take place online or not.

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