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October 29, 2003

How to. Atrios shows what you do with an attempt at barratry: publish the threat. And let your commenters do useful research into the personalities involved.

The subsequent posts on Eschaton are pretty amusing, too.

UPDATE: If all of this is too blogospherically arcane, Slacktivist has a concise and amusing rundown.

UPDATED UPDATE: Andrew Northrup, unsurprisingly, trumps everyone. [11:12 PM]

Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on How to.:

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2003, 10:31 AM:

I'm not a lawyer, I don't play one on TV, but I've heard that truth is an absolute defense in cases of libel.

I wonder if Donald Luskin is, in fact and provably, a stalker?

"Stalking" varies in its definition from state to state. Stalking is defined by the state of Louisiana as "the willful, malicious and repeated following or harassing of another person that would cause a reasonable person to feel alarmed or to suffer emotional distress."

Does Donald Luskin's behavior, in re Mr. Krugman, meet that standard? Based purely on Mr. Luskin's written words, I believe it may.

dglynn ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2003, 12:27 PM:

Heck, I'm not a lawyer either, but I did pay one to get a ruling on the rights to privacy of individuals posting on an internet message board.

May not have anything to do with the libel charges, but it certainly does relate to removing the shield of anonymity from posters.

And, frankly, since there are only about 5 actual judge's rulings on legal matters relating to internet privacy, and it was expensive, we ought to at least get something out of it.

Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2003, 12:55 PM:

The one time I was sued for libel (there is someting about the figure of '$1,000,000' on a lawsuit to catch the attention) I was warned by our real attorney that there were a few cases where truth might not an absolute defense -- you are not absolutely entitled to say anything about someone in public, even if it is true.

My personal and nonprofessional opinion is that Atrios would be found a 'media defendant' (to quote recent cases) by a court and be entitled to the protections of NYT v. Sullivan -- Atrios would not even have to be right, just not malicious in handling fact. In that case, truth would be a winning affirmative defense. The trick would be to 'front load' the defense process to make it clear to a judge that even starting the discovery process (which is the real threat to Atrios and his anonymity) would be a waste of time.

(BTW, my case never got close to trial -- I was caught between a plaintiff blowing smoke and a public official. I had the protection of priviledge in accurately reporting the statments of an official in the course of duty.)

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2003, 08:03 AM:

Luskin (aka Gollum) actually refferred to his own actions as "stalking" in a headline to one of his columns. Thus the complaint seems to boil down to Luskin using it hyperbolically and Atrios using the word literally. He's got nothing to complain about.

Perry de Havilland ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2003, 08:32 AM:

Luskin seems to have completely taken leave of his senses... and it rekindles my annoyance at the fact that almost unique in the civilized world, there is no 'loser pays' rule in the US legal system regardless of how completely without merit the case is. Madness.

If Atrios, who as it happens I dislike rather a lot and have little time for, is compelled to reveal his identity, he should sue Luskin for damages for making him do so after Luskin's groundless and preposterous legal action fails.

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2003, 11:14 AM:

Atrios and Luskin have issued a joint statement in which they express regrets at the misunderstandings that took place, and Luskin withdrew his lawyer-letter.

Since then, Atrios has toned down his sniping at Luskin, whom he described yesterday as self-proclaimed Krugman stalker, and my good friend, Don Luskin. Evidently the settlement agreement didn't include a gag provision.