Justice Thomas Sounds the Alarm on the ‘Actual Malice’ Rule in Defamation Cases

 

In the exuberant happiness, relief, and pure joy of what one observer has called “one of the greatest weeks in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court”, one very short dissent by the Justice who is now recognized as “the undisputed intellectual leader of the Court” has been largely overlooked. However, its importance cannot be overemphasized as a potential “harbinger of something important still to come.”

That lone dissent, as so many of his dissents have been over the years, was written by Justice Clarence Thomas who, if my admittedly somewhat blinded judgment in view of our admiration for the man may be pardoned, should clearly be Chief Justice Thomas. In his dissent on Coral Ridge Ministries v. Southern Poverty Law Center, Justice Thomas — once again — expressed his frustration over the reluctance of the Court to take up the extremely unjust rule of New York Times v. Sullivan which requires a showing of “actual malice” before a defamation suit can proceed. The result of this rule is that interest groups and media organizations have been allowed “to cast false aspersions on public figures with near impunity.”

What caught my attention about this case was — aside from the fact that I try to follow Justice Thomas’ writings as closely as possible — that the defendant in this case, the despicable, disgusting, odious, execrable Southern Poverty Law Center, is, as it is described in yesterday’s Powerline piece on this case, “one of the great grifter organizations of our time” and one which specializes in smearing conservative organizations only, often inflicting great damage on them. Some time ago, I decided to do some fairly deep research on this grotesque façade of a “public interest group” and my findings (published under the title “The Poverty Palace That Hate Built” can be found here) were sickening, to put it mildly.

Here are a few portions of the dissent but I wholeheartedly recommend reading it in its entirety to more fully appreciate the deep and searching intelligence of this horribly unjustly maligned man who we are certain will be remembered in future histories of the Court as one of the greatest Justices to ever serve on the Court:

Coral Ridge Ministries Media, Inc., is a Christian non-profit dedicated to spreading the “Gospel of Jesus Christ” and “a biblically informed view of the world, using all available media.” 406 F. Supp. 3d 1258, 1268 (MD Ala. 2019) (internal quotation marks omitted). In 2017, Coral Ridge applied to receive donations through AmazonSmile, a program that allows Amazon customers to contribute to approved nonprofits. To its dismay, Coral Ridge learned it was ineligible for the program. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) had designated Coral Ridge an “Anti-LGBT hate group” because of its biblical views concerning human sexuality and marriage. Id., at 1270 (internal quotation marks omitted). AmazonSmile excluded Coral Ridge based on SPLC’s “hate group” designation.

***

I would grant certiorari in this case to revisit the “actual malice” standard. This case is one of many showing how New York Times and its progeny have allowed media organizations and interest groups “to cast false aspersions on public figures with near impunity.” Tah, 991 F. 3d, at 254 (opinion of Silberman, J.). SPLC’s “hate group” designation lumped Coral Ridge’s Christian ministry with groups like the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis. It placed Coral Ridge on an interactive, online “Hate Map” and caused Coral Ridge concrete financial injury by excluding it from the AmazonSmile donation program. Nonetheless, unable to satisfy the “almost impossible” actual-malice standard this Court has imposed, Coral Ridge could not hold SPLC to account for what it maintains is a blatant falsehood. Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. v. Greenmoss Builders, Inc., 472 U. S. 749, 771 (1985) (White, J., concurring in judgment).

An excellent brief analysis of this dissent can be found at Powerlineblog.com and it contains the following observations:

The culprit here is twofold: 1) the requirement that to be actionable, a statement must be one of fact, not opinion; and 2) the “actual malice” standard–the standard that a public figure plaintiff must prove not only that the defendant (here, SPLC) was careless in libeling him or her, but rather that the defendant knew that what it said was false, or knew that it was likely false, and said it anyway. For obvious reasons, this subjective standard has proved impossible to meet in nearly all cases involving public figures.

Justice Thomas concluded his dissent with these most appropriate words:

Because the Court should not “insulate those who perpetrate lies from traditional remedies like libel suits” unless “the First Amendment requires” us to do so, Berisha, 594 U. S., at ___ (opinion of THOMAS, J.) (slip op., at 3), I respectfully dissent from the denial of certiorari.

Deep wisdom from the mind of a great man.

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  1. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Maybe the next one can get cert

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I try not to throw around the word “evil” carelessly, but there are some people and organizations that deserve to be called out. SPLC is one of them. Thank goodness for people like Justice Thomas who fearlessly will speak the truth.

    • #2
  3. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Maybe the next one can get cert

    If Justice Thomas now occupies the position of leadership on the Court many scholars of the Court believe he does, it is in my view highly likely the next one will get cert and the “actual malice” rule will go the way of Roe v. Wade and the New York “just cause” requirement in the gun case! He is truly our great beacon of hope in these perilous – I use that word advisedly- times. 

    • #3
  4. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Justice Thomas is en fuego. He is going to be ranked as one of the most influential jurists in history.  He is the anti-Roberts–he does not care about political sensibilities or fig leaf gradualism.

    • #4
  5. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    I wonder if the plaintiffs have considered other legal theories to challenge the SPLC’s handiwork here where the “hate” designation would still be at issue.

    • #5
  6. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Dissents like this often do set the groundwork for later action, even if the action is taken by subsequent justices after the dissenter has left the bench. 

    Justice Thomas has always demonstrated a great mind, but his writing has really taken off since Justice Scalia left the bench. Justice Thomas and Justice Alito seem both to be working to bring forth some new examinations of long held assumptions, assumptions that may not be as firmly grounded as we have assumed they are. 

    • #6
  7. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Do you think the standard instead should be that actual harm was caused (a libeled person lost his or her job, for example) by the publishing of a false allegation or suggestion or accusation that could be either easily disproved to be true or was obviously impossible to be true? This would be in the category of an “any reasonable person” standard. 

    This would work for me. 

    When laws get into motivation and intent, such as the existing “hate  crime laws” and workplace sexual harassment laws and the libel laws that Justice Thomas is talking about, they lose me. No one can read the human heart or mind. I want our laws to stick to actual physical harm: Someone lost something. Someone did something.  Something tangible and measurable and describable in exacting language. 

    • #7
  8. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Do you think the standard instead should be that actual harm was caused (a libeled person lost his or her job, for example) by the publishing of a false allegation or suggestion or accusation that could be either easily disproved to be true or was obviously impossible to be true? This would be in the category of an “any reasonable person” standard.

    This would work for me.

    When laws get into motivation and intent, such as the existing “hate crime laws” and workplace sexual harassment laws and the libel laws that Justice Thomas is talking about, they lose me. No one can read the human heart or mind. I want our laws to stick to actual physical harm: Someone lost something. Someone did something. Something tangible and measurable and describable in exacting language.

    Something along the lines of a “knew or should have known” test or a “reckless disregard for truth” test might work, and both standards exist in law.

    • #8
  9. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Jim George: In his dissent on Coral Ridge Ministries v. Southern Poverty Law Center, Justice Thomas — once again — expressed his frustration over the reluctance of the Court to take up the extremely unjust rule of New York Times v. Sullivan which requires a showing of “actual malice” before a defamation suit can proceed. The result of this rule is that interest groups and media organizations have been allowed “to cast false aspersions on public figures with near impunity.”

    I have to agree.  I’m a fan of mens rea, but negligence is something people can be charged with in many areas.  Even if a journalist never intended to harm a person (which I find hard to believe if that person is conservative or a Republican), he should have to pay a price if his reporting is libelous or slanderous . . .

    • #9
  10. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Do you think the standard instead should be that actual harm was caused (a libeled person lost his or her job, for example) by the publishing of a false allegation or suggestion or accusation that could be either easily disproved to be true or was obviously impossible to be true? This would be in the category of an “any reasonable person” standard.

    This would work for me.

    When laws get into motivation and intent, such as the existing “hate crime laws” and workplace sexual harassment laws and the libel laws that Justice Thomas is talking about, they lose me. No one can read the human heart or mind. I want our laws to stick to actual physical harm: Someone lost something. Someone did something. Something tangible and measurable and describable in exacting language.

    Something along the lines of a “knew or should have known” test or a “reckless disregard for truth” test might work, and both standards exist in law.

    Good. Exactly. Thank you.

    This is from the Democratic Party Platform 2020:

    President Trump’s dereliction of duty has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans, the loss of tens of millions of American jobs, and lasting harm to our children’s education and future.

    This is, to me, by my definitions, a perfect example of libel. Yet it stands unchallenged.

    Of all the things that we talk about with respect to the illegal actions in the last election, this is the one that bothers me the most.

    • #10
  11. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Do you think the standard instead should be that actual harm was caused (a libeled person lost his or her job, for example) by the publishing of a false allegation or suggestion or accusation that could be either easily disproved to be true or was obviously impossible to be true? This would be in the category of an “any reasonable person” standard.

    This would work for me.

    When laws get into motivation and intent, such as the existing “hate crime laws” and workplace sexual harassment laws and the libel laws that Justice Thomas is talking about, they lose me. No one can read the human heart or mind. I want our laws to stick to actual physical harm: Someone lost something. Someone did something. Something tangible and measurable and describable in exacting language.

    Something along the lines of a “knew or should have known” test or a “reckless disregard for truth” test might work, and both standards exist in law.

    Agree with Hoyacon’s conclusion. Marci, I certainly understand your search for something more definitive than having to try to read someone’s mind; however, a key element in the definition of many, if not almost all, crimes is the question of specific intent and has been such a key element since the creation of our judicial system. That said, when someone like the SPLC can lump in a Christian organization with the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis and cause them demonstrable material damages by keeping them off of platforms readily available to every “anointed” (read: liberal) organization and then walk away scot-free, there is something drastically wrong and the test needs to be replaced soon. As I noted in my 2017 post, it is criminal how many lives have been destroyed by these monsters at the Southern Poverty Law Center and in a normal and reasonable world, they would no longer exist. 

    • #11
  12. Justin Other Lawyer Coolidge
    Justin Other Lawyer
    @DouglasMyers

    I forget who I heard put it this way, but Justice Thomas is a national treasure.  He deserves to be included in the top 100 (50?) of the greatest Americans of all-time.

    • #12
  13. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Jim George (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Do you think the standard instead should be that actual harm was caused (a libeled person lost his or her job, for example) by the publishing of a false allegation or suggestion or accusation that could be either easily disproved to be true or was obviously impossible to be true? This would be in the category of an “any reasonable person” standard.

    This would work for me.

    When laws get into motivation and intent, such as the existing “hate crime laws” and workplace sexual harassment laws and the libel laws that Justice Thomas is talking about, they lose me. No one can read the human heart or mind. I want our laws to stick to actual physical harm: Someone lost something. Someone did something. Something tangible and measurable and describable in exacting language.

    Something along the lines of a “knew or should have known” test or a “reckless disregard for truth” test might work, and both standards exist in law.

    Agree with Hoyacon’s conclusion. Marci, I certainly understand your search for something more definitive than having to try to read someone’s mind; however, a key element in the definition of many, if not almost all, crimes is the question of specific intent and has been such a key element since the creation of our judicial system. That said, when someone like the SPLC can lump in a Christian organization with the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis and cause them demonstrable material damages by keeping them off of platforms readily available to every “anointed” (read: liberal) organization and then walk away scot-free, there is something drastically wrong and the test needs to be replaced soon. As I noted in my 2017 post, it is criminal how many lives have been destroyed by these monsters at the Southern Poverty Law Center and in a normal and reasonable world, they would no longer exist.

    I have a problem with “intent,” but I understand your point. I know it is a standard in law. I just don’t like it. :-) 

    • #13
  14. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Jim George (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Do you think the standard instead should be that actual harm was caused (a libeled person lost his or her job, for example) by the publishing of a false allegation or suggestion or accusation that could be either easily disproved to be true or was obviously impossible to be true? This would be in the category of an “any reasonable person” standard.

    This would work for me.

    When laws get into motivation and intent, such as the existing “hate crime laws” and workplace sexual harassment laws and the libel laws that Justice Thomas is talking about, they lose me. No one can read the human heart or mind. I want our laws to stick to actual physical harm: Someone lost something. Someone did something. Something tangible and measurable and describable in exacting language.

    Something along the lines of a “knew or should have known” test or a “reckless disregard for truth” test might work, and both standards exist in law.

    Agree with Hoyacon’s conclusion. Marci, I certainly understand your search for something more definitive than having to try to read someone’s mind; however, a key element in the definition of many, if not almost all, crimes is the question of specific intent and has been such a key element since the creation of our judicial system. That said, when someone like the SPLC can lump in a Christian organization with the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis and cause them demonstrable material damages by keeping them off of platforms readily available to every “anointed” (read: liberal) organization and then walk away scot-free, there is something drastically wrong and the test needs to be replaced soon. As I noted in my 2017 post, it is criminal how many lives have been destroyed by these monsters at the Southern Poverty Law Center and in a normal and reasonable world, they would no longer exist.

    I have a problem with “intent,” but I understand your point. I know it is a standard in law. I just don’t like it. :-)

    As a “used up old trial lawyer” who lost cases I should have won and won cases I didn’t stand a chance of winning, believe me, I understand your last statement. As was said in Oliver Twist: 

    If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is a ass — a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience — by experience.”

    One of the most wonderful things about being retired is that I can say things like that and with pure enjoyment! 

    • #14
  15. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    I agree with Justice Thomas.  I hope that the Court takes this issue up.

    • #15
  16. W Bob Member
    W Bob
    @WBob

    What’s stupid is that Amazon is sophisticated enough not to need SPLC to make such a designation for it to make its decision. Are we really to believe that they were duped into thinking Coral Ridge was a hate group? Sounds more like coordination between SPLC and Amazon and probably many others. SPLC designates the entities as hate groups that big companies like Amazon don’t want to be involved with, to give them an excuse to boycott them. 

    • #16
  17. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Do you think the standard instead should be that actual harm was caused (a libeled person lost his or her job, for example) by the publishing of a false allegation or suggestion or accusation that could be either easily disproved to be true or was obviously impossible to be true? This would be in the category of an “any reasonable person” standard.

    This would work for me.

    When laws get into motivation and intent, such as the existing “hate crime laws” and workplace sexual harassment laws and the libel laws that Justice Thomas is talking about, they lose me. No one can read the human heart or mind. I want our laws to stick to actual physical harm: Someone lost something. Someone did something. Something tangible and measurable and describable in exacting language.

    Something along the lines of a “knew or should have known” test or a “reckless disregard for truth” test might work, and both standards exist in law.

    Good. Exactly. Thank you.

    This is from the Democratic Party Platform 2020:

    President Trump’s dereliction of duty has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans, the loss of tens of millions of American jobs, and lasting harm to our children’s education and future.

    This is, to me, by my definitions, a perfect example of libel. Yet it stands unchallenged.

    Of all the things that we talk about with respect to the illegal actions in the last election, this is the one that bothers me the most.

    By analogy, the FTC would sanction a company that claimed it’s pizza cured three types of cancer, baldness and erectioe dysfunction. But claiming that it’s the best pizza in the solar system is OK. The first is a factual statement which if false, customers might rely upon to their detriment. The second is “puffery”, an obvious playful exaggeration.

    Consumers generally expect that political statements are crap and the appropriate  corrective is honest coverage and a vote to punish the issuers. Criminalizing them is not something we want incumbent parties to do.

    • #17
  18. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    W Bob (View Comment):

    What’s stupid is that Amazon is sophisticated enough not to need SPLC to make such a designation for it to make its decision. Are we really to believe that they were duped into thinking Coral Ridge was a hate group? Sounds more like coordination between SPLC and Amazon and probably many others. SPLC designates the entities as hate groups that big companies like Amazon don’t want to be involved with, to give them an excuse to boycott them.

    Likely true.  Amazon is using SPLC as a type of buffer to insulate themselves.  I have to wonder if the plaintiffs considered some type of contract suit involving both Amazon and SPLC based on the Amazon program.

    • #18
  19. W Bob Member
    W Bob
    @WBob

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    W Bob (View Comment):

    What’s stupid is that Amazon is sophisticated enough not to need SPLC to make such a designation for it to make its decision. Are we really to believe that they were duped into thinking Coral Ridge was a hate group? Sounds more like coordination between SPLC and Amazon and probably many others. SPLC designates the entities as hate groups that big companies like Amazon don’t want to be involved with, to give them an excuse to boycott them.

    Likely true. Amazon is using SPLC as a type of buffer to insulate themselves. I have to wonder if the plaintiffs considered some type of contract suit involving both Amazon and SPLC based on the Amazon program.

    Or an anti-trust suit, if there’s agreement between two entities to arrange the boycott of a company.

    • #19
  20. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Do you think the standard instead should be that actual harm was caused (a libeled person lost his or her job, for example) by the publishing of a false allegation or suggestion or accusation that could be either easily disproved to be true or was obviously impossible to be true? This would be in the category of an “any reasonable person” standard.

    This would work for me.

    When laws get into motivation and intent, such as the existing “hate crime laws” and workplace sexual harassment laws and the libel laws that Justice Thomas is talking about, they lose me. No one can read the human heart or mind. I want our laws to stick to actual physical harm: Someone lost something. Someone did something. Something tangible and measurable and describable in exacting language.

    Something along the lines of a “knew or should have known” test or a “reckless disregard for truth” test might work, and both standards exist in law.

    Good. Exactly. Thank you.

    This is from the Democratic Party Platform 2020:

    President Trump’s dereliction of duty has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans, the loss of tens of millions of American jobs, and lasting harm to our children’s education and future.

    This is, to me, by my definitions, a perfect example of libel. Yet it stands unchallenged.

    Of all the things that we talk about with respect to the illegal actions in the last election, this is the one that bothers me the most.

    By analogy, the FTC would sanction a company that claimed its pizza cured three types of cancer, baldness and erectioe dysfunction. But claiming that it’s the best pizza in the solar system is OK. The first is a factual statement which if false, customers might rely upon to their detriment. The second is “puffery”, an obvious playful exaggeration.

    Consumers generally expect that political statements are crap and the appropriate corrective is honest coverage and a vote to punish the issuers. Criminalizing them is not something we want incumbent parties to do.

    Good points. 

    • #20
  21. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    W Bob (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    W Bob (View Comment):

    What’s stupid is that Amazon is sophisticated enough not to need SPLC to make such a designation for it to make its decision. Are we really to believe that they were duped into thinking Coral Ridge was a hate group? Sounds more like coordination between SPLC and Amazon and probably many others. SPLC designates the entities as hate groups that big companies like Amazon don’t want to be involved with, to give them an excuse to boycott them.

    Likely true. Amazon is using SPLC as a type of buffer to insulate themselves. I have to wonder if the plaintiffs considered some type of contract suit involving both Amazon and SPLC based on the Amazon program.

    Or an anti-trust suit, if there’s agreement between two entities to arrange the boycott of a company.

    I am, as they say, just spitballing here.

    The relevant part of Amazon’s documentation states:

    Organizations that engage in, support, encourage, or promote intolerance, hate, terrorism, violence, money laundering, or other illegal activities are not eligible to participate.

    I would argue that participation in the Smile program is a unilateral contract offer and that, by using SPLC, Amazon has reneged on the offer based on a definition of “hate.”  This arguably would put the issue of hate and it’s definition before the court for proof in a suit involving contractual obligations.

    • #21
  22. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    That was up to me if you printed something untrue and it caused damage to somebody then somebody then you have to pay.

    If there is malice, you should get prison.

    • #22
  23. Cassandro Coolidge
    Cassandro
    @Flicker

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    That was up to me if you printed something untrue and it caused damage to somebody then somebody then you have to pay.

    If there is malice, you should get prison.

    But the point of free speech includes saying something that is not true but provocative in order to make people think.  We have here people who very frequently knowingly say things that are untrue as if they are true in order to be the Devil’s Advocate or to confuse the debate or are dismissed as metaphorical.  And it is awfully hard to tell what they actually believe from their words.  This is considered acceptable confrontational speech. 

    • #23
  24. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Cassandro (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    That was up to me if you printed something untrue and it caused damage to somebody then somebody then you have to pay.

    If there is malice, you should get prison.

    But the point of free speech includes saying something that is not true but provocative in order to make people think. We have here people who very frequently knowingly say things that are untrue as if they are true in order to be the Devil’s Advocate or to confuse the debate or are dismissed as metaphorical. And it is awfully hard to tell what they actually believe from their words. This is considered acceptable confrontational speech.

    Telling obvious lies to damage someone’s reputation is doing them damage. That should be illegal. 

    That is not the same thing as devil’s advocate in a debate. It is not even close. Stuff here is meaningless. Publishing an attack as the New York Times is not. The bigger the player who is the attacker, the more heavy the burden should be placed upon them and the greater the wrath. 

    There is not enough punishment for the evil in this land, and that should darn well change. 

    • #24
  25. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    I was looking for the Ninth Amendment post to add “right to your reputation” to the unenumerated rights list. I think there’s something along those lines in common law that animated the libel laws that exist, but we elevated free speech above it to such an extent that we undermined it.

    On the SPLC, there does not need to be a formal conspiracy for there to be something here. I’ve seen a lot of places that refer to a disfavored group as a hate group referencing the SPLC for that designation. It gives cover to news organizations to state “x, a hate group according to the SPLC” as a True statement of fact. The news org can’t be accused of lies, because the fact is true that the SPLC labeled them a hate group.

    It appears that the SPLC is part of an overall democrat/left strategy and their purpose is to weaponize their opinion. It should be disregarded – and would if it could be sued into oblivion. There needs to be something that allows people to sue THEM. Once they are taken out, the media has lost a major defense in their smear campaigns.

    • #25
  26. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Stina (View Comment):

    I was looking for the Ninth Amendment post to add “right to your reputation” to the unenumerated rights list. I think there’s something along those lines in common law that animated the libel laws that exist, but we elevated free speech above it to such an extent that we undermined it.

    On the SPLC, there does not need to be a formal conspiracy for there to be something here. I’ve seen a lot of places that refer to a disfavored group as a hate group referencing the SPLC for that designation. It gives cover to news organizations to state “x, a hate group according to the SPLC” as a True statement of fact. The news org can’t be accused of lies, because the fact is true that the SPLC labeled them a hate group.

    It appears that the SPLC is part of an overall democrat/left strategy and their purpose is to weaponize their opinion. It should be disregarded – and would if it could be sued into oblivion. There needs to be something that allows people to sue THEM. Once they are taken out, the media has lost a major defense in their smear campaigns.

    The media itself needs to be sue-able. The damage someone’s reputation, they should be taken out. The CEOs should be held personally responsible, with their own millions, not allowed to be supported by their company. Personal. 

    It is time that the people running these places be made to pay. It is like after the 2008 crisis. I am with Rob, these people need to be selling apples in the streets. 

    • #26
  27. Justin Other Lawyer Coolidge
    Justin Other Lawyer
    @DouglasMyers

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Cassandro (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    That was up to me if you printed something untrue and it caused damage to somebody then somebody then you have to pay.

    If there is malice, you should get prison.

    But the point of free speech includes saying something that is not true but provocative in order to make people think. We have here people who very frequently knowingly say things that are untrue as if they are true in order to be the Devil’s Advocate or to confuse the debate or are dismissed as metaphorical. And it is awfully hard to tell what they actually believe from their words. This is considered acceptable confrontational speech.

    Telling obvious lies to damage someone’s reputation is doing them damage. That should be illegal.

    That is not the same thing as devil’s advocate in a debate. It is not even close. Stuff here is meaningless. Publishing an attack as the New York Times is not. The bigger the player who is the attacker, the more heavy the burden should be placed upon them and the greater the wrath.

    There is not enough punishment for the evil in this land, and that should darn well change.

    I’ll play the devil’s advocate here—where does Donald Trump’s comment about Ted Cruz’s father/JFK’s assassination fit into your analysis?

    • #27
  28. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Justin Other Lawyer (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Cassandro (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    That was up to me if you printed something untrue and it caused damage to somebody then somebody then you have to pay.

    If there is malice, you should get prison.

    But the point of free speech includes saying something that is not true but provocative in order to make people think. We have here people who very frequently knowingly say things that are untrue as if they are true in order to be the Devil’s Advocate or to confuse the debate or are dismissed as metaphorical. And it is awfully hard to tell what they actually believe from their words. This is considered acceptable confrontational speech.

    Telling obvious lies to damage someone’s reputation is doing them damage. That should be illegal.

    That is not the same thing as devil’s advocate in a debate. It is not even close. Stuff here is meaningless. Publishing an attack as the New York Times is not. The bigger the player who is the attacker, the more heavy the burden should be placed upon them and the greater the wrath.

    There is not enough punishment for the evil in this land, and that should darn well change.

    I’ll play the devil’s advocate here—where does Donald Trump’s comment about Ted Cruz’s father/JFK’s assassination fit into your analysis?

    I’d say it didn’t cause any harm.

    However, if the rules were like I wanted,  don’t think it would happen.

    • #28
  29. Cassandro Coolidge
    Cassandro
    @Flicker

    Justin Other Lawyer (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Cassandro (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    That was up to me if you printed something untrue and it caused damage to somebody then somebody then you have to pay.

    If there is malice, you should get prison.

    But the point of free speech includes saying something that is not true but provocative in order to make people think. We have here people who very frequently knowingly say things that are untrue as if they are true in order to be the Devil’s Advocate or to confuse the debate or are dismissed as metaphorical. And it is awfully hard to tell what they actually believe from their words. This is considered acceptable confrontational speech.

    Telling obvious lies to damage someone’s reputation is doing them damage. That should be illegal.

    That is not the same thing as devil’s advocate in a debate. It is not even close. Stuff here is meaningless. Publishing an attack as the New York Times is not. The bigger the player who is the attacker, the more heavy the burden should be placed upon them and the greater the wrath.

    There is not enough punishment for the evil in this land, and that should darn well change.

    I’ll play the devil’s advocate here—where does Donald Trump’s comment about Ted Cruz’s father/JFK’s assassination fit into your analysis?

    Good point.  Glad you brought it up.  You must have a legal view on it.  Of course Trump didn’t state it as fact.  But it was a bad insinuation bordering on slander that referred to something that occurred over half a century before.  Where does this exactly fall, in your view, within the argument that lying is actionable.

    • #29
  30. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Cassandro (View Comment):

    Justin Other Lawyer (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Cassandro (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    That was up to me if you printed something untrue and it caused damage to somebody then somebody then you have to pay.

    If there is malice, you should get prison.

    But the point of free speech includes saying something that is not true but provocative in order to make people think. We have here people who very frequently knowingly say things that are untrue as if they are true in order to be the Devil’s Advocate or to confuse the debate or are dismissed as metaphorical. And it is awfully hard to tell what they actually believe from their words. This is considered acceptable confrontational speech.

    Telling obvious lies to damage someone’s reputation is doing them damage. That should be illegal.

    That is not the same thing as devil’s advocate in a debate. It is not even close. Stuff here is meaningless. Publishing an attack as the New York Times is not. The bigger the player who is the attacker, the more heavy the burden should be placed upon them and the greater the wrath.

    There is not enough punishment for the evil in this land, and that should darn well change.

    I’ll play the devil’s advocate here—where does Donald Trump’s comment about Ted Cruz’s father/JFK’s assassination fit into your analysis?

    Good point. Glad you brought it up. You must have a legal view on it. Of course Trump didn’t state it as fact. But it was a bad insinuation bordering on slander that referred to something that occurred over half a century before. Where does this exactly fall, in your view, within the argument that lying is actionable.

    I didn’t think it originated with trump. I thought I saw it in the National Enquirer before Trump said anything and originated the story. I saw it and rolled my eyes. On this one, Trump may be just as guilty of gullibility as Gary is. At least occasionally, NE lands on something true.

    While it was tawdry and low, I didn’t think it amounted to as big a deal as was made since he was just repeating a tabloid anyone shopping for groceries saw. 

    • #30
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