Goodbye Liskula, Skanks of New York Is Over

Liskula Cohen, it was nice knowing you, but it's time to move on. Rosemary, file your suit, or don't. It's over between us, too.

The coverage of the New York Skanks story has been depressing. It's continued way too long and if Rosemary Port is really going to sue Google, she should just get on with it and leave the rest of us alone.

As an aside, does "New York Skanks" sound like some sort of a bizarre sports franchise to you? Well, never mind…

I think there is value to warning bloggers that they are only one judge away from a public outing. I see no obligation for Google to protect people from their own words once a judge orders their identity revealed.

A judge found that Ms. Port crossed the line between opinion and defamation. I am glad Ms. Cohen decided not to sue; especially having spent what I am sure is a fair amount of money on legal fees.

That's where the story should end, except that we live in a celeb-obsessed culture with a very low threshold for celebrity. Two pretty women in a sex-tinged legal dispute is plenty.

Not surprisingly, this turned out to be a personality conflict that went Internet-nuclear. I am glad Liskula Cohen won the case. I could care less about the women's boyfriends, current or former.

The online media, which really should know better, was very slow to update itself. For days after Ms. Cohen appeared on TV talking about the ruling and her subsequent conversation with Ms. Port, some news sources were acting as though Google had yet to provide the identify the of blogger.

As for the First Amendment, I believe it was well served in this case. People on the Internet seem to believe--if the reader e-mail I've received is an indication--that free speech is absolute. It is not.

Free speech comes with a responsibility to behave reasonably and to not defame other individuals, in so doing violating their human rights. Given the world we live in today, it is not surprising bloggers think their words don't matter very much.

But, they do and I hope that is what we've learned from Liskula and Rosemary. Now it is time to move on. Really.

David Coursey would never had imagined he'd write headlines including the word "skank." He hope this will be his last, everyone else's, too. He tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web site.

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