Saturday , May 25 2024

Outrageous: Prior Restrainst on Internet Speech

A battle of images:

    The beauty queen and the cad both have Web sites.
    Katy Johnson, who was Miss Vermont in 1999 and again in 2001, uses her site to promote what she calls her “platform of character education.”

    “She is founder of Say Nay Today and the Sobriety Society,” the site says, “and her article `ABC’s of Abstinence’ was featured in Teen magazine.”

    Tucker Max’s site promotes something like the opposite of character education. It contains a form through which women can apply for a date with him, pictures of his former girlfriends and reports on what Mr. Max calls his “belligerence and debauchery.”

    Until a Florida judge issued an unusual order last month, Mr. Max’s site also contained a long account of his relationship with Ms. Johnson, whom he portrayed, according to court papers, as vapid, promiscuous and an unlikely candidate for membership in the Sobriety Society.

    The order, entered by Judge Diana Lewis of Circuit Court in West Palm Beach, forbids Mr. Max to write about Ms. Johnson. It has alarmed experts in First Amendment law, who say that such orders prohibiting future publication, prior restraints, are essentially unknown in American law. Moreover, they say, claims like Ms. Johnson’s, for invasion of privacy, have almost never been considered enough to justify prior restraints. [NY Times]

Besides being apparently unfamiliar with the Constitution, she also seems to be unfamiliar with the Internet:

    Ms. Johnson’s lawsuit also highlights some shifting legal distinctions in the Internet era, between private matters and public ones and between speech and property.

    Judge Lewis ruled on May 6, before Mr. Max was notified of the suit and without holding a hearing. She told Mr. Max that he could not use “Katy” on his site. Nor could he use Ms. Johnson’s last name, full name or the words “Miss Vermont.”

    The judge also prohibited Mr. Max from “disclosing any stories, facts or information, notwithstanding its truth, about any intimate or sexual acts engaged in by” Ms. Johnson. That prohibition is not limited to his Web site. Finally, Judge Lewis ordered Mr. Max to sever the virtual remains of his relationship with Ms. Johnson. He is no longer allowed to link to her Web site.

Not link to her website? Is the judge insane? Is she trying to start her own country with an entirely new set of rules? If this isn’t overturned posthaste, we are entering a new era, and it sucks.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted,, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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