Who Guards the Guardians?

One of my favorite Latin phrases is translated as the title of this post. “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” It is an age old question; often asked in sincerity and seldom answered in sufficiency. H/T to Michael Silence for directing me to another instance of needing to ask.

It seems Memphians need to be asking it anew. And anyone who, like me, enters the bloodsport known as blogging. Because the Memphis, TN Police Department is getting a lil’ sporty.

Anonymous blogger Dirk Diggler, MPD at Memphis’ ‘MPD Enforcer 2.0’ blog has had to take the unusual step of hiring an attorney to protect and to serve him since Memphis Police officials don’t seem inclined to take up that role.Rustmeister at Rustmeister’s Alehouse posts ”Those Damn Bloggers!’ and refers us to the details at The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin has filed suit with AOL asking that the Internet giant divulge Dirk Diggler’s true identity. What I find dangerous and outrageous is that I can’t find where Diggler has been charged with any crime. Godwin is suing to have private information made public for the purpose of what?

The blog is highly critical of the Memphis PD, popular with Memphis police officers and seems to get regular tips and information from sources inside the department. If there is a legal problem there, it would seem to be on the part of the leakers, not the blogger. If officers sign documents to the effect they will not divulge department documents, there’s an issue. If, however, those leaks don’t hinder ongoing investigations then there may be some room to apply Sunshine principles and note that the MPD works for Memphians, not the other way around. Obstruction of Justice is one thing. Abuse of power is another. I can’t find an application of the catchall “national security reasons” which would apply to the quashing of publishing material from a metropolitan source.

I just found out about this so I’ll be watching to see what issues unfold. At a minimum there are 1st Amendment implications here for bloggers and other authors and journalists. If Godwin and the MPD get away with this, what do we do with our local TV and print investigative reporters, for example? And how will knowing who Dirk Diggler is make a difference other than to expose Diggler to potential punitive actions based more in snark than statue?

Sound off in comments and click through to the stories. I’m sure there’ll be more ahead in the days to come, too. Stay tuned.

Blue Collar Muse