Over at Science Blogs, Greg Laden is reporting that Penn State climatologist Michael Mann is suing the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the National Review for refusing to apologize for comparing him in a blog post to child molester Jerry Sandusky. In the original post on CEI's Opermarket website apparently read:
“Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science.”
Harsh, indeed. That offending line has since been removed from the post, with a disclosure noting "Two inappropriate sentences that originally appeared in this post have been removed by the editor." National Review (NR) is being sued because NR contributor Mark Steyn cited the CEI post over at NR's The Corner blog. For what it's worth, Steyn did write:
Not sure I’d have extended that metaphor all the way into the locker-room showers with quite the zeal Mr Simberg does...
However Steyn did add:
... but he has a point.
Back in August in response to threatening letters from Mann's attorney, CEI refused to retract its commentary, though as noted, it did remove the the direct comparison of Mann with Sandusky. Similarly, National Review has refused to retract the Steyn blogpost. In a letter in response to Mann's demand for an apology and retraction, the NR's attorney argues that such controversial speech is protected by the First Amendment. Interestingly, the NR letter asserts:
... if Dr. Mann decides to pursue this matter, he and his research team would be subjected to a very extensive discovery of materials that he has fought so hard to protect in other proceedings. Such materials would be required for National Review to defend itself.
The NR letter is referring to, among other things, the lawsuit by Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to obtain access to Mann's emails with other researchers involved in the Climategate imbroglio. Mann vigorously contested that suit and earlier this year, the Virginia Supreme Court tossed out Cuccinelli's suit.
In any case, it seems that Mann has decided to take CEI and NR to court. Stay tuned.