Michael Mann

Climate Scientist Michael Mann's Defamation Lawsuit Against Critics Can Proceed, Rules Court

'Trump hasn't even taken office and it's already becoming easier to sue people for defamation.'


Everett Collection/Newscom

Climate science is politicized from top to bottom. One of the nastier spats occurred in 2012 when Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) policy analyst Rand Simberg intemperately denounced Pennsylvania State University climate researcher Michael Mann as "the Jerry Sandusky of climate science."* Sandusky, of course, was the Nittany Lion football coach convicted of child molestation. Simberg was critiquing the fact that the Penn State had just exonerated Mann of accusations of scientific misconduct. Columnist Mark Steyn piled on in the National Review declaring that the university's "'investigation' by a deeply corrupt administration was a joke."*

Mann sued CEI, Simberg, Steyn and National Review for defamation. The defendants all moved that Mann's case be dismissed on grounds that their observations and opinions were protected by the free speech guarantees of the First Amendment. Now the D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled that Mann's defamation lawsuit may proceed. In her opinion for the three-judge panel Judge Vanessa Ruiz wrote:

Tarnishing the personal integrity and reputation of a scientist important to one side may be a tactic to gain advantage in a no-holds-barred debate over global warming. That the challenged statements were made as part of such debate provides important context and requires careful parsing in light of constitutional standards. But if the statements assert or imply false facts that defame the individual, they do not find shelter under the First Amendment simply because they are embedded in a larger policy debate.

Over at The Washington Post's Volokh Conspiracy, Case Western Reserve University law professor Jonathan Adler warns that the court's decision "is tremendously unfortunate, as it threatens to make it too easy for public figures to file lawsuits against their critics and, as a consequence, threatens to chill robust political debate."

So what's the threat to free speech? Adler explains:

Given that Mann is a public figure for the purposes of this litigation, under D.C.'s anti-SLAPP law, he could only prevail if the court could conclude there was a reasonable likelihood that a reasonable jury could find, by "clear and convincing evidence" that Steyn and Simberg acted with "actual malice" or a "reckless disregard" of the truth or falsity of the claims at issue.

Adler further notes that in its decision the D.C. Appeals Court relied on the Penn State investigations that purportedly exonerated Mann for evidence of actual malice on the part of the critics. The court is evidently suggesting that CEI, Simberg, and Steyn cannot in good faith criticize the findings of such an official "investigation" which was precisely what they were doing. Adler points out the inherent contradiction of court's decision:

It cannot be that once some official body has conducted an investigation of an individual's conduct, that further criticism of that individual, including criticism that expressly questions the thoroughness or accuracy of the investigatory body, is off limits. By this standard it would be defamatory to express the opinion that George Zimmerman or Darren Wilson is a murderer, even if one also argued that the reason either was exonerated was because of structural racism in the criminal-justice system. After all, each was investigated, tried and found not guilty. Nor is it consistent with existing First Amendment doctrine to suggest that hyperbolic accusations of bad faith or dishonesty against public figures involved in policy debates are actionable. The court's approach is particularly problematic here because both Simberg and Steyn offered reasoned (if also intemperate) explanations for why they did not credit the investigations and why they believed that these investigations failed to uncover the misconduct they believe occurred. Yet according to the court, the existence of these investigations could be sufficient for a jury to find, by "clear and convincing evidence," that they acted with actual malice.

In a statement responding to the court's decision, CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman declared:

Today's ruling simply means this case will proceed and the Superior Court will now consider the merits of both sides' arguments. The Competitive Enterprise Institute is a staunch defender of free speech and open, public debate, and we are confident we'll prevail on the merits as this case goes back to Court. As a public figure with his own history of harshly attacking those who disagree with him, Michael Mann must now show that CEI's commentary met some very stringent standards of malice. It did not, and we will continue to fight against those who seek to punish and harass groups and individuals who speak out on controversial issues.

As Adler tweeted: "Trump hasn't even taken office and it's already becoming easier to sue people for defamation."

*These quotations are taken from the Appendix of the D.C. Court of Appeals decision.

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  1. Well, welcome to a country where you will have the right to free speech as long as the fact checkers are ok with what you say.

    In other words, free speech is dead…..

    1. Fake newZ!!

  2. “the Jerry Sandusky of climate science.

    I’ll admit that’s a little harsh. What did Sandusky ever do to them?

    1. *takes out doll*

      I’ll show you…

      1. [pulls hockey stick out of doll’s ass]

    2. I came here to say this. Sandusky just molested a few kids, Mann has hobbled science and critical thought/discourse for *at least* a generation.

      1. This reminds me of Book of Skulls by Robert Silverberg. I read this book over 20 years ago, but for some reason the book really stuck with me, especially because of the following. In the book, four college kids set out on a road trip to find a secret cult that has the secret of immortality. They eventually find the cult and as part of the initiation process, each has to pick one of the other kids and confess his greatest sin. A midwestwern jock confesses that he is sexually attracted to guys (to him, nothing could be worse), a trust fund rich kid confesses to raping his sister, and a gay dude confesses in taking joy in pitting two of his lovers against each other and causing one to commit suicide. Then there is the nerdy intellectual Jewish kid, who confesses to befriending some old linguist and passing of his intellectual discoveries as his own, which gets him into the ivy league school. From a libertarian perspective, the rape is clearly the most egregious offense. But in the book, it is made clear that the intellectual theft is by far the most despicable. It is certainly a perspective that one can sympathize with. So I can sort of see what you are saying in the above comment.

        1. I love Silverberg. Tower of Glass is my favorite.

      2. It is indeed that serious.

        Trofim Lysenko’s pseudoscience was responsible for the deaths of millions. Mann’s pseudoscience is no less dangerous. Both pseudosciences rely on deeply flawed statistical models. The most significant difference between the two is that Lysenko’s influence was limited to the USSR whereas CAGW pseudoscience has worldwide scope.

        1. I would say the most significant difference between the two is that Lysenkoism had the full force of law while CAGW doesn’t. But they’re working hard on closing that gap!

        2. Come on, don’t forget Rachel Carson’s psuedoscience. How many millions have died from malaria?

      3. It wasn’t just Mann, of course. The Anglia emails make it clear that Mann’s allies (such a funny word to use, in this sense) knew Mann’s work was sloppy (to put it mildly,) and that he was a hack, while they continued to stand behind Mann and his work in public.

        The thing that really bothers me about Mann’s suit is that it seems to violate long-standing norms around defamation law in the US. For the most part, it is legit to offer your interpretation of facts, even if you phrase them indelicately.

        For instance, it is true that I have tended to date (and attempt to date) women substantially younger than I am in recent years. If you were to say or write something that flatly said “T is a child molester” I might have a case against you, as that would imply that I had molested children. If you said “T, at the age of 44, dated a 24 year-old woman, and I think that makes him a child molester” I wouldn’t have much of a case, even though you would be calling me a child molester in both instances.

        1. It seems to me that Mann’s suit is about the interpretation of facts that are both true and known to the general public. He just doesn’t like the phrasing. As much as I dislike Mann, I sympathize a little tiny bit- comparing him to Sandusky was maybe a bit over the top (though I did chuckle, because fuck Michael Mann,) but I can’t see how it’s actionable. No reasonable person could read that sentence and think it implied that Mann is a child molester, or that it introduces any new facts. Steyn’s comment is far less objectionable- if we lose the liberty to call research a ‘joke’ we will have lost the liberty to say much of anything about anything.

          Full disclosure: the only time I have ever had a quote attributed to me by name by a WaPo columnist it was lifted from Simberg’s comment section.

  3. Yay, thanks for reporting on this, Ron. I know I gave you shit over it before, but it’s much appreciated.
    One small point – Lowry himself is off the hook for telling Mann to “Get Lost”. Steyn and Simberg are still in same shit they’ve been for four years.

    For anyone curious here’s the offending Steyn article. If that is defamation, Trump can start planning what to do with NYT, WaPo and CNN real estate.

    Any chance we can get you to review Disgrace to the Profession? It’s probably what Steyn’s defense is gonna end up being.

    1. Whether or not he’s “the Jerry Sandusky of climate change”, he remains the Michael Mann of climate change, in part because his “investigation” by a deeply corrupt administration was a joke.


    2. Trump cannot count on similar jurisprudence. It seems clear from the language used by the court that they view the principals in the case to be of greater importance than the principles. The court was clear, Mann is a critical figure in the important scientific arena of climate change, and as such his character cannot be impugned.

  4. Steyn wanted a trial all along.


  5. I’ve been wondering when this was finally going to happen.

    Michael Mann is now fucked. He has been using the appeal to avoid discovery, on the grounds that if his lawsuit were dismissed, all the effort to comply would be wasted. Now that excuse is gone. And one thing about Michael Mann; he really, really hates to comply with discovery.

    The reason why he is fucked is:
    1) The defendents alleged that the same guys who had whitewashed the investigation into the assistant football coach raping boys in campus were also the guys who exonerated Michael Mann over the allegations arising from the release of data in the Climategate leaks.
    2) The defendants alleged that those guys similarly whitewashed Michael Mann’s work with a fake investigation, that was designed to not consider any of the allegations while giving the appearance of probity.
    3) In fact, as Steyn shows in his briefs, the critics’ allegations are not in some grey area of judgement into nebulous facts, but actually grounded in the fact that the investigation was utterly gun decked.

    1. 4) Steyn has countersued Mann. Mann cannot simply drop his charges; the countersuit must also be dealt with.
      5) Moreover Steyn has published a devastating takedown of the science that was supposedly unassailable (which everyone should buy and read), basically publishing all the evidence that he will rely on for his defense that it’s not libel when it’s the truth.

      And the worst thing for a narcissist like Mann (yes, he is very much like Obama in that he suffers from a raging case of NPD), is being forced to back up their wild allegations in front of people who have access to all the evidence.

      1. Your knowledge of these cases is scary good.

        1. Steyn is a hero for free speech. First he and Ezra Levant spanked the life out of the Canadian speech police he is now single handedly fighting the right to call “climate scientists” liars.

          He is fighting the fight that Reason should be fighting. You know “Free Minds and Free Markets”.

          1. I love that in both cases, his reactions to “We’re gonna sue you if you don’t recant!” were

            a) Sue away, bitches, I can’t wait to fuck you in court
            b) While we’re at it, here’s a book specifically about the case, proving my point

            Both Lights Out and Disgrace to the Profession are good, the latter even amazing.

            1. Having said that, he no longer writes for Macleans or National Review, so Pyrrhic victories.

          2. Reason has one line that cannot be crossed, sadly, and that line is, ironically, support for borders.

            1. They have many lines that cannot be crossed, and that’s fine. When I want geniune diversity of opinion, I can go to The Spectator blog.

              Open border people, closed border people, Blair labourites, Old Labourites, anarcho-marxists (to be fair, Brendan also contributes to Reason from time to time), Thatcher conservatives (drys), Cameron conservatives (wets), UKIP fanciers, Trump bashers, shit, they even have a Catholic whose beat has devolved to “Fuck, what did Pope say now, and what is media reporting he said now?”

              Of course, their former editor almost became the PM and is now Foreign Secretary. Up to the challenge, KMW?

    2. 2) The defendants alleged that those guys similarly whitewashed Michael Mann’s work with a fake investigation, that was designed to not consider any of the allegations while giving the appearance of probity.

      I remember thinking this as I read the report. I remember the usual suspects holding up the report as a complete exoneration of Mann.

    3. Oh, and about your first point, things at Penn State won’t get any better. The current University president is the guy that brought Mann to Penn State from UVA.

    4. Mann is a fucking douchebag. He and several other scientists conspired to dodge legal FOIA requests for their data because they didn’t like the person requesting it. One of them (I forget who) even went so far as to say that he’d rather delete the data than turn it over to Steve McIntyre.

      What’s Steve McIntyre’s unspeakable crime? He looks at the statistics they use to produce their papers and finds errors and publishes them. Normally scientists would be delighted to have a statistician actually care enough to look over their math. Not this pack of gibbering gonorrhea infested orangutans.

      Anyway, if Steyn would agree to eat the assault charge for dick punching Mann in exchange for a wad of cash, I’d take up a collection. Will this be Chippergate 2.0 when Preet gets down for some Mann tackle?

      1. Anyway, if Steyn would agree to eat the assault charge for dick punching Mann in exchange for a wad of cash, I’d take up a collection.

        Steyn’s case has been helped so far, and almost certainly will be vindicated in the end, because he has remained the adult in the room throughout the ordeal. As satisfying as it might be to see Mann get his comeuppance this way, it behooves Steyn to continue being the consummate professional.

  6. Tarnishing the personal integrity and reputation of a scientist important to one side may be a tactic to gain advantage in a no-holds-barred debate over global warming. That the challenged statements were made as part of such debate provides important context and requires careful parsing in light of constitutional standards.

    Sounds impartial.

    1. My interpretation as well.

    2. Tarnishing the personal integrity and reputation of a scientist Suing a journalist important to one side may be a tactic to gain advantage in a no-holds-barred debate over global warming. That the challenged statements were made as part of such debate provides important context and requires careful parsing in light of constitutional standards.

    3. The leaked e-mails demonstrated that Mann had no integrity to tarnish.

      He did, however, have a reputation, and the e-mails brought that into question.

      Comparing a scoundrel like Mann to a pervert like Sandusky is arguably beyond the pale of civil discourse, but no reasonable reader would interpret such as an accusation of child abuse on the part of Mann. And, I thought that Falwell v Flint case established that a publisher can make intentionally hurtful, palpably untrue, and vulgar references to public figures without liability for libel.

  7. That guy looks like a fatter, older, shittier version of me.

    1. *shudder*

      1. And at least I had the goddamned common decency to actually start shaving my entire head once I began going bald (at age 22, motherfucker!).

        1. I’ll also go on a limb and guess you’ve also earned the same number of Nobel Prizes he did.

        2. OMG, I thought I was the only one! Went grey at 18, bald as a cue ball by 23. There is nothing more pathetic than a bald man with a pony tail.

          1. I found the cure for cancer and I lost it!

          2. Still can roll a full Jim Morrison wavy birds-nest mess a few weeks after tight haircut; and chronology-wise when I look at my peers I’m on borrowed time at this point. The mop has served me well over the years; and bequeathed my daughter a blonde rendition of same. Sometimes, luck does roll one’s way.

            And now that I’ve said that, I’ll detect a lump in my neck tomorrow starting a grim medical adventure.

  8. Paging Gilmore!
    Look at the photo; guy can’t even button the collar on his shirt. What’s the fine for that?

    1. You can only behead a man once, unfortunately. But it wasn’t even the unbuttoned collar that i noticed first. it was the wrinkled bag he’s using in lieu of a jacket.

      this ‘don’t button the button-down collar’ thing is his everyday swag

      It makes you wonder why he keeps buying them.

    2. That pic in the post was taken from this lineup

      the one on the right wins the “knows how to put clothes on” award, but the one in the middle gets a runner up for “Guess my original gender”-prize

      1. Thom Hartmann on the right. I’d know that jackass anywhere.

        1. Who’s the woman in the middle?

          1. Someone who couldn’t get into the bathroom of their choice, I suspect.

            1. Don’t worry, Reason will avenge z.

            1. So, the Derp man does not appreciate Hartmann’s insufferable condescending smugness?

            2. Green Goblin, the retirement years.

        2. LOL Thom Hartmann is a trip. Is he ever capable of telling the truth, ever?

      2. Mann = small man syndrome.

        1. Did L’Oreal’s marketing department notice their logo slathered behind a lineup of hair criminals? Ouch.

  9. Is anyone else getting a bunch of Facebook pop ups only on this website?

    1. No, but I’m getting ads for TBDRESS.COM and lord almighty do I approve of the models.

      1. *follows link, looks at models*

        Fuck it, I’m old – I just want to send them off to school with a good, hearty lunch.

        1. Really? They look mature to me.

          1. I dunno what’s wrong with me, I see university students every day and don’t have the same reaction.

        2. I mean, this is the kind of woman that when I get old, I’m going to try to get by flashing my money, and yes, I’m walking through the restaurant loud and proud, nodding and saying, “Yep, trophy wife, bitch”.

          1. Maybe it’s the shitty Bordeaux I’ve been trying to finish for days, but yeah, nothing.

            It’s not like I’m super-picky – Lindsey Sterling or Kristen Bell aren’t, like, incomprehensibly beautiful or something. Maybe it’s just their photography style not working.

            1. Arrrgh!!! A tiny, dancing, musical ginger!!! My nonexistent soul is stolen!!!

              I’ll shamble off to my bunk now.

              1. She’s got a ton of really cool videos, some of which are total nerdbait. Want to see her dressed as Link or Princess Leia?

                  1. What the hell am I watching?

                    Arguably the gayest thing possible while featuring three hot chicks in corsets.

            2. Since I started posting on H&R, my youtube recommendations have slowly evolved into a series of twerking videos and nerdcore girls. Thank you.

        3. I just want to send them off to school with a good, hearty lunch.

          Yeah, I kinda wanna scrub their faces first.

          1. The site seems to have different “sections”. The models that are showing up on my ad feed in Reason are… healthy.

      2. This one is my favorite model (same models, apparently, but different site). Except for that stupid tattoo on the back of her left ankle.

    2. I got 1Blocker for my phone. It’s made the internet useable again. Vastly superior to Adblock.

      1. I’m on an Android

        1. Adblock doesn’t work for you? i use it on Android and never see any ads.

          1. I’m in the Mac cult. Never seen a pop up.

  10. As Adler tweeted: “Trump hasn’t even taken office and it’s already becoming easier to sue people for defamation.”

    Yuck-yuck. The “blame Trump even before he takes office” thing is getting old, and there’s still a month to go.

    1. But Papaya, Trump doesnt even know where his bombs are falling.

      1. That was a Slate tweet, right? Trump Derangement Syndrome really is a thing.

    2. Wow, Adler throws AGW under the bus for a shot at Trump? If they didn’t have double standards, they would have no standards at all.

  11. Why there is no point in trying to reduce CO2 emissions:

    Human CO2 emissions: 30 billion tons, corresponds to about 2 ppm in the atmosphere, so 15 billion tons for 1 ppm
    If nothing is done, concentration will rise by 468 ppm. 468 ppm x 15 billion tons is about 7 trillion tons of CO2, which according to the UN, will cause a 7 degree rise in global temperature. That’s wrong, but that’s what they say.

    But suppose we wanted to stop a 1 degree rise. That would require emitting 1 trillion fewer tons of CO2. And how long would that take? Well, if all human activity puts 30 billions tons per year up there, it would take about 33 years of no CO2 emissions from people. None- not from cars, industry, agriculture, nothing. Everyone on earth would have to live like medieval peasants for 33 years to make it happen.

    Incidentally, it snowed in the Sahara desert today.

    1. Derp, humans only contribute to a small amount of the CO2 entering the atmosphere and we rarely see the CO2 removed from the atmosphere taken into calculations.

      “Everyone on earth would have to live like medieval peasants for 33 years to make it happen.”

      That would suit the watermelons fine…in principle. Bourdain the pinko chef recently said of Cuba ‘It is exactly like you would want it to be’, or something to that effect. That is what the left wants; grinding poverty, civilization in shambles and iron fisted authoritarianism. Leftism really is a form of insanity. Of course, the minute they find themselves living in those conditions they would change their tune.

  12. Hey Mann, know what else your hockey stick is good for?

    1. Hitler? No, wait, I’m doing this wrong.

    2. Slapshots?

  13. The key is to make them think you’re crazy. Then they can’t sue you because a crazy person has no credibility, right?

  14. Does Mann really think this is a good idea? His assertions will be on trial as much as the people he is suing. Poking holes in his bullshit is child’s play. Between Trump and this suit we could be seeing the beginning of the end of this absurd scam.

    1. As Steyn put it in his update

      As I said above, I thought the appeal was a waste of time, and filed a motion to proceed to trial three years ago. Mann filed a motion objecting to that, a position the judge found “ironic”. Very droll, I’m sure.

      We’ll be renewing (yet again) our request to the Superior Court judge that Mann respond to discovery (I responded to his almost three years ago).

      tarran said above, if this gets to trial, and there’s an iota of justice in it, Mann is fucked.

      1. Let’s hope for some justice. From what I understand, Mann’s goal is to completely destroy critics. There was a story (maybe on Steyn’s site?) that Mann sued some academic in Canada into bankruptcy including his retirements accounts. Didn’t verify it independently but never saw anyone question it either.

        1. Dr Tim Ball? His trial starts in February, and Steyn mentioned going up there.

  15. “By this standard it would be defamatory to express the opinion that…Darren Wilson is a murderer”

    It *is* defamatory if you’re talking about the Michael Brown case. Wilson killed Brown in self-defense.

    1. That may be true (that Wilson killed Brown in self-defense), but it is essential to the workings of a free society that people be allowed to express the opinion that a case was wrongly decided.

  16. Michael Mann as “the Jerry Sandusky of climate science.”

    I have heard that he actually prefers fucking goats. In fact, he spit-roasted one with a famous aviation lawyer, also from Pennsylvania. Mann took the rear, Wolk took the mouth. So I’ve heard.

    1. Which part of the rear? He could be breaking TWO laws!

      1. With a goat, they’re both stinkholes.

  17. Nice of you to finally write something in support of Free Speech, Ron, only took 4 years!

  18. The court’s approach is particularly problematic here because both Simberg and Steyn offered reasoned (if also intemperate) explanations for why they did not credit the investigations and why they believed that these investigations failed to uncover the misconduct they believe occurred. Yet according to the court, the existence of these investigations could be sufficient for a jury to find, by “clear and convincing evidence,” that they acted with actual malice.

    Hmmmm….. sounds like he’s being somewhat critical of the court here, maybe trying to discredit them, cast some aspersions on their judgment, question their decision-making abilities? Sounds kinda…problematic if you ask me.

  19. I believe this cartoon is a good example of accidental honesty from the tree-huggers.

    1. That is their ultimate argument, which is just a rehash of Pascal’s Wager.

      I only acknowledge it from people who go to mosque on Friday, synagogue on Saturday and church on Sunday, with sprinkled Hindu, Buddhist and Shinto observances, and at least two Pagan festivals.

    2. Yeah, that one sees use on my campus. Combines error and smugness into one package.

      1. They said that it would have a positive impact. What part of that don’t you understand you fucking Hitler Youth?

    3. I’ve seen that sentiment commonly expressed. It’s not just that the science is settled, it’s that even if it were 100% false, it’d be justified as a noble lie because the policy outcomes are good either way.

      Which is crazy, but it makes any discussion of the topic that much harder, since you must deal with both fronts at once to make any headway.

  20. Imagine that. Adler, a writer at the WaPo is asserting that Trump is to blame for pinkos assault on the 1A that began long before Trump was in the race. I swear, these fuckers absolutely never argue in good faith. It never occurs to them that lying to make your case is a clear indication that they don’t have a case worth making.

    1. I… think it was a joke.

  21. The Constitution doesn’t protect people from each other. It only protects people from the government. Also, defamation may be in poor taste (sometimes) but it isn’t wrong, because reputation is not property.

    1. My body isn’t property. Does that mean I shouldn’t sue you if you break my arm?

      1. I think that’s a poor analogy to use among a group of people who generally accepts the concept of self-ownership. Yes, your body is property; it’s your property, axiomatically.

    2. reputation is not property

      True enough, which is why defamation requires both falsehood and demonstrable harm. Unless you take objection with tort law in general?

  22. My body isn’t property.

  23. . . . denounced Pennsylvania State University climate researcher Michael Mann as “the Jerry Sandusky of climate science.”

    Not to defend Mann or anything, but do *any* of these people think before they open their mouths? Sandusky? You mean the incredibly effective football coach? Literally, the only thing a negative Sandusky comparison has is saying that they guy you’re comparing him to is a pedophile.

    Still not defamation tho.

    1. Yeah, but the pedophile reference doesn’t help the defamation case, because most people would not believe it. Defamation has to be both false and credible to be eligible for damages.

    2. The comparison is an insult of two layers – the personal insult that you gleaned, but also an insult to the university’s investigation of Mann’s work…. it is the same university that investigated Sandusky and found no problems.

      The first is an obviously hyperbolic ad-homenim that may not have actually been fully intended. The second is a withering critique of a university that has a history of whitewashing scandals.

  24. So Ron, how about getting some real Exxon money behind Steyn?

  25. Everybody’s so scared of average people.

    They’re afraid of how they vote.

    They’re afraid of average people in the jury pool.

    The First Amendment doesn’t give us permission to violate someone’s rights with our speech any more than the Second Amendment gives us permission to violate someone’s rights with a gun.

    Meanwhile, if you don’t want to get sued for comparing people to convicted child molesters, there’s an easy way* to avoid that.

    Best of luck to the defendants.

    *Don’t compare people to convicted child molesters.

    1. *Don’t compare people to convicted child molesters.

      Just what someone who doesn’t want to be compared to a child molester would say.

      1. One of the reasons the world we live isn’t especially libertarian is because people are so shielded from the negative consequences of their bad choices. But rights are choices. A right is the right to make a choice.

        In practice, our individual rights are the natural law flip side to our responsibilities. We end up with the right to do those things for which we can be held responsible if we violate someone’s rights while we’re doing them. If we willfully violate someone’s rights, it’s usually a crime. If it’s just an accident, it’s usually just a civil trial–although in defamation case, you have to show mens rea in the form of malice. That’s really a nod to the First Amendment (and all that’s required).

        The First and Second Amendments protect our rights from government interference for a reason. Fraud, slander, violent threats, extortion, shooting people, etc.–if you violate other people’s rights, other people are not the government. They can come after you for violating their rights with your speech or your gun.

        This is all as it should be. A libertarian world is not a world where we can use our speech to violate other people’s rights with impunity. It’s a world where the sole purpose of government is to protect people’s rights.

        1. My speech can’t hurt your fragile snowflake. Simply ignore it.

    2. That’s not eligible for damages, because nobody would read that and conclude that Mann was a pedophile.

      1. That’s for a jury to decide.

        The plaintiff should have to prove malice and damages.

        I think the case against malice is stronger than the case against damages.

        The defendant can say he didn’t mean that he was like Sandusky in that he’s guilty of the same thing Sandusky was; he can say he meant to compare him to Sandusky because just like with Sandusky, his bosses appear to have looked the other way.

        In that way, I don’t think the defendant is guilty–because there was a lack of malice. It isn’t the defendant’s fault if someone else misinterprets what he was really trying to say. If there’s a lack of malice, the defendant should win.

        But it’s all up to the jury. That’s what juries are for–they make judgement calls on disputed interpretations of testimony and evidence. Thank goodness for them.

        1. That’s for a jury to decide.

          No, it’s not. The question should never be put before a jury because it is not even arguable that an analogy is not a direct accusation.

    3. Pay attention, if you can, Ken. Mark Steyn did NOT compare Mann to a child molester! He correctly pointed out that the same people who cleared the eventually convicted child molester Sandusky, cleared Mann. The comparison was to two people who were “exonerated” by the same supposedly investigative committees.

      Claiming what you did, and what Mann has claimed, is so fucking stupid that the judge, and you apparently, deserve to be lobotomized, or already have been. Both of your inability to understand something so simple is both shocking and pathetic.

      1. It doesn’t seem like Steyn was the one who made the Sandusky reference though he criticized the investigation. Simberg did that.

        1. Indeed, Steyn has so far shown himself to be much more disciplined than that.

  26. For some reason I can’t explain, when a scientist Sues people over discussing their work, my respect for them drops a few thousand percent.

    If Michael Mann can show that he suffered some catastrophic career related event due to slander, then he might have my sympathy.

    1. It’s stretching things a bit to call Mann a “scientist.”

      1. There’s a 97% consensus that Mann is a scientist.

  27. I read, “…important context and requires careful parsing in light of constitutional standards”, to mean, “We know what result we want, now we just have to find a way to get there.”

  28. In retrospect getting the Sandusky whitewashers to vouch for you isn’t that wise when even you immediately think pedorapist when that is mentioned. But I’m not exactly sure how wise latina jurisprudence works.

  29. The fun thing about this case is that Mann’s kneejerk “JUST SUE EVERYONE” reaction to criticism failed to take into account that Mark Steyn is an absolute madman who will gleefully go to court with anyone over free speech rights. Mann immediately went into process-as-punishment stall mode hoping to get a settlement, but Steyn is way to crazy to ever quit. He eats this stuff up.

    What I’m saying is, if you ever want to donate money to help free speech, buy a copy of Mark’s books, or his weird disco cat album.

    1. Yeah, I might not agree with Steyn about everything, but I have to like the way he sticks it to the man and takes the consequences with such good humor. Someone has to take a beating for saying unpopular things if any of us are to remain able to say unpopular things, and it makes me feel a lot better about that someone taking the lumps for me if they come up smiling at the end of every round.

  30. “Tarnishing the personal integrity and reputation of a scientist important to one side may be a tactic to gain advantage” Change scientist to opponent, rival candidate or the like and this often rings true.

  31. “assert or imply false facts”

    Yeah, defamation should be limited to statements which are factually, verifiably false; you know, the basic common law definition they probably even use on Neptune.

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