Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bloggers United Against Pamela Greenbaum.

For those of us in Israel, this story erupted about 3 minutes before candle lighting on Friday, so we didn't know about it till Saturday night.

According to the NY Daily News, Lawrence Public School board member Pamela Greenbaum is suing Google to disclose the identity of the Orthomom blogger, because she was allegedly defamed on the blog and called "ugly" and an "anti-Semite."

One doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to see that Orthomom never said Pamela Greenbaum was ugly or an anti-Semite, but a commenter did.

Krum's analysis is as follows:
First, it would seem that she should be asking for disclosure of the commenter, not Orthomom. My understanding of Blogger Law 101 is that merely providing a form for allegedly libelous comments cannot be the basis for a lawsuit. Second, the comments in question don't appear to consitute defamation. Epithets like these are not statements of fact, and therefore not libelous.
Ezzie found this great letter as well:
Dear Ms. Greenbaum,

I read a short piece today regarding your lawsuit against Google regarding comments made about you on an individual blog. I'm sorry to inform you, since you seem to be unaware of this fact, but such is the rhetoric of politics, right or wrong, stupid or not.

But to sue Google over the anonymous comments of other individuals on an anonymous blog for making obviously hateful comments that only a small number of people may have seen? That's... well, that's just stupid. Here's a basic lesson in Blogging 101: That SiteMeter you noticed at the bottom that shows over 300,000 hits to Orthomom's blog? Guess what - they were NOT all on that one post. Orthomom has a great blog, but those 300K were accumulated over a long period of time... and just a tiny fraction were on that particular post, and some of them by [gasp] the same people repeatedly. A good estimate would be that maybe a couple of hundred people saw those comments, and almost none were influenced by them.

But do you know who DOES have a wider readership [somehow]? The NY Daily News. And now, your sad lawsuit which will be laughed out of court will be mocked by possibly tens of thousands in your area... instead of by a select few on a blog. Brilliant, Ms. Greenbaum. I'm sure those who voted you onto the school board are proud that such a forward-thinking individual is their representative.

Sincerely, Glad I Don't Live in Lawrence
Steve I Weiss, The Canonist finds that Greenbaum doesn't believe people are allowed to express an opinion (is Greenbaum on the Lawrence School Board, or the Tehran School Board? And will that comment also get me in trouble?)
It’d be hard to represent a more misleading set of factual claims. The only times the claims of Greenbaum’s being “ugly” or a “bigot” come up are in anonymous comments to this post. It’s impossible to know from the story how much of the factual error is Greenbaum’s and how much is Martinez’s, but either way this is an obviously ridiculous lawsuit that presents at least some questions about Greenbaum’s approach to the First Amendment in her life as an elected official.

For the suit to exist at all, she must believe that people don’t have a right to express opinions of her. That’s a scary position for a school board member to maintain.
DovBear suggests that Greenbaum stop crying and start blogging.
Instead of suing, here's what Pam should do: Start your own blog. It's free, and you can use it to address OM and her commenters directly. Anyone who reads OM's blog will read the Pam Greenbaum blog, too, and, as always, the best argument will win. If you're not a bigot, tell us why. If you're not ugly, put up a picture. Let the blogging community decide.
Orthomom herself doesn't appear too worried, because as quoted by everyone above, Greenbaum has absolutely no case against her; Orthomom didn't even WRITE the alleged insults.

The bottom line here is that Greenbaum looks rather foolish to sue Google to force the disclosure of Orthomom, when it was an anonymous commenter that implied she was ugly.

However, Greenbaum has now given us lots to think about for the upcoming Purim Podcast, and we sincerely thank her for that...reality is always much better than fiction.

Shavua Tov.


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


JoeSettler said...

Man, I have just got to insult this lady. I bet my pageviews will skyrocket from the fallout.

Lori said...

Ok, now I think I see what this is all about.

This whole purim joke is because I made a stink about Craftwork Of A Jewitch being removed from the Israelforum blogroll and asked that Jbloggers not let them get away with it. But of course, no one came to my defense. Not one.

Clearly, if people have to resort to these kinds of tactics, they are surely not prepared to deal with a Jewitch rationally.

Juvenile. This is totally juvenile.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Liorah: "Jew-witchery" ???

That's like a bit too strange for my blog to handle. How can one rationally deal with a Jewitch?

Mikeage said...

I didn't realize you were so frum... even in RBS, we had plenty of time to read this news at Canonist around 10:30 am on Friday.

Or does Jameel observe a different Sabbath...? ;)

Anonymous said...

people shouldn't take the blog so seriously

Anonymous said...

I meant the blog world

Anonymous said...

Hello, my name is Lydia Sizer and I am working on a thesis through Brown University in the United States looking at blogs. I am looking at how blogs affect mutual understanding among people of different ethnic backgrounds and I was wondering if you would be willing to take a survey I have prepared for my research. This research would give you a voice in determining whether blogs would be useful in aiding global security and counteracting racism. If you are interested, don't hesitate to email me at Thank you so much for your time. For convenience, please enter "thesis survey" as the subject of your email as I will not know who is writing to me. Thanks again! In addition, you will receive an email later from This is because my school email is routed through my home email. Thanks!

--Lydia Sizer

Jack Steiner said...


IF is a small start up that doesn't get much traffic. I wouldn't be worried about those guys.

Search the Muqata


Related Posts with Thumbnails