In June 2011, Judge Diane E. Gibbons of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, illegally ordered an excellent web site called The Psycho Ex Wife to be taken down in violation of the US Constitution’s First Amendment. The site is reportedly owned by a Pennsylvania woman named Misty Weaver-Ostinato whose partner for the last several years has been a man named Anthony Morelli. On the site, they identified themselves as DW and “Mister M” never using their real names or identifying information, nor the real name or identifying information of Morelli’s ex who allegedly inspired the site with her behaviors.
First Amendment rights expert Eugene Volokh writes that he believes this order is blatantly unconstitutional, especially because of its expansiveness:
from “Father Shall Take Down That Web Site and Shall Never on Any Public Media Make Any Reference to Mother At All,”
If the father says anything about the mother in public, he could be sent to jail for contempt of court. The order isn’t limited to banning libelous statements (though I think even such a much narrower ban would itself pose constitutional problems, especially under Pennsylvania law), nor is it even limited to statements about minor children (though even that sort of order strikes me as constitutionally impermissible). Rather, the court order categorically orders the removal of a Web site, and prohibits all public statements — factually accurate or not — by one person about another person.
Allison Morelli apparently claims that PEW (the abbreviation for “Psycho Ex Wife”, one of the main characters discussed on the site) is her, even though nobody is ever identified or named on the site. According to reports in other publications, PEW served as the source for around a quarter of the articles describing bizarre and abusive behaviors on the banned website.
Allison, for reasons that don’t make any sense to me at all, wants us all to believe that PEW is her and therefore the whole site is an attack on her. She claims the site is about her without naming or identifying her or anybody else. She simultaneously implies or maintains that she didn’t behave as the PEW character behaved but somehow she knows they were writing the site about her to attack her. This makes no sense to me, nor does it to much of anybody else except apparently Allison Morelli, her supporters, and Judge Gibbons.
The PEW character may not be meant to be literally interpreted. The words and actions appear to be what you could see as a synthesis of behaviors and conduct of more than one troubled ex-spouse. Certainly describing a person as looking like “Jabba the Hut” (a description used for PEW) is obviously figurative speech that no rational person is going to believe is a literal statement. Yet Allison Morelli claims the site is about her and is an attack on her, all the while trying to imply or claim she didn’t write the emails or do the actions described. But somehow she “knows” it is all about her.
However much literary license may have been taken with PEW’s words and actions and no matter what victimhood badge Allison is trying to win with her weird assertions, it is clear that “PEW” as used on the site often does not even refer to Allison Morelli even if you believe it sometimes does.
PEW is used to refer not just to the PEW character but also as a generic abbreviation throughout the site’s content. It means different things in different places. This abbreviation is often used to refer to any generic “psycho ex wife” or at times even more broadly any “psycho ex” regardless of gender or marital status.
Even the readers of the site used such terms to describe their own conflicts. “PEW” is frequently used to generically refer to a “psycho ex wife” or to some other unnamed specific ex-wife that could not be Allison Morelli, unless of course she wants to claim she has been married to dozens or hundreds of the readers and they are all writing about her, too.
The site and its readers also use “PEH” to refer to “psycho ex husband” which can’t be about her. Or can it? If she were to claim she was a man named Alfred in some past life and therefore any references to “PEH” are about her, too, from her actions to date it looks like Judge Gibbons would be convinced by that argument.
The generic “psycho ex” content and discussion included all the kinds of things you’d expect to see discussed about malicious Borderlines, Narcissists, Antisocials, and other personality disorders that are typically seen in sociopaths. These include drug abuse, alcohol abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, manipulation, projection, gaslighting, pathological lying, distortion campaigns, and more. They even discussed at times how these people get to be their malicious selves, often from a history of abuse as children. All of that is very generic and helpful information that doesn’t specifically pertain to Allison Morelli. Some of it may not have been written to have anything to do with her. Yet Judge Gibbons, in her infinite stupidity, sought to silence all of that content, too, because she apparently is unable or unwilling to differentiate between content that is widely and generally applicable and not specific to any one person and content (be it information or misinformation) that has to do with the Morelli dispute in particular.
Unfortunately for the operators of the site and its readers, Judge Gibbons does not seem able to ask basic questions about how an anonymous site naming and identifying nobody but quoting bizarre and abusive emails and describing similar behaviors could be about a person unless that person is also in effect admitting she is behind those words and actions.
Gibbons must also have failed her Constitutional Law classes on the First Amendment, nor does she understand that even if there was some defamatory or harassing statement on the site that this does not justify banning all the content. She evidently can’t comprehend or doesn’t care that roughly 2/3 or more of the material on the site wasn’t even about the PEW character and therefore could not have been about the Morelli dispute, even if Allison wants people to believe she is the PEW character.
Did Gibbons even review the site? By the appearance of the alleged transcripts I’ve seen so far, it looks like she just took Allison’s word for it when she moved to ban the site.
Take Down the Site Or Go To Prison
The judge stated among other things that if the site was not taken down, she would imprison Anthony and take away his kids. Here’s a direct quote from the alleged June 6, 2011 transcript:
Father shall take down that website and shall never on any public media make any reference to the mother at all, nor any reference to the the relationship between mother and children, nor shall he make any reference to his children other than “happy birthday” or other significant school events. The father’s girlfriend shall not be referred to as mother and father shall not in any way interfere with mother’s relationship with her children.
Mother will not consume any alcohol at all and will continue in alcohol treatment.
This matter is continued for a period of four months.
By her words in the alleged transcript, Judge Gibbons indicates that Allison Morelli is an alcoholic. Later you see:
NAME REDACTED: You know, in the course of having custody evaluation, it was discovered that I had developed a drinking problem as a result of gastric bypass surgery that I had in March of ’09. And that after that point, you know, I suffered from addiction transference and, you know, it — I am certainly not going to minimize that today, that of course it impacted the children. But the children saw me intoxicated four times in the course of two years. And I am in treatment. I attend AA meetings.
To date I have not seen anybody disputing the legitimacy of this transcript. There’s also a second alleged transcript of a June 14, 2011 hearing available. I’d like to have some reasonably easy way to quickly authenticate such documents with court records, but apparently the Pennsylvania courts don’t publish such court records online.
The website had a lot to say about the “PEW” character over the years. “PEW” was alleged to be an emotional child abuser, harasser, abusive litigator, perjurer, frequent violator of court orders, and was suspected by Anthony and Misty of suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder.
If Allison Morelli didn’t do such things, then why on earth would she be arguing that the site is about her? And if she did so such things, why on earth would she want the public to hear about it by publicly claiming the site is about her?
If Anthony and Misty believe that PEW behaved so abusively, regardless of who PEW is, those familiar with such destructive situations should be able to understand why they would have been motivated to write anonymously about such conflicts.
Later in the transcript, Gibbons talks about incarcerating the father if he does not follow her orders, apparently including the ones regarding the illegal restrictions on his free speech rights and the illegal orders made regarding his partner’s website: