By Carlos Miller
Stuck on the Palmetto, one of South Florida’s most popular blogs, came to a screeching crash after it was revealed that its owner may have been blogging on the public’s dime, perhaps even as an employee of a law enforcement agency.
The man known only as “Rick”, who ran SOTP with his blogging partner, “Alex”, bid a short adieu Sunday after remaining silent for almost a week following a heated cyber debate with Broward-Palm Beach New Times reporter Bob Norman, who operates the Daily Pulp blog.
During that argument, which was over an SOTP post that Norman had perceived to be homophobic, Norman stated the following:
“Rick got his panties in a bunch about it because he’s a knee-jerk maroon when it comes to the 5-0 (street slang for police). Otherwise, he’s a decent blogger — works his ass off on SotP, that’s for sure. By the way, Rick, who pays your salary to blog all day?”
The question would have gone unnoticed by most loyal SOTP readers had Rick not dedicated an entire post about he was now forced to take a break from blogging because his anonymity had been threatened.
Alex then did a follow-up post criticizing Norman for threatening to “out” Rick and theorizing that he did so because he felt threatened that SOTP was moving into his journalistic territory. Never mind the fact that the Broward-Palm Beach New Times twice named SOTP Best Local Blog of the Year (well-deserved awards, I should add).
As it turns out, Norman knew exactly what Rick did for a living and it obviously bothered him, as we learned a few days later when Norman responded to Alex’s post with the following:
“Everyone by now has gathered what line of work he’s in, thanks to his bullhorning of an obscure jab that was tucked away in a comment on the Pulp. Now it’s time for you to put two and two together. I’ve devoted half my career so far to exposing waste, corruption etc in government. So I’m not going to lie and say my eyebrows didn’t raise a notch when I found out what Rick does for a living. It crossed my mind that all that Palmetto time might be better spent doing his actual job, which is not an unimportant one at all.”
The reason I even write about this incident is because several SOTP loyalists have proclaimed that Rick’s First Amendment rights were being violated because his anonymity had been threatened.
Not that I even believe this particular point is debatable because this basically means we would have to clamp down on Bob Norman’s First Amendment rights to protect Rick’s First Amendment rights.
But this issue does bring up some interesting questions that I’m sure will be increasingly debated in the near future.
1. How much protection do anonymous bloggers deserve?
2. To what lengths will employers go to ensure their employees are not blogging on company time?
3. In the blogosphere, what is considered free speech and what is considered libelous, slanderous, a security threat, invasion of privacy and grounds for termination?
The issue that went ignored by most SOTP loyalists is that Rick was apparently blogging on the taxpayers’ dime, an ironic revelation considering that Rick has voraciously criticized all public officials who abuse the public’s trust.
They are probably willing to turn a blind eye to this because they are also blogging on company time, whether they are in the public sector or private sector. And unless they are Bob Norman, they are not being paid to blog. And neither am I, for that matter, which is why I rarely update this blog (I am self-employed with barely a moment to spare).
A few of us have accused Rick of being “pro-cop” because he tends to jump to the defense of police during questionable circumstances, including my arrest and the arrest of Andrew “don’t tase me, bro” Meyer. In fairness, Rick was also known to criticize police abusive behavior.
Manuel A.Tellechea, another blogger who declares himself an “enemy” of Rick (it’s a Cuban thing), is convinced that Rick was an actual cop. But I am not so convinced. Perhaps he was a civilian employee working within a law enforcement agency, his salary still funded by tax payers.
The reason I say this is because back in February, when I was introduced to the South Florida blogosphere after my arrest, Rick took his customary pro-cop approach and called me “an arrogant prick”, saying I deserved to be arrested for photographing police. He also added that I did not deserve a beating.
However, the following day, he wrote a post where he described meeting a police officer friend for lunch, in which they happened to discuss my case. His friend told him that I had every right to photograph police from a public sidewalk and that the officers had every right to ask me not to take their photo. But they had no right to order me to stop taking their photo.
Rick came across as a total civilian in this post. A civilian who hangs out with cops. Unfortunately, Rick deleted all previous posts in his farewell post, so I am unable to include that post here. (I tried googling it so I could cache it like I did with the first one, but I couldn’t find it).
It was Rick’s arrogant prick post that inspired me to start my own blog, in which I dedicated my second post to him. And in a way, I guess this post is also dedicated to him.
At this point, it really doesn’t matter what Rick does for a living. In the end, he chose responsibility over ego. I wish him well.