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Sunday, February 15, 2009


Howard Wasserman and Richard Esenberg have blogged about the matter before, but now the New York Times is picking up the story (Prawfs gets results!):

FOR the backers of Proposition 8, the state ballot measure to stop single-sex couples from marrying in California, victory has been soured by the ugly specter of intimidation.

Some donors to groups supporting the measure have received death threats and envelopes containing a powdery white substance, and their businesses have been boycotted.

The targets of this harassment blame a controversial and provocative Web site, eightmaps.com.

I have to admit, I don't know what to think about this.  Intimidation, bad; transparency, good; engaged political participation, good; preventing information gathering-and-flow in today's world, probably impossible; etc.  Thoughts?

Posted by Rick Garnett on February 15, 2009 at 04:09 PM in First Amendment | Permalink


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I don't think anyone on the Right (anyone respectable, at least) has been critical of the idea of boycotting supporters of Prof 8. The difference is that it has gone past boycotting into a campaign of harassment and intimidation. It's a shame that you have seen several death threats over the years in your community, but that doesn't sound like it rises to the same level as the large, organized campaign of harassment being waged in CA right now.

Posted by: D | Feb 18, 2009 11:46:29 AM

This tactic actually isn't new or limited to gay rights issues. In the South, especially, local anti-abortion groups regularly release the names of donors to Planned Parenthood and encourage boycotts. In my community in central Texas there have been several death threats over the years as well. As usual, the Right has better p.r. It's funny to see them play the victim card now, since it is they who have been doing most of the victimizing and intimidation.

Posted by: Jim A. | Feb 17, 2009 11:35:59 AM

I hate to beat the tired cliche of 'the MSM agenda', but this seems to me like a situation that really could have gone differently had their been more media coverage. I think that most people who oppose Prop 8 would also oppose intimidation and harassment by some on their side. A name and shame campaign by the national media could have done a lot to put pressure on those engaging in the intimidation to stop, since they really are just hurting their own cause. However, as you note in your post, the NY Times is just noticing this as an issue.
I find it highly doubtful that had the outcome of the election been reversed, and we found gay marriage opponents engaging in these intimidation and harassment tactics, that it would take the NY Times months to write an article about it.

Posted by: D | Feb 15, 2009 10:49:52 PM

Totally sympathetic to the cause, but can't support the intimidation tactics. Would it be possible to argue that releasing these maps is an impermissible burden on freedom of association, citing NAACP v. Alabama (invalidating court order requiring disclosure of NAACP membership lists because fear of reprisal would prevent people from joining)? The concern with that, obv., is that it would preclude all manner of public disclosures about donation records on the theory that they might lead to backlash. Then again, I'm not particularly bothered by a rule that says private individuals' political donations should not be a matter of public record.

Posted by: Dave | Feb 15, 2009 6:47:40 PM

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