Thursday, October 30, 2003

I hate bullies
I also hate jumping on bandwagons. But I hate bullies more.

A number of my blogging betters (Kos, Calpundit, Orcinus, Tristero to name just ones my spellchecker rejects) are covering Donald Luskin’s threatened libel suit against Atrios. Luskin, for those new to this story, writes an NRO column and a blog primarily dedicated to hating Paul Krugman, the best columnist at the New York Times (note my lack of link to Luskin, I’ll get back to that). Luskin’s May 7 NRO column was called “We Stalked, He Balked” and was based on the idea that by getting Krugman to answer the claims of Luskin and his “squad” they somehow had him on the defensive (Krugman has been so fatally damaged by Luskin that he was nominated for a Nobel Prize this year).

On October 5 Atrios posted an item on his indispensable Blog, Eschaton, with the title “Diary of a Stalker” that had a pointer to Luskin’s blog and no further comment. Luskin’s main post that day was called “Face To Face With Evil,” and described attending at a lecture and book signing by Paul Krugman. Apparently Luskin feels that throwing his own words back in his face is libel and complained. He was especially upset at some of the comments that were made by people who had the gall to actually go to his site and read his words. Atrios picks up the story:
In my correspondence with Luskin he asked that I take down the post because of the comments, and said I had an obligation to do so. I asked if he meant a legal or ethical obligation, and he didn't respond. I then informed him that if he would tell me which comments he specifically was unhappy with I would be happy to delete them. He declined this offer, and said I should just take them all down.

That’s not good enough for Luskin and he has retained a lawyer. Luskin’s attorney, described by Kos as a “dumbass sleazebag lawyer (Jeffrey J. Upton of Hanify & King P.C.),” officially notified Atrios of their demand that he remove post and comments deemed objectionable by Luskin. In an apparent non sequitur, the paragraph describing Atrios’ dastardly crimes ended with the sentence: “Determining your identity for the purpose of making service of process can be easily accomplished through a subpoena to”

Atrios’ secret identity is as closely guarded as that of Superman or the Batman. Even the Joker and Lex Luthor are far too honorable opponents to think of fighting that dirty (Brainiac might, but he’s a machine lacking such subtle emotions as honor). However, outing is not too low for Luskin and Upton. The threat is clear, cede editorial control over all mention of Luskin (a public figure by virtue of his NRO column) or lose your privacy. It’s pure, cheap legal intimidation. It’s the very definition of a nuisance suit. And the precedent has a chilling affect on all bloggers.

The only way to fight a bully is for everyone to stand up for the victim. Do not let them pick us off one at a time. Do not abstain because you have some quibbles with Atrios. I did not speak up when they came for the Jews and all that. This is easy for me to say, because I like Atrios, but I hope some conservative and especially libertarian bloggers will see that their interest lies in not allowing this kind of intimidation to stand.

The course of action is clear. First, write about it. Second, boycott Luskin. If you’re linked to him, unlink him. If you are not linked to him, make a link then get rid of it just for the principle of the thing. Third, call the creepy little stalker a creepy little stalker; they can’t sue us all. Fourth, if they do sue Atrios (right now they’re just at the blustering threats stage), send him money. Calpundit has already offered to form the legal defense committee. Fifth, when they come looking Atrios, we all stand up and cry, “I am Atrios.” Sure, that leads to us all being crucified on the Via Appia, but we’ll all laugh about it when we’re older.

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