I'm ok, and you're ok. At least according to AG Long

When the subject of the legality of blogging and commenting came up in a recent article in the Rapid City Journal, South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long seems to be throwing in with us. Or at least he thinks what we do is mostly within the parameters of the law.

From the Rapid City Journal:
"What happens if on one of these blog sites a well-known businessman is accused of selling drugs out his backdoor, and it decimates his business?" Napoli said. "I believe everybody has the constitutional right of free speech. I do not believe they have the right to slander and lie about someone and not be called on the carpet for it."

Long wouldn't rule out a legal carpet-call to libelous bloggers. But identifying the blogger could be as difficult as identifying the telephone caller, he said.

"With the telephone calls, if you can figure out who it is and they've crossed the line, you can probably do something about it," Long said. "If you can figure out who the blogger is and they've crossed the line, you can probably do something about that, too."

Politicians should not have to tolerate personal threats as part of the job, Long said. Nasty commentary, even if untrue, is another matter.

"If it's political comment on or about a politician or political figure, I'll tell you what, the First Amendment is pretty broad," Long said. "There are some limits. But it's hard to find the limits if it's comment about a legitimate political issue, whether it's a ballot measure or a contest between candidates."

Napoli said he understands that and loves a world of free speech. But he also thinks his recent experience is evidence of a larger issue worth examinating.

"It's something I'm going to discuss," he said, "Pending my re-election."
Read it all here. Political commentary, the First Amendment is pretty broad. But libelous commentary, maybe not so broad.

In recent days, I deleted a comment where some whacked-out J.A.I.L. supporter was accusing a judge of a perverted act with no evidence. And even worse, on the Wiki (which I need to update with the new information onthe races) someone decided to get cute and identify a couple of candidates as "lesbians." I've got the IP address on that one, and as soon as I resolve that to a user, someone is going to get a butt-chewing.

Unless you can back up accusations with solid evidence, don't even bother making them. Otherwise, the A.G. is on your side for broad political commentary. Courtesy of the First Amendment.


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