SPLC Asks Court To Toss Proud Boy Founder's Defamation Lawsuit By Asking 'Where's The Lie?'
from the suing-the-libs-to-own-the-snowflakes-or-something dept
A few months ago, Proud Boys founder (and Vice co-founder) Gavin McInnes sued the Southern Poverty Law Center over a bunch of negative things it said about him and the “western chauvinist” group he founded. The SPLC designated the Proud Boys as a “hate group,” citing lots of hateful things its members have said/participated in.
As is the wont of far too many “free speech warriors” who believe free speech means everyone else shutting the hell up and letting them spew their ignorance, Gavin McInnes decided the opinion of the SPLC was actionable libel. It isn’t. Not even in Alabama. Unfortunately, the state has no anti-SLAPP law, so the SPLC must defend itself against McInnes’ ridiculous claims with almost zero hope of recovering any of its legal costs.
If you want to know everything wrong with McInnes’ claims, Mike Masnick’s very thorough post goes into great detail about the stupidity of the lawsuit, the hypocrisy of McInnes and his legal rep (Ron Coleman), and disingenuousness of attempting to use government force to silence certain people’s opinions while pretending you’re so very worried about the state of free speech in America.
To sum up briefly, McInnes claims the SPLC’s “hate group” claim rises above mere opinion because… some people might agree with the SPLC’s assessment of the Proud Boys. McInnes, as the founder of the Proud Boys, claims this has harmed him directly, as have a number of allegedly-defamatory claims made about him directly by the SPLC.
It’s a fun read, at least for those who recognize McInnes’ lawsuit for the utter bullshit it is. It’s always entertaining to watch litigious jackasses get torn apart by their own words and this motion to dismiss does not disappoint. The best defense against defamation allegations is the truth. And McInnes has given the SPLC legal reps plenty to work with.
Several of the challenged statements are non-actionable because, as the allegations of the Complaint itself reveal, they are substantially true. See generally Addendum. For example, McInnes claims to be defamed by a statement that members of the Proud Boys marched in Charlottesville with Richard Spencer. Compl. ¶ 286. The same paragraph of the Complaint in which that claim is asserted also acknowledges that the Proud Boys “expelled four members for attending the event.” Id. It is, therefore, concededly (and literally) true that Proud Boys members marched in Charlottesville, as did Richard Spencer. […]
Similarly, McInnes claims to be defamed by being described as an “Islamophobe,” Compl. ¶ 239, but he does not (and cannot) dispute that he has referred to himself in precisely that manner in published interviews. And while McInnes denies calling Asian American “‘slopes’ and ‘riceballs’ on FOX News or the VDARE website,” Compl. ¶ 256, this statement is substantially true as well. As McInnes well knows, an article under his byline used precisely these slurs to describe Asian Americans—albeit in Taki’s Magazine, rather than on VDARE. A statement that McInnes called Asian Americans “slopes” and “riceballs” in Taki’s Magazine would have absolutely the same effect on a reasonable reader as an assertion that he did so on VDARE. Accordingly, the challenged statement is substantially true as a matter of law.
McInnes also claims he’s been defamed by things the SPLC said about the Proud Boys — a group he admittedly founded (but has now sort of disowned). He attempts to stretch these statements that are not directly about him to be directly harmful to him (and, of course, defamatory). But, as the SPLC points out, McInnes doesn’t even attempt to deny the truthfulness of the statements made about the Proud Boys.
This conclusion is buttressed by the innumerable statements that McInnes does not challenge. These statements include, first and foremost, the voluminous primary source materials directly cited or linked to in the Articles themselves—i.e., the Proud Boys’ and McInnes’s own statements and conduct. To take just the most obvious example, the Complaint does not challenge a single specific statement made on the SPLC Proud Boys Page, which, through hyperlinks and other citations, cogently and extensively lays out SPLC’s case for why it considers the Proud Boys to be a hate group. McInnes’s failure to grapple with the Proud Boys Page alone demonstrates that the overarching thrust of SPLC’s publications about him and the Proud Boys would be the same with or without the statements on which he bases the Specific Claims.
If these are substantially true, they cannot be defamatory, even if McInnes feels his reputation has been tarnished by his association with the group by the SPLC.
The ones quickest to call others “snowflakes” for being offended by others’ words are filing lawsuits over hurt feelings. McInnes’ past is filled with words and deeds that would lead many to deem him “hateful.” That he formed a group that engages in the same sort of bigoted speech McInnes does is no one’s fault but McInnes’. There are consequences to uttering speech others find objectionable. Those consequences are not legal causes of action.