Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ezra Levant: To Know Him Is To Sue Him

Lawyer on lawyer violence set to break out. Of course, I am cheering for WK.

Interesting how little role "Free Speech" Issues played during the last election campaign. This battle is over, I think. With M-446 dead and a Tory Majority thwarted, all the Speechies have to show for it is their mounting legal bills.

Oh, and by the way. Some good news re real Free Speech threats. Just linking to material that might be considered defamatory won't get you in legal trouble. Down with Wayne Crookes!

9 comments:

Ti-Guy said...

Some good news re real Free Speech threats. Just linking to material that might be considered defamatory won't get you in legal trouble.

Now that is good news (although I'd read Mark Francis's caveat). I thought that was intolerable threat to public discussion.

Anyway, at this juncture, I think the list of people Ezra Levant hasn't defamed in very real, actionable terms would be much shorter.

I'm frankly surprised the Law Society of Alberta lets him get away with it.

bigcitylib said...

Yeah but I don't know that I have trouble with that. What you don't want is a link you set up to a site a year ago and haven't paid much attention to since getting you into trouble.

Gayle said...

I simply could not read all of Ezra's little rant. I would post there but I know he would not publish my comments.

What I was wondering is where he stands on Harper's lawsuit against the LPC?

Ti-Guy said...

What you don't want is a link you set up to a site a year ago and haven't paid much attention to since getting you into trouble.

I bet KKKate's pee'ing her pants again, if she's sensate enough to remember how many times she's directed people to "Read the whole thing!!!"

...or maybe not. Maybe that's still sufficiently oblique.

bigcitylib said...

Gayle,

He appears to be all for it. Which is kind of interesting because it is all about parliamentary privilege not extending beyong the HOC. As I wrote,

http://bigcitylib.blogspot.com/2008/10/ezra-on-pankiw-quick-fisking.html#links

the Ez is AT THE SAME TIME complaining about the HRCs destroying Parliamentary privilege beyond the HOC in the Pankiw place. He's attempting to such and blow at the same time.

Mitka said...

It seems that Ezra's tongue-draggers (catfur et al) are right there with their tongues as far up his behind as imaginable. This menas to me that they are running very scared. And gayle I would post to his site anyway what the heck. There is one post on his site from a traditional Jewish fellow that nicely takes him to task. So even amongst his followers he is losing ground. Gotta love it.

MgS said...

Considering that EL has lost his share of libel suits over the years (or at least 'negotiated settlement' so he wouldn't have judgment against him on record), I'm thinking that WK just might have a leg up on this subject.

Hugh said...

Mitka:
I wouldn't say that Levant gets a lot of support from "followers" just BECAUSE he happens to be Jewish.

Lots of us think he's a hapless shmuck who just happens to be Jewish. Presumably, we enjoy enough equality to have our share of losers as well as "Nobel Prize" winners.

But the fact remains that he's a colourful character who has made lots of people talk about our HRC's, & probe their faults and benefits. To some extent he is, I suppose, a victim. Could have been that because of some potent combination of vanity or intransigence that he told the local Islamic community to F.O. over his publishing those cartoons, rather than acting in a conciliatory way...I dunno...either way, he seems to have an almost charming but rather clumsy way of setting himself up for expensive legal actions by other lawyers, and now is facing a torrent of assorted litigation and at least 2 complaints to The Law Society.

He was yesterday's flavour of the month, and I suppose he's in demand for speeches and appearance because he's, well, entertaining. Which is fine for some things. But if I was actually looking to hire a lawyer to advise me, he's not someone I call to even to contest a parking ticket.

Nematode.CA - I am just a little worm said...

The "safe to link" ruling against Crookes is just one of several critical rulings that bolster freedom of political speech in Canada lately. One of the most important was Simpson v. Mair where the Court upheld Justice Dickson's minority opinion from the 1970s that publishers could not be held responsible for everything they published as commentary (letter to the editor, posters on blogs, etc.) because it was the nature of such commentary that the publisher had to balance their own views with views they disagreed with and published out of the need to balance. In other words libel law up to now has ensured that the publisher's view *had* to prevail, because they *had to* censor what they didn't agree with! This is now rightfully overturned and the door is open to much saner libel laws and harshly punitive anti-SLAPP laws to permanently destroy the reputation and career of habitual plaintiffs. California's anti-SLAPP laws are the most useful in this regard, see cyberSLAPP.org for more on the phenomena.

Judging by the clarity of the victims of Wayne Crookes' many lawsuits, not to mention it would seem the path is laid out for radical reforms of the libel laws - and that they will not accept "no" for an answer but will take speech offshore and employ technologies a court would have trouble thwarting: TOR and "hidden wikis", webs of trust/GPG, anonymous proxies, OTR over ICQ over SSL, P2P, and so on.

Defendants lay out "five steps to end the threat posed by lawsuits like this to freedom of political expression." Worth reading in its entirety. In (very brief) summary:

1. Link freely to the debate without fear of being sued. "Done!"

2. Host open political debate on contentious issues without fear of being sued simply for mediating or for not pre-emptively vetting all comment before it is displayed.

3. Adopt a US-style “Sullivan” standard for public speech on contentious public issues - ensure that people who doubt someone’s integrity or sincerity can publicly voice those doubts without fear that they or their associates will be targetted.

4. Ensure not only that liability does not accrue, but that the filing of suits itself is discouraged when debate is on public interest matters, i.e. SLAPP suits are discouraged by specific provisions prejudicial against the original plaintiff when countersued, or giving findings of fact deliberately useful in a human rights proceeding against the original plaintiff by any party whose speech is inhibited.

5. Ensure anonymity is protected in public issue debate to the same extent as it is with the secret ballot. That is, that civil discovery simply cannot be used to identify persons whose comment was confined to the public or political realm. Disclosure alone does harm.

CIPPIC has a lot of information on this including quite a bit on SLAPPs disguised as defamation and so-called John Doe suits. Given that so many vulnerable refugees comment on human rights issues in their home country from Canada, getting to 5. as fast as possible should be the top priority of the real "Speechies". The idea of having a court frame their rejection of a SLAPP suit in a form directly and immediately useful to file a human rights commission complaint should really anger Ezra, which is good. It's pretty clear that very broad volleys of suits like Crookes' are meant to intimidate, silence and disrupt opponent political activity - so he should pay for this dearly.

Crookes was lucky Google didn't countersue him under California's harsh laws for his press conference (reported in the Globe) where he called them irresponsible and other ugly names. All a defendant has to do is move the suit to California, prove it a SLAPP and countersue to qualify for triple damages. There are lots of attack lawyers waiting to take a big bite out of Crookes. Think about it: You tell all the investors and potential employees and customers of a gigantic giga-corporation that the corporation is "irresponsible" in its basic policy and operations, and try to prevent them from publishing political views you disagree with, censor their searches, and so on, with a lawsuit. How is a California court going to view such a threat to the biggest player in their most globally dominant industry? It's not hard to imagine even a multi-millionare wiped out by counter-suits if they continue this kind of stupid aggressive SLAPP posturing. Crushing Crookes like a bug would be a strong message to those who hope to curry favour with dictators by filing cheap civil suits to expose their hidden critics. The kind of broad discovery enabled by this kind of sue-everyone filing is a profound threat to human rights - requires a truly crippling response to remove anyone attempting it from the public arena permanently.

In Canada the key figure may be Dan Burnett, who won most of these rulings against Crookes and who is interviewed about them on this page also (at the bottom).