We’ve previously covered the psychological reasoning behind anonymous blog trolls, but a new case in Wisconsin may cause some trolls to think twice prior to hitting the “Submit Comment” button.
Suburban Milwaukee high school chemistry teacher James Buss was arrested last week after leaving an anonymous comment on the Boots And Sabers political blog as part of a discussion on teacher’s salaries. Under the name of “Observer” James Buss wrote the following:
Looking at those teacher salary numbers in West Bend made me sick. $60,000 for a part time job were you ‘work’ maybe 5 hours per day and sit in the teachers lounge and smoke the rest of the time. Thanks God we won on the referendum. But whining here doesn’t stop the problem. We’ve got to get in back of the kids who have had enough of lazy, no good teachers and are fighting back. Kids like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold members of the Young Republicans club at Columbine. They knew how to deal with the overpaid teacher union thugs. One shot at a time! Too bad the liberals rip them; they were heroes and should be remembered that way
Police acquired the IP address of Buss from the blogs administrator then arrested him at his home at Cudahy, south of Milwaukee. Buss spent an hour in the Washington County jail before he was released on $350 bail.
According to local reports, officials are considering whether to charge Buss with disorderly conduct and unlawful use of computerized communication systems.
The validity of the charges will come down to whether Buss’ admiration of the Columbine Shooters and use of the phrase “one shot at a time” constitutes a threat or not. The ACLU and others are arguing that the comments are in poor taste, but do not constitute a threat and are therefore covered under the First Amendment.
A case we covered back in June saw the right to comment anonymously and remain anonymous headed to court, but here the blogs owner happily handed over the IP address to authorities. The moral is that really there is only very limited privacy when being a troll, unless you’re using an anonymizing service such as the TOR browser. Any blog owner can, and may well hand over identifying information should you leave an anonymous comment that comes to the attention of authorities, or others.