Philip Klein gets a First Amendment lesson about equal protection

The SE Texas Record Apr. 24, 2011, 5:00pm

You've got to wonder about Google. You'd think the American company that created the world's most popular internet search engine would be a staunch advocate for freedom, a resolute opponent of tyranny.

But you might be wrong. With disturbing frequency, Google is lining up on the wrong side of the struggle for individual rights.

The Communist government in China wanted Google to censor its search results to prevent Chinese citizens from gaining access to information it deemed too provocative. Were the Google moguls outraged? Did they adamantly refuse? No, they meekly acquiesced.

Local political commentator Philip Klein, who's developed a reputation for making outlandish posts on his Southeast Texas Political Review blogs, found himself the butt of uncomplimentary, anonymous comments on other blogs. Klein wanted Google to supply the names of the bloggers posting anonymously at Operation Kleinwatch and Sam the Eagle so he could sue them for defamation.

Were the Google goliaths aghast at this brazen assault on the time-honored American practice of anonymous publication? No, they readily agreed to cooperate with Klein.

This is the same Philip Klein who invoked his First Amendment right to free speech to defend himself against a defamation suit filed by a public official who took offense at one of his posts.

"Comments regarding elected officials, as well as public officials and events surrounding them, is firmly protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution," Klein declared at the time. "Clearly, sources that report misconduct and events are further protected."

Apparently the First Amendment right that protects Klein when he criticizes other individuals does not protect individuals who criticize him.

Because Google was agreeable, Jefferson County District Judge Donald Floyd granted Klein's motion to compel discovery of the names of the anonymous bloggers. Just recently, however, the Supreme Court of Texas overruled Floyd, affirming the federal law that prohibits disclosure of subscriber identity without consent.

Let that be a lesson to the likes of Google and Klein who think principle is a journey.

More News