Terrorizing Russ Olson is fine, but you have to put your name to it. So held a jury of my Lake County neighbors yesterday afternoon as they found Daniel Willard guilty of violating South Dakota election law by making effectively anonymous robocalls saying Olson and other prominent South Dakota Republicans voted against pro-veteran legislation.
The powers that be will revel in squashing a critic in their ranks. But will they hold their own folks accountable by the quote of the week from prosecutor and Assistant Attorney General Brent Kempema?
Prosecutors said that even though the charges are misdemeanors this case is important because when groups send out critical campaign information they need to be held accountable.
“We don’t want people just going out and attacking other people, not in South Dakota," Kempema told the jury during closing arguments. "If we have something we believe in we stand up and say this is what I believe in. This is who I am. You don’t go hit and run" [Ben Dunsmoor, "Willard Gets Fine and Suspended Jail Time for Robocalls," KELOLand.com, 2013.08.29].
Dakota War College says Willard gave up the chance to be an influential pol by being sneaky. DWC is the same blog that kept itself on life support for a year and a half with the sneakily pseudonymous "Bill Clay," and which trades on a comment section filled with political and personal attacks by people who reject Kempema's principle of putting your name to your words.
Willard's punishment for ill-advised anonymity (assuming he doesn't appeal): $1000, court costs, and four years probation, with a requirement that he put his name to any political communications he makes. Shall we slap the same probation on all of the South Dakota blogosphere?
Related Research: A case study of participatory budgeting in Gütersloh, Germany, leads researchers Michelle Anna Ruesch and Oliver Märker to conclude that the negative consequences of a real-name policy—"distraction from issue-related dialogue, violation of privacy rights, administrative problems causing high expenditure of time and costs, negative media and public attention, and usability problems that may result in a low rate of participation"—outweigh the positive consequences—"possibility to restrict access, prevention of offensive communication, and the strengthening of a transparent democracy."