She's not acting in the manner of a journalist, by which I mean that there is no goal to her coverage, no public interest being served, no story being pieced together. She's simply taking private information about private individuals who happen to work for the local government (albeit in a very private capacity) and making it public.
First, I don't think you're in any position to judge whether or not she's acting in the capacity of journalist or if the free speech she is exercising is worthwhile.
If none of us are in the position to judge anything, then I think we can safely shut down the
The whole point of free speech is that no one gets to judge what is and is not worthwhile.
Yes, that's the point, but that's not really how it works out. Here in Virginia, for instance, we have a shield law that's been established by the judiciary. If a reporter follows around police officers for the purpose of writing a story in the public interest, that's not stalking, that's journalism. But if an individual does it in order to...well, in order to just harass them, that's illegal.
The only criteria is if the speech is infringing upon someone else's human rights as protected under the law.
"Human rights"? Um. No.
Second, isn't all the information she gathered public information. She just followed people around in public and gathered together public records that a lot of people don't know are public.
You haven't been reading Slashdot very long if you think that the gathering of lots of ostensibly public information about an individual and making it public isn't an abuse of privacy. A listing of all of the websites that you visit is public information, in the sense that it's probably possible for me to track it down, with a little sleuthing and calling in a few favors from friends at DoubleClick and Google. (I'm talking in the abstract here, obviously.) You don't post under your real name here, but I'll bet I could find it out. That's public. Hell, given that, I bet I could figure out and post your address, phone number, e-mail address, social security number, criminal history, home value, workplace, career history, educational background, etc., with some spare time and a big of legwork. But you probably wouldn't want me to make all of that public, because it would totally freak you out and definitely be a violation of your privacy...despite it being public information. One might even call it "stalking."
But then, equating a secretary at a courthouse and police officer in this instance is slightly disingenuous as they have different levels of authority and pose different levels of risk to the people from abuse of that authority.
It's not disingenuous, it's making the point that the notion that a "public employee" vs. a "private employee" is a false dichotomy. The fact that somebody works for the government (as do I, in a roundabout away) does not suddenly make their private life an open book. What a police officer does on his own time, provided it's not illegal, should as private of a matter as what a secretary does, or what anybody else does.
Further your selection of a position of secretary and pronouns indicating it is a woman while the stalker is a man seems like something of an emotional, fear based appeal.
That's right. The point being that we can't have laws that are different for different sexes. Is it OK for a woman to follow a man, but not a man to follow a woman? Of course not. You're paying attention -- that's good.