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You Can't Have #MeToo Without Free Speech. Just Ask Australians.

Due to the country's terrible libel laws, Yael Stone's accusation against Geoffrey Rush could put her at risk of a lawsuit.

StoneSthanlee Mirador/Sipa USA/NewscomAustralian actress Yael Stone (Orange Is the New Black) recently accused the actor Geoffrey Rush (Pirates of the Caribbean) of making inappropriate sexual overtures during the time that they worked together on a 2010 stage production, The Diary of a Madman. Rush responded that the allegations are "incorrect and in some instances have been taken completely out of context."

Stone told her story to The New York Times' Bari Weiss, who explains why it's uniquely difficult for Stone to speak about what happened: Australia's defamation laws are absurdly unfriendly to free speech, and it is very easy to sue someone for making disparaging claims—even if the claims are true.

In the United States, the legal burden is on the person who claims to have been defamed: He or she must prove that the allegations are false. In Australia, in the area of libel law, it's the opposite. The burden is on the publisher to prove that the allegations against the plaintiff are true. In addition, public figures who sue for libel in the United States must prove that the publisher acted with reckless disregard of the truth, even if the statements prove false.

Australia's defamation laws help explain why the #MeToo movement, while managing to take down some of the most powerful men in the entertainment and media industry in the United States, has not taken off there.

"Australia is the only Western democracy without an explicit constitutional protection for freedom of speech," Matt Collins, a defamation lawyer and the president of the Victorian Bar, told me. "People say that Sydney is the libel capital of the world," he added.

Indeed, Rush previously sued The Daily Telegraph for reporting on allegations of sexual misconduct against the actor on the set of a 2015 production of King Lear. A decision in that case is expected to be reached next year.

Australia's limits on speaking freely go beyond libel laws. An Australian court has even barred news outlets from reporting on the sexual abuse allegations levelled against a Catholic cardinal, George Pell. The Washington Post's Margaret Sullivan discussed the ridiculous gag order in a recent article:

The story is, indeed, a blockbuster, especially for Australian citizens: Cardinal George Pell, sometimes described as the third-most-powerful Vatican official, was convicted of all charges that he sexually molested two choirboys in Australia in the late 1990s. (Pell, 77, has been the Vatican's chief financial officer in recent years; he earlier was the archbishop of Sydney and of Melbourne.)

But because of a court-issued gag order intended to preserve impartiality, the news media has been forbidden from publishing news in Australia on the details of the Melbourne trial, and now on the unanimous decision of the jury.

Suppression orders—almost unheard of in the United States—are fairly common in Australia. But they are true anachronisms in the digital age, where information, thankfully, can't be shut up in a padlocked barn.

In the meantime, publications worldwide are treading carefully, as they try to avoid legal trouble.

People accused of sexual misconduct deserve due process, and journalists should tread carefully before labeling anyone a predator. But they must be free to discuss the allegations in the first place. Depriving the public of access to information serves hardly anyone's interests, and is an obvious betrayal of fundamental free speech principles.

Unlike Australia, the U.S. has strong free speech protections, thanks to the First Amendment. When powerful people do bad things, it's easier to call them out, which is why President Donald Trump frequently complains that U.S. libel laws are too weak to shield him from criticism. Robust free speech norms make accountability easier and aid the pursuit of justice.

That's why it's so frustrating to watch many activists, often on college campuses, complain that they are insufficiently protected from hate speech. "Hate speech" is a component of free speech, and if the First Amendment ceased to protect the former, we could quickly find ourselves in the sort of society where speaking truth to power was subjectively considered "hateful" by the relevant adjudicators. Countries that don't explicitly permit virtually all kinds of speech often default to a regime of de facto censorship that can undermine progressive causes. Australia, in Weiss' telling, provides a strong example of this.

Photo Credit: Sthanlee Mirador/Sipa USA/Newscom

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  • Ship of Theseus||

    This is an example of why Trump's latest Twitter tirade is incredibly stupid.

  • Fancylad||

    Oh? How?

  • Quixote||

    This must be a mistake, since it actually demonstrates (as if any proof were needed) our great national leader's unpresidented perspicacity. Clearly the Australian system is far superior to the one argued for in America by extremist members of the so-called "free-speech community" (which itself is a joke). In fact, not only should the burden of proof be place squarely on the insidious defamers, but they should be arrested and jailed for their prurient "#MeToo" slurs. Criminal libel should be quickly reenacted everywhere in this country, particularly in any situation where the reputation of a distinguished member of the academic community has been impugned. Fortunately, at least some of our honorable prosecutors have succeeded, to their great credit, in figuring out how to get around the unwanted "First Amendment" restrictions in situations where the judges can be convinced that the "free speech" involved is not worth defending. See, for example, the documentation of our nation's leading criminal "parody" case at:

    https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  • ||

    "But they must be free to discuss the allegations in the first place."

    True. Except allegations are treated like evidence now.

    Everything gets conflated. Ie the Mueller banana republic investigations that takes power for justice. Illegal immigration with lawful immigration is treated as the same.

    So it is in law it seems where allegations are the proof now.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Illegal immigration with lawful immigration is treated as the same

    Of course. Since we Koch / Reason libertarians explicitly reject the validity of border enforcement, all immigration into the US is morally equivalent. It shouldn't matter if someone has the correct paperwork; everyone has a fundamental human right to move here.

    #OpenBorders
    #NoBanNoWall
    #AbolishICE

  • Dillinger||

    yes.

  • retiredfire||

    No such thing as a "fundamental human right".

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    "Hate speech" is a component of free speech

    But should it be, though? For a thought-provoking argument to the contrary, see Reason contributor Noah Berlatsky's fantastic piece Is the First Amendment too broad? The case for regulating hate speech in America.

    #BringBackBerlatsky

  • Rossami||

    re: "But should it be?"

    Yes. Always and absolutely. Berlatsky is a closet-totalitarian. The only thing I can't tell is whether he is ignorant of the lessons of history or willfully denying it.

  • Ecoli||

    You should not be allowed to speak, OBL.

  • Dillinger||

    no.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    So because people's feelings get hurt, it is okay to ban hate speech.

    Then states ban ban same-sex marriages because its very existence hurts some people's feelings.

    The question is not what civil rights infringements can be justified under this Berlatsky doctrine.

    The question is what can't

  • ||

    "Hate speech" is a component of free speech, and if the First Amendment ceased to protect the former, we could quickly find ourselves in the sort of society where speaking truth to power was subjectively considered "hateful" by the relevant adjudicators."

    No qualifiers? Well done.

    Absolutely true. There's no such thing as 'degrees of speech'. 'Balanced speech' or the aim to do so, is nothing but controlled speech by other means.

  • Ecoli||

    "inappropriate sexual overtures"... in C minor, the opera!

  • Dillinger||

    are there appropriate overtures?

  • Agammamon||

    That was a Mozart work.

  • Agammamon||

    "Australia is the only Western democracy without an explicit constitutional protection for freedom of speech," Matt Collins, a defamation lawyer and the president of the Victorian Bar, told me. "People say that Sydney is the libel capital of the world," he added.

    Uhm, that's a problematic statement. Because as far as I can tell, the United States is the only Western *nation* with explicit constitutional protections for freedom of speech. Every other Western nation, democracy or otherwise, absolutely doesn't guarantee freedom of speech.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    USSR had excellent constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech, the press, etc.

  • ||

    Correct.

    Canada makes provisions for free speech but it's not absolute. The state has ultimate final say.

    Hence, it's as good as barely having it.

    America is unique and the exception where this is concerned. As such, it deserves the admiration it gets.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yeah, isn't it pretty much the same all over the British Commonwealth?

    We left in 1776 because we didn't like paying taxes, didn't like the treaties the British made with Indians before and after the French and Indian War, but it was also because we didn't want to be like the British in certain ways.

    Australia and Canada seem to have left after World War I because they didn't like being treated as cannon fodder.

    How's the old joke about Canadians having access to British government, American know-how, and French Culture only to end up with French politics, American culture, and British don't know-how? That sentiment was supposed to be about them going to the worst of each category from the best; i.e, British government and law aren't seen as the problem.

  • ||

    Heh.

    Canada was once very free spirit and free.

    It still has some of it but like anywhere in the West, the pull of the collective is winning out on the individual.

  • Fancylad||

    Yeah, the Prairies and (sometimes) BC would put much of the US to shame, but east of Sudbury they love Big Government very dearly.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    "We left in 1776 because we didn't like paying taxes, didn't like the treaties the British made with Indians before and after the French and Indian War, but it was also because we didn't want to be like the British in certain ways."

    Your intricate and subtle knowledge of the history of our revolution is stunning. I can hardly await your next contribution. I hope you will have read a book or two before then.

  • Zeb||

    Explicit constitutional protections can exist and not be absolute like the US 1st amendment. The protections exist in the law of other countries. They just aren't very strong or absolute.

  • ||

    Like I said.

    But still rest on the whim of the state rather than in the people.

    It's a cheap knock off.

  • Agammamon||

    I got that.

    I'm saying that among Western countries (both Anglic and otherwise) the US *is the only country to explicitly protect free speech*. None of the European countries do that. The UK doesn't. Canada doesn't. Australia, New Zealand, etc - none of them do that.

    Which is why its weird that this guy is calling out Australia as if its an outlier. It is in that its the most anti-free speech country in the Anglosphere but its on par for most European countries. Its the US that is the outlier in the West.

  • KiwiDude||

    From the NZ BoR

    14 Freedom of expression

    Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form.

  • jdgalt1||

    None of them is really absolute, because none allow the victim of censorship to drag the censor into court to answer for violating his rights. Without this accountability no system can be trusted.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Well, they do give explicit protections for free speech with explicit open ended caveats big enough to drive a jumbo jet through, that render the protections largely moot.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    AFIK, Most EU nations don't have any kind of constitution and the few that do, like the UK, have unwritten constitutions that aren't worth the paper they aren't written on.

  • Mickey Rat||

    The UK has an explicit comprehensive statutory protection for free speech, yet people are still being arrested and jailed for "hate speech" crimes. It also unclear of how the UK's protections interact with the EU's criminalization of political speech. That was one of the reasons for the Brexit vote.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    That it's statutory means that the UK parliament can either do away with it all together, or create whatever exceptions they want on a whim.

  • jdgalt1||

    So is the whole "British constitution." That's why it doesn't qualify as one.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Except they claim it has not been repealed or altered.

  • Mr. JD||

    There is nothing a libertarian should praise in #MeToo

  • jdgalt1||

    Except that its inventor made the funny mistake of beginning it with a symbol commonly pronounced Pound.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It's important to remember that the First Amendment isn't only what protects our right to free speech in law. It's also a big part of what makes us American.

    All of the British Commonwealth's libel laws seem strange to Americans, and it's because libel laws in the U.S. evolved to conform to the First Amendment to some extent.

    In regards to the burden being on the plaintiff or the defense in libel cases, here in the U.S., it's still about the preponderance of the evidence. We're not talking about criminal law.

    In the U.S., you typically need to prove both malice and damages. The "malice" part is what ultimately shields websites like Reason and The New York Times from liability for the libelous comments of commenters on the site. If you can't prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the New York Times was malicious in something it didn't even write, but some commenter wrote on their website, then you probably can't persuade a jury that the New York Times is liable for damages just because it hosted the forum. You'd need to go after the person with the malice.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It isn't like that in Australia, but it isn't necessarily like that in Canada, or the UK either. Go to any newspaper in Australia, and chances are you won't get a comment posted unless it's been specifically approved by someone whose job it is to approve comments. I suspect it ends up becoming a rent-seeking sort of thing. If you can't afford to pay people to approve comments, you can't offer that feature on your website--and that whittles down the likelihood of much competition. Canadians, dare I say, have been more influenced by American culture, and that means their juries have been influenced by American culture. Still, politicians there sue news outlets for libel.

    I'm not sure that's a terrible thing. I suspect the biggest reason more politicians don't sue journalists and news outlets for libel is just that it's socially unacceptable. They don't pick their noses in public for the same reason.

  • ||

    Canada (shhhh! Don't tell Quebec and Canadian nationalists!) is influenced more by America so it makes sense it resembles it.

    I've seen U.S. publications that moderate comments though. But the overall point I agree with. Generally, both countries leave it alone and let us speak. Even the CBC, for the most part, is decent at it.

  • Ken Shultz||

    They seem to be really careful about two things; offending First Nations and libel concerns.

    When I used to go to TSN for fantasy hockey news all the time, I'd notice that you couldn't get comments approved about public figures--if what you were saying was bad. I think it's hard for them to draw the line.

    The coach of one of the Canadian football teams plead guilty to having sex with an underage babysitter, but you couldn't get a comment approved that said that.

    You couldn't get a comment approved saying that Dany Heatly had killed his friend through reckless driving.

    You couldn't get a comment approved saying that Tiger Woods hired prostitutes and cheated on his wife.

    It didn't matter if it was a public figure, and it didn't matter if it was true--you just couldn't get those comments approved by them. Different outlets had different comfort levels, but what they were worried about (in addition to never saying anything negative about First Nations) was being sued for libel because of the commenters on those websites. If it's on your website, you're legally liable for it.

  • ||

    CBS sports simply shut down its comments threads.

    I never commented or paid much attention to TSN threads so I wouldn't know.

    Yes, Canada is obsessed with First Nations.

    Like slavery in the USA, we act like what happened here is sooo unique in world history when in fact it's the rule and not the exception of humanity. People and nations conquer one another. News at 11.

  • Ken Shultz||

    This is one of the amazing insights I've had by reading comments in other Commonwealth countries.

    We imagine that our present is a function of our unique past. In some ways that's true, but nowhere near as much as we think.

    The rationalizations used by (lower case) liberals in Australia in regards to their Aboriginals are the same kinds of rationalizations used by Canadians in reference to First Nations and Americans in reference to minorities here. In other words, all three of those minority groups have unique historical circumstances that contributed to their conditions today, and all three of those dominant cultures have unique attributes. And, yet, despite all those unique histories, they all have the same arguments in the same terms!

    You owe us for things that happened in the past!

    No we don't!

    The problems we have are because of racism!

    You want equality of outcome!

    Hate speech laws, affirmative action, welfare dependency, equality of outcome, substance abuse, gang activity, etc., etc., etc. All of these things may be argued about with reference to their own histories, but all the arguments are ultimately the same. Maybe that shouldn't be surprising, but it is!

  • Ken Shultz||

    Why should the indigenous people of Australia inspire the same arguments as the descendants of African slaves? It think it's all about present circumstances. When things happened in what we call "the past", it was the present back then! Whatever it is that happened in decades past, it doesn't have as big of an impact on our thinking as present circumstances.

    Current market prices may be influenced by future expectations, but are past events a market force on current prices? I'm thinking the market for ideas works like that. I fully expected Australian argument fault lines to be completely different.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Here in the U.S., people go to the other extreme, which is even dumber in its own way.

    Americans seem to think that the First Amendment means that the Washington Post has to put up their comments--no matter how racist. That the San Francisco Chronical has to post their comments--no matter how homophobic.

    Imagine if I could plant a sign in the middle of a non-antisemite neighbor's front yard reading "I hate Jews!", and he wasn't allowed to take it down because of the First Amendment? When I was a shareholder of Whole Foods back in the '90s, I had a manager take that tack with me when I went in to complain about some Nazi skinhead propaganda on their "community" bulletin board. No, you're not obligated to drive customers away with Nazi propaganda on private property. That's not what the First Amendment says.

    "Congress shall make no law". Five of the most important words in American law and culture. They're not big words, but when you put them in that order, few Americans seem to understand what they mean.

  • perlchpr||

    And almost no-one in Congress itself does.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    "Shall not be infringed" ... only four words, I know, but no less important for all that

  • Ken Shultz||

    I would argue that the First AND Second Amendments are, indeed, not just what protects our rights in law but also what makes us American.

    Freedom is dangerous sometimes. We're okay with that. Look at the Second. Deal with it, you British bastards!

  • jdgalt1||

    The British thought guns unnecessary, and had to be taught better the hard way. Tommy Robinson shows the lesson still hasn't sunk in. But it's been less than a century since Kipling warned them.

  • Agammamon||

    The "malice" part is what ultimately shields websites like Reason and The New York Times from liability for the libelous comments of commenters on the site.

    noooooooo

    Its section 230 of the Communication Decency Act that does that.

    https://tinyurl.com/mkepvyv

    Where it explicitly removes website responsibility for poster comments.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I appreciate that the law was added in the hope of emphasizing the principle, but the principle behind it is a hell of a lot older than the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Some of our principles in law go back further than the Constitution. Some of them may go back further than the Magna Carta. Certainly, our libel laws (and the differences between our and those libel laws in the British Commonwealth) are heavily influenced by the First Amendment. Malice in libel suits, for instance, speaks to mens rea--something that usually isn't relevant outside the context of criminal law.

    That malice standard is necessary to get past the influence of the First Amendment--and that's ultimately why we're different from the other countries that have a tradition of English common law. You can find numerous examples both in law and in case law that work the way around the First Amendment in more or less the same way when it comes to libel. The larger principle is that you require malice to get around First Amendment protections for speech--just like violating someone's rights with a gun gets you around protection for the Second Amendment.

  • gaoxiaen||

    The Second Amendment is ne plus ultra.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    Damn. Who to root against?

    I know!

    FUCK OFF, SLAVERS!

  • ||

    When powerful people do bad things, it's easier to call them out, which is why President Donald Trump frequently complains that U.S. libel laws are too weak to shield him from criticism.

    Does not compute. Has President Trump engaged in a number of libel suits? Rewritten the laws? Silenced the press?

    Or does he just get uppity when the media does stupid shit as they are wont to do?

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    Does not compute. TFA does not say Trump has engaged in libel suits.

    Fuck off, strawman!

  • ||

    Does not compute.

    Because you only read selectively and are too dim to think more broadly.

    What exactly has Trump done, legally and/or as President, to shield himself from criticism? How well do you think it has worked?

    At best, it's straw men all the way down, at worst, Trump tweets 'libel' and the Soaves of the media dance in response.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    You raised the strawman of Trump not starting libel suits. I rebutted that. You suck.

  • ||

    It wasn't an argument, it was a hypothesis or conjecture to clarify the straw man asserted by Soave. There are lots of ways he could be abusing or undermining libel laws. The fact that you'd rather focus on the definition of what constitutes a straw man rather than dispel them speaks volumes.

  • Ken Shultz||

    He tweeted something and isn't that just as bad as doing something?

  • ||

    His speech is an unmitigated threat to free speech.

  • Social Justice is neither||

    Love how "powerful people" apparently doesn't apply to the media themselves. Criticize them for how they choose to do their job (or not) and it's the end of the 1st amendment if not all of Democracy.

  • jdgalt1||

    One of Trump's favorite tactics as a businessman was to have the lawyers he kept on a leash send out empty threats (to sue) and cease-and-desist letters to anyone who drew attention to questionable actions of his. Of course, if he did this from the Oval Office it would get him impeached.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Oh, and to the point of libel laws generally, the First Amendment doesn't protect violating other people's rights with your speech any more than the Second Amendment protects violating other people's rights with a gun, and there isn't any reason why that should be limited to criminal speech like violent threats, extortion, and jury tampering.

    If you don't want to compensate the victims of your malicious, untrue, and damaging speech, there's probably an easy way to avoid that.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Must say you seem to have a rather shadowy and vague sense of what the word "rights" means. Perhaps if you could clarify (I have no real hope of it) you might expect your little screed to be taken at least somewhat seriously

  • Ken Shultz||

    Rights are the obligation to respect other people's agency.

    Property rights are the right to choose how something is used, who uses it, when it's used, etc.

    Religious rights are the right to choose your own religion.

    In short, all rights are the obligation to respect other people's freedom of choice. We should all be free to do as we please so long as we don't violate someone else's . . . ahem . . . rights.

    Rape and theft and all other legitimate crimes are crimes because someone willfully ignored someone else's right to make a choice.

  • Ecoli||

    When is a "sexual overture" appropriate?

    Is it appropriate to advertise to the world that you were propositioned for sex? To me, it is not polite at all to "out" somebody for asking for such a basic human need and function.

    I don't know the details of Mr. Rush's proposition. As long as he wasn't being coercive or violent, then the matter should stay private, not as a matter of law but simply as a matter of etiquette. For a woman or man to trot out a private matter such as this is beneath contempt.

  • Ken Shultz||

    At some point, choreographing love scenes will become problematic from a #MeToo perspective. Sure, the script calls for a love scene when you sign onto the picture, but there's a certain amount of innovation from the director, too, I'm sure. When the director says, "I need you to take your . . . and put it on his . . . ". Well, how dare he direct someone to do such a thing?! What if the actress feels uncomfortable?

  • Longtobefree||

    In this case, there is actually a signed contract.

  • Ken Shultz||

    To the script!

    There are no words in a love scene, necessarily.

    When the director of photography decides she's not showing enough boob, what then?

    When they do reshoots because the love scene didn't work, what then?

  • Ken Shultz||

    We might take solace in realizing that the female form is among the most powerful forces in the universe.

    In the Middle East, religious governments force women to hide themselves in public because if people could see the female form, it would shake the very foundations of society.

    I the United States, once white women started shaking their tail-features to black music, and you could see it on television and in the movies, it augered a radical transformation of racist society. Our whole economy was eventually transformed by a medium whose invention and capabilities were financed by its ability to transmit video of the female form.

    I hope women are no longer raped or harassed or . . . but there's no way #MeToo can stop the most powerful force in the universe. They might as well try to stop gravity or the birds flying south for the winter.

  • Dillinger||

    ^^^ this. they run the world w/o uttering a word and don't know it (?)

  • Dillinger||

    >>>What if the actress feels uncomfortable?

    Denny's.

  • Eddy||

    "Countries that don't explicitly permit virtually all kinds of speech often default to a regime of de facto censorship that can undermine progressive causes."

    In spite of this, free expression is a good thing. Even if it lets progressives spout their nonsense.

    And Commonwealth countries often deny (or try to deny) vital information to the public in their capacity as voters and citizens, because knowing the information might bias them in their capacity as jurors in a pending case.

    In Pell's situation, he's already been convicted after a second trial (and he's filing an appeal), but there are other charges pending, and apparently knowing about the first set of charges might bias potential jurors on the second set of charges.

    In other words, a gag order can last quite a long time because criminal proceedings can certainly last a long time, during which public-policy debates arising out of those proceedings are to be hampered.

  • ||

    You're the guy to ask about Pell. What's the main gist? I haven't followed.

  • Eddy||

    Either he's a corrupt sexual exploiter or he's a victim of false accusations. I actually don't know. The first jury was split, it's the second jury which convicted.

  • Longtobefree||

    Public policy debates can occur without specific details of any single case.

  • Eddy||

    Some time back, the UK censored a lot of discussion about Thalidomide while a trial about that drug was pending. And that's just one example which occurred to me.

  • No Longer Amused||

    Perhaps people wouldn't lie so much for the press if they knew it was going to come out of their bank accounts....

  • Longtobefree||

    Are you insinuating that someone would actually pay women to file sexual charges against someone? (Lisa Bloom)
    I am shocked, shocked.

  • Dadlobby||

    The slander of men has been occurring for the past 30+ years. The "deadbeat dad" myth, the "domestic violence" myth of men as perpetrators and women as victims, the sexual abuse hysteria which excludes men form children simply based upon their sex, and on, and on... http://nymensactionnetwork.org.....dangerous/

  • Cy||

    The new buzz word "sex trafficker" seems to be justifying all kinds of bad shit lately.

  • Jgalt1975||

    Given that I have firsthand knowledge of two men who have skipped paying child support for years, I'm not really sure how there's a "'deadbeat dad' myth" -- seems pretty real to me.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    In my time in family and dependency courts I have to agree that I have come across my fair share of such individuals myself, although as always in litigation the truth sometimes proves more murky than the allegations

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    No, no, no. Liberals don't demonize their opponents. Michelle Obama says so.

  • Sevo||

    "In the United States, the legal burden is on the person who claims to have been defamed: He or she must prove that the allegations are false. In Australia, in the area of libel law, it's the opposite. The burden is on the publisher to prove that the allegations against the plaintiff are true. In addition, public figures who sue for libel in the United States must prove that the publisher acted with reckless disregard of the truth, even if the statements prove false.
    Australia's defamation laws help explain why the #MeToo movement, while managing to take down some of the most powerful men in the entertainment and media industry in the United States, has not taken off there."

    Am I to see this as a claim the US' laws ought to be more like Austrailia's?
    If so, the 'argument' fails from the start.

  • Uncle Jay||

    Free speech should be reserved for our ruling elites only.
    Otherwise disharmony, discord and doubt will infect our tranquil and peaceful socialist slave state.
    Besides, who is more wiser?
    A bunch of unenlightened peasants, or the prudent and enlightened ruling elitists?
    We all know the answer to that one.
    Obviously, our ruling elites are smarter than the rest of us.
    They didn't get rich off our tax dollars by being stupid.

  • Azathoth!!||

    If Casanova Frankenstein says it, it HAS to be true.

  • Rob Misek||

    Australian law respects due process US law doesn't.

    Making unfounded accusations of guilt and requiring the accused to "prove a negative" especially during the age of social media is just unfair and denies the intent of due process.

    Prove your own damned accusations. If you're having trouble with that, maybe you should become an advocate for your right to digitally record your memories wherever you are.

    With respect to proof, the innocent will never have a memory of something that didn't happen. That's why the burden of proof must always be on the accuser.

  • Fairbanks||

    Yes. If someone makes damaging accusations they should be required to prove them. No different than the state being required to prove criminal accusations.

  • Tony||

    "I'm more like to be the perpetrator of sexual harassment than the victim, and I identify more with Trump than minorities, so the correct pro-freedom position is to restrict speech in this case."

    --Libertarian freethinking nonpartisans, prolly

  • Sevo||

    "I'm more like to be the perpetrator of sexual harassment than the victim, and I identify more with Trump than minorities, so the correct pro-freedom position is to restrict speech in this case."

    WTF is that supposed to mean? That's you're drunk already?

  • Tony||

    Of course I'm drunk already, I'm on holiday and it's well past noon where I live.

  • Benitacanova||

    On holiday? Are you a bloody Brit?

  • gaoxiaen||

    It's a warning.

  • Rockabilly||

    Democrats want to make the word "Trump" to be 'hate speech.'

  • Tony||

    Not as drunk as this guy. ^^

  • Sevo||

    Way more drunk than him or her; that comment made sense in English and you couldn't even understand it.

  • ecreek||

    "But they must be free to discuss the allegations in the first place. Depriving the public of access to information serves hardly anyone's interests, and is an obvious betrayal of fundamental free speech principles."

    Why do the public need access to information about an issue which should have been dealt with in private? If she had a problem with Rush's behaviour she should have dealt with it at the time. It would have not been necessary then to provide information about the behaviour to the public and it is not necessary now.

    It is of interest now only to her because she wants revenge for her own failure to deal with it appropriately at the time. Claiming that it will help women or her daughter or the defamation laws are restrictive - these are all excuses to hide her real motivation.

    Other women may not need her help to stand up to men in the workplace. Her daughter may not grow up lacking the self-respect that she had. The defamation laws exist for good reason.

    It is also in the interests of news outlets which appeal to the lowest common denominator of gossip.

  • Rob Misek||

    These...women (choke) sell their bodies and years later blackmail their customers.

    Whores are old hats at double dipping.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Though, like in the Rolling Stone Jackie piece, you had a reporter deliberately trying to defame a university administration in order to force them into policy changes. This sort of thing needs to be remembered, reporters often have an agenda and will put professional ethics aside to promote that agenda.

    Sometimes defense of free speech in this aspect seems a whinging effort to preserve an ability to destroy someone's reputation with impunity

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    "Countries that don't explicitly permit all kinds of speech often default to a regime of de facto censorship that can undermine progressive causes."

    Gee, Robby, you say that as if it's a bad thing

  • Hank Phillips||

    Australia has mandatory (yes, at gunpoint) voting, and the voting isn't up or down. Along with some five other... um... outhouse countries they force voters to line up in a gauntlet such that libertarian candidates never make it to the vote count. So no surprise, their laws suck and blackouts are the new electricity.

  • Rob Misek||

    While voting is irrelevant to the article, it does beg the question of which is more pathetic, mandatory voting with 90% participation or voluntary with 55.

  • Sevo||

    "...it does beg the question of which is more pathetic, mandatory voting with 90% participation or voluntary with 55."

    Nope.
    55% 'participation' is 100% 'participation'. Choosing not to vote *is* voting.

  • Johnny B||

    Greece also has mandatory voting. Still only got 56% turnout in 2015.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    And Greece has mandatory taxes, but I bet the participation is way below 56%.

  • Johnimo||

    Right you are, Sevo. Choosing not to vote *is* voting. It's a way of saying, I don't care enough to even mark the ballot with a "None of the above," and also saving the gasoline it would take to drive to the voting booth to do so. It'd be like having a law that says, "You have to be nice." Talk about tyranny. Fuck mandatory voting!

    Maybe we should have everything that's good be *mandatory.* Go to the kid's school play, it's a mandatory formation.

  • Rob Misek||

    Choosing not to vote isn't a choice to vote, dipshit.

    You take for granted all the benefits of governance and democracy, but you're too fucking lazy to participate in them.

    Some things are and should be mandatory to maintain a civilized healthy democracy, get over it.

    If you're truly an anarchist, get the fuck out of our organized regulated civilization and never come back. I'm sure there's a shithole somewhere with your name on it, where justice and laws don't matter.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    "Cardinal...was convicted of all charges that he molested two choir boys."

    As Arnold once said, "You're a f**king choir boy compared to me! A CHOIR BOY!"

  • gaoxiaen||

    Whatever you say, Merridew.

  • Benitacanova||

    Robby, aren't you glad you can express your TDS in every article, regardless of the topic?

  • Len Bias||

    Until Bill Clinton is driven from public life, the MeToo movement cannot be taken seriously.

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