i don't entirely disagree with you, but the case at hand, iirc, was that someone made several slanderous comments about senior fire officials in nova scotia on a newspaper website. those officials were not involved in that web-based discussion, and they were targeted because they were public officials and someone wanted to sound off on them anonymously. to me, that's very dangerous, and certainly slander.
as i said in an earlier post, i'm not as concerned with taunting and stuff like that. to me this is about slander on a more formal level. the web shouldn't grant you immunity because you have the ability to appear anonymous.
and as for hosts being accountable - that would be a serious problem. anyone that operated/hosted a chat room, a message board, a user comments section, or anything like that would be liable for any message left by any user anywhere in the world. it would be impossible to manage that. i think you'd find that sites would disappear really quickly. i don't mean to speak for rf here. think of a newspaper. the g&m gives you the ability to comment on articles. they do that because of popular demand and the fact that it creates a community and drives traffic to their sites. but those topics get very political, and extremely douchy at times. i'm willing to bet that they would shut down in a second if the g&m could be held liable for any post made on their site. you can't police everything in real time. no one is funded for that kind of effort.
i just reacted to your comment that "this is not a good thing". to me, in this type of case where the people being slandered weren't even taking part in the online activity, and where there is clear evidence that this was a case of slander by a person who's anonymity is only protected by the web, it is a very good thing. it would be a problem if taken to an extreme, but public figures would be easy targets if they had no protection from slander on the web at all.
the internationalism of it presents problems, but that's no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater.