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Dec 03, 2009

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Account Deleted

Hoggard reads Fec:

Martin did the same thing to me – 20 minute blast of a couple of dozen disturbing emails – about two years ago. (A couple of the worst disparaged my wife’s physical appearance following cancer).

A. Bulluck

When did Feces Stench get out of jail?

Dave Ribar

Jeff:

How childish. Feel better now?

Account Deleted

Dave: Your perspective is fine with me. My perspective is that someone who repeatedly exhibits this type of behavior toward women needs to be held accountable.

Accountability makes me feel better.

Roch101

"My perspective is that someone who repeatedly exhibits this type of behavior toward women needs to be held accountable."

Do you think the law should be the method for holding someone accountable for writing offensive things?

Fec

Thanks, but you've done it now, Mr. Cone. I apologize for my actions which have hijacked the purpose of this post. My past is chasing me. Gotta run.

Account Deleted

Roch: I don't have any problem with anyone writing annoying things on the open internet.

When someone invades another person's email inbox with repeated messages that assert the prerogative to take aggressive action in the future, I think if we looked at the case in a subjective vacuum, we would all conclude that a line of decency was crossed.

I have multiple levels of interest in this incident, some are related to personal differences with a principal party, others are related to the issue of justice, others related to freedom of speech and tolerance.

Ignoring one of the biggest local blogging stories in recent memory while linking to Fec as if nothing has happened also arouses my curiosity.

Fec

Conquistador, how big a box would we need to get your bulbous head in a subjective vacuum?

Account Deleted

A pretty big one. When I played varsity football it took the school a month to order me a football helmet big enough. Cool thing was that I got one of those brand new helmets while the other guys had these old dingy things.

Didn't stop me from getting concussions playing nose guard.

Roch101

What you describe, Jeff, is an objection to making threats. That was not the charge.

Fec

Thanks, Roch. I don't think that stopped him. Probably went to eat something or take a dump.

Account Deleted

Roch: I think in light of the evidence presented so far that probable cause for 14-196.3.b.2 has been met clearly. Subsection -b.1 will be in the eye of the judge or jury.

Either way, a clear violation of -b.2 has taken place. On multiple levels.

(NCGS 14-196.3.b.2 - (It is unlawful to) Electronically mail or electronically communicate to another repeatedly, whether or not conversation ensues, for the purpose of abusing, annoying, threatening, terrifying, harassing, or embarrassing any person)

I am curious as an observer to see how the case plays out in court.

Dave Ribar

Jeff:

If you want to hold him accountable on your site, that's all well and good. Chasing him on to other sites in threads that have nothing to do with the behavior in question seems like something straight out of middle school, if not something straight out of the Richard Moore playbook.

Account Deleted

Forgot to link to the NCGS.

Roch: You and I go through this often when we comment about legal matters. The law is not as black and white as you wish it to be. I wish you were right and that it were.

The law is made by man and enforced by man. Man is an imperfect being. Therefore the law is imperfect.

I use to worship at the feet of lady justice until I saw from three perspectives how she really works.

What happens next is Fec's lawyer schmoozes the DA and tells him his main witness is unreliable. The DA begins to wonder if he really wants to waste his time on the case. The case gets postponed or delayed, the victim doesn't get notified of a hearing and the case gets thrown out.

Who is served in that scenario?

Justice? Society? Fec?

Account Deleted

@Dave: Again, I found it curious that the premier blogger in the area has chosen to ignore the events and so I chose to highlight that discrepancy here on this thread.

I did it under my name in the open so I could be held accountable for my actions.

I know many, many of you thing the victim in the case has worn out her welcome, but I personally am perplexed by the crowd's genuine silence on what clearly is a case of harassment and intimidation.

That's my view. Subjective as it is.

Fec

It looks like you forgot to hold your breath before entering the subjective vacuum. Perhaps you should remove the helmet.

Roch101

Jeff, I don't know that I have ever denied the nuances or inconsistencies in our judicial system. I am quite aware of them and I don't know how I could have ever given you the opposite impression unless it was about some specific case which I argued was cut and dry.

Regarding the state statute, it will be interesting to see how a court interprets this, if the case goes to trial. If it gets applied in the way you would like to see it, we should all be very worried. Heck, Jeff, I could make the case against a dozen local bloggers, most friends, that they have in blog comments alone "Electronically communicate[d] to another repeatedly... for the purpose of abusing, annoying, threatening, terrifying, harassing, or embarrassing any person." That pretty much sums up Bubba's whole commentary oeuvre and could apply to hundreds of other comment threads. You really do not want this law applied for this purpose.

eric

"Chasing him on to other sites in threads that have nothing to do with the behavior in question seems like something straight out of middle school, if not something straight out of the Richard Moore playbook."

It might even be construed as violating the same cyber-staling statute that Jeffrey quotes.

Fec

Somewhere in Rockingham County, an angry brain has travelled off its rails into the dangerous and sometimes hilarious land of illogic.

Account Deleted

So you guys (Ribar, Eric) have no moral concerns about a man repeatedly (more than two dozen times in one hour) emailing a woman with messages that insinuate the potential for aggressive behavior?

I just want to be clear on that. Leave the metaphysics aside for a moment.

Account Deleted

@Eric: In my communications TO Fec have I exhibited any of the characteristics outlined in the GS? I think I have one electronic communication to Mr. Martin in this thread.

Fec

Yeah, and I really liked it. Thanks.

Account Deleted

@Roch:" ... if the case goes to trial. If it gets applied in the way you would like to see it, we should all be very worried."

Roch: First, I haven't stated how I would like to see the law applied. In my lay opinion, the question is the volume and the tone of the emails sent.

I agree with you that the GS is nebulous in so far as the "or electronically communicate" wording. However, I don't understand why you chose to move the discussion away from the direct actions taken by Mr. Martin in electronically mailing the victim directly. The larger discussion of blog comments and online writing is one we should have. But in this case, if a man sent a woman 27 letters in a day via USPS and she had them laid out on a table wouldn't you see that as rising to harassment?

Just because he saved $11.88 by not mailing them via post doesn't seem to make this case any different.

Fec

Thanks for doing the math, but they wouldn't have gotten there nearly so fast, and they are, after all, free.

You just don't know when to shut up.

Account Deleted

Mr. Martin: I am trying to have a conversation with folks about their views on these circumstances. I hope you are well and enjoying the day.

Roch101

"First, I haven't stated how I would like to see the law applied. In my lay opinion, the question is the volume and the tone of the emails sent." -- Jeff

I apologize if your comments led me to the wrong conclusion. You seemed to be defending legal punishment for the writings in question. So let me just ask, do you think Fec should be found guilty?

"However, I don't understand why you chose to move the discussion away from the direct actions taken by Mr. Martin in electronically mailing the victim directly."

Because the statute is not limited to email only. If the question is the "volume and tone," as you say, than we should not that the law includes "electronic communications," so you cannot argue that Fec crossed some line in volume and tone without considering that the law will have us draw that same line in any electronic communication. I mention blog comments precisely in hope that you would see that what you appear to think illegal in email would be illegal in numerous blog comment threads and I'm wondering if you want to reconsider where you think the line should be drawn.

Dave Ribar

Jeff:

Not sure how you come to the conclusion that I have no moral concerns about the behavior in question. I just don't see the need to chase him across threads like Ahab after some stenchy white whale.

Account Deleted

Dave: I understand. I was just wanting to draw some of you into stating an opinion. I think these events deserve a thorough examination. That was my motivation.

Account Deleted

@Roch:"So let me just ask, do you think Fec should be found guilty?"

I know answering this question will lead to any number of scenarios I can't prepare for, but I will say that yes, in this situation I think a conviction would serve justice to Mr. Martin, society and the victim for the specific actions that have taken place.

Whether it is don't drink and blog on Friday night or learning to tell somebody to go F* off and then walk away, I think the purpose of these criminal laws related to civility is to intend a consequence for actions that violate small degrees of civility. Maybe it's an asterisk by his name or having to check the box if he ever applies for a job or maybe it's just a $500 fine and an order to stay away from the victim. No matter how small, at least there is a consequence.

@Roch:"I'm wondering if you want to reconsider where you think the line should be drawn."

I understand and agree with you about the blog comments scenario. I feel that the law is clear with the "or" between email and electronic communications that the intent was to divide the statute in half. GS's evolve with the zeitgeist and I would be content if they exempted free speech in public forums. I believe the "electronic communications" is intended to cover cell phones and myspace/facebook messages.

Mr. Martin errs in thinking a judge will care about the context of his perspective. The judge will only care if his actions violated any section of the GS, not what his motivations where.

Fec

No, you wronged in thinking my contrition was an admission, exactly reversed from what you are saying now.

Account Deleted

Mr. Martin: As is normally the case, I don't understand what you are saying. I haven't seen you act contrite, related to this victim or any of your victims in the past, which is what confounds me most about your actions since being arrested and charged with a crime.

I think we are all smart enough to anticipate your legal strategy, up to and including an Alford plea.

Roch101

"I believe the "electronic communications" is intended to cover cell phones and myspace/facebook messages." -- JS

But not blogs? Okay. You are entitled to your opinion, but you are fashioning it from facts not in existence.

"GS's evolve with the zeitgeist and I would be content if they exempted free speech in public forums." -- JS

My observation is that they evolve more by precedent and that the conviction of Jeff you desire would set a bad one -- in the opposite direction of what you wistfully anticipate.

Bubba

"However, I don't understand why you chose to move the discussion away from the direct actions taken by Mr. Martin in electronically mailing the victim directly.'

I do.

Fec

Sykes, among your many failings is selective memory.

Account Deleted

Roch: This is the point where we usually get off track. I have tried to agree with you and converse and you resort to fec'ing me with some innuendo about "facts not in existence."

Politely I would urge you to read the statute.

Specifically, again, I do not understand why you move from the facts in existence concerning this case to the larger issue of free speech being stifled in open forums.

Seems like a moving target to me.

The precedent in this case would be that a man repeatedly harassing a women via email is not ok.

I would be ok with that precedent. If and when someone is convicted for posting a blog comment I have faith the appeals process will set things as they should be.

I have tried to be honorable in answering your direct questions.

Would you answer mine:

Do you think a man who sends a woman 27 emails in an hour that hint at his ability to inflict harm on her is criminal behavior or not?

greensboro transplant

"Do you think a man who sends a woman 27 emails in an hour that hint at his ability to inflict harm on her is criminal behavior or not?"

at the very least it's creepy.

eric

My point was more about the vagueness and overbreadth of the statute. Jeffrey's comments certainly appear to have the purpose of annoying and embarrassing Fec. Some people might even find those comments to be threatening or harassing. I don't think anyone should be subject to criminal prosecution merely for something they write.

As for Fec's alleged misdemeanor, I really have no opinion, since I don't know the facts. I'm sure whatever he did is far more threatening, terrifying, or harassing than, say, setting fire to a building or barging into a TV station and ranting like a madman, and he should be put away for life.

Account Deleted

Eric: And that is part of my interest. Having erred in those instances and paid my dues for them and tried to learn from them I find it interesting to watch others make mistakes over and over without ever being held accountable.

As I said, accountability makes me feel better.

No one can take away from me the fact that I was accountable for my failures. No one can take away from me the fact that the prosecutor made up facts not in existence in order to try and have me sent to prison. No one can take away from me the fact that I pleaded guilty even though the stated victim refused to come to court. No one can take away from me the fact that I did what I was asked to do by the state and moved forward, even though the jail staff lied and created facts not in existence in order to have me held in solitary confinement for 145 days.

No one can take away from me the fact that I apologized for visiting with the tv staff after they had in fact harassed me for two years via electronic communications.

No one can take away from me the fact that the staff and I exchanged apologies within days of the incident and have worked together to atone for the bitterness of our conflict.

All that gives me a freedom of conscience that someone who runs from his mistakes and blames them all on others can never have.

Love,

Jeff

Fec

He finally made it about him. Now, maybe he'll go away.

Spag

A) Jeff, you need to read my blog more often because I posted on this issue last week when everyone else was silent.

B) I generally agree with Roch's analysis. If Mary taunts Fec on Joe's blog, and then Fec responds to her privately through her email, under the law, both could be found guilty if done for harassment. The fact that Mary chose to engage Fec publicly in a pissing contest is why I think both are equally responsible and in fact Fec could just as easily file a charge against her for the comments she made about him on Joe's site and elsewhere if the law is to be followed. I don't know what was written in the emails beyond what was published but there seemed to be a clear back and forth with the consent of both parties that used several electronic mediums and platforms. This is why I think a District Court judge is going to be very leery about convicting Jeff.

Let's say that I am on Facebook and there is a debate going on any given subject. Things get heated and instead of responding to someone publicly, I engage the "pop out chat" function and hurl my insults there instead. Have I committed a crime? What if the other person continues to trash me publicly while I do my trashing in private? That is the problem with this case.

Roch is right about the effect this could have on blogs, where many of us abuse, annoy, harass and embarrass each other on a regular basis. Roch and I do that quite a bit, but I still consider him a friend. If one day he decides he's tired of it, do I instantly become a criminal? The context matters, and in this case the history between the parties matters as well as all other communications that transpired that night.

C) There isn't one appellate opinion in North Carolina interpreting this law. I tend to agree with Eric that it is overbroad.

eric

To be fair, Jeff didn't make it about him, I did. And I apologize; that was unnecessary and unhelpful. I also think it's unnecessary and unhelpful to be pointing fingers all around. But there were other ways I could have expressed that point and I chose an extremely poor one.

And someone please make note of the fact that, on this day, in an Ed Cone blog thread, Sam and I were in agreement. It really is the season of peace on earth and goodwill to all men. Sincere best wishes all around.

Spag

No worries Eric. Ed and I once agreed on something too.

Account Deleted

I think it's been a decent discussion all around.

So you know, I was visited two years ago by the police because someone accused me of cyberstalking for one blog post I made about his wife. They laughed about it and thought it was stupid, especially since the person had been cyberstalking me for more than two years. The person came to my house the next day and took pictures of my house and put them on his website along with my address.

But I took the point to heart and never made another mention of the person's wife ever again, even though to this day they cyberstalk me in just the way Roch, Sam and Eric worry about.

I read your blog everyday Sam, and for the third time I came here due to the fact that the proprietor of this blog has ignored the circumstances to this point and chose today to link to a post of Fec's as if nothing has happened. I found that curious.

I like the community on this blog. I respect the intellects on this blog.

Which is why I find it hard to believe the crowd has chosen to make Fec the victim of an overly broad state law as opposed to admonishing him for instilling fear in the heart and soul of a single woman who has no husband or father to defend her.

I have enjoyed trading ideas here today. I now bow out for the evening.

Roch101

"Specifically, again, I do not understand why you move from the facts in existence concerning this case to the larger issue of free speech being stifled in open forums." -- Jeff

The statute says email or electronic communications. That is a fact in existence. Blogs are electronic communications. It is not moving from the facts to consider the implications of this law on electronic communications.

You are the one untethering from the facts by saying, with no foundation and contrary to the the plain meaning of words, that emails, cell phones and facebook are electronic communications while blogs garner some excpetion in thier mind not for anything stated in the statute, but because you imagine that as "open forums" they should be. The statute does not make that distinction. It does, however, specify the commonalities.

Your repeated insistence on trying to add some significance to gender is another example of projecting something onto the law that is not there. You are reje what is there (electronic communications) while imagining things that don't exists (an exemption for "open forums" and acts by a man towards a woman.)

Roch101

"Do you think a man who sends a woman 27 emails in an hour that hint at his ability to inflict harm on her is criminal behavior or not?" -- Jeff

Not these specific 27 emails. No, not in my opinion.

Roch101

Dammit, Eric. You had to go there? Now you too are guilty of electronically communicating for the purpose of embarrassing someone. Seriously, that was not cool, but also seriously, it does illustrate the absurdity of a strict application of the statute.

Maybe the problem isn't with our differing opinions. Maybe this is a fracked up law that should be changed.

Fec

Well, there you go. He hasn't seen them, has he?

Roch101

"Roch and I do that quite a bit, but I still consider him a friend." -- Spag

Now you are just trying to annoy and embarrass me, I'm sure.

Roch101

Eric, just read you mea culpa -- well said. And in the spirit of agreement going on around here, I'll agree with Jeff that there is an appetite for commentary on the issue from the blogfather*.


[* I swear to being the first to coin this term and applying it to Ed prior to the subsequent pretenders**. Are those Radio Land comments gone yet, Ed?]

[** Dave Wiener being a legitimate contender to the throne.]

Account Deleted

Roch:

At this point, I give up because we are both talking about two different things and arguing over nothing.

The facts in this case relate to emails, not blogs, and each time you bring up the possibility of what might happen in the future, you obfuscate, nay rationalize, an excuse for Mr. Martin's actions related to the emails he sent.

The word or in the statute means either, and I agree with you, once again, that the "or" for "electronic communication" is nebulous. Mr. Martin's case does not involve electronic communication, it involves electronic mail.

That is my point, which you continually muddle by bringing up facts not related to his case.

Again, you have no experience with the law in action if you think that gender plays no role in a stalking charge. We go over this all the time. Go sit in district court for a month every day and you will see the law is quite different in action than it is in the black and white text in the book or the moral concepts in your mind.

At this point I can say that I roundly disagree with the way each of you has dehumanized the victim in this case over the last few years. It is one thing for her to be irritating and loud and repetitive, and quite another for you all to dehumanize her to the point of being "an other" that can be ridiculed.

I object to it very much. Perhaps that is why our host is silent on this thread. He knows that blog comments do not do justice to an individual's persona or their worth as a human.

For you all to give Mr. Martin a pass for his actions directed to the victim in this case because of some possible path toward stifling of free speech is really a sad commentary on what is important to you.

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