2 thoughts on “EPA sued for Instant Messaging records; Agency accused of ducking FOIA by IM-ing”

  1. That’s an interesting metaphor. When I lived in a state of war with roaches (they have since disappeared quite on their own, and it is a big mystery to everybody what happened to them), upon having exhausted all possible chemical weapons in my arsenal, to little avail, I took on a habit of going around and hitting them with a rubber band. When a stretched rubber band contracts, hurtling its loose end toward a target, it sweeps a pretty large area and the kill is guaranteed even with imprecise aim or timing. That ended up being a more efficient approach to extermination than boric acid (which sort of worked, but not really).

    What puzzled me much was the roaches’ adaptation to my new strategy. Initially, every time I turned on the light in the kitchen, they froze in place for about a minute, allowing me to go from one to another smashing them to pieces with my rubber band. After a few weeks of such treatment, the ones that got caught on vertical surfaces would immediately fall off and sort of fly down to the floor, flapping their wings. They were far more difficult to kill when they did that. I was never able to understand how the heck did they learn that strategy. I don’t think the rubber band left any survivors that could acquire and spread the knowledge. A random mutation? They don’t breed fast enough to inherit mutant behaviour from a single individual. My only explanation was that the original population had a mixture of flying and non-flying phenotypes and that I exterminated the non-fliers. But they did not look like they had mixed phenotypes initially, and I am still perplexed.

    Back to the topic, I can’t understand how one can sue EPA or anybody for instant messaging and win. I believe IM is fully equivalent to speech — how does one go about imposing scrutiny on such interactions? Can we prevent them from talking to each other on the phone, or from having private meetings in the office or outside? We can only ask them politely to leave the records of their communication in the form of email or meeting minutes and hope they use good judgement when they decide which subjects are worth recording and and which aren’t. It will be very interesting to see how this lawsuit develops.

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