Sunday, February 08, 2009

The smell test

The New York Times business section has an article about how many financial supporters of California's Proposition 8 (homo-hatin law) have been harassed due to public disclosure laws that allowed them to be identified as donors. I'll leave it to others to make the argument that the majority of the fear is caused by the threat of boycotts and that it is perfectly legitimate to boycott businesses that support political movements one opposes -- and a good thing for a democracy to have transparency when it comes to money and politics.

What strikes me as wrong is the allegation that people are receiving numerous e-mails containing death threats and that nobody is apparently doing anything about it. Unless the sender is some kind of super hacker, it is a simple matter for police to trace an email. So if people really are sending death threats, why aren't they being arrested? Do the recipients report these alleged threats to their lives to reporters but not to the police? Do the police consider death threats not worth investigating? Do they come from sophisticated internet users who can hide their identities from all but the most thorough investigation? I very much doubt it. If these alleged threats are real, it would be easy to track down and arrest the perps.

So why don't our super reporters from the NYT and such prominent publications ask such glaringly obvious questions. Are they incompetent, forced to be incompetent by management or circumstance, or do they have an agenda? Stupid or evil? Or just a bunch of banal tools? The age old questions, eh?