AIDS Denialist Files Defamation Suit In Hopes Of Silencing HIV-Positive Critic

from the a-thug-with-a-headful-of-bad-wiring-and-his-own-jackboots dept

Ken White at Popehat has fired up the Popehat Signal again, seeking legal assistance for a blogger on the receiving end of legal abuse from the “most despised inhabitant of the internet playground: the bully who can dish it out but can’t take it.”

The bully in question is Clark Baker, former cop and current AIDS denialist (i.e., someone who believes HIV does not cause or lead to AIDS). He and his representation (Mark Weitz of Weitz Morgan PLLC) have filed a lawsuit against J. Todd Deshong, an HIV-positive blogger and activist, for “trademark infringement, defamation, ‘business disparagement,’ and for injunctive relief.”

Baker is a piece of work.

He was convicted of battery on the allegation he assaulted a jaywalker; that conviction was overturned based on misconduct by the prosecutor, who gratuitously and unethically invoked the Rodney King incident. Now he’s a private investigator and runs the “Office of Medical and Scientific Justice,” which provides, among other things, help to people accused of endangering sexual partners by failing to disclose HIV or AIDS status.

Baker blogs as well and that’s where his AIDS denialism ran head on into Deshong’s activism. The “discussions” between the two have been far from pleasant as one can probably infer from the strong views and the subject matter. But Baker’s lawsuit is simply a vehicle for silencing a strong critic — one he’d rather not have rebutting his arguments and pointing out his errors.

The list of complaints in Baker’s suit are rather strange. The de rigeur defamation charge is there, but where do “trademark infringement” and “business disparagement” fit it?

The trademark claim is based on Deshong’s use of “HIV Innocence Group” to criticize Clark Baker’s activities. Baker lost that argument conclusively before a Uniform Domain Name Resolution panel:

“The Panel finds Complainant has engaged in reverse domain name hijacking because it was clear Respondent was legitimately using Complainant’s mark to make a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the trademark or service mark at issue. Complainant clearly knew this before it began this proceeding. Complainant did not disclose this obvious fact in its Complaint.”

Mr. Baker is bitter at that result:

“Unfortunately, the arbitration body had no expertise in trademark or trade name infringement and allowed Deshong’s unsupported assertions of good faith usage to stand.”

Add “sore loser” to “playground bully.” And “business disparagement?”

Mr. Baker’s defamation and “business disparagement” claims are premised on a combination of vague characterizations of Mr. Deshong’s speech or explicit references to statements of opinion and advocacy. For instance:

“Deshong’s stated purpose is not informational or in any way fair use. He admits in writing on-line that his purpose it to “deconstruct” the HIV INNOCENCE GROUP. He states that his goal is the economic destruction of Clark Baker and OMSJ. In his own words he states, “It is therefore the sole purpose of this site to provide the general public, and attorneys seeking Baker’s help, and any interested parties, the proof that Clark Baker’s Innocence project, now called the Innocence Group is a useless tool of AIDS denialist propaganda.” This stated purpose undermines any notion that the confusion Deshong causes and the infringement of OMSJ’s trade name is for any fair use or enjoys any protection thereunder. The admitted purpose is to economically destroy Baker and OMSJ.”

There’s more and it’s all very entertainingly detailed (and rebutted by Ken White) but the crux of the issue is clearly spelled out in Baker’s lawsuit.

Finally, Mr. Baker reveals the core of his: he thinks Mr. Deshong should not be allowed to say that AIDS denialism is a hoax:

“They allege that Plaintiff Baker is incompetent, that he knowingly makes false and misleading representations to the public, that his legal and scientific theories with regard to HIV are a hoax, that Baker’s reputation as a former LAPD police officer is misleading, and other personally disparaging remarks.”

To which I reply: AIDS denialism is a junk-science hoax with tragic results to its victims. Come get me, you censorious thug. Jenny McCarthy, you want a piece? Get in line.

This isn’t the first time that junk-science purveyors have filed lawsuits to shut critics up. Ken lists several other cases, including AIDS denialist Celia Farber who sued a critic (and lost), as well as one of the pioneers of the anti-vaccine movement, Andrew Wakefield, who sued his critics (and lost). There’s a pattern here, and that pattern doesn’t bode well for Clark Baker.

Despite the lousy track record of dubious persons suing their critics, and despite the fact that Baker’s case is full of holes, there’s still a chance that Deshong could lose, or if nothing else, spend a whole lot of money defending himself against bogus claims. Hence the Signal:

Todd Deshong needs help. He’s being sued for attacking junk science; he’s being sued by the sort of loathsome nutter who threatens the mothers of critics. Your freedom to speak without fear of censorious and frivolous litigation chilling you depends on the willingness of people to step up in situations like this. If nobody helps Todd Deshong, then anybody can be driven to penury by a flawed legal system that serves as a vehicle for despicable and un-American censorship by lunatics of every stripe.

This is the true danger of those unwilling to fight speech with speech and resort instead to legal threats in order to “win” arguments — a chill on expressing your opinions or taking on purveyors of bad ideas or pseudoscience on the internet battlefield. People who find their rhetoric stymied by the strong rebuttals of others resort to all sorts of logical fallacies and ad hom attacks, and when that fails to halt the flow of critical speech, they will often attempt to turn the legal system into a vehicle for censorship. Sometimes they even succeed. And each time they do, it raises hope in other blustering jackasses who feel your freedom of speech should be subject to their whims — or hurt feelings.

Filed Under: , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “AIDS Denialist Files Defamation Suit In Hopes Of Silencing HIV-Positive Critic”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
24 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yeah, I couldn’t get past the AIDS denialism bit, article be damned*. What The France indeed.

What’s next? Sun denialism? Gravity denialism? “Windows 8 is a pus filled blister in the skin of humanity” denialism?

Seriously.

* Not that I actually read the article before making my uninformed opinion public, mind you.

MEP says:

Re: AIDS denialism

The first round of AIDS denialists were homeopathic remedy peddlers who told people you could cure AIDS with the proper amounts of herbs and water. These scam-peddling assholes wormed their way into various national health organizations in third world countries where a combination of corruption and ignorance enabled them to make billions of dollars pushing “supplements” out to HIV and AIDS patients through nationalized prescription programs. All the while, patients died, by the hundreds of thousands in some cases.

It’s not really a genuine belief that they had so much as it was just an industrialized snake-oil scheme designed to make a lot of money off of the pointless suffering of many thousands of people. There should be a special term for this kind of depravity, so we can more easily label and identify scum like these.

The current crop of “denialists” continues to include these assholes, but it also includes a lot of ignorant people who believe them (analogous to Jenny McCarthy and her anti-vaccine friends). Based on his webpage alone, it looks like Baker is among that contemptible first group, the depraved fucks who peddle pseudoscience to unwitting victims who are too desperate for a ray of hope in their lives to question the miracle that’s being sold to them. Losing a lawsuit is too good for him. There really needs to be some kind of special punishment for him and his ilk.

Zac Morris (profile) says:

Re: AIDS denialism

Technically, it’s not AIDS denialism. They believe that AIDS exists, but that it is NOT caused by HIV. They typically espouse that HIV is a common virus among humans, and that AIDS is caused by a combination of health afflictions rooted in behaviors such as drug abuse, debauchery, and more recently even by the very medications used to treat HIV.

Yet, even many advocates of this belief use the words HIV and AIDS interchangeably, which in-and-of itself shows their lack of credibility.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you’re so inclined) in the last 25 years, most of the advocates of these beliefs have died. In a total demonstration of denialism, the followers of these beliefs most often blame those deaths on “natural causes”; since dying from pneumonia actually is a “natural” common-enough cause of death among the overall human population. They have even modified their beliefs to explain more recent deaths of people that have embraced this belief system, thus stopping 10+ years of effective drug therapy, as a side-effect of those very drugs!

Sadly, the pathology of Denialism is the real sickness here; whether that be the ultra conservative homophobe that is just denying their own homosexuality, or by extension many that believe AIDS is a punishment for behavior and not merely a mindless viral agent.

The Real Michael says:

“freedom to speak without fear of censorious and frivolous litigation chilling you depends on the willingness of people to step up in situations like this.”

And therein lies the problem. Wanting to censor free speech is inherently anti-American.

“This is the true danger of those unwilling to fight speech with speech and resort instead to legal threats in order to “win” arguments — a chill on expressing your opinions or taking on purveyors of bad ideas or pseudoscience on the internet battlefield. People who find their rhetoric stymied by the strong rebuttals of others resort to all sorts of logical fallacies and ad hom attacks, and when that fails to halt the flow of critical speech, they will often attempt to turn the legal system into a vehicle for censorship. Sometimes they even succeed. And each time they do, it raises hope in other blustering jackasses who feel your freedom of speech should be subject to their whims — or hurt feelings.”

With all due respect, in this instance you’re playing sides. Lawsuits against free speech aren’t relegated merely to a crowd of “…purveyers of bad ideas and pseudo-science” but all sorts of people. Attacks against the First Amendment have gone epidemic — any bully with an attorney can litigate.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

and your point is… what exactly?

Did anyone with two brain cells to rub together read the article and say “Wow, this person only hates when ‘purveyers of bad ideas and pseudo-science’ litigate against free speech and all other litigation against free speech must be A-OK since I am basing my assumptions completely off this one article!”

Anonymous Coward says:

I have no idea what AIDS denialism is. What I have gathered through a fast check is a very deranged group with no respect for scientific facts.

There are circumstances in which HIV is very unlikely to cause conversion. The situations are no blood or sexual secretion and very well-treated HIV. When that is said, these situations have absolutely nothing to do with the junk they are spreading about not needing protection against HIV and that HIV should not be treated.

Just convincing a single person about those things can end in induced suicide. Therefore AIDS-denialism is extremely problematic, and more so than young earth creationism and other assorted religious induced ignorance.

Bergman says:

Re: Re:

Put simply, EVERYBODY has HIV. It’s part of the junk DNA that clutters our genome. Every living human is immune to it, except those who are inexplicably not immune.

The idea is basically a catch-22. HIV causes drastically depressed immune systems. This is called AIDS. You cannot be infected with HIV unless your immune system is already drastically depressed. In other words, HIV infection causes itself.

This is where the denial comes in. But it’s not the supposed AIDS Denialists to blame. It’s all those companies and their employees making tons of money ‘treating’ HIV, who have a vested interest in not being snake oil salesmen.

Tobacco companies of the 21st century, in other words.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Logic? phh. You need the majority of people to be willing and capable logical thinkers for logic to work. Good luck with that.

Big blatent obvious evidence of how broken the system is has a slim enough chance of convincing people, nevermind hypotheticals and logic. You hide the blatent obvious logic by bailing out the cases where the system fails the most horribly and it will not be fixed.

Cal Crilly (user link) says:

we all have a viral load

Clark Baker is just a normal cop chasing after the criminals who invented AIDS tests, don’t be surprised if he acts like a cop.
The real problem is all of you are living under a rock, there are numerous people living past the 20 year mark tagged as HIV and preparing litigation so the longer you stuff around and don’t admit you messed up with your theories the bigger the litigation gets.
The HIV antibody test was never peer reviewed and so all scientific safeguards were not followed and we are now in the 21st century still believing HIV antigens are specific to a so called retrovirus called ‘HIV’ but HIV antigens turn up in all sorts of normal diseases so are unrelated to HIV and are not even associated with our retroviruses which make up 8% of our DNA.
Anyone with Cancer, Leukemia, MS, Arthritis, Psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, Lupus or simply being pregnant has a viral load and reverse transcriptase because their retroviruses are active in their DNA, do your research before writing bizarre uneducated claims about dissidents in public. “Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is characterized by the progressive loss of motor neurons, of unknown etiology. Previous studies showed reverse transcriptase in serum of ALS patients at levels comparable to HIV-infected patients; however, the source and significance of the retroviral elements is uncertain.” Identification of Active Loci of a Human Endogenous Retrovirus in Neurons of Patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3052883/

maria says:

hiv testimony

Hi, I work in a communication company I want to share my testimony to
the world, my name is maria Katrina, i am from united kingdom in
Belfast north Ireland, I was a stripper in a club I got effected with
HIV due to the nature of my job, In April 15 2013 i was tested
positive to HIV, This is not design to convince you but its just a
personal health experience . I never taught doctor Hakim could ever
get my HIV-AIDS cured with his healing herb spell, i have tried almost
everything but I couldn’t find any solution on my disease, despite all
these happening to me, i always spend a lot to buy a HIV drugs from
hospital and taking some several medications but no relieve, until one
day i was just browsing on the internet when i came across a great
post of !Michelle! who truly said that she was been diagnose with HIV
and was healed that very week through the help of this great powerful
healing spell doctor ,I wonder why he is called the great papa Hakim,
i never knew it was all because of the great and perfect work that he
has been doing that is causing all this. so I quickly contacted him,
and he ask me some few questions and so i did all the things he asked
me to do,He ask me to buy some herbs and which I did for my cure,only
to see that at the very day which he said i will be healed, all the
strength that has left me before rush back and i becomes very strong
and healthy, this disease almost kills my life all because of me, so i
went to hospital to give the final test to the disease and the doctor
said i am HIV negative, i am very amazed and happy about the healing
doctor Hakim gave to me from the ancient part of Africa, you can email
him now for your own healing too on his email:
dr.hakimherbalspellworld@gmail.com

Todd's Mom says:

Give Me A Break

Short memories you pharma trolls prossess.

Did you not read the Blog JT Deshong had up under Dissidents4Dumbees(now thankfully removed) if ever there was a psychotic bully in action it was there, his rants are legendary and his sanity without doubt cracked. At times he variously passed himself off as a microbiologist on line and made aids diagnoses to complete strangers based on photos of leg ulcers. He works as a lab technician and has been banned by his employer from continued use of the company computers to run his blogging enterprise and commenced the personal attack on Baker before Baker had even heard of him. He was instrumental in complaining about the behaviour of Dr Marco Ruggerio and Dr Peter Duesberg both tenured professors of microbiology to their respective universities in an attempt to have them dismissed from their positions and he spends a vast amount of his time troll blogging under assumed names attempting to engage dissidents in aimless arguments which degenerate quickly in to shoolyard name calling.

I’m not a fan of Bakers, but be real if you are going to Martyr someone make it someone with an ounce of credibility and who on the witness box wont have a tourettes moment and call the judge a “Douche Bag” and not the dissidents favourite AIDS Clown, I mean if he is one of your defenders of the faith, you’ve got some serious issues and it just goes to prove that you will defend any attack on the Church of AIDS much like the Catholics defend child abusers even when the truth is staring you squarely in the eye.

If you want to beat the dissidents down, you need to ditch dead wood like Deshong, he’s on the nose.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...