The one man global human rights defendant

Mark Steyn has a look at our troubled dealings with free speech and doesn’t like what he sees.

No two situations are identical, but Australia’s Section 18 is very roughly analogous to Canada’s Section 13, with Andrew Bolt and The Herald Sun playing the roles of me and Maclean’s magazine and various aboriginal persons in the parts of Khurrum Awan and the Canadian Islamic Congress Sock Puppets. Thanks to Brian Storseth’s private member’s bill, Section 13 was final repealed by the Canadian Parliament last year, after a somewhat protracted path to Royal Assent. By contrast, it’s not clear our Aussie cousins’ efforts to repeal Section 18 will get out of the starting gate.

Steyn is so unique that it is only he who has been able to see through to the core issues and then set himself against the gale force winds that come his way. Here the legal precedent went the other way and was not appealed beyond the initial court decision. But let’s face it. No one wants to take these issues on; we all have other things to do with our lives and no one is made of money. So this may be more than a bit of whimsy.

I hope the Section 18 campaign picks up a bit of steam soon. But I did take the precaution of threatening The Australian‘s readers:

I might have to fly in and do it myself.

I mean that. We’re currently mapping out plans for my Aussie tour later this year. In ideal circumstances, I’d fly in in time to attend the Governor General’s Section 18 Repeal cocktail party at Government House. But I have the glum feeling that the case for free speech might still be far from won.

Meanwhile on Steyn’s other adventures in the world of law, there is the latest episode of Mark v Mann, Mann of course being the man with the hockey stick who sued Steyn for slander. The only trouble is actually trying to get the case before a court. This is where the process is now at after more than a year of Mannoeuvering:

On Saturday, I noted that Mann had yet to join me in filing an objection to National Review‘s Motion to Stay Discovery. He did so today:

Defendant Mark Steyn opted not to appeal the denial of the motions to dismiss the amended complaint. Rather, Mr. Steyn has filed an answer and counterclaims and has expressed his intention to move forward with discovery, regardless of the fact that his co-defendants have opted to appeal.

Indeed, I have. So what’s Dr Mann’s position? Well, it’s a two-part response.

On the one hand, he’s in favor of his proceeding with discovery against me:

The fact that Mr. Steyn has not appealed the denial of the motions to dismiss counsels further against a discovery stay. Mr. Steyn, like Dr. Mann, has made clear his desire to have this Court resolve this lawsuit and to move forward with discovery immediately. As such, there is no reason for this Court to delay discovery further.

On the other hand, he’s totally opposed to my proceeding with discovery against him:

While Dr. Mann agrees with Mr. Steyn that discovery should move forward on Dr. Mann’s claims, discovery cannot move forward on Mr. Steyn’s counterclaims.

Oh, my. You do surprise me.

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44 Responses to The one man global human rights defendant

  1. johanna

    Steyn Online is highly recommended for any Cat reader except Numbers.

    The point he makes, again and again, is that concession leads to failure when it comes to free speech. As soon as you start conceding on the Holocaust, for example, you have opened the door to further special interest groups. There is no way back from there.

    He will win the case against Michael Mann, and not by tactics, but by strategy. Like Margaret Thatcher, his view is much wider than any individual legal spat. It is not about this issue, but all of the issues.

    Buy his gift vouchers (towards his legal costs) and frame them.

  2. Tom

    It all comes back to the fact that the modern left is a more odious version of the old right-wing establishment: as the new establishment the left is determined that the new dissidents will not be heard and must be silenced at all costs. The barricades must be defended. The new freedom fighters are not only what the left used to be, but present a ludicrous satire of what the left has become: a sad wall of conservatives in suits determined to hold back the human yearning for personal freedom. I personally saw and understood that irresistible force in China in the mid-1980s. The Chinese bowed to their masters when the whips were eventually cracked in Beijing, but the yearning was there and will always be there. Totalitarianism is death and the modern left is reactionary totalitarianism.

  3. Steyn is so unique…

    He’s even more one-of-a-kind than other one-of-a-kind blokes?

  4. Paridell

    “Steyn is so unique…”

    No, he is unique, that is, one of a kind. Alternatively, he is not unique. As Fowler reminds us, “There are no degrees of uniqueness; nothing is ever somewhat or rather unique.”

    Granted, Charlotte Bronte could write, “A very unique child, thought I” (Villette). But even Homer nods.

  5. johanna

    I doffs me cap, Paridell.

  6. james

    Lets face facts.

    Most Australians do not deserve free speech.

  7. johanna

    James – perhaps you have stumbled onto the wrong blog?

  8. Steyn is so unique

    One cannot be “so unique”.
    One is either unique, or not.
    Where did you learn to write?
    And Steyn is a common or garden bigot.
    He makes a living out of selling hate and fear to the highest bidder – there’s plenty of those about.

  9. dan

    And Steyn is a common or garden bigot.

    People have the right to be bigots if they want to. It’s none of your business what they think.

    No, he is unique, that is, one of a kind. Alternatively, he is not unique

    If it’s that binary, then I would suggest everything and everyone is by definition unique surely? Unless there are two things out there that are exactly the same.

    “Infinite” is also a term that seems clear, but some things are more infinite than others.

  10. cohenite

    And Steyn is a common or garden bigot.
    He makes a living out of selling hate and fear to the highest bidder – there’s plenty of those about.

    You are a grub numbers, the Lee Rhiannon of Catallaxy.

    Steyn’s work in taking on the religion of pieces and its vile use of similar provisions in Canada to S 18C here is a testament to his bravery and integrity; as I have argued against other fools on this site, criticism of islam is not bigotry.

    Steyn’s work against AGW and its advocates like Mann has been relentless and justified. The original letter subject of the current suit by Mann is this.

    Steyn disavows the paedophile comparison but does say Mann has been fraudulent; that is the basis of the action. Mann has relied on the various investigations into the Hockeystick post email release to ground his defamation action.

    Those investigations in turn were found to be flawed by this report.

    Mann has not publically revealed his workings or methodology. If the suit proceeds the first interest will be the extent of Discovery allowed by the court. Secondly the matter will proceed onto expert testimony. If Steyn has sufficient financial backing it will become an important test of AGW credibility since Mann remains a, if not the most credible AGW scientific icon.

    Some commentators have said proving fraud will be difficult. Not at all:

    The elements of fraud were first clearly defined in the landmark decision of Derry v Peek , in which Lord Herschell held that fraud constitutes a “false representation made (1) knowingly, or (2) without belief in its truth, or (3) recklessly, careless whether it be true or false”. In other words, the representor must have lacked an honest belief in the truth of his statement. However, motive is immaterial, so that one may be liable of fraud, even though no harm was intended. “Recklessly” means “consciously indifferent to the truth” and not merely “gross negligence”. Where the representor deliberately shuts his eyes to the facts, purposely abstains from investigation, or consciously lacks suffcient information to support an assertion couched in positive and unqualified terms, the conclusion is open that his belief is not really honest.

  11. Token

    When the Cat’s # 1 homophobe & bigot projects, he goes big.

    I was interested to note he carefully reads Michael Smith (rather than just trolling there). I would not be surprised if the last shread of humanity in that vile black heart needs to be nourished by the humanity and wit of Steyn.

  12. Baldrick

    Steyn is so unique that it is only he who has been able to see through to the core issues and then set himself against the gale force winds that come his way.

    Steyn is somewhat unique in that it is only he who has been able to see through to the core issues and then set himself against the gale force winds that come his way.

    Happy now?

  13. Peter OBrien

    Yesterday Professor Gillian Triggs said in her Press Club speech that the debate over Sect 18C was ‘divisive’. How ironic! Even having a debate about free speech is ‘divisive’. This says it all about the Left’s view of freedom of speech. The Left’s proposition seems to be that freedom of speech is what we say it is and if you disagree you’re just being divisive and therefore should just shut up.

  14. duncanm

    I’d put Brendan O’Neill in a line somewhere closely behind Steyn.

  15. manalive

    Watch out Hammy!
    I think there’s a takeover bid underway.

  16. politichix

    Regarding Mark’ uniqueness, to my mind Steve is comparing Mark’s uniqueness to another person’s uniqueness. So say a person is unique in the way they hang out the washing, well compared to that, Mark’s uniqueness falls in the crazy brave category i.e. “so unique” or “very unique” or “really, really unique”.

  17. Token

    Yesterday Professor Gillian Triggs said in her Press Club speech that the debate over Sect 18C was ‘divisive’. How ironic! Even having a debate about free speech is ‘divisive’.

    Mental pygmies get confused & threatened when forced to maintain the work of giants of prior generations.

    To save her future embarassment Brandes should ensure she spends all her time looking after a “special project” which will benefit from her focused leadership & time.

  18. duncanm

    Hey numbers,

    if you’re going to be pedantic about language, maybe you can explain how there can be “plenty of highest bidders” about.

  19. Token

    …to my mind Steve is comparing Mark’s uniqueness to another person’s uniqueness…

    Great work Obama. Please tell me another non-lawyer who has courageous enough to put themselves in the middle of 2 of the most critical culturally defining issues, as such great personal risk?

    He won in Canada, but may be beaten by the corruption of the deep pockets of lefty donors like Soros and the US legal system which is staffed throughout by clients of the left.

  20. politichix

    Hey Token, either I’m misreading your sense of humour or you are misreading mine ;-)

  21. Toiling Mass

    To me he will always be Piltdown Mann – plying the new hoax for the new century.

  22. Tapdog

    …Triggs said in her Press Club speech that the debate over Sect 18C was ‘divisive’

    Mmmmm. What was really divisive was introducing the infernal law in the first place. A huge opportunity went begging when the Bolt conviction was not appealed. As a personal decision it was (sort of) understandable but putting yourself out there as a leader of an important public discussion brings with it some expectation that you will see things through when the going gets tough.

  23. Rabz

    Tokes,

    What I’ve found interesting is Steyn’s views on how utterly dysfunctional the US legal system is. He has been venomous in his denunciations of those corrupt incompetent parasitic dunderheads. His anger resulted from being saddled with an incompetent, blatantly partisan ‘judge’ who made several inexcusable errors (displaying an appalling ignorance of the most basic legal principles into the bargain) and Steyn had no recourse, nor was there any sanction of the judge.

    Hence, the case continues, following Steyn’s adoption of a new strategy.

  24. Rabz

    he will always be Piltdown Mann

    Yes, it’s a fitting and funny moniker.

  25. dover_beach

    Yesterday Professor Gillian Triggs said in her Press Club speech that the debate over Sect 18C was ‘divisive’. How ironic! Even having a debate about free speech is ‘divisive’.

    The Left now use this tactic on almost every issue: abortion, climate change, freedom of speech, gay marriage, indigenous issues, industrial relations, immigration, and so on. I can barely think of an issue where this is not raised.

  26. cuckoo

    …Triggs said in her Press Club speech that the debate over Sect 18C was ‘divisive’

    God, that woman makes Quentin Bryce look like Marie Curie. I’m glad Triggsy has finally found a form of free speech which she thinks should be defended to the death – namely, the right of employees (especially public servants, especially staff of DPMC) to bag their employer on social media (while still expecting to be paid and to occupy positions of trust).

  27. cuckoo

    If a mole at the Human Rights Commission started bagging Triggsy and the Commission on Twitter, it would be interesting to see how long her new-found passion for this form of free-speech right would last.

  28. Viva

    the gale force winds that come his way

    Ask yourself – who is more likely to fearlessly make a politically incorrect statement – a person of the Left or the Right? Speech restrictions are intended to close down commentary from the right. We say what needs to be said – and it often hurts to hear it.

  29. Token

    Hey Token, either I’m misreading your sense of humour or you are misreading mine

    I was being too obtuse. I was trying to underline your point but it did seem to come off as criticism.

    I saw a series of comments which seemed to be focusing on the form of Steve K’s comment with the result of undermining the content.

  30. Token

    His anger resulted from being saddled with an incompetent, blatantly partisan ‘judge’ who made several inexcusable errors (displaying an appalling ignorance of the most basic legal principles into the bargain) and Steyn had no recourse, nor was there any sanction of the judge.

    X2.

    There is a great discussion between Steyn & Dellingpole where Steyn draws a direct parallel between his experience and Bolta’s experience with Mordy. Damn it is great entertainment listening to those 2 guys just natter.

  31. manalive

    Professor Gillian Triggs said in her Press Club speech that the debate over Sect 18C was ‘divisive’. How ironic!

    Interesting, divisive v. diversity, both from the same latin root, used by the Left to suit the occasion.

  32. Joe Goodacre

    Bolt and Steyn are similar – smart people, yet quick on the insult/sarcasm and they wonder why people take advantage of the legal avenues open to them to shut them down.

    I wonder how people on here who are pro defamation laws and Chris Kenny’s court case are able to distinguish between what was done to Chris Kenny and what Steyn said about Mann.

  33. rickw

    Currently working my way through a number of Steyn’s books, good stuff !

  34. Demosthenes

    When the Cat’s # 1 homophobe & bigot projects, he goes big.

    Mk50 isn’t on this thread.

  35. Token

    …they wonder why people take advantage of the legal avenues open to them to shut them down.

    Listen to that Steyn / Dellingpole interview. Steyn is different to Bolt.

    He seeks out legal action, but uses Sun Tsu’s advice of attacking at the point where your enemy is weakest. It has taken a rotten judge & millions of Soros and friends dollars to prevent this case from being a walk over. Rabz has already noted how Piltdown Mann has survived this long:

    His anger resulted from being saddled with an incompetent, blatantly partisan ‘judge’ who made several inexcusable errors (displaying an appalling ignorance of the most basic legal principles into the bargain) and Steyn had no recourse, nor was there any sanction of the judge.

  36. manalive:

    Interesting, divisive v. diversity, both from the same latin root

    Diverse derives from divertere, “to turn in separate ways”—from di- + vertere, “to turn”;
    Divisive derives from dividere, “to divide”—from di- + videre, “to seem”.
    The prefix—di- (from dis-), expressing negation, reversal or separation—is the same, but vertere and videre, I submit, are not the same.

  37. cohenite

    Poor Steyn; his first Judge, Combs Greene, was incompetent and has allowed a scurrilous amendment to Mann’s pleading thus described in Steyn’s subsequent motion to dismiss as:

    It need hardly be stated that a man who falsely inflates his own reputation has an obvious difficulty in
    demonstrating that such a “reputation” has been damaged. Indeed, the only damage inflicted upon Dr Mann in this matter was entirely self-inflicted by the characteristically brazen braggadocio of the original complaint.

  38. Max

    Bolt and Steyn are similar – smart people, yet quick on the insult/sarcasm and they wonder why people take advantage of the legal avenues open to them to shut them down.

    Cant agree with this Joe – Free Speech must by absolute, no legal fees required!

  39. Max

    I wonder if an Aussie Radio station can play this song today without falling foul of 18c

    Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields,
    Sold in a market down in new orleans.
    Scarred old slaver know he’s doin alright.
    Hear him whip the women just around midnight.
    Ah brown sugar how come you taste so good
    (a-ha) brown sugar, just like a young girl should
    A-huh.

  40. Joe Goodacre

    Max,

    Free Speech must by absolute, no legal fees required!

    I agree – I’ve spoken elsewhere about not wanting restrictions on any speech (including defamation law).

    My point was that plenty of other people are widely read and make a living without getting sued. Steyn and Bolt are shock jocks. They play with mockery, sarcasm and innuendo which ‘activates the base’ and brings in big recognition/payment as conservative writers/speakers. They’re not victims in this respect, so sfor sure they should fight these cases – they shouldn’t complain though when people target them using available legal avenues.

  41. Max

    Steyn and Bolt are shock jocks.

    Steyn is brilliantly funny all round and is an equal opportunity humourist. Get you hands on some of his books if you can, very very entertaining.

  42. Joe Goodacre

    Max,
    Get you hands on some of his books if you can, very very entertaining.

    Agreed – I’ve read America Alone and After America. Good books, though he’s a better column writer (in my opinion) – more punchy.

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