Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Steyn: Defaming For Beginners

Mark Steyn has an update about his defamation suit here:

"Defaming for Beginners" (I think he's now like, black belt level in these issues, but I am a newbie and hope to stay that way...a permanent Defamation Virgin as it were...)

Anyway, somewhere in California, a smart lawyer has been walking the non-lawyers among us through some of the language and concepts related to defamation law and the Mann vs Steyn case. 

(Very nice of her, kudos.)

This little bit jumped out at me.

She did some cursory research on anti-SLAPP cases and read some summaries of anti-SLAPP cases and found something rather odd:

"I will confess right now that, other than looking up the statute itself I haven’t done much research on D. C. Cases interpreting D. C. Law.  But just scanning the summaries it appears that conservatives lose and liberals win.  This is not a good thing and perhaps I am wrong. But that will be the subject of another post after I have done the laborious work of reviewing all of these cases."

Seems to be the pattern of the Canadian and Ontario "Human Rights" Commissions as well.

Funny how that happens, yes? 

If you read all the way to the end, as I did, you will also find a discussion of the New York Times v. Sullivan case.

The chilling part is this:

"The court recognized that the use of libel and defamation suits could silence such debate and said that the silencing of such debate was not a good thing."

That was then, this is now. 

Nowadays, the general consensus of the liberal media, the judiciary, the academy and the arts among other culture-forming institutions, is that silencing of debate is a good thing.  

For your own good, you see?!?!

They say the science is "settled" and that there ought not to be any debate.  People who want to debate, they say, are crazy, criminals, should be jailed, etc..

A great many individuals in democracies now are perfectly fine with their right to debate being silenced. They are not aware, nor are they too concerned with their personal liberties being slowly eroded and indeed squashed over time. 

Most people are so inured to the omnipresent Speech Police and Thought Police that they have come to the conclusion that silencing of debate is a good thing-for the general peace, "for the children" and whatnot. 

Mark Steyn often talks about how culture trumps politics. 

The culture in our precious, young democracies simply continue to defer, with nary a weep or a whimper, to shutting up.  The judiciaries in our incredibly young, exquisite democracies are unfortunately made up by individuals strongly steeped in the culture of "shut up", and who general tack to the far left and not to the right.  

We must fight the prevailing culture and persevere in keeping debate and speech free. The stakes are extraordinary, too overwhelming to list, too overarching to itemize!

There are stormy waters ahead indeed for those fighting the never ending battle on behalf of free speech. 

It's the voyage of a lifetime, and more a marathon than a sprint, but I'm quite confident in Mark Steyn's ability to navigate and win this one.