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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Litigation vs. Free Speech?

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Over at Popehat, Ken White expresses grave concerns over the recent total, pre-litigation surrender of the Southern Poverty Law Center to a Moslem activist who had threatened to sue them over defamation, for including him on a list of anti-Moslem extremists:

MN.jpg
Image of Maajid Nawaz via Wikipedia
[T]hough I celebrate an apology for wrongdoing, I can't celebrate a surrender at swordpoint that encourages censorious litigation. Bad opinions are, and ought to be -- must be -- absolutely protected. If the SPLC surrendered because we've got a broken judicial system that makes litigation ruinously expensive and fails to protect free speech, the result is bad, not good. The threatened lawsuit appears to be part of a trend of suing the SPLC for its opinions and characterizations. The settlement will embolden that trend. The trend will not stay confined to the SPLC -- that's not the way the law works. Especially in such bitterly divided times, suing over opinions is deeply censorious and corrosive of free speech. Nawaz -- who has himself been the target of attempted censorship -- should know that. [link in original, bold added]
White's difficulty is that, although the SPLC was being ridiculous, they looked like they were, in fact, engaging in protected speech. Furthermore there was nothing in the apology that came with the settlement to indicate that the SPLC had actually engaged in defamation (which is and should be illegal), rather than indulging opinion, as sophomoric as it might be. I recommend reading the whole thing.

-- CAV

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