Stephen M. Kramarsky writes:
Sticks and stones may break bones, but words never hurt. Or do they? Laws and ordinances passed in a number of cities and states across the country — and in a bill now under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives — treat harsh words on the internet quite differently from those on the playground.
In Finkel v. Dauber,[FOOTNOTE 3] decided by a Manhattan Supreme Court in July, plaintiff was an internet user who was allegedly the subject of some extremely unpleasant messages posted to a Facebook group of 10 people called “90 Cents Short of a Dollar.” The postings consisted of various messages that referred to plaintiff by a code name (“the 11th cent”), and one or more edited photographs, allegedly of plaintiff, with captions. The messages asserted, among other things, that plaintiff had had sexual relations with a male prostitute, a horse and a baboon, that she had “shar[ed] needles with various different heroin addicts,” that she had contracted AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases from this conduct and that the various diseases had caused her to transform into the devil.
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