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McCarthyism Somewhere Over the Rainbow

February 9th, 2009 · 2 Comments

eightmaps

Eightmaps has gotten a lot of press regarding the “outting” of contributors to Prop 8. Essentially, it’s a Google Maps page devoted to flagging donors’ names, employment and the amount they gave toward the passing of the proposition.

It’s also considered a major coup for the opposition when the courts said the contributors’ identities couldn’t be blocked. In fact, No-on-8 cheerleaders in the media deemed it amusing, ironic just-desserts. For example, Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic said:

And I don’t get the fear. If Prop 8 supporters truly feel that barring equality for gay couples is vital for saving civilization, shouldn’t they be proud of their financial support? Why don’t they actually have posters advertising their support for discriminating against gay people– as a matter of pride?

It’s obvious Eightmaps was created for one thing, and that wasn’t to be a tool to reach out and engage in healing, constructive dialogue. The only thing it’s good for– despite what they would have you believe– is to expose the identities of the donors for all to see in the hopes it might cause them some degree of damage.

However, now according to a New York Times article, civil liberties and privacy advocates are starting to realize some of the gung-ho activism is really biting them in the ass, too:

Eightmaps takes that data, formerly of interest mainly to social scientists, pollsters and journalists, and publishes it in a way not foreseen when the open-government laws were passed. As a result, donors are exposed to a wide audience and, in some cases, to harassment or worse.

“When I see those maps, it does leave me with a bit of a sick feeling in my stomach,” said Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation, which has advocated for open democracy. “This is not really the intention of voter disclosure laws. But that’s the thing about technology. You don’t really know where it is going to take you.”

Many civil liberties advocates, including those who disagree with his views on marriage… wonder if open-government rules intended to protect political influence of the individual voter, combined with the power of the Internet, might be having the opposite effect on citizens.

“These are very small donations given by individuals, and now they are subject to harassment that ultimately makes them less able to engage in democratic decision making,” said Chris Jay Hoofnagle, senior fellow at the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology at the University of California.

Doh! Wait to go, pinheads. In their rabid attempts to “get back” at those who voted their conscience, they’ve managed to pervert yet another aspect of our society– using disclosure laws meant to protect private citizens against corporate agendas, by instead whining, intimidating and threatening those private citizens with direct, personal feedback.

And by getting so caught up in their own drama, they’ve overlooked the obvious possibility of the same technique being used to hurt gays. Why doesn’t the closeted homosexual construction worker in Huntsville, AL, fly a rainbow flag on his front porch? Shouldn’t he be proud of who he is? I don’t get the fear. What would if he have to fear if an anti-gay group flagged him on a Google Maps because of a donation he made?

The answer is obvious: Because there are, in this world, small, committed groups of people who would use that information to attack his person and property. And there would be many others who, while they wouldn’t personally perpetrate any harm, wouldn’t mind terribly if someone else did. And so it goes with Eightmaps.

Come to think of it, who created Eightmaps? If they’re so proud of tearing away the blankets of privacy, why don’t they stand up and be counted?

Hey, I’m not wishing it upon you. But you opened up Pandora’s Box. You showed the world how it’s done. Just know you won’t have a leg to stand on when it’s used against you.

I agree with one Georgetown professor’s solution: Require anyone seeking private donor information on a state government site to provide their own information, along with something verifiable like a credit card number. I’d take it one step further and send their information to the party they’re investigating. Let’s see how much whining and intimidating they do then.

Or they could just keep up the vandalism. Then watch how the donations pour in to pass a California castle law.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 cheryl // Feb 9, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    This Eightmaps thing is basically just a hit list. I’m glad people are starting to see that. And I’m really glad (for the first time in a long time) that I’m not in California. I love that state, but at the same time, I hate it, too.

  • 2 Karron // Feb 9, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Holy Cats! Thanks for the info Dave. I hope this DOES bite them in the ass!

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