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South Florida blog war nothing but a petty pissing match

The current South Florida blog war between a group of hot-headed Cuban right-wingers and a pair of hard-headed Anglo left-wingers is now being touted as a First Amendment battle after one of them threatened to sue the other for perceived libelous statements.

Val Prieto of the right-wing Ba


The current South Florida blog war between a group of hot-headed Cuban right-wingers and a pair of hard-headed Anglo left-wingers is now being touted as a First Amendment battle after one of them threatened to sue the other for perceived libelous statements.

Val Prieto of the right-wing Babalu Blog threatened to sue Bill Cooke of Random Pixels after Cooke wrote that “Babalu is really nothing more than a fringe group of bomb-throwing, anthrax-mailing, loud-mouth fanatics gone high tech.”

So now Rick of the South Florida Daily Blog has launched a campaign against Babalu, encouraging other South Florida bloggers to “support Random Pixels right to blog freely” and insult imprudently without the threat of frivolous lawsuits.

When I refused to join this circle jerk of hyperbolists, one anonymous commenter who goes by “Seve” stated:

Sorta funny how quiet south floridas Mr. 1st Amendment, Carlos Miller, has been on this thing. there’s no way that his perspective is thrown off because of the couple things some of those guys have done for him. he doesn’t abandon his principles that easy, does he?

First of all, Seve, this is not a First Amendment issue. It is a petty pissing match with both sides using their First Amendment rights to trash-talk each other.

A true First Amendment violation results from a person of authority using their power to intimidate, threaten, coerce or trample on somebody’s Constitutional right of expression. Prieto has about as much authority to shut down Random Pixels as I do in lifting the Cuban embargo.

And second of all, I’ve long suspected Random Pixels of being the same “Hank” who left the following comment on my blog back in June 2008 after my trial.

“You are a cockroach and boil on the ass of journalism in Miami and the sooner that responsible journalists in Miami disown you and repudiate your actions the better.”

I also believe he is the same “Slim Pickens” and “Spanky” and “Real Journalist” and “anonymous” who left a smorgasbord of other insulting and degrading comments on this blog, Bob Norman’s blog and the South Florida Daily Blog in that same time period.

On Friday, I sent Random Pixels an email asking if he was the one who left those comments. He replied Monday afternoon stating that he did not leave those comments, but I still have my suspicions.

Before my trial, “Spanky” left the following comment on my blog:

I hope they throw the book at you … you’re an a** hole.

Meanwhile, Henry Gomez of Babalu left the following comment on a pre-trial blog post:

Good luck, Carlos. I’ll be pulling for you.

After the trial, Babalunian Mike Pancier, aka Cigar Mike, left the following comment:

I may not agree with you politically, but I’m with you on this as a fellow photographer. Also as a civil rights lawyer, your case sickens me. Should have never been brought. Total waste of taxpayer money.

On that same thread, “Hank,” left the following comment:

Oh, God I hope it’s over…please?

Quite frankly I’m appalled at all the support that “photojournalist” Carlos Miller has received from some quarters of the journalism community here in South Fla.

Even a casual reading of the facts surrounding the case shows that you were way out of bounds.

Your arrogant, crass, thug-like behavior crops up at every turn. One only need to read your blog to see that.

You can’t seem to cover anything without getting into a potentially violent confrontation.

You seems to think that answer to any situation is to fire off your Canons at 10 frames per second as if that gives you immunity from being an asshole.

I use the word “photojournalist” in quotes bcause as far as I can tell you operate on the fringes and really haven’t done anything other than write for a few local websites.

Your obsession with this case is almost comical and borders on psychopathic.

Now I’ve accumulated a fair share of haters since launching this blog, including an idiot in Los Angeles who accuses me of being self-congratulatory when he places watermarks on photos he did not even take or does not even own; and a hack in New York City who says my writing is “convoluted” but  gets tongue-tied when I ask him to elaborate.

But I’ve never experienced the malice that came through in Hank’s post, which is why I permanently posted it in my right sidebar under “ugly” testimonials. It should be noted that Random Pixels may have had a change of heart because in December, he wrote that I was one of the best writers in Miami.

Despite the negative comments that I suspect Random Pixels of leaving, I still respect him as a blogger. He does a good job in keeping the Miami Herald honest and brings an added journalistic element to the blogosphere that is sometimes missing.

And I also respect Babalu because even though I don’t agree with 99 percent of what they write, they are only using words to express their opinions. Not bombs, fists or even threats of violence. I also respect the fact that they are not afraid to blog under their real identities.

And although I am not personally immersed in this blog war (I have my own agenda that keeps me busy enough), I find it somewhat entertaining. It is reminiscent of the old New York tabloid wars, which was Freedom of Speech at is purest.

So no, Seve, this is not a First Amendment issue. On the contrary. The modern blogosphere enables each of us to run our own printing press and allows us to run it the way we see fit, whether it is creating hyperbole, deleting comments or even mocking each other mercilessly.

Oh and by the way, Seve, the “couple things” that the Babalunians have done for me include Pancier guiding me through my appeal, which is no small task considering the appeal lawyers I was talking to were charging $10,000; as well as renting me his Canon Mark II at a moment’s notice this week at an extremely reasonable rate when one of my Canon 5Ds malfunctioned, enabling me to fulfill my photo assignment for the New York Post as well as photograph a wedding this past weekend.

It also includes Henry Gomez attending my trial until midnight, where he demonstrated the utmost respect to my mother and aunt, and showing his support by blogging about the judge’s bias against me in the days after (which falls in the one percent of Babalu’s writings I agree with).

I am not one to hold grudges, but I am also not one to turn my back on those who have shown me true friendship.

So no, Seve, I have not given up on my principles. I stick to them despite what popular opinion dictates.

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