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Old 08-15-2005, 02:49 PM   #1
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Online Unprotected Sex

from washingtonpost.com

Online Lessons on Unprotected Sex

By Andrew J. McClurg

Monday, August 15, 2005

Kiss-and-tell is as old as love itself. Fortunately, most indiscreet paramours limit their blabbing to a few confidants. Not Jessica Cutler. In May 2004, she spilled out the graphic details of her sexual exploits on Capitol Hill on a blog accessible to hundreds of millions of Internet users.

Now a federal lawsuit by one of her past lovers has set up a potentially high-stakes battle between privacy and speech rights and could give new meaning to the idea of safe sex in a wired world.


Cutler's blog, written under the pseudonym Washingtonienne, was a daily diary of her sex life while working as a staffer for Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio). It recounted, entertainingly and in considerable -- sometimes embarrassing -- detail, her ongoing relationships with six men, including plaintiff Robert Steinbuch, a lawyer who also worked for DeWine. Although Cutler never used his full name, and usually referred to the plaintiff by his initials, Steinbuch alleges the blog revealed sufficient information, including his first name, physical description and where he worked, to identify him.

The Internet gossip site Wonkette published excerpts from Cutler's blog, touching off a media "feeding frenzy" in which Steinbuch was repeatedly identified by his full name. Cutler capitalized on the publicity. She gave print, broadcast and online interviews, posed nude for Playboy and reportedly received a $300,000 advance for her just-published book, a veiled fictional account of a Senate staffer's sexual adventures on Capitol Hill.

Steinbuch's argument is compelling. By any normative standard, he suffered a genuine wrong. As he asserts in his complaint, "It is one thing to be manipulated and used by a lover, it is another thing to be cruelly exposed to the world."

The law, however, appears to be against him. This is because Steinbuch does not allege that any of the statements about him are untrue. False statements that damage one's reputation can be actionable as defamation. The essence of Steinbuch's claim is: You humiliated me by publicizing these true details about my private life.

His case hinges on a century-old privacy tort claim known as "public disclosure of private facts." In theory, the tort provides a remedy when one publicizes private, embarrassing, non-newsworthy facts about a person in a manner that reasonable people would find highly offensive. But while Cutler's actions may meet this standard, courts have long been hostile to such lawsuits because of a fear of inhibiting free speech. The Supreme Court has never upheld punishment, based on a privacy theory, for the publication of true information.

In 1989 the court tossed out a lawsuit against a newspaper for publishing a rape victim's name in violation of Florida law. While it stopped short of ruling that a state may never punish true speech, the test it adopted for when that can be done without violating the First Amendment is so stringent Justice Byron White lamented in dissent that the court had "obliterate[d]" the public disclosure tort.

One might think the non-newsworthiness of Steinbuch's sex life would save his privacy claim from a free-speech defense. It could, but newsworthiness has proved to be a broad and elusive legal test in privacy lawsuits. The rape victim's name in the 1989 Florida case, for example, was deemed to be sufficiently related to the public's interest in crime to doom her claim.

Steinbuch's case spotlights the inadequacy of privacy law -- developed back when gossip mostly traveled across backyard fences -- for responding to the challenges of the Internet age. Today's technology grants any person -- no matter how selfish, irresponsible or malicious -- the power to invade privacy globally, at almost no cost. All it takes is a computer and Internet access. Some blogging companies offer free services.

And blogs are just the tip of the iceberg. In May an Oregon woman sued Yahoo after her ex-boyfriend posted nude pictures of her on the site and Yahoo failed to remove them. Expect more litigation.

While we wait to see if old law can adapt to new realities, don't forget the C-word when making safe-sex inquiries. No, not condoms or contraceptives. Ask potential partners if they own a computer.
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Old 08-15-2005, 04:13 PM   #2
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Public revelation of the private acts certainly violates some expectation that these acts remain private. And since we want to keep such activities private (and free from regulation) should there not be some sort of offense for violating this expectation of privacy?
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Old 08-15-2005, 04:18 PM   #3
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Originally posted by nbcrusader
Public revelation of the private acts certainly violates some expectation that these acts remain private. And since we want to keep such activities private (and free from regulation) should there not be some sort of offense for violating this expectation of privacy?



i think Bill Clinton would agree. so would Monica.
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Old 08-15-2005, 04:26 PM   #4
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i think Bill Clinton would agree. so would Monica.
Unfortunately, there was no criminal investigation of the gentleman involved in this, so really there are no parallels.
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Old 08-15-2005, 04:50 PM   #5
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Unfortunately, there was no criminal investigation of the gentleman involved in this, so really there are no parallels
Are you kidding me? There are many parallels between these two:

Quote:
Public revelation of the private acts certainly violates some expectation that these acts remain private. And since we want to keep such activities private (and free from regulation) should there not be some sort of offense for violating this expectation of privacy?
So when a democratic president's private acts are exposed, WE MUST INVESTIGATE! Yet when a Republican's private sex life is exposed, it "certainly violates expectations that these acts remain private".
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Old 08-15-2005, 04:54 PM   #6
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I don't know, it was rather immature of her to post that stuff to begin with given where she works. And who would want their sex partner to blog about it without them knowing? None of us probably.. Really not cool. One last thing, it seems some of her entries were written from the office..Now I'd like to think those in the political realm of D.C. would be working to make the world better and not blogging about their sex lives..just my opinion lol.
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Old 08-15-2005, 04:55 PM   #7
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Are you kidding me? There are many parallels between these two:


So when a democratic president's private acts are exposed, WE MUST INVESTIGATE! Yet when a Republican's private sex life is exposed, it "certainly violates expectations that these acts remain private".
Wrong.....Not what I said...do not put words into my mouth.

President Clinton was on trial for a pattern of behavior of harrassment and abuse of his position as Governor.

If he had not been under investigation for his CHOICES, there never would have been testimony before a judge.

If there had not been testimony before a judge, he would not have lied under oath.

If he had not LIED under OATH when he had as President taken an oath to uphold the laws of the land, he would not have been impeached.

-------------------------------------

There are no parallels, and please do not assume that I am blinded by democrat verses republican crap.
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Old 08-15-2005, 05:47 PM   #8
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Wrong.....Not what I said...do not put words into my mouth.

President Clinton was on trial for a pattern of behavior of harrassment and abuse of his position as Governor.

If he had not been under investigation for his CHOICES, there never would have been testimony before a judge.

If there had not been testimony before a judge, he would not have lied under oath.

If he had not LIED under OATH when he had as President taken an oath to uphold the laws of the land, he would not have been impeached.

-------------------------------------

There are no parallels, and please do not assume that I am blinded by democrat verses republican crap.

i think you are blinded by something

the whole paula jones thing was bullshit

she was a pawn, she said so herself

ken starr wanted to shut white water down, he said it ran its course

it was a partisan witch hunt

Clinton was found "not guilty" by the senate



Why were W and Cheney not under oath when they testified before 911 commission?

I believe Clinton was under oath before 911 commission
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Old 08-15-2005, 05:59 PM   #9
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i think you are blinded by something

the whole paula jones thing was bullshit

she was a pawn, she said so herself

ken starr wanted to shut white water down, he said it ran its course

it was a partisan witch hunt

Clinton was found "not guilty" by the senate



Why were W and Cheney not under oath when they testified before 911 commission?

I believe Clinton was under oath before 911 commission
#1 Bullshit or not, he was legally bound to tell the truth in a court of law, he did not

#2 He was impeached...which means he was put on trial....guilt or innocence has nothing to do with being impeached. The trial determines if the offense is enough for removal from office. He was impeached, and not removed from office.

This thread is not about Bush or Cheney....but I am not surprised at the attempt to turn it into that.
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Old 08-15-2005, 06:44 PM   #10
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Whether he was impeached or not, BEFORE the impeachment, weren't you anxious to know whether the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, actually had an affair with a White Hous intern? And that goes completely against what was said earlier about how people's sex lives should be kept private.
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Old 08-15-2005, 07:14 PM   #11
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Well that is what she gets for posting about her sex life and using real names and detailed information about her lovers on the internet.
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Old 08-15-2005, 07:28 PM   #12
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exactly
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Old 08-15-2005, 07:31 PM   #13
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Whether he was impeached or not, BEFORE the impeachment, weren't you anxious to know whether the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, actually had an affair with a White Hous intern? And that goes completely against what was said earlier about how people's sex lives should be kept private.
The thread is about the privacy of sexual acts as between two individuals.

As Dread correctly points out, Clinton's troubles stemmed from his lying.

The issue remains: should there be a cause of action for publically revealing a sexual relationship by one of the participants without the consent of the other?
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Old 08-15-2005, 09:50 PM   #14
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Clinton's troubles stemmed from his lying.
they stemmed from Linda Tripp lying at the handling of Lucianne Goldberg

right wing conspiracy is not a streach
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Old 08-16-2005, 04:40 AM   #15
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I don't understand why anyone would want to post details about their personal sex life on the Internet, whether you use real names and detailed information or not

the Internet has obviously created a whole new set of questions about privacy
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