GOB's And Your Ability To Comment On The Internet

Bryan Dubois
Mar 23, 2010

I tried to have a dialogue about this during a live chat with the tin foil hat crowd, but nobody participated.  It's high time somebody challenges this nonsense in public.

A commenter left this on the blogger site:

Anonymous, what's the color of the sky in your world?  Tell me how the GOB's have shut down a blog?  When did it happen and convince me, because I really don't think you have a leg to stand on.  If you're referring to comments being erased for inappropriate language, stop using inappropriate language to make your point and they won't get erased.

Your IP address is pretty much public information.  If you understood web analytics, you'd stop typing anything on the internet that you wouldn't say in public - because that's pretty much how definitively they can track you down through your ISP - if they really really wanted to.

But I believe this fear is based in pure narcissism.  The idea that your speech is so "on target" that it would enrage a public official enough to go after you to "silence you" (and maybe even kill you!) is floridly insane.  You think too highly of yourself.  Blogs are white noise anymore, and with the proliferation of internet use among the less informed, uninvolved, even crazy - it's only going to get worse unless your fellow citizens give you a rhetorical spanking to pull you back from crazy land.

I agree that retaliation is an issue if you publicly criticize a public official, but online political commentary comes with the territory and most have thick enough skin to ignore it.  And hey, if you're convincing enough the public officlal might modify his behavior to save his job.  If you broadcast your name and then somehow get involved in the legal system - then yes, you probably have something to worry about.  (Especially with the Erie County Prosecutor.  He's not the most stable person when it comes to being criticized.)  But let's face it:  Most of the commenters on the internet only repeat what they hear anyway.  Most of them have no idea what's going on and if some nefarious plot in the county were happening, even less would know what to do about it.  So stop with that "I'm-afraid-to-comment" nonsense already.  It's stupid and we're all getting tired of reading about it.


Oliver Hardy

Firelands411, I will try to take a bite on this. At times, I wear a "tin foil hat" because I believe that some conspiracy people do in fact are proven right after a period of time. From your previous comments, you appear to have some bias toward people who wear tin foil hats. You certainly appear to be biased even with your first sentence at the beginning of this article. Do I believe in conspiracies? Of course I do. Conspiracies have existed since man existed on earth. Do conspiracies exist in our local, state and federal government? Of course they do. Currently with the Nuesse case, it certainly appears to me that more than one person is involved in her firing. Do I believe that GOBS exist locally? Of course I do. GOBS exist anywhere where transparency in government is lacking. Is there a lot of BS on these news blogs? Of course. Is there some truth on these news blogs? Of course. In a previous comment from Nick on his blog, he said that we can criticize our public officials as long as we do not use profanity. I am not going to slander or post libel against any of our public officials but I do have the right to criticize if I feel that they are not doing the job that they are elected to do. I also feel that I can repeat what another blogger  wrote without me being charged with slander or libel because I repeated it. In the past, some of my comments have been deleted by the moderators for reasons beyond me but I cannot see how "personal attacks" can refer to an over-weight crowd at all you can eat buffets. Unless I name someone by name, how can my reference to a group of over-weight people chowing down at an all you can eat  place as "fatties" be considered a personal attack? But since the Sandusky Register offers us a place to post our opinions, they have the right to delete our comments. I probably insulted some unknown fattie who complained or maybe a fattie moderator deleted my comments.

Nobody is anonymous online. Almost anything that a person puts online can be found later on Google. If someone wants to silence a person or take revenge, all one has to do is get a subpoena to track the person down from that person's ISP and the Sandusky Register. Somebody can also get insider information from their friends working at the newspaper. I am almost certain that the Sandusky Register has my name, address and phone number. Interesting subject that you have started, Firelands411, it should generate some comments.




Bryan Dubois

Well thank you for taking the time to spell out your concerns.  It doesn't sound like we disagree much on this topic.  I certainly believe in conspiracies.  They are difficult to prove but common sense says that if two people's agendas - although different in details - are easier to achieve if a political target is elliminated, those two people appear to work in concert without ever speaking to one another.  There is nothing anyone can prove,  but the end result is achieved:  the political target is eliminated and those two people have an "easier life" without them around.

Oliver, be careful about using the word "bias" when you refer to people's opinions.  They are obviously biased.  They are opinions.  I am not here to provide straight reporting - I'm here to offer my opinion.  So yes, of course I'm biased.  I'm biased by my interpretation of information. 

Nice bit about the fatties.


411 Said: “But I believe this fear is based in pure narcissism.  The idea that your speech is so "on target" that it would enrage a public official enough to go after you to "silence you" (and maybe even kill you!) is floridly insane.  You think too highly of yourself.  Blogs are white noise anymore, and with the proliferation of internet use among the less informed, uninvolved, even crazy - it's only going to get worse unless your fellow citizens give you a rhetorical spanking to pull you back from crazy land. “

411 Also said: “When did it happen and convince me, because I really don't think you have a leg to stand on.”

These are just a few who would disagree with you.

Blogger jailed in Iran is dead, lawyer says

A freelance journalist and blogger was jailed on Tuesday

Blogger jailed for insulting the King

Moroccan blogger jailed for peacefully expressing his views

US blogger to enjoy Singapore jail

Bryan Dubois

RE:  The jailing of the American blogger in San Fransisco:  The headline could probably read with fairness:

"Crazy Person Who Writes Blog Jailed After Refusing To Help With Investigation Into Mob Violence."

Note this paragraph from the article:

Have I pored over the case before drawing a conclusion?  No, but you probably haven't either.

It does appear that Josh Wolf is a recently graduated college left winger who is protecting anarchists at a rally because he believes in their cause.  Just because he writes a blog doesn't mean he can break the law with impunity.


You provide a very good explanation of anonymity when it comes to the web.  We can all be tracked, it is just a question of how hard someone is willing to work at it.  I don't write anything that I am not willing to stand behind.  Anonymity really just helps keep the discussion focused on the ideas and not devolve into a bunch of personal attacks on the author. 

I think many locals are more comfortable with the idea of a huge corporation like Google (which is the host of Huron2009 and other local blogs) having their information than a local paper such as the Sandusky Register.  Google has little concern for local politics as opposed to the Sandusky Register.  Many still a hold a grudge over the Concealed Carry lists. 

I also wouldn't say that political pressure hasn't shut down any blogs.  Huron had a very fine blog called HuronTalk a few years back.  It went offline when things started getting too controversial.  The author (if that is what you call them) was a public employee and he never stated it but it is hard to imagine there wasn't some concern for his job.  The City of Huron posted their own blog (or public forum) for awhile but it has been down for "maintenance" for several years.

I disagree with your point about none of this mattering and just being white noise.  That is probably true for the vast majority of postings but some have really hit home.  Consider this quote from Margaret Mead:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Good luck at your new location.  I think that if you continue to provide quality content and discussion, most will take the risk and participate.  It will be interesting to see how well the Sandusky Register protects the identity of their online members.


Bryan Dubois


Thanks for stopping in.  I appreciate it.

Just so everyone is clear here:  I have absolute control over this blog.  I take no marching orders and to prove it, I'm going to post a link to your blog which probably isn't going to be looked at favorably by the SR because you don't write for the SR! 

I don't care. 

I think in the long run in order to create dialogue you must acknowledge opposing viewpoints and spread/share internet traffic.  The cream rises to the top and those who share thoughtful writings will succeed and those who don't will fail and disappear.

If the SR continues to deliver a quality product they have nothing to worry about.  Digital media is a relatively new concept and by opening the door to somebody independent (me, for instance) they're demonstrating that they want to be on the cutting edge.  It will probably come with growing pains, but we have to give them credit.  I'll be the first to blast them if they delete something just because they disagree with it.  (I have yet to hear any evidence that this happened.)

I agree completely.  I feel the same way about the concealed carry lists and I've told them so.

Again, thanks for popping in.  BTW, I did get your email, just too busy to respond.  For the record, I agree with your assessment of the situation with blogging.


Well, you asked for proof, I provided some.

Then you change the rules and say it only applies to Third world countries, then you state is does happen in the USA but only because but but but but....


Pick a damn lane will ya?


The point I was trying to make, was simply that even if you post something factual, you can still be hauled into civil litigation.  This will cost the regular person much time, stress and a huge sum of attorney fees.  Even if you "win" the civil suit, you're out lots.

Matt Westerhold is someone that it is happening to at this very moment.  The Erie Voices website operator and site were silenced also.


Now do you want to argue semantics that Westerhold and Erie Voices happened only because of......


Pick a damn lane!


Bryan Dubois

V, they got the RSS feeds going for ya.  (Just wanted to point it out in case you didn't notice.)

I'm not "switching lanes."  I'm saying that I'm tired of people saying that they won't comment because they're afraid of retaliation.  If you're that petrified of possible retaliation, don't post anything on the internet - anonymous or not - because there is no anonymity.

Here's my lane:

1.  Generally speaking, third world countries do not protect citizens' right to free speech.

2.  In this country if you publicly criticize public officials - and you put yourself in a position where they can retaliate against you -  they will retaliate against you.  Whether that means economically, criminally, or civilly.  You must avoid getting into situations where they can retaliate against you.  As a wise attorney once told me:  "If you're going to tangle with the government you have to stay absolutely 100% clean."

The Erie Voices website operator made some galactically stupid moves and put himself in a compromising position and the prosecutors he criticized made him pay for it.  Had he not made the stupid moves they would not have been able to do anything to him at all.  He opened the door - and they walked through it.  That's how it works in this world.  If that makes you uncomfortable, the best advice a person could give you is:  Keep your opinions to yourself.

Clerk of Court Watch

I agree 100% with your posts. 

I would also like to add:  If a person has a blog that has hard evidence on it, it shouldn't make any difference who is gathering that information.  If people know who that person is, then they may have a different opinion on what they read on the blog instead of looking at the evidence presented.  I think that Remove Johnson, Huron 2009, and Firelands 411 all present the evidence and information very well.  While we may interject our own "opinion" now and then, the evidence is still there and that makes it difficult to dispute.

That is the main reason I am staying anonymous on my blog.  All that really matters is the evidence presented, not who gathers it and writes about it. 

As Joe Friday use to say, "Just the facts..." 

Oliver Hardy

It certainly appears to me that this topic will gather lots of comments, firelands411. I agree with IVI1(h43I @ 14:31 in that the powers that be shut down Erie Voices and are now at work trying to silence Mr. Westerhold. Mr. Westerhold is expressing his opinions in his commentaries in my opinion. Any elected public official that cannot take criticism should not be in office. If it is too hot in the kitchen, then get out and let someone with a thicker skin do the job. I don't believe that Mr. Westerhold ever stood up in a public meeting and said so and so is using this or is that. This particular topic could be a great topic in a future live online chat. Expressing an opinion or commentary is not the same as presenting the news as facts. I believe that I have enough common sense to see that a newspaper editor is expressing his opionions about public officials. My opinion is that Bush is an idiot and that Cheney was the guy in charge. Does my opinion mean that Bush is an idiot? No, it means that in my opinion he is an idiot as this is how I view him.

I checked the "Local Conspiracy Theories" topic on the Firelands411 site and felt that it was too broad of a topic to discuss and should have been narrowed down more. That particular topic could deal with everything that I have read here on the Sandusky Register online site. I tried to project myself into the shoes of the "tin foil hat" group and felt that it was a setup to gather more information on the so called conspiracy theorists. I would have participated if I were home. Perhaps you could use this particular topic for a future live online discussion.





Thanks to you and SR for enabling the RSS feed.


Now...I think the opinion you offer to those who don't want to post for fear of retaliation, to not participate, is sage advice. Unfortunately, your blog ends up the loser in this situation. I thought you came to the SR site to increase traffic and participation in which case I would have thought you would open the doors to as many participants as posible.


To say that there will be no anonymous postings allowed as there were on the blogspot site will cause the ones that won't register here to not post. You lose some of your audience participation, something you claimed the move here would increase.


On top of that you seem bitter and offended by others concern for their privacy. To Wit: “...That's how it works in this world. “...If that makes you uncomfortable, the best advice a person could give you is:  Keep your opinions to yourself. “ I would bet that is precisely what they will do, to the possible detriment of your blog.


Furthermore you seem to want open discussion yet, only if it fits your view of the world. To Wit: “...I'm saying that I'm tired of people saying that they won't comment because they're afraid of retaliation.  If you're that petrified of possible retaliation, don't post anything on the internet - anonymous or not - because there is no anonymity. “


If you're already tired of peoples opinions that differ from yours, maybe it's time you retire from the blog scene and start twittering so only your opinion can be heard.


Have a wonderful day.


Bryan Dubois

V, I have a different opinion on commenters.  I would like the traffic, but I want thoughtful, realistic people to comment.  I would rather have 3 quality comments after a blog post than dozens of unreadable comments written by conspiracy mongers. 

I'm not "bitter and offended" by other's concern for privacy.  I'm troubled by the fact that these people have split from reality.  They don't understand how the internet works, and the steady torrent of paranoia cheapens the dialogue we're all trying to create here.

I welcome opposing viewpoints because sometimes I enjoy a spirited debate.  I can tell that you do too.

Bottom line:  If they're afraid to comment - don't comment.  My feelings won't be hurt. 

Julie R.

So who cares if Baxter and the GOB's find out who you are. If they don't like what's being said then let them prove it isn't the truth. Baxter doesn't scare me. None of them do.  As far as I'm concerned they're all CORRUPT. 

Bryan Dubois

Julie R., No offense but I believe that I asked you before to publicly present your evidence of corruption.  You're exactly who I'm talking about in my previous comment.  I would rather not hear empty rhetoric.  If you have convincing evidence to share, do so.  If not, I would respectfully ask that you not cheapen 411 with the empty combative posts directed at local public officials.  The comments change nobody's minds and it only stengthens the idea that anybody who politically opposes Kevin Baxter and his way of doing business is somehow nuts or crazy.

Again, no offense intended.  I appreciate your desire to share your opinion - but please back it up with evidence.

Julie R.

A wise attorney said "if you're going to tangle with the government make sure you are 100% clean.

I'm 100% clean----it's the GOBs in Sandusky and Erie County that are 100% dirty. The clean are called conspiracy theorists.  Here's to hoping certain people find out personally someday just how DIRTY they really are.


So whatever you want it to be it will be.


As for being anonymous on the internet, that might make a great thread.  I have quite a bit of knowledge I would be happy to share with the folks who want to have some privacy and still contribute.

Bryan Dubois

What do you mean?  You've got ways to disguise your IP address and things like that?

Oliver Hardy

By firelands411 on Fri, 04/17/2009 - 19:01
V, I have a different opinion on commenters.  I would like the traffic, but I want thoughtful, realistic people to comment.  I would rather have 3 quality comments after a blog post than dozens of unreadable comments written by conspiracy mongers. 

Firelands411, I resemble that remark about "conspiracy mongers". Maybe you do not see yourself as I may be beginning to see you. You mention "tin foil hats" and now "conspiracy mongers" which I may take personally even if it is your opionion. Perhaps I may be one of the "dozens of unreadable comments written by conspiracy mongers" since I have questioned things hushed up by the government since the Kennedy assassination. I get the feeling that maybe my type is not welcome here.

Bryan Dubois

Nah, that wasn't directed at you.


I mean precisely that.  It is very easy to do and used by many people including being reccomended by Reporters Without Borders. 


I really think that you should group yourself into the same list where you claimed "...because there is no anonymity..."   people don't know how the internet works. 


I would like to share a great PDF book about internet anonynimity.  I will link to it with your ok.

Bryan Dubois

Of course.  Link away.

And I'm curious about the commenting format for other users.

A rich text editor is coming up for you on 411, right?

Does the same editor come up for you on other blogs on the SR, or just this one?


The Bloggers handbook has much information about remaining anonymous. A MUST read.


Who Uses TOR


And where to get TOR, A MUST have piece of software.


Any Questions ask, I would love to assist.

Bryan Dubois

V, thanks for that link.  That handbook is an awesome resource and I wish it was around in 2004 when I first started blogging.  Of course that was back when blogs first started shaking things up and nobody knew what to think of them.  By 2009 somebody has put together a comprehensive guide:  It's a must read for anyone who wants to learn how to blog.  If I gave a class on blogging, I would use it as a teaching guide.  Thanks for sharing.

Julie R.

To 411firelands: Instead of telling others to provide convincing evidence to back up their opinions maybe you should have told your buddy John Doe instead to provide convincing evidence to back up his cheap shot opinion on Conspiracy Theorists.  


It seems that the blogger you are attacking hit a nerve did he not. What makes you think your opinions are any better then that bloggers. You blogged that it is nonsense, what makes you think it is. Other bloggers may not believe what you believe. To attack ones opinion makes you no better then the blogger you are attacking. If you cannot stand the heat and the bloggers opinions then you should not be in this business.  In my opinion.

Oliver Hardy

Firelands411, I base my comments and feelings based on what a person writes and how they write. Not only do I read the comments but I also read between the lines. Although many of my comments do not show it, I am what many call a deep thinker. I base my feelings about a person in what they say or write. From my readings of what you wrote, I get the feeling that you do not like anyone that suggests a conspiracy could have occurred yet you say that you believe in conspiracies. I went to your "Local Conspiracy Theories" topic on your Firelands411 site and picked these comments so that I can discuss them with you plus I will give you my opinions. I do not want to take this particular subject off topic but I feel that some things need to be cleared up. 

                                                                                                                                                                                             John Doe said...
TO: Anonymous (AKA Julie R) March 21, 6:36 p.m. poster:
"You are wrong about your "assumption" that the reason I picked this topic was to discredit Julie R." ..... "The "Remove Johnson," "Huron 2009" and this "411" blog are excellent sites to be able to produce documentation and evidence to any "questionable" conduct, or conspiracy theory. Julie refuses to follow this path, therefore, I have to descredit what she has to say. As I said before, SHOW ME THE EVIDENCE BABY! ! !"

Firelands411:  Well I guess the point I'd like to make is that the freakish conspiracy mongering that takes place in the Register comments does more to discredit people who actually try to fight for government accountability.

Firelands411:  Good night.   Sorry not much activity on here.   The conpiracy mongers don't seem to want to play!

Firelands411:  Bob, this chat is DEAD.   I am officially happy that we will no longer have to endure the floridly insane conspiracy mongering anymore.   :)

Normally I try not to defend somebody posting comments onto a blog but the comments posted by Julie caused me to go into my deep thinking mode.  I read some of Julie's comments on the news blogs and too wondered why she didn't post all of her facts or so called evidence. If wrong doing did occur in the courts with Julie, then possibly the secrecy of these facts and evidence must be preserved for future litigation or investigation. Court records can turn up missing or can be doctored.

You asked Julie for evidence just as John Doe has. Julie does not have a blog like the blogs that John Doe stated. Only Julie knows why she will not post her evidence on a public blog.  I now understand why Julie referred to you as being John Doe's buddy, simply for the fact that you sided with John Doe in producing evidence. It is your blog and you can side with whoever you want.

Now look at all of your "conspiracy monger" comments that you have made. Why is that? You say that conspiracies exists yet you refer to anyone that may want to discuss conspiracies as wearing a "tin foil hat" or as "consoiracy mongers" which certainly will prevent these people labeled as such from participating in your live online chats or your blog. Another question I have for you is why John Doe "picked" the topic for the live online chat? I can see John Doe suggesting a topic but he stated that he "picked" the topic. Firelands411, I thought that only you can "pick" the topic. What I have just stated is my honest opinion based on what you, Julie and John Doe have written.

Julie R.

Oliver Hardy is right on target. I have not started a blog but as God as my Witness it is NOT because I don't have the evidence of any wrongdoing.  I also promise that after my case is over I will start a blog and show it all from start to finish. As for conspiracies----sorry, but my case has been full of so many dishonest, unfair and corrupt conspiracies I honestly don't know how they ever kept up with all of them. And retiree will more than testify to that fact.

I also wondered the same thing Oliver Hardy did. You admit there are conspiracies but when others say it they are called conspiracy theorists, conspiracy mongers, and as John Doe put it "as nutty as Elsebeth Baumgartner". Also, as I'm sure you know, the character called Buff, with her conspiracy theorist nonsense and vicious attacks on just about everybody that didn't agree with him/her,  was probably the most hated SR blogger around. Considering how John Doe was in agreement with Buff, I certainly would never trust John Doe.  I'm also beginning to wonder about this blogspot, too, but only time will tell.

One more question. You said "no offense but I think I asked you once before to publicly show your evidence of corruption".  You did? Where? On the SR blogs? If so, you must have asked this under a different name because I can't recall you asking this as 411firelands!

Oliver Hardy

After having read Sunday's newspaper, I see that "firelands411" has been identified as Bryan Dubois. Is this the same person that turned "turncoat" and became a witness against Elsebeth Baumgartner and her family? If so, this guy is not a true Marine ...... "Leave no man behind" ........ what a wussy!

Julie R.

I saw the same thing in Sunday's paper. It explained the reason behind the attacks about conspiracy theorists, conspiracy mongers and John Doe's "as nutty as Elsebeth Baumgartner" .

Bryan Dubois

I believe that people like you, V and Oliver Hardy discredit people who have a genuine interest in working for government accountability.  Elsebeth Baumgartner may have been right about many of the things she complained about, but I believe her actions did not further her cause.  On the contrary, as the most vocal critic of local government she complained about everything and her message was lost amidst several criminal indictments, a police chase, and popping pills in the middle of a court hearing.  When I became aware of the falsity of a few basic facts that her theories were built upon, I knew that there was no point in fighting for it anymore.  If I continued I would've been fighting for the exact opposite of the reason I began fighting in the first place.  (Truth, accountability in government.)

I took Erie Voices off the internet myself.  The government had absolutely nothing to do with it.  After discovering the falsehoods in Baumgartner's stories I could no longer vouch for the accuracy of some of the stories.  Separating fact from fiction would've taken years and I had no interest in doing it.