Last month I critiqued Mark Steyn's counter-claims against Michael Mann in Mann's defamation suit, and predicted that Steyn may have subjected himself to an anti-SLAPP motion.
The motion is here. It's colorable, at least. It makes many of the arguments one would expect when a pro se defendant counterclaims against the plaintiff for suing the defendant.
Do not misconstrue this as bragging that I was particularly insightful or clever. I wasn't. This was a consequence of Steyn's counterclaims that anyone reasonably acquainted with First Amendment law and anti-SLAPP statutes predicted.
Steyn's complaint seems to be that the anti-SLAPP statute hasn't protected him effectively even though his speech is protected by the First Amendment, that even with the statute the litigation has been lengthy and extremely expensive, and that the system is broken. I believe all those things are true. But I don't see that Steyn's approach of going pro se, railing against the court, and raising questionable claims is one that is rationally calculated to produce a better result. To me it too closely resembles the losing strategy of people who refuse to acknowledge the court's authority at all.
I acknowledge that I am a practitioner with a practioner's biases. Steyn, on the other hand, is a writer and advocate of political philosophies rather than of clients. He's free to abandon the strategy urged by lawyers of employing the dry and tedious procedural strategies available to him in favor of spectacle. Perhaps it will even produce a satisfactory result, eventually. But many, if not most, important American free speech victories have been won by time-consuming, expensive, and painstaking legal machinations. It may not be right, but it's true. Steyn would be better served by finding and listening to pro bono First Amendment attorneys. I'm confident there are some that would help him.
Meanwhile, you can support Steyn's legal fight against Mann here. Though I think Steyn's approach is reckless, I also think he is in the right on the free speech issue.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- Free Speech Triumphant Or Free Speech In Retreat? - June 21st, 2017
- The Power To Generate Crimes Rather Than Merely Investigate Them - June 19th, 2017
- Free Speech, The Goose, And The Gander - June 17th, 2017
- Free Speech Tropes In The LA Times - June 8th, 2017
- I write letters - June 1st, 2017