A slapp shot from the point

It’s only a minor thing in the face of all of the other repressive activities in the US, but Mark Steyn’s travails within the court system, after having been sued by Michael Mann over his hockey stick, is quite significant in its own way, possibly more so because Mark is one of the few who is willing and able to fight back. In an article he brilliantly titles Slappstick Farce – and you will have to read the article to understand how clever it is – Steyn discusses how difficult it has been within the American system to deal with Mann’s lawsuit. One more example of how someone on the right finds dealing within the system so difficult.

I don’t think much about the First Amendment these days. As a practical matter, it’s simply not feasible in a global media market to tailor one’s freedom of expression to the varying local bylaws. So I take the view that I’m entitled to say the same thing in Seattle as I would in Sydney or Stockholm, Sofia or Suva. But, were Dr. Mann to prevail, it would nevertheless be the case that his peculiarly thin skin and insecurities would enjoy greater protection under U.S. law than they do in Britain, Canada, Australia, and other jurisdictions. It would thus be a major setback for the First Amendment.

That’s worth making a noise about. Up north, following a similar SLAPP suit from the Canadian Islamic Congress, my publisher Maclean’s, who are far less ideologically simpatico to me than NR, nevertheless understood the stakes — and helped get a disgusting law with a 100 percent conviction rate first stayed by a hitherto jelly-spined jurist and ultimately repealed by the Parliament of Canada. This too is a free-speech case. Free speech is about the right to thrash out ideas — on climate change, gay marriage, or anything else — in the public square, in bright sunlight. And you win a free-speech case by shining that sunlight on it, relentlessly. As we embark on our second year in the hell of the D.C. court system, that’s what I intend to do.I don’t think much about the First Amendment these days. As a practical matter, it’s simply not feasible in a global media market to tailor one’s freedom of expression to the varying local bylaws. So I take the view that I’m entitled to say the same thing in Seattle as I would in Sydney or Stockholm, Sofia or Suva. But, were Dr. Mann to prevail, it would nevertheless be the case that his peculiarly thin skin and insecurities would enjoy greater protection under U.S. law than they do in Britain, Canada, Australia, and other jurisdictions. It would thus be a major setback for the First Amendment.

The comparison is with Macleans, which is something like The Bulletin once was, and National Review, which is supposed to be the stalwart beacon of freedom on the right, is part of Steyn’s continuing disenchantment with the magazine in which he writes. Hardly anyone is standing up for freedom in the US any longer, with the dangers to wealth and reputation so large that the risks of being anything but a leftist jerk are just getting too high.

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14 Responses to A slapp shot from the point

  1. Ripper

    Nasty stutter there or is it just that the paragraph is duplicated?.

  2. Mk50 of Brisbane, Henchman to the VRWC

    This is actually very bad news. Simply put, the alternatives in the USA to facing up to the leftists are becoming binary. Either you do not do it, or you literally kill them from ambush.

    Their legal system is broken and skewed to ‘weaponise’ one side of the political spectrum (notice I did not say ‘Justice’ System). Once that becomes obvious to all, then the only recourse is to take responsibility back from the state into private hands. Steyn would have been better off in terms of money, convenience and even stress if he had shot Mann from a distance than to go through the ghastly and incredibly expensive legal idiocy he is currently experiencing. He would also have a very high chance of getting away with it, given his intelligence. Probably 99% plus.

    This has, of course, occurred many times before with exactly this sort of terrible outcome. It is a very bad sign for any state to reach this position as it presages either the end of that state or a major phase change in that state.

  3. Baldrick

    If there’s one thing a progressive likes more than a rodgering with a baseball bat it’s taking down a conservative through the state sponsored court system, all the while pretending to feign outrage that their rights have been violated.

  4. Alfonso

    Steyn’s got one thing in his favour other than Mann’s risible stick ……Mordy doesn’t get a guernsey on that bench.

  5. stackja

    Tell leftist jerk off!

  6. Bruce of Newcastle

    Same problem here. If Bolt’s publisher had appealed against Mordy’s decision there was an excellent chance of success. If it had gone as far as the High Court the chance of success would be 100% given Brombergs own wording in his judgement.

    But News didn’t want the leftist media dining out on the process for months. The left always squawk and squawk but as soon as an arbiter finds against them the shut up and say nuffin. No retraction, no repentance. Injustice is done by the decibels they produce. News need to maximise their readership from the left and the right. So they wimped it and their employee must pay the price, as do the rest of us. Not until it is firmly established in court that Bromberg’s judgement was erroneous anyone in Australia could suffer the fate of Mr Steyn – expensive court intimidation by a plantiff supported by big progressive bucks.

    I hope Steyn takes Penn State to the cleaners. They deserve it.

  7. cohenite

    Well said Bruce.

    Steyn is a brave person and he is not the first to feel the shackles of the progressive bastardry behind AGW and other darling issues of the luvvies.

    But Steyn is not alone in being sued by Mann. Tim Ball was sued by both Mann and Weaver and note the description of Ball in the Court article.

    Mann has also brought legal action against Chris Horner, a lawyer and critic of the internal investigation conducted at Mann’s university, Penn State, which cleared Mann of any impropriety in respect of the email scandal. Horner is pursuing an FOIA against Penn and Mann’s former employer the Uni of Virginia for the release of the emails by Mann and other relevant information about Mann’s research which should be on the public record.

    Closer to home the recent law case in New Zealand where the NZ equivalent of BOM, NIWA, was subject to litigation designed to force NIWA to release information about its methodology in adjusting temperature data, shows the difficulty sceptics will face in having the AGW establishment be transparent and open to proper public scrutiny. An analysis of that case and its consequences for any further legal action is here.

  8. blogstrop

    A country which elects Obama twice, and which has a legal system that allows itself to be used for harassment of people like Steyn is stuffed, thoroughly stuffed. The decline of the US military presence is all the further proof you need that it’s stuffed. Given that Europe is also stuffed, where to now?
    We told you the media is the message, but you wouldn’t listen.

  9. Tom

    Among the human weasels who should have been denied food at birth, only Michael Mann comes even remotely close to fellow American third-rate academic Stephen Lewandowsky. Both have dedicated their professional lives not only to perpetrating a lie, but to savaging anyone who points it out.

    Steyn will pay an inordinately high price for his eventual victory. The best things in life require the hardest work.

  10. Leigh Lowe

    Nasty stutter there or is it just that the paragraph is duplicated?.

    I will defend freedom of speech – as long as you only say it once.

  11. Arnost

    I fear that Mike Mann has already won. Regardless of whether the courts rule in his favour or not (if it gets that far), the dragged out process will discourage any mere mortal journalist (Steyn is divine) from standing up when hit with a libel / litigation threat if they don’t withdraw / appologise immediately.

    Mike seems to have bottomless funding and no rush to close out the case – viz his lawsuit against Tim Ball [the "Michael Mann at State Penn should be in the State Pen not Penn State .. " comment] .that’s been litigated since March 2011 with no end in sight…

  12. Adam d

    I fear that Mike Mann has already won. Regardless of whether the courts rule in his favour or not (if it gets that far), the dragged out process will discourage any mere mortal journalist (Steyn is divine) from standing up when hit with a libel / litigation threat if they don’t withdraw / appologise immediately.

    There is an upside to these shenanigans. Discovery! The most recent ruling on the case dismissed the peadophile comparisons as journalistic hyperbole but has ruled (wrongly) that naming Mann as a scientific fraud as possible defamation enough so to rule against the application of anti-slapp laws. Should this now go to trial, Steyn will have to prove to some extent that Mann is a scientific fraud and Mann will have to open up his work to investigation. That means emails, working methods etc will be available to steyn and his legal team to pour through something anti-agw community is very excited about. The possibilities here are mouth-watering but it is a shame that Steyn will have to lose so much for it

  13. Shelley

    Sort of related – I was blocked by someone on Facebook for expressing my view that the Australian of the Year was a poor choice for being a sportsman and celebrity – as opposed to someone from the medical/humanly beneficial field. This was a supposedly good friend (I only have friends that I know and actively see in the real world on FB), but a true leftie, so it was not totally unexpected. Free speech only applies to one side of the debate and only if you agree with them.

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