Resolute Defenders Of Free Speech (Update)

For quite a while, there were only a few voices willing to take the heat for calling out the efforts of our favorite censorious shrews, Miami lawprof (but non-lawyer) Mary Anne Franks and Maryland lawprof Danielle Citron, to promote anti-revenge porn crimes.  They shamelessly lied (as opposed to “were mistaken”) to the public about the First Amendment because they had a goal to achieve, and only by promoting ignorance could they hope to achieve the level of legal stupidity needed.

The claim was that their anti-revenge porn crimes did not violate the First Amendment. The claim was a flagrant lie, but they were law professors, supposed scholars, so who could question them?  Trench lawyers? We’re not scholars, after all, and when it comes to the people upon whom we rely for deep thought, don’t scholars win?

In the beginning, Franks claimed that Eugene Volokh supported her law, and agreed that it was not unconstitutional. That was a lie, and Franks quietly dropped Eugene’s name from her promotion as if she never said it. By avoiding confrontation with anyone who would challenge or question her, she was able to continue to deny her lies each time she was caught.

But if Franks and Citron were lying, where were the other scholars, the ones who possessed intellectual integrity?  Why were they not calling out their “colleagues” for being shameless liars?  At the time, the answer was that they were cowards, unwilling to buck a nasty and vicious lawprof who wouldn’t hesitate to attack them, and who was on the right side of gender politics in academia.

They weren’t willing to endure being called racists and misogynists in the name of intellectual honesty. They assumed that someone else would do the dirty work, take down these lying and pandering fools.  Someone like, well, trench lawyers who didn’t care what nasty names they were called by lying lawprofs.

Eventually, it happened. Too little, too late, but it happened. First, it was Northwestern University lawprof Andrew Koppelman, who stated the obvious, that Franks’ and Citron’s anti-revenge laws were obviously unconstitutional. Then came Pace lawprof John Humbach, again stating the obvious. Neither was antagonistic to the underlying problem, but both made quick work of the lie that an anti-revenge porn crime didn’t violate the First Amendment.

But the lies kept piling up, because lies have a tendency to do that.  In an ironic twist, a list of “heroes who saved the internet” appeared, including a staunch advocate for free speech, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, together with Franks and her faithful sidekick, Carrie Goldberg.

While Franks travels the country crafting legislation and consulting with leading tech companies to help them update policies regarding revenge porn (something Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and Google all did this year), her CCRI colleagues are fighting on the ground.

Attorney Carrie Goldberg handles an impressive caseload as one of the only lawyers in the country expertly versed in the emerging legal field where digital privacy law intersects with harassment and abuse.

Goldberg’s superpower allows her to  “paralyze trolls” and “conjure protective force fields around trauma victims,” she told the Daily Dot. She also wins cases—and as CCRI’s only practicing attorney, she brings a “down and dirty litigation perspective” to the board. In 2015, Goldberg worked with victims (of revenge porn, sexual assault and harassment, and related issues as pertaining to online abuse) in 21 criminal cases in addition to her usual roster of family court cases.

All of this would be remarkably impressive, if it was true. When is the last time a lawyer for victims won a criminal case? That’s right, it doesn’t work that way; it’s total nonsense. Worse still, when Goldberg might have actually contributed something of worth, she failed miserably.  But she’s a hero, even if it’s a lie.

So is it all a lie? Are there no heroes? Is there no one who not only tells the truth, but actually does something that protects constitutional rights?  Indeed, there is, but you won’t find them on the list.

Foremost is Mark Bennett, who has persuaded Texas courts to hold five laws unconstitutional over the last three years.  He has offered his services to lawyers in a long list of states, pro bono, to challenge unconstitutional crimes. He is prepared to roam the nation to undo the damage of self-promoting heroes like Franks, Citron and Goldberg.

But he’s not alone.  Lawyers like Ron Coleman and Bruce Godfrey have also, pro bono, defended those whose constitutional rights were attacked. Marc Randazza represented victims of revenge porn long before Goldberg knew how to find a courthouse. Adam Steinbaugh did the hard work of unearthing the scoundrels who harmed others. And, of course, Ken White put up the Popehat signal whenever free speech was at risk.

Not only are their names nowhere to be found on lists of heroes, puff pieces about saviors, or scholarly law review articles explaining the pathetically obvious, that there are lawprofs and activists hellbent on undermining the Constitution, while failing to actually help anyone harmed by the underlying wrong.  These are lawyers who quietly save your freedoms, actually help victims who were harmed, all without lying about it, making people stupider or using it to promote themselves as saviors or martyrs. These are trench lawyers doing their job, doing it well, doing it for free, without expecting anyone to build a statue of them.

There are heroes who save the internet. There are heroes who save the Constitution. There are heroes who save victims of harm.  But you won’t know about them because they aren’t out there lying about themselves, lying about their cause, lying about the law.  They are just trench lawyers, doing what they have to do, to help. You should know they exist, and they will fight for all of us while people like Franks do their harm:

“In all of my work, I continue to challenge elitist and sexist interpretations of free speech and privacy,” Franks told the Daily Dot, “that ignore the silencing and surveillance effects of online harassment on women and minorities.”

There is no depth of deceit and stupidity to which the shameless won’t go. Thankfully, there are lawyers like Bennett, resolute defenders of the Constitution, who will “continue to challenge” their censorious efforts to eviscerate “elitist and sexist interpretations of free speech.” Now you know.

Update:  As was point out to me by Marc Randazza, the group with which Franks and Goldberg are so proudly associated, the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, had absolutely nothing to do with the takedowns of the major revenge porn “kingpins,” like Hunter Moore, Craig Britain, Eric Chanson and Kevin Bolleart.

The people who were instrumental in ending the harm these individuals caused weren’t Franks and Goldberg, but Randazza, White and Steinbaugh. And these heroes lacked even the grace to recognize that these guys did all the work, while they were busy patting themselves on the back and giving interviews about their superpowers.

15 comments on “Resolute Defenders Of Free Speech (Update)

  1. John Barleycorn

    Speaking of free speech, I found myself a hundred feet up a tree with a running chainsaw dangling from my harness the other night wondering why the fireworks were trailing.

    It was just then that I realized that the chemists have expanded the historical speach pallet of fireworks with some new colors that have amazing stability which I thought was pretty cool.

    Anyway, I figured it was best to stay aloft for the night and I had this dream that you were going to pass the hat to archive an unedited mirror of SJ as well as create a new home page box on your live front page in blue on black that served as a tune dump.

    You should give half the cash to Bennett if he agrees to grow his beard out past his collar.

    1. SHG Post author

      Half the cash isn’t really much of an incentive. But then, Bennett is so incredibly wealthy that money means nothing to him.

      1. John Barleycorn

        Just like a CDL to speculate about how much cash will really be there after the reversal of seizure motion fails.

        Who needs money when you have speech anyway?

        Good thing I didn’t bring up that kaleidoscope nightmare I had about all the speech that I foresaw, that newspaper you read everyday is going to be bringing up while structuring freedom in 2016 when I took a nap on the way down literally and figuratively the day after.

        Spin some analog Bowie today and think about monday. You should really take your editor’s advice more often as it always comes with some lightning when you return.

        Nice pace you have set for 2016. If I didn’t know better I might accuse you of plotting afloat upon a raft on a dammed river with your a fortune teller stowaway.

        Hope you were paying attention when your editor learned you about a few more navigation constellations on your winter solstice break while filling you in on the importance of concentrating while you are on your back.

        1. David M.

          Since I’m your “editor,” can I edit David Bowie out of existence? At least for this blawg?

  2. CLS

    The neat thing about people who actually go out there and defend free speech is that they don’t trumpet the work they’re doing. They’re not in it to become huge figures in the public’s eye, they’re just doing the work because it’s the right thing to do.

    I just wish sites relying on clicks for cash would actually get the names of guys like Randazza, Bennett, and White and use them instead of Mary Ann Franks.

  3. Nigel Declan

    Well, if we were trying to discover from whence students got the idea that they were entitled to a public space free from not simply harassment, but exposure to contrary ideas, opposing views and any suggestion that are anything other than absolutely-correct-about-everything-all-of-the-time, the academia bubble in which Franks, Citron, and other activists-disguised-as-legal-scholars reside, immune from both reason and reality, is a promising candidate

    1. SHG Post author

      Bear in mind, Franks gets to teach crim law to law students. They’re doomed. It’s outrageous that someone so intellectually dishonest, censorious and incapable of admitting her failures should be allowed anywhere near students.

      1. Nigel Declan

        Don’t tell me that you’re one of those crazy “Law school is a place where students should be trained to think critically and to be lawyers, not a place where academics who’ve maybe had a cup of coffee as practicing lawyers get to indoctrinate students with their ivory tower normative world view that is largely or entirely decoupled from the actual practice of law” types. When it comes to speech, “Forcibly Enlightened on Pain of Government Persecution” is the new “Free.”

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