So, I've been following Mark Steyn's issues with Professor Michael Mann and the "hockey stick" with some interest, though certainly not as comprehensive as other web sites with more passion for the climate change debate.
The "climate change" debate really bores me to tears.
However, even as someone with little skin in the game, and just a general love of America, liberty and the truth, there are a few things about the recent decision by the Washington, D.C district court to allow Michael Mann's defamation suit to proceed against Steyn and the NRO that I find very disturbing.
It would appear that given the circumstances, Mark Steyn and the NRO could not have had any worse luck than to have had their motion to dismiss heard by Judge Natalia M. Combs Green.
I don't know what the process is for assigning cases to judges, but it would seem to me that having a judge who was appointed by former President Bill Clinton would already be a first strike against a conservative, and especially conservatives who are as well known as Mark Steyn and the NRO crew.
What are the chances of that happening? Must have been dumb luck.
Conservatives should breathe a sigh of relief that she is retiring in September.
I read through the entire decision out of interest. I can only comment on it from the perspective of a writer, and one with a generalized interest in politics and a, well-rather specific interest in Mark Steyn (*waves*), but here are my general observations on this document.
It seemed to me not impartial and didn't flow coherently. There were also oddities such as this paragraph from p.14, and this is a direct quote:
"Defendants argue that the accusation that Plaintiff’s work is fraudulent may not necessarily be taken as based in fact because the writers for the publication are tasked with and posed to view work critically and interpose (brutally) honest commentary. In this case, however, the evidence before the Court, at this stage, demonstrates something more and different that honest or evenly brutally honest commentary and creases that line of reasoning (sic)"
So, we are to take seriously that a female judge, appointed by Bill Clinton, judging Mr.Steyn and the conservative NRO is expert at judging the nuanced difference between "honest" and "brutally honest commentary" and then her proclamation that this commentary "creases that line of reasoning"?
I guess Washington, D.C is so broke because of the sequester that spell check has become unaffordable.
What are the chances?
When you crease the line of reasoning, you are into very dangerous territory!
The document reads incoherently to me in places, and seems to have some indications of not being fully impartial.
For example, on p.21, it would appear to me that the judge is suggesting that Steyn and the NRO are on a "witch hunt" against Mann. I suppose that's neither here nor there. It's just odd.
"The record demonstrates that the NR Defendants have criticized Plaintiff harshly for
years; some might say (note-my italics), the name calling, accusations and jeering have amounted to a witch hunt,(19) particularly because the NR Defendants appear to take any opportunity to question Plaintiff’s integrity and the accuracy of his work despite the numerous findings that Plaintiff’s work is sound."
My question is: what is this, kindergarten?
And the footnote itself is very odd:
(19) The Court does not, by this Order endorse or make any finding regarding this characterization of the type of dialogue engaged in by the NR Defendants.
Really? Sure looked like a judgement call to me.
To me, one of the actual tragedies of this case, and others like it is how thin skinned Americans have become in general. The Cult of the Exquisitely Offended Masses can never be fed enough by the willing court system. It's a bottomless pit.
The members of the Church of the Perpetually Aggrieved and Offended have suckled entire generations of children and permanent children who are brought up and raised to believe that they can be protected from insults, "name calling" and "accusations" and "jeering". This is a dangerous and foolish and expensive belief system. There is no limit to the number of Americans that can fall victim to this pernicious and vicious legal cycle.
It's actually happening all over the free world. "Human Rights" courts and commissions and real courts are used by soft totalitarians to crush free speech and freedom of expression.
Dissent and legitimate debate on major issues of public concern is silenced by litigation and the punishment of the process.
As a side note, I would add that there are also a number of places where, at first glance, it appears that the two groups of co-defendants have been confused by the judge. But really, what are the chances of that actually being the case?
What are the chances that there could be errors in fact in this document in addition to errors in spelling, awkward grammar and somewhat incoherent use of the English language?
As I say, I'm not a lawyer and I'm not knee deep in this stuff, I only have a cursory interest in the issue, but just as a writer, I would suggest that this document be fact checked up the wazoo.
And yes, that's my professional opinion.