Free Speech

Attempt to Vanish (Cubed) Post Critical of the Sandy Hook Hoax Libel Judgment

"Anything you can do, I can do meta."

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

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.

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  1. Whatever he thinks he is doing, or *someone* thinks they are doing, I don’t think they have quite got the drift yet on how this all works. One pictures a gopher butting up against a concrete foundation and moving sideways six inches to try again.

  2. ” I thought I’d mention it just to illustrate how some people are trying to vanish criticism from the Internet.”

    Do you have any thoughts on that subject I could pass along to Artie Ray Lee Wayne Jim-Bob Kirkland?

    1. I don’t read Prof. Volokh to be lodging any criticism (legal or moral) at Mr. Pozner for not hosting the material on his own website. If you have some reason to believe that Prof. Volokh has been trying to have other sites remove or restrict access to your comments, I would invite you to share it.

      1. The topic was ‘people trying to vanish criticism from the Internet.’

        You have added the topic ‘kissing the professor’s ass.’

  3. Interesting. It seems strange you can deny the Holocaust, but you can’t deny a mass shooting.

    1. Nuance.

      Denying the Holocaust usually takes the form of claiming that although there were Jews killed in Nazi Germany, the mass killings and oppression has been vastly overstated by a massive PR effort by Jews. There are variations on this theme. However there is no individual being libeled. Although if I had a close relative who had been murdered by Rudolf Höss personally and I could document it and someone said I was lying about and was damaging me with their lies about it then I might have a case. A lot would depend on the proof I had.

      In this case, somebody is claiming that an individual, Lenny Pozner, is lying when he said his son was killed at Sandy Hook and attempting to achieve some sort of benefit for himself by lying. Most decent people can only imagine how hurtful such treatment must feel but that has to be set aside. The case was made and decided for the plaintiff and no doubt that it was because that it was possible to sho that Pozner (and family) was purposefully, maliciously, and demonstrably damaged.

      1. In my estimation, any person with any competence would not be able to believe the lies about Sandy Hook. In contrast, those chipping around the edges of the Holocaust might have more credence. Isn’t outlandish speech like that about Sandy Hook more protected than a false claim, in terms of degree, about the Holocaust?

          1. And by chipping around the edges, I mean saying there were 5,999,999 victims instead of the full 6 million.

        1. No. No it is not. The critical difference is, as Orbital clearly described, making a general idiotic lie vs making an idiotic lie about someone specific. If you want to lie about Sandy Hook, in general, then you are legally just fine. But if you falsely say about John Smithberg, “He was never in a concentration camp. His forearm tattoo is fake. He’s doing this because he wants _______.” Yeah, you’re probably open to a civil lawsuit and significant damages.

        2. Deny that, say, rogue FBI agents shot the children?

          When you look at what is about to come loose about the FBI, along with what lawyers whom I trust have told me about the FBI — no, I don’t think they did it, but as to if they *could have* done it???

          1. Right, like the jury that came back with the following verdict: We don’t think he did it, because we agree he wasn’t there at the time, but we all think he would have done it had he had the chance.

    2. If while denying the Holocaust you make specific, factual claims about a living person that are provably false and harms that person’s reputation, you might run into trouble there too.

    3. Messrs. Fetzer and Palacek were not found liable for denying that the Sandy Hook shooting happened: they were found liable for making specific false statements of fact concerning Mr. Pozner in the course of that denial. Making similar false statements in the course of denying the Holocaust would of course be actionable in the same way (although of course as the number of people involved in the Holocaust dwindles, the chances of that happening become lower).

      1. The issue I have is with those who claim that Hitler killed more Jews than Stalin. No, Stalin had at least twice as long to do it and had a higher Jewish population. Yes, the Nazis kept better records, but Stalin wasn’t a nice guy either…..

        1. I’ve never heard anyone say that, and it has nothing to do with the topic here, but thanks for sharing I guess.

          1. Also, from 1939 Hitler had all the Jews of Poland, and from 1944 those of Hungary, which probably added up to more Jews than Stalin had.

        2. Um, Hitler did kill more Jews than Stalin. Lots more. Not because he was a worse person than Stalin, but because that’s just how it worked out. Stalin may have killed more people than Hitler did, but fewer of them were Jews. And most of the Jews he did kill weren’t killed because they were Jews. He didn’t get around to targeting Jews qua Jews for wholesale destruction until 1953, and thankfully he dropped dead just as it was about to begin.

          1. I was thinking the Jews in The Ukraine and The Holodomor.

    4. Interesting. It seems strange you can deny the Holocaust, but you can’t deny a mass shooting.

      Dumb. If you accused the relative of a death camp victim of faking documents, etc., relating to the Holocaust victim, you could indeed be sued for libel/slander, and I’d be happy to sue you for it and win. So, say, you accuse Eric Mueller (former temporary blogger here) of faking the story about his Uncle Leopold* and the documents he obtained about him from the German government, you could indeed be sued for libel or slander.

      *http://ericmuller.org/blog/looking-for-great-uncle-leopold/

      1. For example, if I say that my mailman is a lizard in disguise, I couldn’t be sued for that, right?

        1. You could. But even if being a lizard were itself defamatory, I suspect he’d have a tough time proving damages.

          1. But wouldn’t that be libel per se, in which damages are assumed?

      2. Maybe I claim the mailman lied on the census, because he is actually a citizen of the planet Zog in the Andromeda Galaxy, and came to earth on the tail of Halley’s comet. If your not catching on, the stupidity is part of the argument.

      3. If I claim all events in connection to WWII never happened at all (and threw in WWI, Korean War, Vietnam, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade for good measure), that would imply Mr. Mueller’s story was false. However, that detail is connected to a much larger story of outlandish proportions, making the specific claim about Mr. Mueller outlandish as well.

      4. To it’s credit, Israel has some incredibly strong defenses against mistaken ID for Holocaust perps. I don’t remember the details, but was impressed as to how much further their protection of the accused goes than ours….

        1. And yet it mistakenly convicted John Demjanjuk of the wrong murders. Of course he was hampered by not being able to give his real alibi — “Your honors, despite all these witnesses who say they saw me killing Jews in Treblinka, that’s just not physically possible, because at that very time I was very busy killing Jews 200 km away in Sobibor.”

          1. Don’t forget that the Israeli Supreme Court ultimately overturned the conviction.

      5. A states that the govt issued an inaccurate document to B.
        How is B libeled?

  4. I think there is something they are hiding at Sandy Hook, but it is not this. Instead, it is medical malpractice by the school’s psychologist in attempting to get an involuntary commitment of the perp, who was NOT a student there. They don’t want that issue raised…

    That said, of you file a libel action in court, that inherently becomes a public record, and some people apparently thinking that winning the libel action will also erase their lawsuit from the public record. No, those records are public and need to be.

    1. I think there is something they are hiding at Sandy Hook

      I’m not sure I want to know the answer but… who are “they”, exactly?

      1. School Officials.

        The schmuck may have been a schmuck, but he didn’t pick that school at random….

        1. Please continue.

          1. He targeted the Principal, the Psychologist, and then that particular classroom. He did *not* target the Vice Principal.

            These were not random acts, no one has ever said they were.

            Perhaps it might be worth asking “why”?

            1. And what, pray tell, is the answer?

              1. I think it might be worth finding out…..

  5. In the midst of the word he was trying to say
    In the midst of his laughter and glee
    He had softly and suddenly vanished away,
    For the snark was a boojum, you see.

  6. the jury awarded Pozner $450,000 in damages,

    I wish it had been $450,000,000.

    Has the suit against Jones been decided yet?

    1. Ahh remember the good old days when he was in a custody battle for his kid, and they used his insane claims against him as evidence of being unfit for it, and he admitted it was all BS for show?

      1. All for show? Too bad for him. He takes the money, he takes the responsibility.

        Now he’s selling zinc pills as a preventative for Covid-19. This is some giant asshole.

  7. Zuckerberg recently said he is going to delete the Facebook groups expressing opposition to excessive quarantine measures and organizing political protests. And he’ll ban the organizers. There’s certainly already been thousands banned from expressing themselves on the Internet or large portions of it, not because of any libel or even so much as a specific alleged violation of terms of service, but merely because they earned their way on to highly political blacklists.

    1. And I think it is time for populist legislation…..

      Although there are competitors to Farcebook….

    2. Freedom of association for me but not for thee.

      1. I never said Facebook and other platforms shouldn’t have the right to do this. I just note it’s important “to illustrate how some people are trying to vanish criticism from the Internet.”

        When companies are monopolistic however, like Visa and Mastercard, their actions merit legal scrutiny.

    3. Cite, please.

      1. Stephanopoulos asked Zuckerberg how the company deals “with the fact that Facebook is now being used to organize a lot of these protests to defy social distancing guidelines in states. If somebody trying to organize something like that, does that qualify as harmful misinformation?”

        “We do classify that as harmful misinformation and we take that down,” confirmed Zuckerberg, while at the same time saying that it’s important “that people can debate policies.”

        A Facebook spokesman confirmed to CNN that planned protests in California, New Jersey, and Nebraska were having their pages removed from Facebook at the request of state authorities.

        https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2020/04/20/mark-zuckerberg-lockdown-protests-are-misinformation-facebook-will-ban-organizers/

  8. I think there is a decent chance part of this judgement is not going to survive an appeal. Some of the statements are clearly libel/slander, but some linkages to other statements are more tenuous. An intermediate state appeals court is probably going to feel the “politics” of this a bit more then say a federal circuit court, but it might still give the speech a fair shake.

    This is not the last we are going to hear from this legal saga.

    1. Ask yourself this: Why did the Vice Principal live?

      Wounded, leaving a blood trail which the perp could have followed if he had wanted to? No. And between ricochets and flying glass, I’m not convinced that he shot her. He’s responsible for what his rounds did, don’t get me wrong on that, but I’m not convinced that he *aimed* at her, or wanted to shoot her.

      No, this was personal to the point where he got to that particular classroom, and we really ought to ask why.

      1. As with most mass shootings we never have a drive to understand the “why?” in it all. Just look at the Las Vegas shooting. Largest mass shooting in history and it is almost like it never happened. I know the reason why the media isn’t all that interested in exploring it, but so has countless other media alternatives and “citizen journalists”. Other then conspiracy theories, I just don’t think we as humans really want to understand the kind of evil that perpetrates such actions.

        1. Jimmy, for once, I am in complete agreement with you, and would only add this: It’s not just that we don’t want to understand that kind of evil; we also don’t want to understand the sheer arbitrariness of that kind of evil and its results, and our sheer inability to do anything to stop it.

          Why does one child grow up to be a decent human being and another grows up to be the Las Vegas shooter? Why does one innocent victim happen to be in the shooter’s path, and another escaped only by having been delayed on his way to the concert? The real, frightening moral of the Las Vegas shooter is just how little control we have, and just how much damage can be done by blind chance.

          1. I strongly suspect — repeat, suspect — that the mental health profession is exacerbating these things. Even they (AMA & APA joint statement) are concerned about the massive volume of psych drugs that are being handed out, drugs with high psych side effects.

      2. You allege various “facts” and construct theories with them. How about some links so we may see proof of those “facts” and who, beside yourself, to whom your theories of the case may owe.

        “I think there is something they are hiding at Sandy Hook, but it is not this. Instead, it is medical malpractice by the school’s psychologist in attempting to get an involuntary commitment of the perp, who was NOT a student there. They don’t want that issue raised…” And for those of us who are not au courant on this, how about clarifying the cryptic and elliptic in your contribution, like who “they” are, what their motives might be, medical malpractice where no privity of parties, etc.

        1. It was all published information at the time.

          1. Also that the perp purportedly had Aspergers which I found hard to believe. Really hard to believe, and others were saying that at the time as well.

            1. “Many people are saying…”

              1. My grandma posted something to Facebook about it…

            2. So you allude to “medical malpractice by the school’s psychologist in attempting to get an involuntary commitment of the perp, who was NOT a student there,” but coquettishly decline to explain yourself. Who might the plaintiff be, and who the defendant? Who’s the “they” you say wants details of the matter covered up?

              I subscribe to the NYT, WaPo, and WSJ, but don’t recall any of these details reported in them. Must I look to Alex Jones for them? Please Dr. Ed, to tell us.

              1. For some reason, the British press often does a better job than our own, although this was in the NYDN, not the NYT.
                https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/adam-lanza-ex-psychiatrist-charged-sexual-assault-article-1.2611499

                Sex with a different patient, and destroying records — I guess everyone does that, right?

                1. You see that story about a psychiatrist who years before saw Lanza as somehow relevant here?! How?

                  And what about your teases about a “cover up,” what exactly were they about?

                  Posting crap like you have, doesn’t do well for your reputation on this board.

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