What The Dooce?

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Let this one roll around in your brain for a few minutes:

Say that a blogger gets fired from his or her day job for blogging. (Recent high profile media examples here and here.) It is a common enough tale to become almost a cliche.

But what would your reaction be if you found out a spiteful blogger, for no other reason than to fuck you over and with whom you had some petty online disagreement, went and outed you to your corporate overlords who didn’t take too kindly to your potty mouth and intemperate opinions? You get shit-canned and your online arch-nemesis is crowing over his/her “victory”.

What would your reaction be?

The first emotional reaction would be to go all Nazi Ed Norton and make him/her bite the curb. As appealing as that sounds, the real drawback to that plan is that in addition to being unemployed, you would be facing numerous felony assault charges.

Instead, could your honor and desire for revenge be better served in a court of law? If someone intentionally and willfully engaged in behavior that caused you to lose your source of income, and you could prove their intent, are they exposed to the ugly end of a big fat lawsuit full of compensatory and punitive damages and what not?

I await the Solomon-like wisdom and Matlock-like legal expertise of all seven of my readers to hold forth with their opinions.

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16 Responses to “What The Dooce?”

  1. Outting Folks « Tiny Cat Pants Says:

    […] Posted on May 4, 2008 by Aunt B. Folks are talking about folks who out anonymous […]

  2. Eddie Christy Says:

    I don’t see the courts punishing anyone for “outing” someone who willingly posts their opinion or information online, anonymous or not… unless they obtained information about you illegally.

    Reader #6.

  3. W Says:

    If it happened to me the least I would do is get creative with all these dirty diapers I have access to now.

  4. Scott Smith Says:

    At the very least, if the company in question was in the running for The Consumerist’s “Worst Company in America” (http://consumerist.com/), I’d be sure and add my firing to that company’s “qualifications” for the prize. The company wouldn’t care, of course, but I’d feel better.

  5. Aunt B. Says:

    I don’t think you could win a lawsuit, but a more important question is could you benefit in the revenge department? Say the money wasn’t a concern (you know, in that world where you’re a millionaire playbody). Could you sue the person who outted you, not to win, but to ruin him financially as he tries to fight it?

    If you weren’t rich, could you ruin him financially before you ruined yourself?

    I don’t know. It’s hard saying.

    It would be nice if folks just didn’t act like jerks.

  6. Sarcastro Says:

    If one were a millionaire playboy, then one wouldn’t be worried about being shitcanned.

    However, there is nothing keeping an unemployed know it all from filing frivolous lawsuits. Perry March does it all the time.

  7. Beth Says:

    While you’re right about the lawsuits being filed everyday, I think the main obstacle for someone who lost their job to win the suit would be presenting the argument to the jury that a blog is free speech, and should be protected under the 1st Amendment.

    I don’t know the numbers on what percentage of people have a blog, but with myspace having upwards of 100 million people, and Facebook having just as many or more, this is a topic that will gain more and more awareness as the profile counts jump.

    If one were to lose his/her job over someone outing the blogger, and the blogger lost the main source of income, I don’t see why it would be unfit or unique to take that person to court. However, in TN, where an employee can be fired for no reason, that might be a long legal battle, but if one is a millionaire playboy, why not? I think a precedent should be set.

  8. Katherine Coble Says:

    In discussing this type of thing with the various lawyers who put up with me, there are grounds to sue–but they’re flimsy. The basic defence is to not be an ass online in the first place.

    Which is, of course, why I’m constantly worried about myself.

  9. Lee Says:

    Who says that revenge has to be via lawyer? It’s amazing what you can spell out on a lawn with a couple of large bottles of bleach. And it’s not as squirm inducing as “biting the curb.”

  10. Katherine Coble Says:

    It’s amazing what you can spell out on a lawn with a couple of large bottles of bleach.

    It’s also likewise amazing what legally counts as “trespassing” and “willfull destruction of property” and can land a person in jail.

  11. Lee Says:

    Oh c’mon, let me live out my imaginary revenge fantasies online.

  12. Music City Bloggers » Blog Archive » If You Got Dooced, What Would You Do? Says:

    […] it’s a great post so here. Say that a blogger gets fired from his or her day job for blogging. (Recent high profile media […]

  13. dolphin Says:

    Not sure there’s much of a case to be had. It’s not slander/libel because the person would be simply directing your employer to your own words (granted, if they provided your employer with carefully excerpted, out-of-context quotes instead of just a URL, you may well have a case), and it’s not a First Amendment issue because free speech doesn’t protect you from private companies (at least not in most cases).

  14. Joe P. Says:

    man, i don’t think i could ever get to that moment of making someone bite the curb a’la Ed Norton.

    don’t know if a lawsuit would stick, either. but one could surely create a blog about that evil fuck who outted you and post all manner of heinous items about them, couldn’t one? that is, veering away from libelous posts, and just include copious entries of their failures and foibles from birth to the present.

    still, that all seems time consuming and soul-devouring. i’d also be pondering a lawsuit against the company which fired me for expressing my views, unless they have some corporate handbook detail which mandates such acts as firing offenses.

    hmmm … maybe a curb-bite event is the only answer after all …

  15. Jon Says:

    After being “Dooced” about three years ago, I looked into my legal options. Unfortunately, threatening to stab a co-worker with a letter opener, no matter how fucking stupid, repulsive, or annoying they are, is frowned upon in the corporate world.

    Apparently, there is no “tongue in cheek” defense. I will say it was rather enjoyable sitting through the firing, knowing my dead-end, middle-management, chip on the shoulder, piece of shit boss had read the many things I’d written about her over the months.

    I heard she was fired a month later for incompetence. Karma….

  16. Sarcastro Says:

    Jon, you are missed, sir.

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