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Oklahoma district attorney subpoenas Web-site posters

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There'll be no more watercooler gossip in Pittsburg County.

According to a story in the Tulsa World, the county's district attorney's office has subpoenaed Harold King, operator of the Web site McAlester Watercooler, to give up the names of people posting on his site as part of a criminal libel investigation.

Apparently, DA Jim Bob Miller " yes, Jim Bob " isn't too keen on posters to the Web site. Some comments referenced his kin (his son was recently arrested on a misdemeanor complaint, the World reported) and some McAlester superstars (namely, former Sen. Gene Stipe and his recently deceased brother, Francis Stipe). Jim Bob has demanded that King hand over the names, Social Security numbers and addresses of 35 people who post comments to his site under fictional names. What, area51 isn't a birth name?  

Now, libel is usually prosecuted as civil libel, according to the World, and online libel is relatively uncharted territory. King, who has not been charged, has dealt with this before from the good people of McAlester.

Gene Stipe reportedly accused King of criminal libel a few years back (the case was never prosecuted) and Steven Covington, a business pal of Stipe's, filed a libel lawsuit last year that was later dismissed.

King said he'll file an objection to the subpoena. "There are several possible grounds " ranging (from) Bill of Rights issues to procedural ones," he told the World. "The problem that really concerns me is what they might try next."

Posters on his site seem confident that King will come through for them.

In this-has-got-to-be-related news, King filed a police report alleging that Gene Stipe's nephew Wayne clocked him in the kisser outside a grocery store. Wayne defended his actions to the World, saying, "He picked a fight with me, and I defended myself. I felt like I was about to be attacked by the crazy man."

Jeez, McAlester, can't you just get along? It looks like CFN is going to have to lead another class on sandbox etiquette and sharing.

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