Author Jon Entine, associated with George Mason U.’s STATS project and a visiting fellow at AEI, wrote a highly critical piece at Forbes.com about Mike Adams, whose extremely controversial views on science, medicine, vaccines, GMOs and other topics get wide circulation through the site Natural News, much shared on the internet. Adams’s resulting legal threats led Forbes to pull down the Entine piece (the publication of which Adams deemed “cyber-bullying” and “electronic harassment”), and Keith Kloor at DiscoverBlogs prints choice excerpts from what is said to be Adams’s electronic correspondence with Entine. More: Sharon Hill, Doubtful News.
Not a good idea for anyone, really, but an especially bad idea for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [Ken at Popehat; Paul Alan Levy (reminding that “the government itself cannot be defamed”)]
Down the same alley: when the mayor of Peoria seized on a misdemeanor law banning “impersonating a public official” as grounds for sending police after a clearly satirical Twitter account, he bit off more than he might be able to chew [Ars Technica, earlier]
- “Money spent trying to spread a political message is speech, whether you like the message or not.” [Michael Kinsley on McCutcheon v. FEC, earlier]
- “Letter: Ken Avidor on Being Silenced By a Defamation Suit” [Romenesko]
- “Canada’s first Twitter harassment trial has taken a strange twist.” [Christie Blatchford, National Post]
- In union leader’s defamation suit, Philadelphia court orders anonymous commenter unmasked [CBS Philly]
- New Jersey ruling letting parents be sued over kids’ Facebook posts will chill speech [Hans Bader/CEI, earlier]
- More dispatches from Michael Mann-Mark Steyn litigation showdown [Steyn, Charles Cooke] Bonus: Steyn on Andrew Bolt case in Australia and on Nevada protests’ “First Amendment Area” (“The ‘First Amendment Area’ is supposed to be something called ‘the United States’.”)
- “True-crime author Ann Rule’s suit against Seattle Weekly tossed” [KING]
Court order muzzles gun advocate after his arrest [ACLU of Missouri]:
To express his opinion that Officer [Jerry] Bledsoe was using his position to harass him for exercising his Second Amendment rights, [Jordan] Klaffer posted recordings of the May 1 encounter on YouTube and Facebook. And, on Instagram, he posted a picture of Bledsoe alongside a photo of Saddam Hussein, with the caption “Striking Resemblance.”
Officer Bledsoe retaliated by obtaining a court order that prevented Mr. Klaffer from posting videos, pictures, and text data criticizing Officer Bledsoe on the Internet. “A government order prohibiting criticism of government is the worst kind of censorship,” explains Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri.
Meanwhile: Virginia state trooper sues police activist in small claims court over his actions and statements following a traffic stop of his car in which she participated, the videos of which wound up on YouTube.
How a ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada expanding defenses in defamation law emboldened reporters and made possible tough press coverage of the Toronto mayor [Ivor Tossell, Walrus Magazine]
Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane dropped a longstanding corruption “sting” probe that had snagged several Philly officials. The Philadelphia Inquirer raised questions about her decision in its reporting, which contributed to a public outcry over the episode. Then Attorney General Kane brought a prominent libel litigator with her to a meeting with the Inquirer editors, and that lawyer announced that Kane was exploring her options of suing the paper and others that had reported on the matter, and that he was going to do the talking for her.
- Cato Institute reissues Jonathan Rauch’s classic Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks On Free Thought after 20 years, with new introduction by George F. Will and new afterword by the author [Jason Kuznicki; Reason Foundation] The free-speech Supreme Court decision without which there would have been no gay-rights movement [Rauch guestblogging at Volokh Conspiracy]
- Important stuff: Ken White vs. Mark Steyn on how to respond to lawsuits against speech [Popehat]
- “Blogger: Go Ahead and Sue; I’ve Got Nothing To Lose” [Greensboro, N.C., sued by developer; Romenesko] Is it possible to defame a business by putting up a Craigslist post linking to an online docket showing lawsuits against it? [Cook County Record]
- U.K. aims to tweak existing X-rated internet filters to block “extremist” websites [TechDirt] Europe’s hate speech laws may actually prepare the ground for sowers of hate [Jamie Kirchick, Tablet]
- Public Citizen’s Paul Alan Levy, ACLU of Maryland assist anonymous blogger targeted by Brett Kimberlin [Consumer Law & Policy]
- “Rhode Island Cops Vigilant In Face of Scourge of People Making Fun of State Representative Scott Guthrie” [Popehat]
- “If you are determined to sue 1,200 people for linking to a newsworthy article, you may begin with me.” [John Scalzi]
If a thin-skinned academic sues a magazine for criticizing him too harshly, and you find yourself hoping the magazine will get sued into bankruptcy because you disagree with its views, you might not want to claim for yourself the honorable word liberal [Damon Linker/The Week, Stephen Carter/Bloomberg, Eugene Volokh on role of libel insurance, earlier here, here, etc.]
- “Bloggers = Media for First Amendment Libel Law Purposes” [Obsidian Finance Corp. v. Cox; Volokh]
- Co-workers’ taking of Lord’s name in vain is element in discrimination claim of religious harassment [Oregon; Ruder Ware]
- “Michigan Court of Appeals Again Protects Anonymous Criticism” [Paul Alan Levy] Virginia by contrast adopts standard less protective of speech [same] Is D.C. lawyer attempting to unmask Wikipedia editor in defamation suit a “public figure?” [NLJ]
- Judge Posner blasts class-action firm for supposed misconduct, law firm offers evidence to rebut that and proceeds to sue law firm McGuire Woods for allegedly misrepresenting facts of case at its prominent Class Action Countermeasures blog [Alison Frankel, Reuters]
- “Lawyer says he will drop suit alleging website unfairly cast him as a ‘tree mutilator'” [ABA Journal (compares townspeople who criticized tree removal to “bullies,”) Greenfield, Columbia (Mo.) Tribune]
- “The victims are ‘too Christian’ to excite the Left, and ‘too foreign’ to excite the Right.” [Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Week, on Mideast persecution] “God may not have felt threatened, but his supporters did” [Nick Cohen on UK’s Maajid Nawaz t-shirt controversy via @secularright, Ken at Popehat] Prison for “blasphemous” Facebook posting, in Greece, not Pakistan or Sudan [Guardian]
- Defendants in Michael Mann’s lawsuit against critics seem to be getting standard “don’t write about getting sued” instructions from their lawyers, but that’s not easy advice to give Mark Steyn [SteynOnline, Jonathan Adler (Mann wins a round opening way to discovery]