The Journal News of suburban Westchester, New York caused outrage by publishing an interactive map showing the names and addresses of New York’s legal firearm owners. In response, a blogger decided to create a map showing the names and addresses of employees of the newspaper.
The blog, “Talk of the Sound,” a New Rochelle, New York-centric website, decided that turnabout was fair play by posting its headlined, “Map: Where are the Journal News employees in your neighborhood?.” The map replicates the gun owners map published by the Journal News, replacing gun owners with newspaper employees.
When the Journal News published the names and addresses of New York’s legal gun owners, the paper claimed that they weren’t breaking the law as the information they published was all public record. The paper said it was just too bad if the gun owners felt their privacy was violated.
This is, of course, quite true. But the interactive map of the newspaper employees is justifiable using the exact same logic. All the names of the employees are public knowledge and all one needs is a name to find an address, which is generally also in public records that anyone can find.
Newspaper employees may be outraged that their privacy was violated, of course, but they didn’t seem to care much about privacy when they publicized the names and addresses of New York’s gun owners. Naturally, their own argument must be turned right back upon them and that is what “Talk of the Sound” did.
Indeed, the newspaper employees are upset, and some are starting to erase their Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin accounts in response. Of course, none of this would have happened if the paper hadn’t decided to act in a political manner in the first place.
After all, there is no news in the names and addresses of legal gun owners. These people aren’t criminals and these individuals have no bearing on the story of the Sandy Hook massacre.
There was one reason and one reason only for the newspaper to publish the names and addresses of New York’s gun owners: intimidation. The paper meant to scare these law abiding citizens. It was nothing but a bullying tactic.
Worse, by taking this action, the Journal News intended to put New York’s law abiding firearm owners on the same level as the murderer at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Still, turn about really is fair play. If The Journal can claim a right to publish “public records” then so can bloggers.
Another blog, For What It’s Worth, also has an extensive list of Journal News employees.