Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to another blog entry at this site:
If death threats were made, why were there no charges. Someone threatened me several years ago and I had no problem getting help from law enforcement.
Because it happened on the internet.
The police came to my house when I reported the death threats. They asked me if I believed that someone was really going to try to kill me or members of my family. I said that I thought that the purpose of the threats was probably to intimidate people into not posting in support of me.
Most people at the board didn’t think that someone would really come to my house and kill my wife and children. But they weren’t 100 percent sure. Someone crazy enough to put forward a death threat is at least theoretically capable of doing just about anything.
Say that most members of the board community believed that there was only a one-in-a-hundred chance that one of you Goons would come to my house and kill one of my loved ones. That’s enough to persuade them to keep quiet. People don’t want there to be even a one-in-a-hundred chance that their loved ones will be killed. So they tell themselves “it’s not my fight, let someone else speak up.”
The internet will never achieve its potential until this problem is solved. I believe that this case (YOUR case, Anonymous) will be the one to solve it. People have come to believe that death threats on the internet are a joke. This is a case where you Goons were able to make use of death threats to block discussions that would have prevented millions of failed retirements, discussions that would have permitted us to avoid this economic crisis, discussions that would have permitted us all to learn how to reduce the risk of stock investing by 70 percent, discussions that would have permitted us all to enjoy the biggest advance in our understanding of how stock investing works every achieved in the history of Planet Earth.
I believe that following the next crash we will be able to persuade millions of people that the same laws that apply in the non-internet world need to apply on the internet as well. Once we get Goons like you thrown in prison, the power of this new communications medium to do good soars. There are millions of good and smart people who could be making valuable contributions at every board and blog on the internet who hold back from doing so because they have seen Goons like you in action and want no part of of any activity in which your presence is tolerated. We need to hear the contributions of those people. And, after you Goons have been sent to prison, we will enact legislation to make sure that those millions of people will feel safe making positive contributions.
This is a story separate from the investing story. But it is possible that in the long run it is even more important.
Investors need honest discussion boards so that they can get help from their fellow investors when the Wall Street Con Men are trying to entice them with their Get Rich Quick garbage. Once we open up the internet to honest posting, the Wall Street Con Men just cannot get away with their trickery anymore. Sunshine is a disinfectant.
But it is not only in the investing field that this is so. There is huge value to permitting honest posting at economics sites. And at political sites. And at car-buying sites. And at science sites. And at baseball sites. And on and on and on.
The internet is a POWERFUL communications medium. But it becomes a powerful force for bad when we give you Goons veto power over what we say. We very, very, very much need to do something about you Goons. And we will. When people see that their retirement accounts have been destroyed by you Goons, they will see why this matters so much.
I can see the people who put together the Financial Bloggers Conference spearheading a movement to get you Goons removed from every board and blog on the internet. There would be a huge public relations gain in doing that. And all the bloggers would feel ten times better about themselves with you Goons not around. Mike Piper told me that. He said that there is nothing he would like more than to be able to do honest work. But he is afraid that Mel Linduaer would demand the destruction of his site (which is his livelihood) if he were to come out in favor of permitting honest posting. So he lives in fear. I don’t like the idea of my friend Mike living in fear. I don’t think that after the next price crash my friend Mike Piper will have to live in fear much longer.
The worst thing to do with bullies is to empower them by backing down in the face of their intimidation tactics. Internet bullies are people who are losers in the real world. They’ve run to the internet because that’s a place where people who are losers in the real world can gain a level of influence that it would be impossible for them to achieve in the real world. The influence is 100 precent negative. But in the eyes of losers it is the only influence that they are ever going to have and that’s what matters. The thing to do with bullies is to stand up to them and to be sure that they suffer negative consequences for their bad behavior.
We Normals outnumber you Goons ten to one. So it won’t take us long to solve the problem once we put our minds to it. What we need is a clear showing that the Normals are in the majority. When one Normal doesn’t see other Normals speaking up, he gets scared that you Goons really can hurt him in some way. Once the individuals who have posted in “defense” of Mel Linduaer and John Greaney have been sent to prison, no one will be afraid of you Goons anymore. I mean, come on. The only thing that people will be afraid of is the possibility that they won’t be able to get you Goons removed from their sites fast enough.
A long time back, John Walter Russell put forward the idea that this saga would end in a more positive way than any of us participating in it even imagined possible. I thought those words had the ring of truth to them at the time. And I still believe that John was right. We’ve walked a long, crooked path. But I believe that we are walking a long, crooked path that leads us in the end to a very good place.
The full truth is that I probably need to believe that to get out of bed in the morning. I am obviously biased. So subtract whatever number of confidence points you want to subtract to reflect that bias. The truth remains that that is what I believe and that every action I take is rooted in the belief that the good guys win this one in a most dramatic way on the last page of the saga.
We will see.
Hang in there, man.