Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Ampersand Subpoena Independent Story

The Santa Barbara Independent has posted a story on their media blog about the Ampersand Publishing subpoena to Google which was reported here the other day. Both myself and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have not heard from the anonymous commenter -- and although I find it strange that Ampersand would seek the identity of a comment that was supportive of their relative position, I feel strongly that the commenter has a right to keep their identity private. Why have no News-Press sympathizers come to the person's aide? We'd love to hear from you...

I heard the other day on NPR that Lyndon Johnson once said about politics that 'it is much easier to throw a grenade than to catch one'. Perhaps that is a way to look at all of the legal maneuvering over at De La Guerra Plaza. Subpoenas, cease and desist letters and other "forms of communication" are pretty easy to churn out when you care little about big picture implications for our community, journalism and free speech...but that's just my opinion and point of view isn't it?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grenades keep the sheep quiet.

3/08/2007 11:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No comment, for fear of being subpoenaed.

3/09/2007 3:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara, As a writer to your site, I have trusted you as I would a reporter. I now request that you protect my identity from any subpoena's from anyone concerning my posts. I feel all of the posters, anonymous or not deserve this protection in this forum. Any criminal matters you should report to law enforcement. I am the blogger.

3/09/2007 7:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So who paid for the full page add of an old Travis Armstrong Column in the Sound?

3/09/2007 8:12 AM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

Perhaps another fine example of "absolute power corrupts absolutely".

The right to free speech is a cornerstone of our democracy, biased or not. So is the right to various protections from unwarranted prosecutions.

3/09/2007 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Won't Back Down said...

See the Daily Sound today, page 10

See also their new jabbing subtitle in their ads:
"Santa Barbara's answer to local news coverage."

3/09/2007 10:44 AM  
Anonymous michelle dunoire said...

sa1 said at 3/09/2007 9:21 AM:

"The right to free speech is a cornerstone of our democracy, biased or not."

Let's review this again. There are no free speech issues at play on any side of the News-Press imbroglio.

The First Amendment prohibits the federal government from interfering with the free speech rights of persons under its control: "Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech … ." Those prohibitions apply to state and local governments as well, via incorporation of the rights guaranteed under the First Amendment by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Nowhere in the text of the amendments, or in subsequent judicial interpretations of them, are individuals guaranteed protection against interference with their speech by non-governmental actors, i.e. other persons, unless those persons conspire with public officials to effect the interference. The Supreme Court, in a case pitting the NCAA against UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian, held: "Embedded in our Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence is a dichotomy between state action, which is subject to scrutiny under the Amendment's Due Process Clause, and private conduct, against which the Amendment affords no shield, no matter how unfair that conduct may be."

Thus, departed editors and reporters of the newspaper, the News-Press itself, or members of the blogosphere – none has a First Amendment claim unless there has been interference with protected speech by a governmental entity.

If you don't buy this, ask yourself why the ACLU has not been involved in the local fracas.

3/09/2007 10:58 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Anon 7:06 AM -- I've had at least four different claims by "Anonymous" this morning that they made the comment.  I want to help you to the extent I can but do not want to know your identity (for your own confidentiality and my own). It is important that you take one more step and either obtain your own legal counsel or seek assistance from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (415-436-9333).

3/09/2007 11:07 AM  
Anonymous harping said...

Michelle, re: "ask yourself why the ACLU has not been involved in the local fracas"--I could have sworn the ACLU did get involved at some point...I think it was with regard to the cease & desist letters sent to local businesses displaying the "McCaw Obey the Law" signs. Anybody else remember this? I'm too busy reading this blog to do a search. ;-)

3/09/2007 11:44 AM  
Anonymous sa1 said...


Sorry if I offended your pointed sensibilities. Mine was just a generic attempt to remind us of a spirit not the fine print. In my misguided ways, I find tolerance to be the easier path of least resistance. I guess we can add "flippant" to my many faults.

(sa1 shuffles off to rehab mumbling "Those pesky black helicopters hovering above me are driving me nuts!. I gotta quit watching "24")

3/09/2007 11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the link to EFF - it is a wonderful reminder of the historic and critical importance of anonymous political debate.

Thank you also for being a reasonable neutral gate keeper.

Thank you for your time and your integrity. The voices, often extreme yet always articulate need to be heard somewhere.

A tyranny of either official censorship or unofficial politcal correctness needs to have a healthy outlet; which does require scrupulous anonymaty at times. This is what blogabarbara provides.

But it works only because of you, Sara DLG. Kudos.

3/09/2007 11:54 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Thank you for participating 11:54 am -- it's a tough job with no pay but I, too, think it is necessary. Thanks for your support.

sa1 -- I get those same helicopters and keep looking out my window for Jack Bauer :)

3/09/2007 12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ACLU actively protested threatening letters sent to local stores posting McCAw obey the law signs. Current issue of ACLU publication OPEN FORUM details this.

3/09/2007 5:44 PM  
Anonymous Michelle DuNoire said...

I forgot the ACLU effort on behalf of the store owners. Mea culpa.

The larger point remains. Even Mrs. McCaw'a effort to intimate the store owners into taking down the signs did not implicate the First Amendment.

3/09/2007 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are incorrect on both the "McCaw, Obey the Law" signs, and on your general point. McCaw's attorney, Barry Cappello, threatened a totally bogus libel suit against the shop owners who posted the sign. That directly raised the First Amendment issue, because Cappello was unethically attempting, with at least some success, to chill the First Amendment rights of the shopkeepers. Whether you agree with their signs or not, they had and have a First Amendment right to post them. They are not libelous, and indeed, the NLRB is going to prosecute the News-Press for trying to stop its reporters from wearing "McCaw, Obey the Law" buttons and posting "McCaw, Obey the Law" signs in their vehicles.

The question of free expression is not restricted only to the First Amendment or its California equivalent. It is embedded in the National Labor Relations Act, and offers protection to all combatants in a labor dispute. So, McCaw's firings of reporters for their participation in a lawful banner drop protesting her earlier illegal firings, her firings of reporters and other employees for their union support (regardless of the pretexts the News-Press may have used in firing them), her threats of suppression of their speech, her "cease and desist" letters which she considers to be dialogue, her interruption of union meetings, her filing of bogus unfair labor practice charges against the Union for participating in a candlelight vigil at the Biltmore (all of which have been dismissed), her suit against Sue Paterno, her "conflict of interest" policy forcing employees to go through a censorship gauntlet before engaging in public speech, her erection of an illegal fence to obstruct passersby from being able to see the "McCaw, Obey the Law" signs in the parking lot, her threats against employees who dared to attend "wakes" for departed employees, her refusal to recognize the Union despite the overwhelming vote in favor of the Teamsters by the employees, her threats to sue the union over the employees' website critical of the News-Press, all implicate lawful expressive activity. She is maniacally trying to suppress all speech which disagrees with her, and whether it implicates the First Amendment directly (as it does when she threatens to sue) or not (when she threatens and injures her employees), it is a concerted effort to squelch free expression by others, and much of this suppression will be prosecuted by the National Labor Relations Board in the near future.

3/10/2007 6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Orange County Register has a great article on the AJR lawsuit. It puts Wendy right up there against Michael Jackson as one of Santa Barbara's wierdest recluses.

3/10/2007 8:05 AM  
Anonymous Beau Peep said...

Here's the Headline:

"Sheep Catches Grenade, Lobs it Back"

Nice work 6:41

3/10/2007 2:16 PM  
Anonymous Shakespere said...

Seems I had something to say about lawyers...

3/10/2007 2:48 PM  
Anonymous jqb said...

"The right to free speech is a cornerstone of our democracy, biased or not."

Let's review this again. There are no free speech issues at play on any side of the News-Press imbroglio.

What Ms. Dunoire has reviewed is her inability to tell the difference between "the right to free speech" and "the First Amendment". The First Amendment states that the government cannot abridge free speech, but it's a fundamental principle of the society the founding fathers established that, as stated in the Ninth Amendment, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." And, in recognizing the cornerstone that sa1 mentioned, the legislature has gone beyond the First Amendment and legally established free speech rights in other areas, such as the rights that Wendy McCaw violated by firing employees for engaging in legally protected union activities.

3/13/2007 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Chuey Chapala, in exile said...


I'm afraid it is an academic difference without practical distinction that more than one judge will eventually be called upon to settle.

Practically speaking, conspiring to interfere with a citizen's free speech rights is wrong and offends our society by quashing dissent. Protecting the minority from the tyrrany of the have-beens, that kinda rot. Have we not learned anything from the Bush league years of submission into silence? When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out...

Whatever the technical legal underpinnings and the inelegant legal arguments, it is a right we all hold sacred.

For a newspaper -- an industry created by the First Amendment that has often sought succor in its protection -- to so wrecklessly attempt to stomp out the public and private right to free speech is abhorrent.

3/16/2007 1:04 AM  

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