Suits and the Suing Suers who File Them

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The folks at The Corner note with due horror that their contributing editor Donald Luskin is threatening to sue liberal weblogger Atrios. Scroll up for links to commentary.

Just for fun: This suggests to me that Luskin is a thin-skinned goofball. Mr. Jeffery Upton, Esq. may direct legal nastygrams to jsanchez@reason.com.

Addendum: Jonah Goldberg sympathizes with Luskin on the grounds that this is just a "classic new-to-the-web blunder." Uh, no dude. Writing a thousand word reply to a flame is a "classic new-to-the-web blunder." Threatening litigation against a blogger who called you a "stalker" is totally f*ing nuts.

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  1. It is my uninformed, wholly baseless, and specious opinion that Luskin is acting like an ass and making a martyr of another ass (Atrios), and that his lawyers are asses two. But I have absolutely no proof of this rank speculation and certainly recommend to anybody reading this that they scoff at my remarks and turn away immediately before they see me say again what a boatload of stupid asses these litigious asses and their lawyers are.

    PS: All of my comments here and everywhere else are unleavened lies.

  2. Can we have a “Libel Donald Luskin Day?”

    Anyway, please tell me more about conservative opposition to frivilous lawsuits and abuse of the discovery process.

  3. I’d say that’s a fair and balanced assessment.

  4. He has no case. He’s got more access to a public forum than the guy he’s suing. His remedy is that he gets to say “It’s not true.” That’s the first amendment for you.

  5. Goldberg is also incorrect when he chalks this up to Luskin’s being “new-to-the-web”. Luskin has had a website up for a long time, and he used to be at thestreet.com. He’s not a newbie, so he can’t get the benefit of that excuse.

    –Mark

  6. Joe — Luskin is one conservative filing one frivilous lawsuit, and he’s getting beaten up by fellow conservatives for doing so.

  7. Scary, creepy, monsters. Can we expect more posts about what’s going on over at NRO tomorrow? (holloween)

  8. BP,
    Though it is interesting to note that the conservatives at NRO are not upset that he’s filing a frivolous lawsuit. They’re saying, look what happened to Fox, you’re going to alienate people and give support to Atrios. It’s a subtle difference.

  9. The Emperor Misha is defending Atrios.

    And got over 150 posts from Atrios readers commending him as a class act.

    The End Times are near. Or something.

  10. IANAL, but it is my understanding that falsely accusing someone of a felony really is a libel. Krugman’s charge that Luskin “stalked” him seems based on the fact that Luskin attended one of Krugman’s talks and got a book signed. Horrors! So it seems to me that Luskin has a case, and that this isn’t a 1st Amendment issue, because libel isn’t “free speech.”

  11. I admit it. I’m Atrios.

  12. Good idea, joe.

    This guy is apparently a self-important, humorless prick of the same variety as Bill O’Reilly and Michael Savage Weiner.

    So when do we schedule “Appropriate Don Luskin’s Name for Your Own Use Day”?

  13. Papaya, I think Atrios’ decision to refer to Luskin as a “stalker” was motivated by Luskin’s column titled “We Stalked. He Balked.”

  14. So send both of these dicks to bed without any supper. Problem solved at the maturity level on display.

  15. Papaya, I think Atrios’ decision to refer to Luskin as a “stalker” was motivated by Luskin’s column titled “We Stalked. He Balked.”

    And, Joe, I think Luskin’s decision to title his column “We Stalked. He Balked” was motivated by Krugman’s blog entry that referred to Luskin as his “stalker-in-chief.”

    Krugman, in other words, started it.

  16. “Threatening litigation against a blogger who called you a ‘stalker’ is totally f*ing nuts.”

    You’ll be hearing from my lawyer!

  17. > So it seems to me that Luskin has a case, and that this isn’t a 1st Amendment issue,
    because libel isn’t “free speech.”

    Libel is there so that there’s a remedy for somebody damaged by it, not to punish the speaker. But a public figure already has a remedy, namely more speech; he can deny it. He has the same access to the same media. Internet people are limited-purpose public figures, and so have to prove actual malice. The reason for the public figure distinction is that the first amendment really gets precedence. You don’t want speech intimidated where there’s already a remedy for the damage it does.

    If somebody libels you in another medium (say newspaper), you have a case because you’re not a public figure there and can’t respond. On the internet you can.

  18. Luskin in the cheapest guy in town.

  19. Falsely accusing someone publically of a crime is a civil wrong — an intentional tort, and the remedy is not only compensatory damages to “right the wrong” but also potentially punitive damages to deter both the tortfeasor and would-be tortfeasors from future such acts. (See there, Professor, I really *was* paying attention in Torts!)

    Having said that, this is much ado about nothing. If one is unwilling to risk the possibility of an occasional low blow (intended or not), one should stay out of the ring.

  20. Krugman, in other words, started it.

    So what if he did? Obviously, Luskin then decided to endorse Krugman’s view of himself. It really doesn’t matter who started it then, does it? If you call yourself a stalker and you act like a stalker, then you haven’t much of a case for libel if third parties start agreeing with you.

  21. “Falsely accusing someone publically of a crime is a civil wrong”

    With rules like that, it’s a good thing that no one runs around accusing public figures of TREASON in books or anything like that.

  22. I confess to having fabricated the web personality “Donald Luskin” to discredit the Right. There’s no limit to what we left-wingers will stoop to.

    For my fake mug shot, I took a picture off some accountant’s web personal ad that was entitled, “Crush Me in Your Powerful Thighs.”

  23. Ron — being a public figure changes the standard of proof, but it doesn’t deprive one of the right to sue for defamation. The first amendment doesn’t protect libel, on the internet or elsewhere, public or private figure.

    That having been said, PapayaSF, while falsely accusing someone of a crime is indeed defamatory, using a term that can also be used for a crime — i.e. stalking — is not inherently “accusing someone of a crime.” Words must be understood in context, and I don’t think the reasonable reader would read the post and consider it to be a factual assertion that Luskin commited the crime of stalking.

  24. If Luskin is actually idiotic enough to sue Krugman for calling him a “stalker”, all Krugman needs to do is point to Paragraph 2 of http://www.nationalreview.com/nrof_luskin/truthsquad090803.asp .

  25. Atrios sounds like a wanker D&D name

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