Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dead Sea Scrolls Development: Raphael Golb's Appeal Brief, March 2011

Latest developments in the Dead Sea Scrolls trial of Raphael Golb:

Raphael Golb's attorney Ron Kuby has filed his Appeal brief, to the First Appellate Division of New York:

from Raphael Golb's Appeal brief: the Tucker Carlson hoax emails: 

Tucker Carlson opened a fake website/email for "Keith Olbermann." "Olbermann" answered a reporter, who believed him, with outrageous emails. "'s amusing as hell," said Carlson.

"The opportunity to acquire arose 
and we felt it was a market niche which we could enter and dominate 
and it would be a public service so we did it. 
Plus it's amusing as hell." -Tucker Carlson

If the court of Appeals does not overturn the Dead Sea Scrolls case, then people like Tucker Carlson stand in danger of being sent to the State Penitentiary for this "amusing" behavior.

The jist of Kuby's argument seems to be that what Raphael Golb did on the internet was simply not a crime.

Be aware that this case would affect not just folks like Tucker Carlson, but you and me alike. It's puzzling that the case has not received the attention it deserves. It's scary to see how the most important things can slip by right under our noses; as has this small, short, peculiar and scarcely-noticed case-- carrying away with it our rights and liberties, without our even knowing about it.

This is an unprecedented case. This is the first time that an internet hoax, for purposes of legitimate criticism, has been criminalized-- so the ramifications could be enormous, on what is or is not allowable on the internet. It could be a startling check on free speech. We should all be waiting to hear if this case will be overturned by Appeals Court. 

The Brief is in simple, ordinary language, quite an interesting read-- fascinating actually, given its potential role in our lives.

The Brief lists examples similar to Golb's hoax, people who use satirical speech (via internet) as a way to criticize- or just make fun of- people in power. Because there is no gain- beyond criticism- as a motive or "benefit," there is no crime.

The Brief lists specific internet hoaxes and parodies- e.g. facebook, myspace and friendster sites (and one assumes, twitter), blogs, email accounts, and actual emails. "E-mail parodies have become a fashion among Republican party activists." [such as the Tucker Carlson hoax emails, "amusing as hell"]

Yet no criminal charges have ever been filed- until Raphael Golb's case. "Every case that presented conduct that was akin to [Raphael Golb's] was handled in civil courts, not the criminal courts."

Here is that list in the Brief, of the nearly 100 examples of other internet hoaxes and parodies, not one of which resulted in a criminal case:

Ron Kuby in his Brief even points out that if Prof Schiffman were ever charged with the alleged plagiarism- under the prosecution's wide interpretation of criminal 'forgery' he too could be arrested, and taken to criminal court.

Certain phrases stand out in the Brief: First Amendment; "vague and overbroad" (including "stretching" the meaning of words). Vague terms in the original charges that were "stretched" include: impersonation, fraud, forgery, harassment, injury, benefit etc. 
Many of the charges are also shown to be illogical. 

This Appeals Brief appears on a site with all the case transcripts: from the Grand Jury to the courtroom trial itself: 

An aside: I realized the clearest way to see that Raphael Golb's mock emails were ridiculous and intended as satire, is to substitute the word "murder"- i.e. emailing one's colleagues alerting them to a link of a youtube video of oneself committing murder; and asking for their help in covering it up. This absurd substitution makes it immediately obvious how a "confession" is clearly a joke.