Listen up: If you take your passion for Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship to an extreme that includes impersonation and anonymous online commenting, you might get sentenced to six months in prison. Lawyer Raphael Golb, who was found guilty of charges including identity theft, criminal impersonation and aggravated harassment when trying to defend his father's theory on the Dead Sea Scrolls' origins. Golb's attorney Ron Kuby was outraged, saying he'd appeal and added that Manhattan DA Cy Vance's office essentially "asked for a term of up to four years in an Upstate prison for first degree blogging." Hey, you do the crime, you do the time!
The incident that led to Golb's arrest is pretty bizarre: Basically, Golb impersonated one of his dad's rivals in academia who works at NYU and submitted a confession to plagiarism as well as created dozens of fake email accounts to attack other critics. Golb claimed that his impersonation were akin to what Voltaire would have done—you know, satire, irony, etc. But the jury convicted Golb, finding that he likely crossed the line from "hurting feelings" to "criminal impersonation."
Golb said today, "Before this case, I did not know that satirical hoaxes of the sort were treated as crimes in the United States of America, but as this court said, ignorance of the law is not an excuse," and, "I can only say that if I have indeed violated the law, I am terribly sorry and have no choice but to accept whatever the consequences are for me." Kuby continued his tirade against the sentence, "The court and the district attorney's office have done their best to make sure the Internet is safe for elite scholars who wish to avoid criticism."