Family Issues

Hey….That Child Rapist Reminds Me of Someone….

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…but when that someone is you, you aren't apt to want to sue for libel, as New Republic columnist Michael Crowley says when he decides that the sinister "Mick Crowley" in Michael Crichton's new novel Next –like the real Crowley a Yale educated political writer (and unlike the real Crowley a baby raper)–was a jab at him for daring to flay Crichton in a March New Republic article for becoming a right-wing fear-monger.

It's an old device in using fiction to attack an actual person, Crowley maintains–add some horrible detail such that no sane person with concern for their reputation would want to stand up and say, hey, everyone will recognize that child-raper as me!

Whole convoluted business explained by the New York Times.

Unobligatory libertariana: Murray Rothbard on why libel law is unlibertarian .

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  1. From the NYT article:
    “And now, like a mighty t-rex that has escaped from Jurassic Park, Crichton stomps across the public policy landscape…”

    Frankly, I feel raped having read that sentence.

  2. Hat tip to the NY Times for using “Hit-And-Run” in the headline.

  3. I’m disappointed. I was hoping for an all-out literary cat fight.

    Hasn’t been a good one since Vidal and Buckley started just ignoring each other.

  4. Frankly, I feel raped having read that sentence

    MTC wins the thread

  5. Although I haven’t read State of Fear, I’ve checked out some of Crichton’s work and speeches on the subject. From there, I have a hard time seeing him as “right-wing fear-monger.”

    From what I can gather, I never denies Global Warming and even acknowledges the validity of the various trends associated. But his point seems to be that trends aren’t conclusions and there’s also a lot we don’t know.

    My college training was in science and I’m often stunned by how much people make assumptions with no facts. That appears to be Crichton’s issue as well – lot’s of speculation…not a lot of facts.

  6. From what I’ve read of his speeches, essays and books, Crichton’s opinions on global warming aren’t so much about the physical phenomenon as they are about how many people and groups’ stances on global warming are more stubborn, dogmatic and arrogant than a purely scientific view would merrit. He tries to look at how the crisis today fits into historical/sociological/anthropological trends.

    It’s interesting, but in the end, I’d rather be safe than sorry 🙂

  7. Nobody objected when Crichton was the xenophobe in Red Sun Rising and everybody just yawned when Jurassic Park portrayed genetic engineering gone wild. But now, when the global warming ox is gored, Oh My, he’s a PF and a right wing reactionary PF to boot.

    Disclaimer: I like most of his writing. Thought Red Sun was bogus from the get go, entertained by Jurrasic Park, haven’t read the offending novel yet.

  8. Tuckerization has a long literary history. I think Crichton took the redshirting a little too far, though.

    In Gore Vidal’s ill-starred sequel to Myra Breckenridge, Myron, the author replaces words that the law might consider obscene with the names of Supreme Court Justices who participated in the decision upholding obscenity laws.

    Kevin

  9. In the sequel to Jurassic Park, there’s a scientist who thinks the T-Rex can’t detect you unless you move. He holds still, and the T-Rex sees him and eats him. Based on the description in the book, there seemed to be a certain degree of hostility toward that character — is it supposed to be someone in real life?

  10. I thought the point wasn’t Crighton’s position on global warming, but rather the juvenile way he chose to respond to a critic.

  11. I’d like to comment on Mr. Rothbard’s comments (linked above).

    As to libel, I’m inclined to agree that there wouldn’t be a libel action *per se* in the Libertarian utopia. Instead, someone who sold falsehoods labelled as “news” or “information” — eg, an editor who sells newspapers containing false reports about a person (whether the false reports are derogatory or flattering) would be considered to have defrauded the person who buys the paper, and would be civilly or criminally liable depending on how deliberate the misinformation was. To avoid liability, the editor could just print some kind of disclaimer on the front page (“we do not guarantee the accuracy of this newspaper”).

    But until we reach this utopia, there needs to be *some* way of dealing with false reports, and the present compromise solution seems a good stopgap until the libertarian policy can be arranged.

    As to blackmail, I don’t know about all states, but the laws I’m familiar with prohibit payment in exchange for not accusing someone of a *crime* (a crime punishable by imprisonment). If we go beyond libertarian purism, we can see that blackmailers, so defined, can manipulate the criminal justice system, which is part of the government’s monopoly on the initiation of force. If the criminal jusstice system which they’re trying to manipulate strikes back against the manipulator, how does this make the blackmailer into some kind of libertarian martyr?

  12. And how many people who will read Crichton’s book will actually know who the hell Michael Crowley is?

  13. I thought the point wasn’t Crighton’s position on global warming, but rather the juvenile way he chose to respond to a critic.

    If you’re looking for a board where everyone stays on topic and no one digresses or brings in oddball tangents…you’re in the wrong friggin’ place.

    But to explain, since Crichton was (allegedly) trashing one of the critics of his Global Warming views, it was worth exploring the source events.

    To some of us (myself included) the criticisms of Crichton’s Global Warming views seem a little over the top and unfair – especially since Crichton doesn’t dismiss Global Warming.

  14. And how many people who will read Crichton’s book will actually know who the hell Michael Crowley is?

    A lot more now that Mr. Crowley could keep his mouth shut.

  15. That’s “couldn’t keep his mouth shut.”

  16. As to libel, I’m inclined to agree that there wouldn’t be a libel action *per se* in the Libertarian utopia. Instead, someone who sold falsehoods labelled as “news” or “information” — eg, an editor who sells newspapers containing false reports about a person (whether the false reports are derogatory or flattering) would be considered to have defrauded the person who buys the paper, and would be civilly or criminally liable depending on how deliberate the misinformation was. To avoid liability, the editor could just print some kind of disclaimer on the front page (“we do not guarantee the accuracy of this newspaper”).

    I guess I’m not sure why the right to print anything about anybody so long as you include a disclaimer would be any sort of improvement over current libel law. Every newspaper would run the disclaimer and it would sort of become a “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” kind of joke with the public. I mean, what news source guarantees accuracy anyway?

  17. What a disgusting, sleazy stunt.

    I love it.

  18. madpad,

    “To some of us (myself included) the criticisms of Crichton’s Global Warming views seem a little over the top and unfair – especially since Crichton doesn’t dismiss Global Warming.”

    Suppose I wrote a book which posited that people’s opinions about the holocaust had been manipulated by a conspiracy of historians, politicians, and Jewish Studies professors in order to further their political ends, but which included statements by the heroic holocuast debunker in which he stated his belief that there was a massacre of Jews of some sort, but that it was overblown in the public mind. And I, the author, made a point of saying that there was strong evidence to suggest that something happened, but we don’t know enough to draw firm conclusions.

    Would it be unfair to critcize me as a holocaust denier?

  19. madpad: “Although I haven’t read State of Fear… From what I can gather, [he] never denies Global Warming and even acknowledges the validity of the various trends associated.
    My college training was in science and I’m often stunned by how much people make assumptions with no facts.”

    Er, yes. So, you’re quite confident that a book you haven’t read doesn’t say what lots of people say it does? Good job you aren’t given to making assumptions without facts!

  20. It’s interesting, but in the end, I’d rather be safe than sorry 🙂

    Me, too, but for me this means eschewing state-imposed shackles on the economy (a la Kyoto) that are guaranteed to do harm, and which will produce no discernable benefits (even if you but the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis).

  21. “Suppose I wrote a book which posited that people’s opinions about the holocaust had been manipulated by a conspiracy of historians, politicians, and Jewish Studies professors in order to further their political ends, but which included statements by the heroic holocuast debunker in which he stated his belief that there was a massacre of Jews of some sort, but that it was overblown in the public mind. And I, the author, made a point of saying that there was strong evidence to suggest that something happened, but we don’t know enough to draw firm conclusions.”

    Joe if global warming were an established historical fact rather than a theory de jour, you might have a point. You really worship at the alter of global warming. Questioning the science and point to the fact that people have latched onto the theory to justify doomsday scenerios to the point that the scientists themselves are embarassed by some of the claims is not holocost denying. It has gotten to the point that you can no longer have a rational conversation about this stuff anymore. Jesus why don’t you just get it over with and get yourself tonsured.

  22. Joe if global warming were an established historical fact rather than a theory de jour, you might have a point.

    All history is theory.

  23. What a disgusting, sleazy stunt.

    I love it.

    Let the record show that joe has no objections to his side engaging sleazy, disgusting behavior. You can discount joe’s future expressions of moral outrage accordingly.

    That is all.

  24. I’ll take “The rapist” for $2000, Alex.

  25. Michael Crowley is all upset that a book writer did what his employer does on a regular basis?

    In an article that I was in (without my concent), I was so ‘disguised’ that I got a couple of phone calls within 48 hours from people who spotted me as being ‘Shooter’ in Mr. Right. After Howard Kurtz wrote about it (with my full cooperation) I got a few more calls and e-mails from people who spotted that story and looked up the original.

    Sorry for the sloppy writing. My point is up front. I don’t know if he pulls the same crap that is so frequent at TNR from others, but whining when you work for a fabrication factory is just silly.

  26. Crichton kicks ass.

  27. RC Dean,

    The stunt was played by Chrichton, a global warming denialist who most certainly is not on my side, you semi-literate twit.

  28. Hey John, before you get too worked up lecturing me on what is and what is not a truthful statement, how’s that search for the WMDs going?

  29. Is Michael related to Alistair?

  30. joe, my bad.

    The double standards fly so thick from the statist side of the aisle, it gets confusing as to who is getting a pass for something that someone with different views would get crucified for.

    Carry on.

  31. “The double standards fly so thick from the statist side of the aisle, it gets confusing as to who is getting a pass for something that someone with different views would get crucified for.”

    Poor RC. Like Nixon, he just knows that everyone else has it easier than him. Why, liberals can get away with murder!

    Maybe it would be wise to lay off the “joe is teh evil” posts entirely, since they bite you in the ass so regularly.

  32. Ah yes, the infamous Michael Crichton…

    Actually, to those of us who have had any actual experience working in Japanese companies, Red Sun Rising was an absolute hoot. It was like seriously claiming Italy was the next Soviet Union (with nukes.)

  33. And Murray Rothberg reads like an absolute ass. I could take his exact same argument and apply it to Why There Is No Rape.

  34. joe, can I suck your dick while grumpy realist gives me a reach-around?

  35. joe: “Suppose I wrote a book which posited that people’s opinions about the holocaust blah blah blah”; “a global warming denialist blah blah”

    I love the smell of Godwin in a Reason thread.

  36. (A “Disclosure”, if you will – I thought that “Jurassic Park” was interesting enough, but its prose style turned me off to such a degree that I couldn’t bring myself to read any other of his books. Fun movie series, though.)

  37. Would it be unfair to critcize me as a holocaust denier?

    Nope. The number of people who died in the holocaust has been repeatedly verified. But even if the number were off, the activities of the Nazi’s has been well verified. There is a host of photographic and printed evidence to support the historical understanding.

    Additionally, this is a past event and the case is one of arguing the record. Since I and many others believe the established case, I would have no problem criticizing this as holocaust denial.

    Global Warming, on the other hand is a still-developing situation. There is a lot of evidence – some of it conflicting. There are a lot of claims made by a lot of people and, while there is great consensus in the scientific community on the notion that something is happening, there is far less consensus as to just what the long term effects will be.

    Most people – myself included – agree that Global Warming is real. Beyond that, few people – even the climatologists studying it – can say with any certainty or agreement – where it’s going to lead.

    Apples & oranges, mate.

  38. Awsome! Somehow I knew that the climate saving miracle fuel, Soylent Diesel, could get worked into this thread!

  39. Liking Chrichton makes this easier to say, but I’d think it either way. Libel law is way too easily abused, and I’d rather let public voices get flayed like Crowley here, than see us turn to having “nice opinion” police making sure we don’t say anything mean about those who have the bucks to hire the best lawyers.

    I am however, in favor of bringing back the Code Duello. Nothing fatal this time around, but wouldn’t it be a hoot to see Crowley challenge Chrichton to some kind of physical match to defend his honor?

    That baby-raper stunt is pretty aggressive, with that kind of attitude, I’d have to bet on Chrichton in the physical match as well.

  40. I don’t see where Crowley has even hinted at using libel. He pointed it out because it was sort of funny that Chritchon was so threatened by criticism that he had to be a petty bitch about it. Crowley is the one laughing it off, while calling attention to something Chritchon tried to slip in off-hand just to soothe his own wounded ego.

  41. In regard to blackmail: I have read that in the day of the ‘society blackmailer’, the preferred victim was innocent. That way she (usually) wouldn’t get too desperate but would keep paying to avoid having her reputation ruined. Murderers and such violent types would seem to be too dangerous.

  42. plunge;
    . . . “Chritchon was so threatened by criticism that he had to be a petty bitch about it. Crowley is the one laughing it off, while calling attention to something Chritchon tried to slip in off-hand just to soothe his own wounded ego.”

    This thread is where the topic of lible was brought up; read the whole thing next time.

    It’s interesting how opinions on subject matter can so obviously sway how we see things.

    plunge takes the more Left leaning slant with a knee-jerk defense of Crowley, and an equally knee-jerk negative assumption towards Chrichton.

    From there, any number of plunge’s view points could be correctly guessed simply by the reflexive manner in which he saw this topic.

    Likewise for myself. I know that the hyperbole surrounding global warming has completely overwhelmed any real substance in the public eye on the matter, and therefore I’ve taken a liking to Chrichton.

    Where plunge steps across the line into purely emotional thinking then, is the extremely flawed rationale that Chrichton is afraid of criticism, and is therefore petty, while also making an equally false assertion that Chrichton tried to “slip” something in.

    His jab at Crowley was hardly “slipped” in; it was a very high-profile, very obvious reply to someone who had acted in a very petty fashion to him first.

    Plunge’s assertion is that obscure Left wing journalists have a duty to take swipes at public figures, but that those public figures are “petty” when they respond.

    Or, in other words, I just think it’s very funny, and don’t fault Crowley or Chrichton, whereas plunge has to get his panties in a bind.

  43. Doesn’t this fall into the same category as Larry Flint versus Jerry Falwell? Flint printed that Falwell had sex with his mother. When Falwell sued, he lost in court because the insinuation was obviously over-the-top. Isn’t that the case here?

  44. ice;
    Crowley’s point seemed to be along those lines; that no one would want to sue as it would draw attention to the over-the-top lie, possibly giving it life.

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