Today is the seventh anniversary of the first episode of Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign.
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SOUND: Skype Ringing Once. Handset picked up.
JOHNNY: Johnny Atsign.
RULE 5 GIRL: (Telephone Filter) Hi, Johnny.
JOHNNY: Well, hello. What’s up?
RULE 5 GIRL: (Telephone Filter) Do you remember that ex-con I told you about who is running a couple of not-for-profits over in your part of the country?
JOHNNY: The Bomber? Yeah, what about him?
RULE 5 GIRL: (Telephone Filter) He’s threatening bloggers with bogus lawsuits.
JOHNNY: Trying that lawfare scam?
RULE 5 GIRL: (Telephone Filter) It sure seems like it.
JOHNNY: I’ll look into it.
MUSIC: Theme up and under.
ANNOUNCER: The Lickspittle Broadcasting System presents W. J. J. Hoge in the transcribed adventures of the man with the action-packed Twitter account, America’s fabulous free-lance Internet investigator …
JOHNNY: Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign!
MUSIC: Theme up to music out.
JOHNNY: The following is partial extract of the tweets sent and received during my investigation of Short-Fused Dud Matter. I set out looking for any information I could find about The Bomber.
JOHNNY TWEETS: (SYNTH VOICE) What’s the latest on #TheBomber? Asking for a friend.
JOHHNY: That brought in a fair number of tweets and DMs. It turned out that The Bomber had been successful in suing a leftwing blogger for defamation and harassment. The Bomber claimed that writing truthful things about his past constituted harassment because in made it less likely that people would donate to the not-for-profits he ran. He had sued the blogger for a million-and-a-quarter to make up for a government grant he claimed he’d lost and another million in punitive damages. Sometimes the action that’s packed into my cases is simply shoe leather work running down documents. I went by the courthouse and picked up a copy of the transcript audio. It wasn’t a trial on the merits of the case. The blogger hadn’t responded in a timely manner, so there had been a default judgment. It was a damages hearing.
THE BOMBER: He has called me a pedophile, a murderer, a fraudster, a con man, a terrorist. I mean, the list goes on.
JUDGE 1: Okay. What I need though is, I mean, right now, you’re giving me conclusions, and I need hard facts.
JOHNNY: And so it went for quite a while. Finally, the judge ruled.
JUDGE 1: It’s unfortunate that this matter didn’t go to trial, because it does complicate the damage issue, but The Bomber has the burden of proof to show actual damages. The major concern I have, and the difficulty I have in awarding actual damages, is the causal connection between whatever statements were made and the financial impact on you is not proven. I also can’t be blind to First Amendment issues and whether statements that were contained in blogs were statements of truth. Because there was a default on the claims themselves, I’m going to award what is considered really nominal damages of $100.
JOHNNY: And the judge ordered the blogger not to interfere with The Bomber’s business.
Now, from my point of view The Bomber is … well, let’s just say, he tends to hold a grudge. He had found out that a politically conservative lawyer had offered free legal assistance to the leftwing blogger, and The Bomber realigned his sights on that lawyer. The lawyer was also a blogger, and for his own set of reasons he wrote under a nom de cyber. For our purposes we’ll call him Strider. As part of an attempt to get the leftwing blogger held in contempt of court, The Bomber filed for subpoena to force Google to give up Strider’s identity, but The Bomber found out Strider’s ID by other means. He then filed a motion to withdraw his subpoena and included Strider’s identity in his motion as a way of outing him. Strider filed an motion to seal The Bomber’s filing and showed up in court for the contempt hearing. I got the courtroom audio of that as well.
STRIDER: Your Honor, if you look at what he has filed today, all he had to do to file that motion was to tell the Court that he obtained my information. He did not have to even say my name. Instead, in this public document now, he has put my name, he has put my home address, he has put my birth date, he has put the high school I went to. He put the fact that I dropped out of high school in this. He put the fact that I received a GED. He put the fact that I went to the University of North Texas. He went and put in the fact that I sued the law school admissions council. He put in the fact that I was admitted to Yale Law School and graduated in the class of 2002. He put down my current job with my current employer and their address as well.
His intent in doing this was so that it becomes a public record so that him and his friends can put this out into the public so they can stalk and harass me. I would like this to be sealed.
JUDGE 2: I’m going to grant the request to file this under seal. And I’ll grant the request to seal the information in the motion to withdraw.
JOHNNY: And then The Bomber tried to convince the judge that the leftwing blogger was disobeying the injunction concerning interfering with his business.
JUDGE 2: I’ve read the November blogs. I don’t see anything in here that’s defamation.
THE BOMBER: But they interfere with my business. That’s the second part of the order.
JUDGE 2: What evidence do you have of this, that anything has, anything specifically has interfered with your business?
JOHNNY: The Bomber rattled on for a while, and then the judge ruled.
JUDGE 2: Well, I’ve reviewed what’s been submitted. I do not find that there is sufficient evidence that would allow me to conclude there is any contempt after reviewing all these documents. I’m going to deny the petition for contempt.
The Court’s in recess.
CLERK: All rise.
JOHNNY: What happened next occurred out of the range of the courtroom microphones. But there was a camera.
JOHNNY TWEETS: (SYNTH VOICE) @Strider What’s the YouTube address for that video.
MUSIC: Theme up and under
ANNOUNCER: Now, here’s our star to tell you about next week’s intriguing episode of our story.
JOHNNY: Next week? Well, sometimes the good guys take a terrible beating before things turn their way. Join us, won’t you.
Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign.
MUSIC: Swell theme and under
ANNOUNCER: Johnny Atsign mugs and other stuff are available exclusively at The Hogewash Store. Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign, starring W. J. J. Hoge is transcribed in Westminster. Be sure to join us next Monday, same time and URL, for the next exciting episode of Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign.
MUSIC: Theme up to music out.
ANNOUNCER: Johnny Atsign is a work of fiction. If anyone thinks it’s about him, he should read Proverbs 28:1. This is LBS, the Lickspittle Broadcasting System.
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Back in the Golden Age of Radio, the networks would carry certain shows whether they had a sponsor or had to be subsidized by on a sustaining basis. This first Johnny Atsign episode ran without a commercial break, but subsequent programs included a commercial, usually for The Hogewash Store.
Speaking of the The Hogewash Store, it’s stocked with all sorts of blog-related stuff that would make great stocking suffers.