I blogged some time back about the scummy Autoadmit folks and so it was with a certain amount of shadenfreude that I read the WSJ Law Blog post detailing the latest bad news to hit AutoAdmit, its (former) proprietor Mr Ciolli and its sleazy commenters. However, having said that, I'm going to align myself with Profs Althouse, Reynolds and Volokh and say that I don't see how the ladies who were insulted have a legal leg to stand on here. Indeed I would say that suing the scum is actually going to be counterproductive because it
gains additional publicity which is just what the Jane Does don't need (or at least I would have thought they didn't)
potentially makes the scum look like victims
has horrible ramifications for free speech if successful
has some fairly unpleasant ramifications for internet privacy if unsuccessful
In other words taking this case to court is likely to be counter-productive, although I completely understand people like Jill being happy to see it happen and I also agree with her that picking on law students is always going to raise the possibility of legal action.
So what is the right remedy? Well so far I'd say the right action has been publicity. The best thing to do, IMO, would be to identify the anonymous commenters and publicise their names. This should get them in as much difficulty with potential employers as they seem to have caused for their victims and would be an object lesson to the rest of the (student) world that writing about someone in a public forum says as much about the writer as the subject. In other words if you want write sexist comments in a public place about some total babe of a fellow student that is fine and dandy, but you have to understand that other people later on are going tothink you are some sleazy male chauvinist pig and may decide not to offer youa job (or whatever) based on this.