After reading many opinions, I’ve decided to take the advice of some of them and to edit a comment left here by “Jon” last year. A number of people suggested that publishing home addresses “crossed a line.” Many suggested that I remove the entire comment or edit the comment to remove the home addresses.
I am removing the home addresses from the “Stop UC Berkeley Vivisection” comment.
It is clear that a significant percentage of animal advocates feel that there are two separate spheres – public and private – and that the private sphere should be protected from public criticism. There are some problems with separating the public and private spheres. Here are a few:
- Many people work from home. As a blogger, I’m one of them.
- In high density places (like Manhattan) businesses and homes often share space. The first floor is a business while the upper floors are homes.
- Many people don’t have home addresses. Homeless people and people who live in slums don’t have the luxury of privacy protection.
- Some people’s work addresses are other people’s home addresses (nurses, housekeepers, etc.).
But, because I trust other animal advocates and because I want to foster good-will, I’ve decided to remove the home addresses in this specific case. This comes as a personal decision I’ve made out of respect for other animal advocates.
This is not a decision made out of fear of legal liability. I do not believe I have any legal obligation to remove the comment or any portion of the comment. And I support advocates who choose not to remove similar information from their websites.
Let me also point out that there are legitimate, nonviolent reasons to publish home addresses, which is why this type of speech has been protected by US courts in the past. Here are some examples of legitimate, nonviolent reasons to publish home addresses:
- “Piercing the corporate veil” if you will and holding individuals responsible for the misdeeds of their corporations or organizations. Without individual responsibility, there is no true corporate responsibility.
- Nonviolent home demonstrations like the ones conducted by Cindy Sheehan, who was called “the Rosa Parks of the antiwar movement”and “Peace Mom.”
- Sit-ins and other peaceful protests.
- Neighborhood leafleting and marches.
In conclusion, this opinion sums up my own:
“I’m neither for or against the strategy behind posting personal information, but why should they get special treatment, the freedom from having their information displayed? It’s an extremely dangerous precedent to set that certain occupations [...], especially ones receiving federal funds, have more protections from accountability than others.” ~ GuiltyofBeingTrite