Surprise: NYT Notices Harassment Tactics of Prop. 8 Opponents

Good for the Times for (finally) noticing the speech-squelching tactics of the far-left gay-rights supporters of California's Proposition 8, a successful ballot initiative last November which defined marriage as one man and one woman. It served to strike struck down a state Supreme Courtdecision ruling that laws against gay marriage were unconstitutional.

Ina December 10 storythe Times'James McKinley had hailed protests against the passage of Proposition 8 as "Stonewall 2.0" (a reference to the 1969 Greenwich Village riots). But Sunday's Business section story by Brad Stone, "Prop 8 Donor Web Site Shows Disclosure Law Is 2-Edged Sword," examined the dark side of gay marriage proponents:

For the backers of Proposition 8, the state ballot measure to stop single-sex couples from marrying in California, victory has been soured by the ugly specter of intimidation.

Some donors to groups supporting the measure have received death threats and envelopes containing a powdery white substance, and their businesses have been boycotted.

The targets of this harassment blame a controversial and provocative Web site,

The site takes the names and ZIP codes of people who donated to the ballot measure - information that California collects and makes public under state campaign finance disclosure laws - and overlays the data on a Google map.

Visitors can see markers indicating a contributor's name, approximate location, amount donated and, if the donor listed it, employer. That is often enough information for interested parties to find the rest - like an e-mail or home address. The identity of the site's creators, meanwhile, is unknown; they have maintained their anonymity. is the latest, most striking example of how information collected through disclosure laws intended to increase the transparency of the political process, magnified by the powerful lens of the Web, may be undermining the same democratic values that the regulations were to promote.

Stone, a reporter on the paper's Internet/technology beat, didn't note the liberal/conservative divide in his story, or note the hypocrisy of liberals who claim to be for free expression and a diversity of views but will threaten those who disagree with them. Still, it's a surprise read in the Times, even if on Page 3 of the Business section, under the unenlightening headline "Disclosure Magnified On the Web."