What Fresh Hell Is This?

June 29, 2015

Revisiting Arnold New Kensington UPDATED

I wanted to give an update of sorts for whatever's going on in Arnold/New Kensington.

When last we spoke, a political blog had been taken down and the post hoc ergo propter hoc implication from this paragraph:
The political blog focusing on the New Kensington-Arnold School District was taken down not long after a school board member filed a lawsuit this week accusing an anonymous poster of making false and potentially damaging statements about him.
I've been told by a source close to the blog that that's not the case.  My source tells me that it was a matter of low traffic which led to a trickle of comments.

In any event, my blog post was a discussion of libel in the comment that triggered the above mentioned lawsuit.  I'm not a lawyer in any way (I believe I said that before - just wanted to reiterate out of an abundance of caution) and I was writing to say that the commenter might be in some legal trouble.

Looks like at least one actual expert disagrees.  From the Trib:
Robert Richards, a Penn State professor and the founder of the Pennsylvania Center for the First Amendment, said that it's unlikely that Petit could actually win the lawsuit, since elected officials are held to the highest standard of proof in a defamation suit.

The burden will be on Petit to prove that the anonymous commenter knowingly made false statements that damaged Petit's reputation, according to Richards.

Richards worries more that the anonymous poster's identity will be revealed.

“It's extremely tough to prove,” Richards said of actual malice. “We have long protected anonymous speech in this country.

“You want people to anonymously be able to blow the whistle, so to speak, and not be afraid to speak their minds.

“That right is threatened to be eroded by suits like this.”
The article goes on to say that Petit's attorney believes he can prove malice.

I don't have access to any other of the facts of the case so I am going to leave the narrative at that.  If there's a court case to proceed, let it proceed without the less than fully informed opinions of a blog two dozen miles away.

In any event, the next version of the blog has gone live and from what I can gather, right now they're discussing the supposed similarities between a deleted facebook message and an email sent into the the first blog.

Whatever the facts, looks like things have gotten nasty in the Arnold New Kensington School District.

As a post script, the man at the center of this controversy, John Pallone, has showed up on the pages of 2 Political Junkies - here.  He was quoted by the Tribune-Review as saying he didn't think the Ten Commandments monument posted outside of Valley High School is unconstitutional.

So whatever else we know or don't know about John Pallone, we know he doesn't know squat about the Constitution.


UPDATE: I made a mistake.  An astute reader emailed in today to inform me that John Pallone is the Superintendent of the New Kensington Arnold School District and that it was his brother Bob Pallone who I quoted regarding the Ten Commandments monument.  I should have taken the extra few minutes to make sure I had my Pallone brothers straight.  I didn't and it resulted in a mistake and for that I apologize.

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