The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
Lenny Pozner, the father of a boy (Noah Pozner) killed in the Sandy Hook shooting, sued James Fetzer and Mike Palacek, who cowrote the book "Nobody Died at Sandy Hook." The book had claimed, among other things, that
- "Noah Pozner's death certificate is a fake, which we have proven on a dozen or more grounds."
- "[Mr. Pozner] sent her a death certificate, which turned out to be a fabrication."
- "As many Sandy Hook researchers are aware, the very document Pozner circulated in 2014, with its inconsistent tones, fonts, and clear digital manipulation, was clearly a forgery."
Pozner said this libeled him, and in June 2019 a Wisconsin judge agreed, and granted Pozner summary judgment on liability. In October, the jury awarded Pozner $450,000 in damages, and in December, the judge issued an injunction barring Fetzer "from communicating by any means" these libelous statements. (Such anti-libel injunctions, following a judgment on the merits, are generally viewed as constitutional by most courts that have recently considered the matter.)
But in October, a request was submitted to Google, in Pozner's name, seeking to deindex material that simply discussed the case and criticized the court decision, such as various copies of "The Legal Lynching of a Truth-Seeker: Jim Fetzer's Stalinist-Style Show Trial" and "Sandy Hook and the Murder of the First Amendment." The court's judgment of course didn't find these items (posted in response to the judgment) to be libelous, and it offers no basis for Google to deindex them.
In November, I wrote about this, and in January I learned that Amazon Web Services had gotten a takedown demand (which Amazon didn't act on) to remove that post. So I wrote about that, and today I learned that Google had gotten a request to deindex that post, also submitted under the name "Leonard Pozner." (When I last corresponded with Pozner about his Amazon Web Services takedown demand, he said that he didn't want me to contact him again, so I haven't checked with him whether this latest deindexing request was also actually from him.) So we now have an attempt to vanish a post about an attempt to vanish a post about an attempt to vanish posts critical of the Sandy Hook hoax libel judgment, hence the title of this post.
Of course, there's no real basis for this deindexing request. My posts weren't the subject of any injunction; they were, to my knowledge, entirely accurate (they certainly don't endorse the libel to which they indirectly refer); no-one ever sued over them. The PDFs attached to the deindexing request are documents from the original libel case, but those were against people who claimed the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax, not against me (and not in reference to my posts). My posts do criticize the earlier vanishing requests, but of course nothing in the court order can preclude such criticism, or purports to preclude such criticism.
I'm pretty sure Google won't do anything about this deindexing request, but I thought I'd mention it just to illustrate how some people are trying to vanish criticism from the Internet.