A number of interesting questions/comments have been posed over the past few days about the Greenfield-Franks War, as Bruce Godfrey called it. I responded by telling Bruce that there was no such war, at least on my part. My fight is against laws that chill free speech and sweep in the innocent with the guilt due to their poor and overbroad wording.
This was just one of them, as there have been many others. While criminalizing revenge porn may be Mary Anne Franks’ world, it’s just one more bad law in mine. What’s made this appear differently is her avoidance and deflection of issues by resorting to attacks and name calling. She’s done this to everyone who has challenged her, Marc Randazza, Lee Rowland, Mark Bennett, Time Cushing, Mike Masnick and, of course, me.
I’ve been treated to particularly harsh attacks. When Sam Glover noted her cries that I’m a “pervert” at the Puddle, she responded on twitter to inform him of “the facts.” He suggested she leave a comment, but she refused:
But comments sections too often turn into launchpads for personal attacks. Just wanted you to know the facts.
Ironic, but that’s what she said. Presumably, Franks’ “facts” prove that I’m a pervert, stupid and perhaps a few additional other words, that will harm me, damage my reputation and credibility and diminish me as an “adversary” of her quest. As a public service, since Franks is disinclined to make her “case” in a straightforward manner, I will provide her “facts” against me in as neutral a manner as possible.
First, the Greenfield is a pervert attack. This first “fact” is the title to this post from last October, New York to Revenge Porn: Any Selfies of Lawprof Mary Anne Franks? Franks contends that this proves I am soliciting revenge porn against her by this title.
The second fact is my twit in this series of twits, which lives on in her screencap.
Godfrey characterized it as “boorish,” which is a fair statement. Franks contends this proves I “muse about what she is like in bed.” While she claims “there’s more,” it remains a mystery. If there is, perhaps someone will let me know and I will be happy to give it a full public airing.
But then, it’s not just that I’m a pervert, as “[h]is disgraceful conduct is exceeded only by his ignorance.” (Franks does not use my name, for reasons that are unclear.) Proof of my ignorance is offered by this post at Franks’ Tumblr, Never let facts get in the way of hysteria: Techdirt falsely claims AZ revenge porn law requires registration as sex offender.
To the extent this applies to me, it is an apparent reference to a sentence in my post on the Arizona law where I wrote that it required sex offender registration. Had she pointed out to me (rather than assume I would read her post which obliquely refers to my mistake), I would have changed it to “may require” rather than “requires.” Now that I realize what she was talking about, I have corrected this detail.
Franks’ second “fact” proving my ignorance is a twit from last October:
Mary Anne has been very kind about preserving my every twit, so they are available for use later. In this twit, I inadvertently write “state” rather than “federal.” Mea culpa. This, I believe, constitutes her proof that I’m a pervert and I’m ignorant, which has justified her attacks and failure to address any substantive issues. Now that her “proof” is before you, you can decide its merit.
The impetus for this post comes from two queries, one by David Ziff on twitter, and another by Marc Randazza by email. Ziff asked:
just seems like given RP is bad, effort would be better spent devising 1A compliant law, rather than war of words.
My effort is spent protecting Const. and innocents from bad laws. That’s what I’m doing. All bad laws, not just RP.
Randazza also asked whether I would be willing to work with Franks to help end the blight of revenge porn in a way that wouldn’t do harm to either innocent people or chill First Amendment rights. I told him of course I would help to that end (aside: there has never been any question, except perhaps to Franks, that revenge porn is despicable, as was made clear from the outset), but the goal was producing good, effective law that would not produce devastating unintended consequences.
I doubted that Mary Anne Franks could untether herself from her pride of authorship or suffer any connection to anyone (specifically me) who didn’t appreciate her as she appreciated herself. Yet, just as criminal defense lawyers work with prosecutors, we rise above pettiness for a more important goal. My goal was to protect the 1st Amendment and the innocents who would be swept into an overbroad, poorly conceived law.
Randazza also asked this question of Franks on twitter. Here’s their twits:
If sunlight is the best disinfectant, it’s now aired publicly so that anyone who wants to can draw whatever conclusion they deem appropriate. As for me, the enormously sad and disturbing takeaway is that there is a wealth of interest in spurious attacks and no interest whatsoever in coming up with a means to end revenge porn while protecting against harm to innocent people and chilling First Amendment rights.
This isn’t about Franks, except to Franks. This isn’t about me, except to the extent Franks spends her time informing people of the “fact” that I’m a pervert. This is about law and harm, and to the extent I’ve been complicit in diverting attention from this important issue, it’s now over. Real people will suffer the consequences of bad law, and my attention will be focused on protecting them.
Update: As if on cue, following this post, twitterer @Alpharia challenged Franks. This is what transpired:
The “conversation” speaks for itself. She is the mother lode of righteousness, and anyone who disagrees is, well, you can read it for yourself.