Department of Health And Human Services Threatens Blogger Over Satirical Posts

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93 Responses

  1. Wesley says:

    I've sent an email, crafted with the decorum and courtesy for which I am known, to Dr. Berkley seeking comment on these issues.

    Over/under on "taint" references: 1.5.

  2. MarkO says:

    HHS must believe it has standing to right all wrongs, wherever inflicted. And, that raises a different question. How did this injure HHS?
    Shortly, after a lawyer with some litigation experience reviews the mess, it will disappear. Along with your doctor.

  3. Dan Weber says:

    I think I saw this on an episode of "Ally McBeal," or maybe it was "L.A. Law." Oh, and get off my lawn.

    During deposition, the publisher's lawyer goads the target of the satire to say, on the record, that the published words are obviously bogus because the target would never even consider doing that stuff.

    (Also, relevant to our interests: MediaLink threatens bad Amazon reviewer with lawsuit. Ken is aware of the case over at Reddit.)

  4. I was Anonymous says:

    I've sent an email, crafted with the decorum and courtesy for which I am known, to Dr. Berkley seeking comment on these issues

    That's all well and good, but enquiring minds want to know… Did you "Govern Yourself Accordingly"?

  5. tmitsss says:

    footnote 1 should come with a rimshot audio file

  6. Anonymoose says:

    Frankly, after looking at the 'interview' page, I think HHS and Dr. White have a good point. It may be satire, but it's pretty well hidden satire; I think quite a few, perhaps even the the majority of, casual readers would think that it was an actual interview with Dr. White.

    You may find the tone of the HHS letter heavy handed, but it seems reasonable to me to request a clarifier on the page that it is fictional.

    I'm no Civil Rights lawyer, but I assume that the right to claim 'satire' isn't absolute, but it's rather a case-by-case question of fact as to whether a reasonable person would recognize the speech is in fact satire and would not take it as a assertion of truth? If so, it seems to me that HHS has a reasonable case, here.

  7. JWH says:

    The satire is broad and rather obvious and promotes the site's view that the concept of addition is a scam

    Only subtraction is real.

  8. OrderoftheQuaff says:

    People who sign their letters with Ph.D., J.D. are compensating for something.

    Funny typo at the end of your third paragraph, Ken. The concept of addition is fairly well-settled over here.

  9. Joel says:

    That's an ambiguous title, Dan. It sounds like MediaLink is suing the reviewer for being bad at writing Amazon reviews (when by all accounts, it's the user being good at reviewing that spurred the suit).

  10. Malcolm says:

    Anonymoose, if indeed your opinion is one the mythical "reasonable man" might hold, then the DHSS could reasonably ask that the satirical nature be emphasized, e.g. with a footnote. But that's a long way from demanding removal.

  11. Wesley says:

    Anonymoose:

    Which part, viewed in context, from the perspective of a reasonable person among the target audience familiar with the context, points to the interview being legitimate? The part where the doctor goes off of a tangent about being so drunk at a party he started speaking a language he didn't know? The part where it clearly mocks the idea of alcoholism as a disease? The part where the doctor talks about how rat behavior in drunken one-night-stands mimic humans'? Or maybe the part about it being an "interview" with a doctor whose conclusions the fringe website regularly excoriates?

    The standard for protected satire is not what "casual readers" who happen to click a stray link will conclude. No halfway-rational person could see that article in context and conclude that it was anything but satire. (even without the context, I disagree that any reasonable reader could see that as anything but mocking, but that is not the First Amendment issue)

  12. David C says:

    Dr. Berkley, by saying that "of course" the satirical articles do not reflect the actual words of the subjects, has just proclaimed that the satire he is complaining about cannot be taken as a statement of fact.

    I disagree on that point. He may be saying "of course" because the parties to that particular letter obviously know it's not the words of the subject – one side because they made it up, and the other because they represent the subject. That doesn't necessarily imply that everyone else knows this.

  13. David C says:

    Of course, some people find the inebriate state itself highly pleasurable, and I had a really touchy-feely spiritual friend at college who would get super drunk just to achieve it. He called it ‘enlightenment’, and would encourage me to share it with him. Which I did a few times though I kept waking up the next morning with inexplicable lower gastrointestinal pain, but he said that just meant I was successfully ‘filled with enlightenment’.

    So who here would think an interview that contained this was serious?

  14. By the way, does anyone other than lawyers use the word bumptious?

  15. Tierlieb says:

    I would point out that while I recognised the two linked articles as satire, I have to admit that I now do the same for the whole page. Was that intended?

  16. Paul E. "Marbux" Merrell says:

    @ Anton: "By the way, does anyone other than lawyers use the word bumptious?"

    Dictionary authors and editors. Plus a few poets over the years. http://www.inspirationalstories.com/poems/t/about-bumptious/

  17. KR says:

    Which part, viewed in context, from the perspective of a reasonable person among the target audience familiar with the context, points to the interview being legitimate?

    How is that a reasonable test for a web page, though? What percentage of webpages that get viewed get viewed by regular readers of a website? It's not as though you have to go out and specifically buy the publication, as you would with print media, and this sort of thing could easily come up in a Google search.

    Suggesting that someone who regularly reads Addiction Myth would see it to be satire seems wholly irrelevant; they may not be the majority of readers.

    Which is not to say that every web page with satire on it needs to contain a note to that effect, but if it's on an otherwise serious site it'd need to be pretty blatantly satirical, IMO. "Context" on the internet is a couple of minutes flicking around, not reading consistently for any length of time.

  18. Nate says:

    Bad on HHS, but DAMN that site brings the crazy in quantity.

  19. Wesley says:

    How is that a reasonable test for a web page, though? What percentage of webpages that get viewed get viewed by regular readers of a website? It's not as though you have to go out and specifically buy the publication, as you would with print media, and this sort of thing could easily come up in a Google search.

    You may a point that has some knee-jerk appeal. But is it reasonable to assess legal liability for how random other clueless people may perceive that speech out-of-context, rather than the speaker's intended audience?

    And because that's the test for all speech under the First Amendment. There are no exceptions for web content that happens to be more easily distributable. The internet post has just as much protection as a political editorial in the NYT. And why would the mere fact that many internet readers are lazy and/or stupid justify lowering that standard?

    Actually, more modern precedent suggests quite the opposite: that internet ramblings are inherently less likely to be defamatory, because in context those statements are more likely opinions than assertions of verifiable facts.

    See the recent D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals opinion on the same topic:

    To determine whether Esquire’s statements could
    reasonably be understood as stating or implying actual facts
    about Farah and Corsi and, if so, whether those statements were
    verifiable and were reasonably capable of defamatory meaning,
    the “publication must be taken as a whole, and in the sense in
    which it would be understood by the readers to whom it was
    addressed.” Afro-American Publ’g Co. v. Jaffe, 366 F.2d 649,
    655 (D.C. Cir. 1966) (en banc). “[T]he First Amendment
    demands” that the court assess the disputed statements “in their
    proper context.” Weyrich, 235 F.3d at 625. Context is critical
    because “it is in part the settings of the speech in question that
    makes their . . . nature apparent, and which helps determine the
    way in which the intended audience will receive them.” Moldea
    II, 22 F.3d at 314. “Context” includes not only the immediate
    context of the disputed statements, but also the type of
    publication, the genre of writing, and the publication’s history
    of similar works. See Letter Carriers, 418 U.S. at 284–86;
    Moldea II, 22 F.3d at 314–15. The “broader social context,”
    too, is vital to a proper understanding of the disputed statements.
    Ollman v. Evans, 750 F.2d 970, 983 (D.C. Cir. 1984). After all,
    “[s]ome types of writing . . . by custom or convention signal to
    readers . . . that what is being read . . . is likely to be opinion, not
    fact. It is one thing to be assailed as a corrupt public official by
    a soapbox orator and quite another to be labelled corrupt in a
    research monograph detailing the causes and cures of corruption
    in public service.” Id.

  20. anne mouse says:

    Dan Weber, you're probably thinking of this movie:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_People_vs._Larry_Flynt

    In the movie, Falwell admits on the stand that nobody could ever seriously believe he'd do the acts that were ascribed to him in the Penthouse mock-interview over which he's suing for libel. (Don't quote me, but it was something crude like making love to his mother and a donkey in an outhouse.) Flynt's lawyer replies, "then why are you suing?"

  21. lazlo toth says:

    I appreciate that it's satire but I have a little sympathy for the people satired if they requested the pompous lawyer (I say pompous because of the initials after his name – I can't imagine signing "J.D." after my own name and I've been a lawyer for 29 years) to send SOMETHING to the satirist. I've been on the receiving end of misunderstandings of things jokingly attributed to me – it can be extremely uncomfortable. I would have sent a letter that was less heavy-handed – like "without getting into whether the communication crosses defamation lines or has other issues, our experts are concerned about their own reputations and respectfully request a disclaimer" or something like that. But I have a little sympathy for the two who are satirized here – nobody tried to censor the satirist, only to get a disclaimer.

  22. lazlo toth says:

    Following up on this – I never looked at the website before. It is truly over the top, makes me feel deeply uncomfortable with my urge to laugh out loud, and then…finally….I can't help myself and I start laughing out loud. So while I still have some sympathy for the people on whose behalf the letter was written, taken with the entire website there is no way that a reasonable person could think that the statements are actually attributed to those concerned about their reputations. Now I've got to resist the urge to go back and read the website and laugh uncomfortably – I'm so susceptible to that kind of humor that perhaps it is an ADDICTION.

  23. TimL says:

    In reading the letter from Dr. Berkley, it seems that he has covered his butt reasonably well (i.e., please explain how I am wrong about this). He requested that a disclaimer be posted and/or that the offending posts be removed.

    The key sentence, it seems, is "Those items are defamatory, and expose you to potential liability."

    Perhaps this is not 100% honest, but is it illegal to make such a statement in this letter?

  24. CJK Fossman says:

    @anne mouse
    Are you sure Falwell didn't actually admit to doing that? Or was it with a pony? I forget.

    @TimL
    Illegal? No. Bumptious? Yes.

  25. freedomfan says:

    Part of the issue here is the whole notion of a Cease and Desist letter. Maybe Ken has gone into this at length before, but it seems like many people have an exaggerated view of what a C&D is/does.

    And, perhaps I have an unrealistically diminished view. As a non-lawyer, my understanding is that a C&D is, essentially, just a letter from a lawyer, usually describing something that he and his client would like to see stop. Despite the fact that many C&Ds describe potential legal actions the offended party might take if he doesn't get his way, the C&D carries no actual legal weight beyond that. Basically it's a scary letter from a lawyer saying, "We don't like what you are doing and we want you to stop. Boo!"

    (And, I suppose, the C&D serves the informative purpose of letting the recipient know that someone doesn't like what he is doing and may be considering legal action. That might be a factor if it becomes an issue whether the recipient knew what was going on and/or whether the offended party has made a good faith effort to let the recipient mitigate the offense before dragging him into court.)

    Now, it's interesting whether the C&D becomes something more when it comes from the government. Although, technically, it's still just a scary letter from a lawyer, many people assume that the government doesn't have its attorneys send such letters out willy nilly and that they somehow carry more force of law. I don't know whether they do or whether attorneys working for the government are under any added obligation to avoid threatening meritless legal actions in their C&Ds.

    I heard of a case (Duarte Nursery v. Army Corps of Engineers) where the government sent a farmer a C&D saying that he was violating wetlands law, though he was not. He lost his crop and couldn't plant the next year's crop, so he sued, saying the Corps deprived him of his property without a hearing. The Corps' initial response was a motion to dismiss, claiming that Duarte voluntarily ceased farming operations on the land because the Corps only sent him a C&D. Last I heard, the judge was not amused and rejected the motion to dismiss.

  26. sorrykb says:

    Nate wrote:

    Bad on HHS, but DAMN that site brings the crazy in quantity.

    I believe the principle is "If you can't be right, be thorough."

  27. JonasB says:

    The mock interview gives no indications that its satirical and the what "White" speaks isn't too unusual–a tad unprofessional maybe but not out of the ordinary. If someone linked me the interview without giving context, I could see how it is possible to mistake it for the real thing. The C&D request doesn't seem improper.

  28. Cog says:

    I'm going with Pope's law on this. It obviously nonsense but I am not clear that they're not serious. Also I can infer that they have special knowledge of what actually transpired when it's obvious to them that the interview was fake. But I never would have known but for this threat…

  29. Owen says:

    JonasB:

    If someone linked me the interview without giving context, I could see how it is possible to mistake it for the real thing. The C&D request doesn't seem improper.

    But that's not the standard for whether a potentially defamatory satirical statement is actionable. As Ken explained (more than once) in the post,

    in making that determination, courts look at the context of the satire, meaning that they examine publication as a whole in the sense which it would be understood by its intended audience familiar with the publication

    What the interview looks like without context is not really relevant to whether the C&D letter was proper.

  30. Ancel De Lambert says:

    "Decorum?" "Courtesy?" Alright Ken, at what line specifically did you accuse them of working under pony overlords?

  31. JonasB says:

    Owen: Whether or not the blog post is actionable isn't relevant to me until legal action is being taken about it. I don't consider a C&D to be 'legal action', since my understanding is that a C&D is just a request that can (but is not always) be the first step in a proceeding.

    To that end, I can see why someone could be concerned about readers mistaking the interview for being genuine, and therefore I consider asking for a removal or disclaimer to be reasonable. This doesn't automatically mean the website should be required to take a corrective action, just that I don't see anything wrong with asking.

  32. onehsancare says:

    @JonasB:

    You may be right, but why would it be H&HS's job to request it?

  33. Wesley says:

    JonasB: A C&D is a legal threat, not just a request. The issue Ken and everyone else has with the letter here is that it implicitly threatened legal consequences to the website — a threat that is frivolous under the First Amendment. The articles were clearly not defamatory and clearly do not expose the writers to "potential liability." Any assertion to the contrary can be nothing more than a frivolous attempt at coercion.

    Also, I wouldn't be too casual in your treatment of C&Ds. They can expose the sender to consequences of his own. See: declaratory judgments.

  34. freedomfan says:

    Having re-read the letter sent by HHS' attorney, I have to say that it is very mild, as these things go. In fact, at no point does it demand that anything be done. The imperative:

    We therefore request that you either remove the articles from your website, or provide a prominent disclaimer indicating that Dr. White and Dr. Koob did not participate in the interview or write the letter.

    That is barely a C&D at all. Having seen C&Ds that bandy about terms like "prompt and immediate removal", "civil and criminal sanction", etc., this is about as polite as it gets. (And, it's polite with good reason, since HHS has no legal standing to force AM to do anything.) The letter notes that the site's mock articles may confuse some readers and requests that clarification be added.

    Of course, I think there is an ethical issue with an acting attorney stating affirmatively that someone's work is defamatory when it is not. That seems like rendering false or incompetent legal advice. When such advice comes from an entity with the resources of the federal government, it is ominous indeed.

    BTW, I am normally critical of anyone – particularly the government – attempting to bully someone with legal threats. However, aside from the one-line nonsense about defamation, I wonder what they should have done differently here? I mean, assume that they are genuinely concerned that readers will not understand the satire. What they have done is, essentially, sent a letter explaining that concern and requesting (not demanding) that the site do something to address it. Isn't that mostly what we hope civilized people will do?

  35. SPQR says:

    The Ph.D. J.D. signature is a wonderfully clear signal of an ass, in my experience.

  36. Castaigne says:

    I don't agree that Addiction Myth made satirical posts. These don't read satirical at all; woo-meisters and pseudo-science believers actually BELIEVE posts like these to be the Absolute Truth.

    The made-up interview is very similar in construction to fake interviews created by Mike Adams of Natural News or the Autism Research Institute to undermine the credibility of the mainstream medical organizations. The "demand letteR" would be a similar hoax, designed to support Addiction Myth in their fight against "Big Pharma".

    And if you point out to members of Addiction Myth that such-and-such person doesn't exist or that this-and-that letter is ginned up, they'll come back with one of two explanations:

    1) You're completely wrong and your inability to find evidence of those people/records is part of a BIG COVERUP by THEM.

    2) It's exactly what the people in question would say if they were actually interviewed or wrote a demand letter, and therefore is the absolute truth.

    When the target of satire complains that it is defamatory, the relevant question is whether the satire can reasonably be taken as a statement of fact about its subject.

    Absolutely, the general public will take those as a statement of fact. Just as the general public accepts that vaccines cause autism, that chemtrails are poisoning your children, that the "banksters" control you.

    You have too much faith in the general public, Ken. The general public here in the USA greedily accepts such lies as Absolute Truth.

    Any reasonable person who spends even a minimal amount of time on Addiction Myth will understand the context and see that the posts must be satirical.

    Just like cultists don't take everything their cult leader says as the living gospel?

    I've also offered the proprietor of the web site my assistance in finding counsel if necessary.

    I'm sorry, I can't condone anyone being an ally of woo-meisters. You may be doing this because of your love for free speech, but just so you know, every win of Addiction Science in the courtroom is a win of pseudoscience over medical fact. If you want to enable that, that's your business…but don't be surprised when it comes to bite you on the ass.

  37. sinij says:

    I didn't see this as "obviously satirical" from quoted material, I'd have to see more (than I care to) context.

  38. sinij says:

    Every win of Addiction Science in the courtroom is a win of pseudoscience over medical fact.

    This is not sufficiently good reason to limit someone's free speech.

  39. princessartemis says:

    Castaigne, I am absolutely certain that Ken has not, at any point, sought your approval for anything. I suspect he will shed nary a tear that you, in sorrow, withhold it from him now.

  40. David Lang says:

    If you were to send a C&D letter to someone, it wouldn't hold a whole lot of weight, but when a Lawyer does, the have a responsibility to make sure that their client has at least a reasonable case to back it up.

    Remember that Lawyers count as Officers of the Court, nto just representatives of the parties.

    They are not supposed to take frivolous actions, be they filing lawsuits or sending C&D letters.

  41. Grifter says:

    Castaigne, there's a definite irony in you talking about how ignoring an aspect of the issue will "bite" anyone in the ass, while advocating that we ignore a part of the issue.

    Every loss for free speech bites us all in the ass–and those who need the most defending are often the biggest douchebags. That's without reference to this specific issue, or whether these specific folks are douchebags.

    It's just saying that abandoning a principle like free speech just to get at those "woo-meisters" is at the very least as dangerous as the woo itself. There's woo about free speech, too, y'know, and woo-meisters of that.

  42. Matthew Cline says:

    About the article no seeming satirical: as David C quoted above:

    Of course, some people find the inebriate state itself highly pleasurable, and I had a really touchy-feely spiritual friend at college who would get super drunk just to achieve it. He called it ‘enlightenment’, and would encourage me to share it with him. Which I did a few times though I kept waking up the next morning with inexplicable lower gastrointestinal pain, but he said that just meant I was successfully ‘filled with enlightenment’.

    __________________________________________________

    @KR

    Which part, viewed in context, from the perspective of a reasonable person among the target audience familiar with the context, points to the interview being legitimate?

    How is that a reasonable test for a web page, though? What percentage of webpages that get viewed get viewed by regular readers of a website?

    There are people who believe that certain articles from The Onion are real. Should The Onion have to disclaim articles about real people as not being real?

  43. Dustin says:

    Say…

    What's the harm in labeling the non-obvious satire "satire"?

    Why not do that?

    Just because they don't have to? If it's so obvious (And it isn't) then what's the difference?

    Just because the lawyer was pompous in his request?

    Do unto others is a better law than the law is.

  44. KR says:

    There are people who believe that certain articles from The Onion are real. Should The Onion have to disclaim articles about real people as not being real?

    The Onion is a) fairly well-known and b) solely for satirical news articles. It contains no serious content. Addiction Myth is a site I'd never heard of until today, and I'd imagine most people haven't heard of at all, which mostly features serious content.

    Context should still be a concern, I just think in the case of web pages 'context' should mean something a little different.

  45. Albert says:

    Matthew Kline's comparison between Addiction Myths and The Onion indirectly raises an interesting point, relative to whether the posts are satire or not.

    Let's consider the context, i.e., not simply the posts, but the whole Addiction Myths website, and let's compare it to the Onion's website.

    The Onion's website is patently satire — it even says so in its FAQ — but, more to the point, has satire as its mission statement. No matter the topics or persons involved, each post is obvious satire: "Nation Successfully Completes Mother’s Day By 9:18 A.M." or "Military-Level Operation Being Planned To Get Grandma Through Graduation", or again, "Study: Most Serial Killers Did Not Receive Toy Every Time They Went To Store As Kids" can not be taken seriously in any way.

    OTOH, the Addiction Myths website does not have satire in its mission statement, and while it displays satire, that is not a goal, only a means used sometimes toward the actual goal of disseminating the idea that addiction does not exist (or, possibly, fighting the idea that addiction exists). Actually, many AM posts do not contain satire even though most of those I read seem to be over the top; thus, IMO, the context of the posts does not make it obvious that they are satire.

    I do not mean to imply that he posts are not satire, nor am I implying that the letter from the attorney is founded; I'm just probing the "context" branch of the "satire test", and expressing my opinion that in this case, the context does not demonstrate obvious satire.

  46. Czernobog says:

    @freedomfan:

    BTW, I am normally critical of anyone – particularly the government – attempting to bully someone with legal threats. However, aside from the one-line nonsense about defamation, I wonder what they should have done differently here?

    They should've ignored the obvious looney.

  47. Matthew Cline says:

    @Dustin:

    Say…

    What's the harm in labeling the non-obvious satire "satire"?

    Why not do that?

    Just because they don't have to? If it's so obvious (And it isn't) then what's the difference?

    I'd say it's because adding a disclaimer is perceived as an implicit admission of "I'm not that great at satire", something a writer isn't going to want to admit. And since the writer is probably going to think that what they wrote is obviously satire, they're going to dismiss as wrong anyone who says it isn't obvious.

  48. Wang-Lo says:

    I disagree that the interview with Aaron White is obvious satire.

    Satire usually has a point.

    Satire usually is at least mildly humorous.

    Satire is usually patently untrue.

    The interview presents none of these symptoms.

    Judging just from the content of the article, in the context of the Addiction Myth website, and without knowing that Aaron White is a real person who denies being interview by AM, I can only believe that the interview took place as reported, and Dr. White mixed some very silly answers in with his serious responses.

  49. markm says:

    @Matthew: Anyone who would not recognize this as satire:

    "Of course, some people find the inebriate state itself highly pleasurable, and I had a really touchy-feely spiritual friend at college who would get super drunk just to achieve it. He called it ‘enlightenment’, and would encourage me to share it with him. Which I did a few times though I kept waking up the next morning with inexplicable lower gastrointestinal pain, but he said that just meant I was successfully ‘filled with enlightenment’."

    is not going to scroll to the bottom and read a disclaimer.

  50. Wesley says:

    …but just so you know, every win of Addiction Science in the courtroom is a win of pseudoscience over medical fact.

    As a strong pro-science person, especially science-based medicine, I have to adamantly disagree from this sentiment. Free speech cannot be limited just because someone is wrong, even speaking against the weight of all the evidence.

    Young Earth Creationists are also vapid in their denial of the evidence for evolutionary theory. That doesn't mean they can be prohibited from speaking, or even writing poor quality "satire" about their intended targets of critique.

    The best solution to bad speech is more speech. If they're wrong, talk about how wrong they are more. A hypothetical "victory" for Addiction Myths in the courtroom based on the First Amendment is a victory for all of our freedoms.

  51. Anonymous Howard says:

    Given the educational achievements claimed (and I am in no way suggesting that said achievements, in any way, are not factual), and just for effect, would it be possible to refer to the HHS-employed gentleman as "Dr. Dr. D. D. Berkley" — within the context, obviously, of maintaining the decorum and tact for which you are exceedingly well known?

  52. I was Anonymous says:

    @tmitsss,

    footnote 1 should come with a rimshot audio

    Someone's already done it for you: Instant Rim Shot.

  53. Jesse from Tulsa says:

    Unfortunately, the world (and especially the world wide web) is populated by a disproportionate number of idiots who are either unable, or otherwise don't bother to think. The satirical nature of the post is draped in vaguely scientific sounding speech from an alleged smart person… I would be willing to bet *at least* 50% of the population would read that post and not be clear that it was satire.

    Unfortunate state of affairs. But doesn't lowering the bar for what people will understand as satire also lower the bar for what is eligible for cease and desist? If most people wouldn't recognize it as satire, then its protection is diminished.

    Given that state of affairs, protecting against misinformation from the "official" source for health information becomes important. Is it so important it over rides the author's speech rights? Not sure where that line is in this regard. You could respond with "more speech" and say that those statements are false, but that only cures the people who go out of their way to double check the quotes (which would be nearly zero people).

    Not as sold on this PopeHat outrage as usual. Not saying you're wrong, just didn't set off my out-rage-o-meter.

  54. sinij says:

    Hypothetical example – I write a blog outlining interview with Ken White where he supposedly advocates government censorship of free speech to protect children. Would this be a satire? Perhaps. This doesn't change the fact that if I also made his arguments especially dubious and/or inflammatory this may damage his practice and/or his reputation.

    My point, is that AM didn't have to use specific names to achieve its satirical goals, and attributing misinformation to these specific people is harmful to their careers.

    The Onion, golden standard of satire, commonly uses "local area man/woman" in its satire for exact same reason.

  55. DonaldB says:

    A point of fact: the Hustler 'interview' with Falwell included a reference to having to kick the goat in the outhouse when he had sex for the first time with his mother. Not a horse. And it was because it was crowded with the goat there. And certainly absolutely no mention was made of removing The Pony.

  56. James says:

    sinij: The Onion uses "local area man/woman" because it is funny. They also run fake editorials by celebrities and politicians. They just posted a new Revlon campaign, including fake quotations from the president of the company, identified by name (I'll admit I had to look it up to check that was really him). If The Onion is the gold standard, then the gold standard is falsely attributing ridiculous claims to real people.

  57. M. Hall says:

    I still see enough people (some of whom are skilled attorneys!) reposting "satire" news items from sites like the Daily Currant as if they were legitimate news reports. (Tantalizing items about Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann often lure in the gullible). Therefore, I can at least understand the impulse to send a cease and desist letter, even though I agree with your legal analysis, Ken. However, beyond the legal considerations, we also know practical reasons to not write these letters,e.g. the letter often calls further attention to the matter and engages readers who would have never seen the original post. Most times, it is better to ignore random people on the internet.

  58. David C says:

    The Onion, golden standard of satire, commonly uses "local area man/woman" in its satire for exact same reason.

    Actually, the Onion often uses actual names. "In a diabolical omission of the utmost cruelty, stone-hearted ice witch Leslie Schiller…" "Quietly informing reporters of his surgical precision and finely honed skills, sources confirmed Wednesday that highly trained tactical lawmaker John Barrasso (R-WY)…" "Kerri Strug, the former gymnast who memorably hobbled her way to Olympic gold in 1996…" "Michael Phelps Apologizes To Nation After Tasting Subway For First Time"

    Senator Barrasso is an actual person who does in fact represent Wyoming. Michael Phelps is an actual athlete who did endorse Subway, and Kerri Strug is likewise an actual former gymnast. Leslie Schiller may not be intended to specify any particular individual, but people do exist with that name. They use the names of actual businesses, politicians, and celebrities all the time, and usually in ways that would not reflect favorably on them.

    My point, is that AM didn't have to use specific names to achieve its satirical goals

    In my opinion they did.

  59. Narad says:

    Also, I wouldn't be too casual in your treatment of C&Ds. They can expose the sender to consequences of his own. See: declaratory judgments.

    Does this actually work for defamation? Carreon threatened to go after Recouvreur for trademark infringement.

    I got to wondering the other day after Wakefraud took it into his head to dash off a note to Forbes, the main point of which was obviously to intimidate Willingham, who'd probably be on the hook for her own defense.

    I didn't have any luck finding examples; I also noticed that Sen. Don Harmon has been trying to create just such a statutory remedy in Illinois for years, so I'm wondering.

  60. Sami says:

    See, a polite request to clarify it's totally satire is absolutely something I think anyone can do, at any time, in any circumstances, really.

    But that's a wildly different thing from a heavy-handed legal threat.

    I find the premise of Addiction Myth troubling – I think it could be dangerous for some people, and it is, to me, just so obviously wrong – but the furthest I'd go in operating against them would be something like a summary page refuting their bullshit.

  61. Castaigne says:

    @sinjj:

    This is not sufficiently good reason to limit someone's free speech.

    Then do not complain when Addiction Science's court wins translate into replacement of medical fact with their beliefs. Court win = science win, in this world. If you are OK with this outcome, who am I to dictate otherwise?

    ===

    @princessartemis:

    Castaigne, I am absolutely certain that Ken has not, at any point, sought your approval for anything. I suspect he will shed nary a tear that you, in sorrow, withhold it from him now.

    I expect nothing less myself. I am merely exercising the right of free speech myself. Of course, as this is a private blog, he has the absolute right to censor me. It's just a pity that he has chosen to ally himself with anti-science.

    ===

    @Wesley:

    As a strong pro-science person, especially science-based medicine, I have to adamantly disagree from this sentiment. Free speech cannot be limited just because someone is wrong, even speaking against the weight of all the evidence.

    Then do not be surprised or dismayed when the woo wins and science is trampled in the dust, as is often the case in history.

    The best solution to bad speech is more speech. If they're wrong, talk about how wrong they are more. A hypothetical "victory" for Addiction Myths in the courtroom based on the First Amendment is a victory for all of our freedoms.

    And how do you propose to address the problem that, if such views are given equal time, then they must be considered to be equally valid to scientific fact?

    Never mind, not a fair question. I already know that you don't have an answer for it. They will be given equal time, they will shout you down, and our science will be discarded for lunatic ravings, since the science does not match the stated narrative. As usual.

    *shrugs* I guess you could say I'm resigned to it.

    ===

    @Jesse from Tulsa:

    I would be willing to bet *at least* 50% of the population would read that post and not be clear that it was satire.

    More like 75%, but correct.

  62. David C says:

    @Castaigne:

    Then do not complain when Addiction Science's court wins translate into replacement of medical fact with their beliefs. Court win = science win, in this world. If you are OK with this outcome, who am I to dictate otherwise?

    I don't think you get it.

    Under current law, a court win does NOT equal a science win. Either it's satire and protected, or it's not satire and they lied about what someone said. The court will not reach the science question because it's completely irrelevant either way.

    You seem to think that the courts should slap down the website because its science is wrong. But this would mean that the courts actually WOULD be determining what is science. Meaning that if the courts got it wrong even once, some part of ACTUAL SCIENCE would have to shut up. Do you see how this would be FAR more dangerous than some website spouting nonsense?

    You seem to want to ignore what the law actually says and instead use the law to help the people who believe what you believe, and punish those expressing opposite views. Words cannot express how opposed to that I am.

  63. David C says:

    And how do you propose to address the problem that, if such views are given equal time, then they must be considered to be equally valid to scientific fact?

    Your statement assumes that if a view is legally allowed to be expressed, it must be given equal time. It also assumes that if a view is given equal time, it must be considered equally valid to scientific fact. Both of those are fairly obviously untrue.

    A view expressed on an obscure blog does not get the same attention and "equal time" as a view expressed on the pages of the New York Times. And even if two sides of an issue do get "equal time", this does not mean that you must consider them to be equally valid. True, some people will choose poorly. This is still preferable to forcibly silencing the opposition.

    Some people claim that we never landed on the Moon. Oddly enough, even though they've been out there expressing their belief for decades without anyone stopping them, this does not mean that half the population now believes this or that the view is considered "equally valid".

  64. Narad says:

    Then do not complain when Addiction Science's [sic] court wins translate into replacement of medical fact with their beliefs.

    What medical fact? What are "their beliefs"? I'm starting to get the impression that you're as guilty as AM is of incoherence on the matter, which has nothing to do with the question of using lawyers to control their speech.

    If AM had the neurons left to get it together and say that "AA's concept of addiction is a fiction," there would be no scientific issue at all – time stopped for AA's "medical model" in the 1930s. The same goes for pointing at the dismal nature of the recovery-industrial complex.

    But AM is simply frothing. The signal-to-noise ratio is vanishingly small. It can't "replace" anything.

  65. GoSign says:

    Every single post on that blog reads like satire to me.

  66. Czernobog says:

    @Castaigne:

    More like 75%, but correct.

    Interesting. Did you use science to reach that figure?

  67. Steven H. says:

    @Castaigne:

    Your arguments, in general, seem to reduce to the premise that Free Speech is a Good Thing, but only so long as the speaker agrees with you.

    In other words, Free Speech is great, as long as it has been properly censored.

    That way lies madness and death….

  68. ertdfg says:

    So the "legal" basis is "someone might believe it, therefore it should be illegal"?

    Shut down the Onion… because people on Facebook are believing those satirical posts as "real" every day of the week.

    What? We've decided satire isn't allowed because some people are stupid, and stupidity of others means we need to silence you. Wait'll you find out what rights you lose next when people get even stupider.

  69. Allen says:

    I am reminded of the old joke about recovery programs. "There should be a recovery program for people addicted to recovery programs."

    Oh well, I guess science got trampled again. In fact it's becoming more and more difficult to comment as the transistors in my device are slowly being crushed…

  70. What, no SWAT team? Just a letter?

    Weaksause.

  71. Robin S. says:

    ertdfg @9:20am: "What? We've decided satire isn't allowed because some people are stupid, and stupidity of others means we need to silence you. Wait'll you find out what rights you lose next when people get even stupider."

    The problem isn't that some people are stupid, really. The problem isn't even that many people are stupid. The issue is that a vast, overwhelming majority of today's citizens have been vastly under-served by the government's "education" system.

    This has left us with a society where most people are simply not equipped to recognize or process satire. It's also left us with a society where most of our voters determine their votes based purely on the most recent skit they saw on Saturday Night Live, sadly.

    That, of course, is not really a valid argument for outlawing satire, but it is cause for great concern, as part of the reason parody and satire are protected is that it was assumed that most people would be capable of recognizing them as such. If we're entering an era where most people lack even that basic understanding of rhetoric, I fear we may never find out way out of the idiocracy that we're lurching toward.

  72. John Beaty says:

    Between actual stupidity and cultural differences, I would expect way more than 1/2 the population to have difficulty with satire and irony. It's not the schools, it's that we simply don't know how to teach most people. Everyone should try it sometime, it's actually really hard.

  73. barry says:

    A lot of this difficulty could be avoided if blogs put "If it's not true, it's satire" somewhere down the bottom of each page.

  74. Warren Vita says:

    I'd think having the purported interviewee refer to himself as a "brain scientist" would be a pretty big clue, but I'm sure I'm overestimating the average reader. That and his "story" about speaking French without knowing the language. Although that could well show up on a fundamentalist site somewhere as evidence of a miracle.

  75. perlhaqr says:

    I've sent an email, crafted with the decorum and courtesy for which I am known, to Dr. Berkley seeking comment on these issues.

    Tease.

  76. Castaigne says:

    @Stephen H:

    Your arguments, in general, seem to reduce to the premise that Free Speech is a Good Thing, but only so long as the speaker agrees with you.

    No, that's not what I believe at all.

    Free speech is NOT a good thing. Free speech is also not a bad thing. There is no good/bad in free speech. Free speech is value-neutral. It is a tool, nothing more, nothing less. It has no inherent value in and of itself.

    Free speech can be a wonderful thing. It can allow the expression of scientific fact, the trumpeting of opinion, free debate.

    It can also be used to insinuate that your opponent (political, business, neighbor, whatever) is a pedo-raper. It can be used to destroy careers and maliciously target those you don't like.

    Free speech can be used for ANYTHING. And ALL free speech is equal and equivalent.

    That's the glory of freedom itself. Freedom, the ultimate anything goes.

  77. Castaigne says:

    @Narad:

    What medical fact?

    That drug and alcohol addiction exists and that it can be treated effectively via various methods.

    What are "their beliefs"?

    From their website: There is no such thing as drug or alcohol addiction. All addicts are either liars, or brainwashed by the 12 Step cults. It is a huge conspiracy promulgated primarily by Alcoholics Anonymous, with the support of the rehab, law enforcement, and entertainment industries. That so-called "fact".

    But AM is simply frothing. The signal-to-noise ratio is vanishingly small. It can't "replace" anything.

    Assumption not based on evidence. The signal-to-noise ratio is vanishingly small with Young Earth Creationism, quantum woo, vaccine hysteria, and naturopathy/homeopathy…yet they are still gaining significant ground and overtaking actual science.

  78. Castaigne says:

    @David C:

    Your statement assumes that if a view is legally allowed to be expressed, it must be given equal time. It also assumes that if a view is given equal time, it must be considered equally valid to scientific fact. Both of those are fairly obviously untrue.

    Factually correct that those are fairly obviously untrue.

    However, the public perception states those ARE true. And it is the public perception that creates the reality of society that we must deal with. So if the public perception is that those are true, then they ARE true until the public perception is changed.

    Which is not going to happen. So we need to deal with things as they are.

    True, some people will choose poorly.

    You mean "most", not "some".

    This is still preferable to forcibly silencing the opposition.

    Only if you prefer to be forcibly silenced by the opposition instead.

    Oddly enough, even though they've been out there expressing their belief for decades without anyone stopping them, this does not mean that half the population now believes this or that the view is considered "equally valid".

    Really? Even when last polled the amount of the American public that believed this was somewhere around 48%? I guess you are correct; it's 2% short of being considered equally valid.

  79. Castaigne says:

    @David C:

    Under current law, a court win does NOT equal a science win.

    But in the perception of the public, it does. To the vast majority of the American public, a win in court must mean your science is correct. Otherwise, how could you win?

    The fact that this is not how it works doesn't matter. It's how the public perceives that it works. Not taking that into account is foolish.

    You seem to want to ignore what the law actually says and instead use the law to help the people who believe what you believe, and punish those expressing opposite views.

    I would simply make it a crime to speak falsehood and use the law to support fact and only fact.

    Words cannot express how opposed to that I am.

    That's fine. Then you don't get to complain when allowing lies the same status as fact brings deleterious consequences. *shrugs* So long as you agree with that, I'm perfectly happy to let you hae your way.

  80. Narad says:

    BTW, I'm still curious whether declaratory judgment is really an option in threatened defamation cases, particularly now that the Health Deranger, Mike Adams, is threatening Jon Entine. Given the letter, I'd love to see a court preemptively state that, yes, calling him an HIV/AIDS denialist is not false, for example.

  81. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    Beware the man who claims to know the mind of The Public – or "The Nation" or "The People".

  82. Sacho says:

    The comments about "how the public would perceive it" are missing the point – a lawyer doesn't operate on what the law *should be* – they operate on what the law *is* – and claiming defamation is clearly over-the-top.
    That said, the elitism level in the comments has been rising steadily, with commenters trying to outdo each other in how broadly they can describe "The Public" as a bunch of unwashed morons. And then Castaigne goes completely off the rails with his line of bullshit – if AddictionMyth win a decision in court that their post is satirical, people will take their science seriously!!!11. What the hell?

    Even if your opinion of "The Public" is this low, do you think law should be changed to accommodate this supposed level of stupidity? In your requests that AddictionMyth place "disclaimers" on their satirical post, you assume that AddictionMyth has respect or cares for the people they are targeting with it – and I believe that's pretty much exactly the opposite. Perhaps you want to force them by law to do so, but that seems like a much bigger discussion than what is happening here(for example, how big should this disclaimer be? Hey, if people are lazy, we should put it at the top! But people are lazy and stupid and don't read disclaimers, so maybe we should make it blinking and force you to scroll through it and check a checkbox that you understand this is satire before letting those lazy idiots read it, and so on…the line drawn here "people are lazy and stupid and read out of context, but a disclaimer will help!" seems very arbitrary to me).

  83. Narad says:

    Hmph. I thought I submitted a response to Castaigne @11:21 a.m. and that it had been automoderated for number of links. But now it's not in the Textarea Cache backup. It's not worth expending the effort over again, but I will note the selective failure to quote this part of what was being "replied" to in the noble tradition of begging the question:

    If AM had the neurons left to get it together and say that "AA's concept of addiction is a fiction," there would be no scientific issue at all – time stopped for AA's "medical model" in the 1930s. The same goes for pointing at the dismal nature of the recovery-industrial complex.

  84. David C says:

    However, the public perception states those ARE true.

    The public is not QUITE as stupid as you think. I know that they can be stupid, but almost nobody actually believes that two choices are always equally valid. "Either I'll win the lottery or I won't. Since there are 2 choices, that means I have a 50% chance of winning." If the public is really that dumb then we're doomed anyway. But they're not.

    Even when last polled the amount of the American public that believed this was somewhere around 48%?

    I refuse to believe that number. What did they do, poll people at a skeptics convention? Here's the first survey of Americans that I found: 7% of voters thought the moon landing was fake, 9% were not sure. Margin of error was 2.8%.

    The fact that this is not how it works doesn't matter. It's how the public perceives that it works. Not taking that into account is foolish.

    So it's OK for a court to rule that something is defamation, even if the law says otherwise, because of public perception? That's even more foolish.

    Hey, as long as we're ignoring the law, can I jump in on that defamation lawsuit? They never mentioned me, but if we're ignoring the law anyway, why should that stop me?

    I would simply make it a crime to speak falsehood

    Well, at least now you're proposing an actual law instead of saying they should lose in court regardless of what the law says. But I wouldn't make that illegal. Sometimes even good scientists are wrong. Instruments can be miscalibrated, samples can be tainted, etc. Your "solution" would ensure that no scientist could talk about their work – or anyone else's scientific work, for that matter – lest they risk accidentally breaking the law. (And if simply being mistaken was a defense, you wouldn't solve the problem; that website probably believes what they write. If you can prove they don't believe it then they're probably already liable under existing law if someone relies on them and suffers damages.) And that's not even getting into the non-scientific ramifications of such a law – you could write a book on the effects it would have.

    Only if you prefer to be forcibly silenced by the opposition instead.

    They can't forcibly silence me; that's the beauty of free speech. Even if there's a state where evolution is not taught in classrooms, for example, they can't ban people from talking about it on the streets or on the Internet.

    But under the system you seem to prefer, if the government declared evolution to be "wrong", then it would be illegal to discuss it.

    This is the major flaw that free speech is needed to address. The government is sometimes WRONG. Its members are just as human as the rest of us. With free speech, if a global warming denier is in office, even if they declare global warming to be a falsehood they can't forbid scientists from saying it's true. Under your system? That could happen. And even worse, it would be nearly impossible to change such a declaration of falsehood once it was in place, because proposing to change it would involve suggesting that the "falsehood" is true, which would be illegal.

  85. David C says:
    You seem to want to ignore what the law actually says and instead use the law to help the people who believe what you believe, and punish those expressing opposite views.

    Words cannot express how opposed to that I am.

    That's fine. Then you don't get to complain when allowing lies the same status as fact brings deleterious consequences. *shrugs* So long as you agree with that, I'm perfectly happy to let you hae your way.

    My first instinct is to say "of course I get to complain, I have free speech" but that's not going to go anywhere productive.

    I do recognize that there can be actual harm that can happen when lies are allowed. In this case, if people think addiction doesn't exist, they might be more willing to take addicting drugs. That's a real harm.

    But the harm caused by forgoing the rule of law itself is far greater. As is the harm caused by denying free speech. Those consequences can be society-destroying.

    And… you're putting conditions on my opposition to abusing the law? Seriously?

  86. CJK Fossman says:

    I would simply make it a crime to speak falsehood and use the law to support fact and only fact.

    Great idea! Worked really well for Galileo.

  87. Castaigne says:

    @David C: I disagree with you entirely, so I will only make a few comments.

    But the harm caused by forgoing the rule of law itself is far greater. As is the harm caused by denying free speech. Those consequences can be society-destroying.

    Then if free speech fucks you up the ass, you have no reason to complain to about it when that happens. When you choose a course, when you make a decision, you accept all the consequences thereof, no matter how deleterious or onerous they are. And you accept them stoically and without complaint. This is known as the concept of having made your bed, so now you must lie in it.

    And… you're putting conditions on my opposition to abusing the law? Seriously?

    You obviously don't understand how opposition works. Let me give you an example.

    Let us assume for a moment you have a climate change denialist in Florida, and the ice caps have melted due to climate change, and their house is now being flooded by the sea level rising. (This won't happen at all, so there's no harm in using it as a hypothesis.)

    So our Denialist, CCD for short, starts wading to higher ground before he drowns. I would be the fellow in the boat with some weaponry trained on him, preventing him from doing so. The following conversation would ensue:

    CCD: What are you doing?!? Get out of my way! I need to get to higher ground or I will drown!

    Me: You do not need to get to higher ground. You will not drown.

    CCD: What the hell do you mean? Don't you see the water rising?

    Me: There is no water rising. This is because the sea levels have not risen, because the ice caps did not melt, as climate change does not exist.

    CCD: What the fuck do you mean?

    Me: You have stated that climate change does not exist and there is nothing to be done about it, since it does not exist. Therefore, these consequences that you are experiencing are not actually happening. Therefore, you do not need to do anything. What you are experiencing is impossible according to the climate change denialist narrative, therefore it is not happening and you are in no danger.

    CCD: Well, I was wrong! Climate change IS happening! I need to get to higher ground!

    Me: *gives the order for a burst of machine gun fire to be fired into the water short of CCD*

    Me: You will not continue! CLIMATE CHANGE DOES NOT EXIST! YOU WILL BE OBEDIENT TO THE NARRATIVE OF CLIMATE CHANGE DENIAL AND EXPERIENCE THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR CHOICES!

    Now, while hyperbolic and unrealistic, this is what I mean when I say that you must accept the consequences of your actions. You agreed to the "free speech is ALWAYS good" narrative; therefore you cannot complain if the consequences of free speech result in negative outcome for you or others. After all, it is ALWAYS GOOD. There can be no negative outcome. Bed. Made. Lie.

    Do you understand now?

  88. Ejigantor says:

    Castaigne • May 18, 2014 @11:18 am:
    Free speech is NOT a good thing. Free speech is also not a bad thing. There is no good/bad in free speech. Free speech is value-neutral. It is a tool, nothing more, nothing less. It has no inherent value in and of itself.

    You are wrong. Free Speech is a good thing.

    Free speech can be a wonderful thing. It can allow the expression of scientific fact, the trumpeting of opinion, free debate.

    It can also be used to insinuate that your opponent (political, business, neighbor, whatever) is a pedo-raper. It can be used to destroy careers and maliciously target those you don't like.

    This is true.

    Free speech can be used for ANYTHING. And ALL free speech is equal and equivalent.

    This is false. All speech is not equal, and does not exist in a vacuum. A statement from a person with a history of making false and libelous statements will not be given equal weight to a statement from a peer-reviewed and respected expert in the field in question.

    Additionally, the legal framework is already in place for those harmed by libelous speech to seek recourse. If libelous statements are made about you that damage your reputation, your career, your candidacy, or whatever else, you can utilize that legal framework to clear your name, and also to obtain reparation.

  89. David C says:

    Do you understand now?

    Honestly? I'm not sure I do. I already said "I do recognize that there can be actual harm that can happen" so I'm not sure what else you're looking for (except for telling me to be more stoic and noncomplaining about it; and I'm not sure why you care about that, or why you think you can tell me what to feel, or why you object to someone complaining about something that you agree is a bad thing.) I'm especially confused at the part where the guy admits he was wrong and you STILL won't let him go – do you believe that once you take a stand on something you can never change your mind?

    But like I said before, I do accept that there are consequences to free speech and not all of them are positive. Yet I can still complain. Take the Westboro Baptist Church – I can complain that they should not protest military funerals, while still recognizing that they have a right to do so. There's no inconsistency in doing so.

    Free speech is NOT a good thing. Free speech is also not a bad thing. There is no good/bad in free speech. Free speech is value-neutral. It is a tool, nothing more, nothing less. It has no inherent value in and of itself.

    Drinkable water is a neutral thing, yet if you denied someone access to drinkable water, you would be doing a bad thing.

    A particular instance of speech can be good, bad, or neutral, depending on the content and context. But free speech is freedom. Freedom is a good thing.

    You agreed to the "free speech is ALWAYS good" narrative; therefore you cannot complain if the consequences of free speech result in negative outcome for you or others. After all, it is ALWAYS GOOD. There can be no negative outcome. Bed. Made. Lie.

    I do believe it is generally good, yes. But you'd have a hard time pointing out where I said it was always good and there could never be any negative outcomes. Of course there can be negative outcomes.

    I'm not sure what ideas you would consider to be "good", since freedom itself doesn't appear to make that list. Maybe truth? But unless your answer is "nothing", I could probably think of a scenario where there was a bad outcome from trying to pursue those ideals.

    And I suppose this is as good a place as any to point out that even though free speech is a good thing in general, it is not absolute. Sometimes there are competing interests at work which are more important than free speech – you cannot tell someone to kill your wife, for example, because her right to life is more important.

    But if you're not convinced – then I assume you won't complain when YOUR system results in the government shutting down parts of science as false? You're willing to accept that in certain places, global warming or evolution or anything else could be declared false by the government and nobody would be allowed to promote those ideas?

    I wouldn't even try to make you lie in that bed, if that actually happened. I'd hope you'd still try to fix the consequences of your actions, and not just stoically and noncomplainingly accept them just because you helped cause them.

  90. curious says:

    So, hypothetically speaking, if an actual lawsuit came of this i.e. DHHS suing, and a court subsequently dismisses the case under anti-SLAPP legislation, can the court award the blog attorney's fees? Issues of sovereign immunity seem to preclude such an award; however, if the DHSS was clearly in the wrong, it would seem unfair if they could bring such a suit without consequence. Thoughts?

  1. May 14, 2014

    […] via Department of Health And Human Services Threatens Blogger Over Satirical Posts | Popehat. […]

  2. May 14, 2014

    […] anyone, really, but an especially bad idea for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [Ken at Popehat; Paul Alan Levy (reminding that "the government itself cannot be […]

  3. May 18, 2014

    […] Department of Health And Human Services Threatens Blogger Over Satirical Posts The blog Addiction Myth is devoted to a very out-of-the-mainstream proposition about medicine: that the entire concept of drug and alcohol addiction is a scam perpetrated by law enforcement, rehab groups, and the entertainment industry. By contrast, the United States Department of Health and Human Services is devoted to mainstream medical and scientific propositions1 It is perhaps inevitable that these two worldviews would conflict one day. […]

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