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Lusty Lady

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Jefferson's custody case and the First Amendment red herring

I need to preface this by saying I have never slept with Jefferson. I know him from hanging out in the same sex blogger circles, have been to a few parties he's attended, have traded a few emails with him, once ran into him on the subway with his kids. I used to read his blog a fair bit.

I really wasn't planning to post further about this, but I'm truly dismayed at what's been happening online regarding blogger Jefferson's custody case. Well, actually, regarding discussion of it. I blogged about it on my Tumblr blog, only after it was written about publicly on Viviane's Sex Carnival, Fleshbot, and The Huffington Post. I had heard privately about it last week, but had refrained from commenting, because really, his custody case is none of my business. I'm not privy to enough details about it or New York State custody law to have a proper opinion on it, though from what I know of his situation, I don't wish him to lose custody. But I didn't write about that. I wrote about the fact that if you can read, if you've ever studied anything about the First Amendment, you should know that it applies to the government dictating what you can and can't say, not your vindictive ex-wife. Nobody ever said he didn't have the legal right to post anything he damn well wanted.

The next day I had the following exchange with him:


I'm trying to get the word out that people should not discuss my custody case online in any way. No matter the intent, any public discussion of an ongoing court case can have adverse affects. While I respect people's right to their opinions, I am unable to share details of the case, so misinformation is inevitable.

The Friends of Jefferson committee is issuing appeals that are approved by my attorneys. These can be circulated as you wish, but please don't alter the text.

Above all, everyone's primary focus should be what is best for the children concerned.



One Life, Take Two

The life of a parent, and pervert, in New York City.

I replied:

Hi Jefferson,

While I do understand your point of view, when it's being written about on the Huffington Post, I think that makes it a public discussion. I have only commented thus far on what has already been written about publicly.


And he replied:

The post on Huffington Post came a surprise to me. I know some people want to help, and others want to weigh in, but any public discussion of this case can only be detrimental. There will be time later to discuss it, when the facts will be available.

For now, please: this is about
children, Rachel.

That alone I find incredibly offensive. (And from a man who posts his blog under a Creative Commons license, no less.) It's arrogant, obnoxious, and foolish to, on the one hand, fling around the term "First Amendment" in the Friends of Jefferson plea, then ask not just me, but other bloggers and even blog commenters, to refrain from writing about the case and/or to remove their posts/comments. I then posted this on my Tumblr, under the title "How to piss off a writer: try to dictate what they write:"

Want to know how to piss off a writer? Tell them what they can and can’t talk about. Act like you are doing it for some hgher moral cause. Get indignant when it’s pointed out that I’m responding to an already-public discussion. It reminds me of the parents who won’t let their kids read Harry Potter books; G-d forbid they may get ideas in their heads! What would happen if someone doesn’t agree with you?

In response to my post about Jefferson’s custody case, I got an email asking me to refrain from public discussion about said case. No mention of the fact that is now been written about on Fleshbot and Huffington Post. You know, those very low profile, low traffic websites.

To me, that request is mind control at its worst. It’s saying, I have the write to put my viewpoint out there (oh! and a plea for $20,000) but you don’t. I’m right, you’re wrong. My way or the highway.

It’s fucked up and it’s bullshit. Of course I get the motivation behind it, but it does not make what essentially is an attempt at Internet bullying okay. Asking people to remove posts is cowardly.

As I stated previously, the First Amendment gives you the right to free speech. But to hide behind it, then ask others not to exercise their free speech, goes against the principles of this country. And since this person is behind heralded as akin to a Founding Father, well, I think that’s extremely fucked up.

If someone has done something and thinks they’re right, stand up for yourself. Say it loud, say it proud. I think that’s wonderful. But recognize the risks that you personally assumed. I didn’t assume those risks, so don’t ask me to take the fall.

I had actually deleted part of what else I had to say about this case, because I recognize that it’s complicated. But trying to shut down discussion furthers nothing. In my opinion, it does not set a good example, for children or adults. It’s selfish and unfair and also ignores the thing that makes the blogosphere so wonderful: a diversity of opinion.

I think a comment he left on Audacia Ray's blog truly says it all; we're all just bitches, but bitches whose money he wants:

Yeah, I fucked pretty much all of these commenters. Bitches weren’t complaining then.

Have fun with the flaying, y’all.

Though he later apologized, to me that speaks to the fact that he doesn't care about anything but himself; ideas, discussion, thought, blogging, community - what-fucking-ever. You're either with him or against him, and if it's the latter, shut the fuck up right now.

Susan Mernit asks:

Do you have to approve of someone's actions to fund their legal defense? In this crowd, the answer is clearly yes, potential loss of kids or not.

I think that's unfair. He has asked fellow writers and bloggers not to discuss this case, which basically is saying, agree with me or have no opinion. You are not entitled, because this is MY case, my life. And yet, he is free to post on his blog, and ask for money, and act like it's all for "the greater good." It's not for him, it's for the children. Well, no, I don't have kids, but I hope when I do what I teach them is that we all have plenty to learn from each other. That discussion, disagreement, debate, are good, not evil things. The stunning hypocrisy astounds me.

If that's what it means to be part of the "sex-positive community," count me way the fuck out. I don't want to be associated in any way whatsover with trying to shut down discussions in the name of sex-positivity, with the idea that a plurality of opinions are not welcome. My friend Kristina Wright left a truly brilliant, spot-on analysis of the situation at Audacia's blog, saying in part:

In a perfect world, we could all write what we want to write without fear of repercussions. Hell, in a perfect world, marriage would last forever and custody fights wouldn’t exist. We don’t live in a perfect world and Jefferson knows this, which is why he wrote his blog anonymously. He can’t now pretend he didn’t know the risks and play the victim while others foot the bill.

But then again, I guess I'm just a bitch, right?

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At August 08, 2008, Blogger Susan said...

Rachel-you nailed it with this one. Thanks for being the articulate person you (always) are.

At August 09, 2008, Anonymous Anastasia said...

I've been reading various posts about this fund, and I'm glad that you have gone all out and stated your opinion. I was in a quandary about the request or a blogger's request for donations, and the request to be 'silent' about the cause. It's quite a contradiction for bloggers to be encouraged to download banners (to post on their blogs) publicizing the case, and that's what banners do, publicize, and then to be told not to discuss the matter at all.


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