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Police Sue Newspaper Over Anonymous Comments On Website and Are Told Its Free Speech

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posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 09:21 AM
As many newspapers do these days, the Democrat and Chronicle that covers Rochester and the surrounding areas of NY has a website. Likewise, as with many newspapers the Democrat and Chronicle allows comments, anonymous comments.

This is all standard stuff that happens every day all over the US (and probably the world). What makes this special is that commenting on an article four people happened to say things the Brockport Police Department didn't like. So the police department sued the newspaper.

Village police officers sue D & C

In several comments on the D & C article titled, "Brockport, Sweden and Clarkson feud over fire, ambulance services," the unidentified defendants allege that the officers committed a multitude of crimes. The alleged crimes include "breaking into" a home and "wrongly arresting the residents," and inflating the police department's documented calls for service.

Both officers of the department and the police chief sued the paper. The scary thing is, they didn't just want the comments withdrawn, they wanted the names of the posters.

Varrenti's order states that the relief sought is to "compel" the D & C to "cease and desist" posts and provide information on the unidentified defendants, and provide other relief as the court deems necessary. The other officers' lawsuit is deemed as a "related case" with the same cause of action.

I guess they don't like bad things being said about them.

The paper filed a motion to dismiss but that wasn't the end of . This made it all the way to the state supreme court!! When the case got to the judge...

Judge rules in Democrat and Chronicle's favor

State Supreme Court Justice David Barry ruled that the comments were clearly opinion and could not be considered defamatory, as the police officers and Varrenti contended in a lawsuit against the anonymous Web posters and Gannett Co. Inc., which owns the Democrat and Chronicle. Because opinion can not be the basis of a claim of defamation, “Gannett is not required to unmask the identities of the four anonymous internet commentators,” Barry wrote in an opinion filed today.

Barry ruled that the comments were obviously “sarcastic, hyperbolic, and based on rumors” and were not presented as factual statements

Thankfully the judge ruled in favor of the paper. But, a couple of points on this. One, I'm amazed it actually got to the state supreme court. Two, its still a pretty big intimidation factor on voicing negative opinions - ie - Do I say what I think and risk getting sued or do I keep it to myself??

posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 09:31 AM
Too many people "keep it to themselves" that is why we have the sorry state of things today. Say the truth whenever it is needed, not when it is wanted.

posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 09:37 AM
reply to post by Frogs

Shouldn't police officers know the laws that they are enforcing? Free speech allows for citizens to voice their opinions even in the newspaper, Even if this anonymous poster perceived the acts of the police were illegal and they were not, it's still the right of this citizen to his or her opinion.

The correct course of action from the police department was to write a post explaining their actions if they felt the poster accusations were wrong. I don't see how this could be construed as against the law. These police departments seem like they're quick to act when someone criticizes their actions. They act so tough on the street, but can't ignore a website post?

posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 10:29 AM
reply to post by WeRpeons

The police do 'know the law' them, since they are 'in charge' they feel "we are the law" and never forget the human nature aspect of power response....

btw... I wonder what putting on a badge does to ones ego, ill bet it multiplies Exponentially..

as my US Marine Chief Warrant Officer taught us "cops pin on their courage, and strap on their b?lls"... he was the bet Gunner I ever served under... And he would literally have monthly talks with us about how he would NEVER write a letter of recommendation for any of us to be a cop, he truly hated cops and especially hated MP's..

primarily for the reasons shown on Youtube's ---Copsouttacontrol..and the cases mentioned above.

If cops were like Andy Griffith our country would be a better place.. too bad the NWO has pysch profiled looking for degenerates, those succeptible to NArcissism, EGo, power tripping ,a those that decide its better to live a life of crime hidden behind a badge--ie.----a wolf in sheep's clothing

posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 10:32 AM
I have to admit that the higher level courts in the land have certainly been siding with the people in alot of the recent cases like this or gun laws. It's nice to see the freedoms of citizens being protected at the highest levels of our judicial system.


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