Gavin McInnes Files Laughably Silly Defamation Lawsuit Against Southern Poverty Law Center

from the apparently-the-marketplace-of-ideas-is-run-by-sjws dept

Let's just get this out of the way up top and say that I'm fully expecting this article to be overrun by the same type of folks who showed up after I criticized supposed "free speech warrior" Jordan Peterson when he filed a bullshit defamation case against a university after some of that university's employees suggested Peterson was similar to Hitler and compared him to a white supremacist. As we pointed out then, even if this was misleading, having someone have a negative opinion of you, and even suggesting you hold views you might not hold, is far from defamatory. And, suing someone for their opinion of you is very much the opposite of supporting free speech, and is an especially stupid look for people going around pretending to be free speech warriors.

And, now we have yet another similar case, this time involving Proud Boy founder Gavin McInnes suing the Southern Poverty Law Center for defamation concerning SPLC's practice of naming certain individuals and groups as "extremist" on its "Hatewatch" or "Extremist Files" lists. And, let's be clear: if you already love SPLC and hate McInnes, you're already going to think this is a dumb lawsuit. But this post is directed towards other folks as well: those who think SLPC has a bit of an itchy trigger finger in declaring someone part of a hate group (or declaring groups as hate organizations) and who actually believe (per McInnes' own claims) that he's not a racist, not a Nazi, and he's just a "humorist" promoting "western values."

If you believe that, then you have to throw out the "western value" of free speech under the 1st Amendment, because that's exactly what McInnes is attacking here, with the help of lawyer Ron Coleman. This is particularly disappointing, given that we've covered Coleman's legal work in the past, including his big trademark win for The Slants at the Supreme Court, noting that the US Patent and Trademark's office refusal to hand out trademarks based on its determination that a trademark could be "offensive" violated the First Amendment as a content-based regulation. Coleman has also been on the right side of crazy anti-free speech lawsuits in the past, including fighting back against Brett Kimerlin's famously vexatious lawsuits against critics. Of course, the fact that Coleman was part of the team who sued Google on behalf of Gab.ai for being kicked out of the Android Play Store was, perhaps, a warning that Coleman's view of free speech is a bit different than most 1st Amendment champions.

Let's be clear on this: the lawsuit is bullshit. And it seems likely to be thrown out. Unfortunately, it was filed in Alabama which has no anti-SLAPP statute, which is a reminder that (1) every state should have an anti-SLAPP statute and (2) we need a federal anti-SLAPP statute. However, the lawsuit itself is a joke. It is premised on the claim that even though SPLC's designation of a person or organization onto any of its lists is clearly a statement of opinion rather than fact, because SPLC is widely respected by some, that magically makes it defamatory. This is... what's the word again? Oh, right: nonsense.

What is relevant is that despite the considerable and substantive and justified assaults on its reputation, the SPLC Hate Designations are still so widely credited and so vigorously promoted by SPLC that they are commonly accepted, treated and understood as “official” and “factual” determinations in significant and influential ways, as intended by SPLC.

Mr. McInnes brings this action against SPLC for defaming him by use of the SPLC Hate Designations, and publishing other false, damaging and defamatory statements about him, as alleged in detail below; for its concerted, obsessive and malicious actions taken to “deplatform” Mr. McInnes; for its tortious interference with his economic opportunities; and for intentionally interfering with his contractual relationships by causing, inter alia, the termination of Mr. McInnes’s employment, an almost complete deplatforming and defunding and subjecting him to employment discrimination based on his lawful non-employment recreational activities.

You can certainly be concerned about the idea of "deplatforming" without trying to twist and misrepresent the First Amendment. But here, the lawsuit seems to suggest that an opinion turns to defamation if there are consequences from the opinion, due to the reputation of whoever is stating their opinion. Under such a theory, the NY Times should never write a negative review of a restaurant or movie ever again. A negative review of a movie might cause it to be "deplatformed" and removed from theaters faster (and perhaps not released on online platforms). To claim that this makes it defamatory is nonsense.

As if to demonstrate just how silly this lawsuit is, at one point Coleman is reduced to claim that a reference to McInnes "winkingly" making a statement is somehow false because McInnes, in fact, did not wink.

Though the Times article states that “Mr. McInnes has in recent years set himself apart from the current crop of professionally outraged right-wing pundits, not only for being able to spout aggressive rhetoric, but also for being willing to get physical at times,” it does not actually give an example of Gavin McInnes “getting physical,” instead stating, “like the president, he tends to publicly disavow all violence while winkingly insisting that he – and the Proud Boys – will never back down during a scrape.”

Mr. McInnes did not, in fact, wink while making that statement to the Times reporter.

When you're reduced to debating over the meaning of "winkingly" (note to Ron: it does not mean literally winking), you've already lost.

And, again, let's be clear: I actually think that the SPLC is way too quick in putting people and organizations on its list, and I also agree with the claim that too many people accept those lists as some sort of gospel "designation." But that doesn't change the fact that putting someone on such a list is an opinion, one that can neither be proven as "true" or "false" as a statement of fact would be. Indeed, this is part of the reason why we've long been concerned about hate speech laws, because determining what counts as "hate speech" is inherently a subjective opinion. And it's an opinion when SPLC does it, and even a negative opinion that has tremendous influence is still very clearly protected under the First Amendment.

The lawsuit struggles to focus on the impact of SPLC's opinions because that's basically all it has:

To that end, SPLC acknowledges that its goal is to destroy organizations and persons it targets as “hate groups” or as members of “hate groups” as a matter of “political struggle,” even if those targets do not qualify based on the broadly-understood definitions above.

Right, but that's the very nature of speech. The intent of free speech is to allow people and groups to try to persuade others of something. And, if that persuasion includes convincing others not to do business with you, that's fair game. It's that whole "marketplace of ideas" concept that defenders of McInnes regularly cite. Yet, here, McInnes and Coleman seem to be saying "fuck that" to the marketplace of ideas, and arguing that SPLC's just too damn good in the marketplace of ideas, and therefore needs to be censored.

What a bunch of hypocrites.

And, yes, the complaint literally admits that the listing is not a statement of fact, but of opinion. It includes an entire section entitled "Hate is in the Eye of the Beholder," which might as well be the heading on the motion to dismiss this nonsense as well. The complaint flat out admits that "hate" is a subjective opinion which by definition means that it's not defamatory.

If you can't read that section, it says:

“Hate” is in the Eye of the Beholder

While SPLC’s rhetoric routinely associates “hate groups” with actual “hate crimes,” SPLC has acknowledged that what it defines as “hate group” activity includes constitutionally protected “marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing,” and that the SPLC’s designation of a “hate group” “does not imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity.”

Indeed, in a 2018 Washington Post article, SPLC President Richard Cohen admitted to journalist David Montgomery that it does not matter to SPLC whether the use of SPLC Hate Designations is accurate in terms of identifying conduct motivated by actual “hate,” because its use is part of SPLC’s “effort to hold them accountable for their rhetoric and the ideas they are pushing.”

This seems to imply a belief that no third party can call out activities by someone so long as those activities are "constitutionally protected." Which is nonsense. Filing a bullshit lawsuit is constitutionally protected, but I can still call it a stupid bullshit lawsuit without that being defamatory. Yet, this lawsuit appears to imply otherwise -- especially if a lot of people agreed with me that it was a stupid bullshit lawsuit (which you should, because it is).

Then there's a whole section mocking the SPLC for its fundraising activities, and how it uses its focus on declaring hate groups as part of that fundraising effort. And, sure, I actually fully agree that the SPLC deserves criticism and shouldn't be viewed as a definitive source of very much. But... none of that violates the law. Indeed, SPLC's speech is clearly protected speech under the 1st Amendment, even when I disagree with it. Honestly, so much of the complaint is just an angry screed about how McInnes (and Coleman?) doesn't like how the SPLC makes its lists and fundraises, and is especially annoyed that others take the SPLC list seriously.

So, hey guys, whatever happened to the "marketplace of ideas"? Don't like it? Go speak up about it, but don't fucking sue someone over their free speech.

Even the specific claims of defamation are pretty ridiculous. Take the first claim:

An article dated June 8, 2018 on the SPLC website by “Hatewatch Staff” entitled “Last Month in Europe: May 2018” bears the heading, “The following is a list of activities and events linked to American white supremacist, neo-Nazi, anti-LGBT, anti-immigrant and anti- Muslim groups and personalities in Europe.” The SPLC post described a May 6, 2018 event in London called Day for Freedom at which Mr. McInnes spoke, describing him as “Gavin McInnes, the founder of the Proud Boys*, which SPLC lists as a hate group.”

The asterisk in the sentence is, according to the article heading, an indication that the referenced organization is “listed” as a “hate group,” although the sentence also explicitly says, “which SPLC lists as a hate group.”

The June 8, 2018 article by SPLC Hatewatch Staff on the SPLC website is false and defamatory toward Mr. McInnes because it falsely ascribes to him characteristics of SPLC’s false description of the Proud Boys, when in fact the Proud Boys are not a hate group.

I'm almost embarrassed for Coleman, who surely knows better than this. The only statements of fact that they are complaining about are (a) that McInness is the founder of the Proud Boys (which everyone agrees is true), and (b) that SPLC lists the Proud Boys as a hate group. But that's also true. SPLC does list the Proud Boys as a hate group in its opinion, and the complaint itself already admits that this is a statement of opinion. So, how is that defamatory? Answer: it is not.

Later on in the complaint, it states that an article with this sentence is defamatory:

“The Trump-inspired ‘Proud Boys,’ called the ‘Alt-Light’ by some and always seeming to be looking for a rumble, may or may not show up in sizeable numbers, although the group’s founder, Gavin McInnes, says he fullheartedly supports the rally.”

What's "defamatory" there? I kid you not:

...is false and defamatory toward Mr. McInnes because it falsely ascribes to him characteristics of SPLC’s false description of the Proud Boys, which is not “always looking for a rumble.”

I mean, that's not even accurately quoting the original article, which notes that they are "always seeming to be looking for a rumble" which makes it obviously a statement of opinion, not to mention rhetorical hyperbole.

There's a lot more like this and each one looks dumber than the previous one -- though I wonder if Coleman will now argue that that is defamatory.

Anyway, if you're concerned about the nature of "deplatforming" and you hate the SPLC and you think Gavin McInnes is the new Lenny Bruce, you should still not be happy about this lawsuit. The theories in this lawsuit are nonsense, taking statements they admit are opinion and pretending that the impact of those opinions magically makes them defamatory -- which is not how any of this works. It also seems to take non-defamatory, truthful statements of fact (such as that the Proud Boys have been called a hate group by the SPLC -- which is an accurate statement of fact whether or not you agree with the SPLC's opinion) and trying to twist that into being defamatory.

Coleman has done good work in the past, but this is an embarrassment. Of course, perhaps it's not as embarrassing as recognizing that under his own wacky legal theory, it would appear that Coleman himself regularly "defames" others:

Filed Under: defamation, deplatforming, gavin mcinnes, influence, opinion, reputation, ron coleman
Companies: splc


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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 11:46am

    The lawsuit struggles to focus on the impact of SPLC's opinions because that's basically all it has:

    >To that end, SPLC acknowledges that its goal is to destroy organizations and persons it targets as “hate groups” or as members of “hate groups” as a matter of “political struggle,” even if those targets do not qualify based on the broadly-understood definitions above.

    Right, but that's the very nature of speech. The intent of free speech is to allow people and groups to try to persuade others of something. And, if that persuasion includes convincing others not to do business with you, that's fair game.

    I dunno. This is the part of the whole thing I find really persuasive. "Hate group" is a term with a pretty standard, commonly-understood meaning. If they are deliberately applying that term to people or organizations that don't fit that meaning, to cause people to believe that they are hate groups by the commonly-understood meaning, well... we have a word for that: lying.

    They are telling lies about organizations with the deliberate intent to cause harm to them, to "destroy [those] organizations" as they themselves acknowledge. That's another concept we have a word for, and that word is defamation.

    You cover a lot of bogus defamation suits on here, but this one looks like the real deal.

    But this post is directed towards other folks as well: those who think SLPC has a bit of an itchy trigger finger in declaring someone part of a hate group (or declaring groups as hate organizations)

    I wouldn't quite say that. Rather, while acknowledging the good work they've done in the past, I would point out that they are not immune to Nietzsche's famous warning about He Who Hunts Monsters, nor to the Shirky Principle: "Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution." In recent years, as the actual hatred they fought against has steadily diminished, the SPLC have undergone a Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation, becoming a full-on hate group (by the proper definition) themselves.

    I don't know anything about Gavin McInnes or the Proud Boys; this article was the first I've ever heard of either of them. But given the SPLC's recent track record, it seems more likely that he's just another one of their victims rather than a legitimate bad guy, and it's good to see someone trying to hold them accountable for what sure looks like real defamation.

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    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 11:48am

      Re:

      Also, it appears that your Markdown parser is broken. It should be able to handle multiple > tokens at the start of a paragraph, to create nested blockquotes, but it fails at that in my post above.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 12:10pm

      Re:

      You cover a lot of bogus defamation suits on here, but this one looks like the real deal.

      That is your opinion. It is a bullshit with no basis in fact. But I promise you I won't sue you because of that wrong opinion.

      This is clear protected option. Even the lawsuit itself agrees that what they say is protected opinion.

      This is the equivalent of pissing your pants and then suing the guy who pointed it out to you for looking at your junk.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 12:27am

        Re: Re:

        Protected opinion? Since when is the diktat of a bunch of tribalists that every sjw and tribalist organizations takes as godly, immutable verdict such a thing? Since when is the clear act of smearing someone just because he refuses to swallow your bs an opinion?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:30am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I'm guessing we'll find out "since when" when this lawsuit is resolved.

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        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 10:10am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Since when is the diktat of a bunch of tribalists that every sjw and tribalist organizations takes as godly, immutable verdict such a thing? Since when is the clear act of smearing someone just because he refuses to swallow your bs an opinion?

          Spin this around. Since when is the diktat of a bunch of thugs that every nazi and thug organzation takes as godly, immutable verdict such a thing?

          Seriously. It's hilarious how many of the people screaming about how the SPLC deserves to get sued for calling the Proud Boys a hate group ALSO goes around screaming that the SPLC is evil "SJWs". You calling SPLC "SJWs" is just as protected as SPLC calling the Proud Boys nazis. It's literally the same thing. These are statements of opinion classifying someone into a group for the purpose of ridicule from others who share the same viewpoint.

          I don't like either the Proud Boys or the SPLC, but I support each of their rights to label the other whatever they want. It is the very nature of the 1st Amendment and protecting political speech.

          If you think that it is not free speech for SPLC to label the Proud Boys a hate group, do you similarly think it's defamatory when the President classifies undocumented people in the US as rapists and criminals?

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          • icon
            Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 10:20am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Your assertions to the contrary notwithstanding, "hate group" does have a very clear meaning. As a few people have already brought up, there's an official definition that the FBI uses. There's also the intuitive definition that the general public uses. If you were to ask 100 random "persons on the street" in the USA what a hate group is, at least 80 of them would almost certainly specifically mention, by name, the KKK or neo-nazi skinheads. (Or both.)

            When you take something that well-understood, and then say "these people are like those people," that conveys a very concrete meaning to the minds of those who hear it. And as the article points out:

            Indeed, in a 2018 Washington Post article, SPLC President Richard Cohen admitted to journalist David Montgomery that it does not matter to SPLC whether the use of SPLC Hate Designations is accurate in terms of identifying conduct motivated by actual “hate,” because its use is part of SPLC’s “effort to hold them accountable for their rhetoric and the ideas they are pushing.”

            The guy directly acknowledged that he's using a loaded term out of context and "it doesn't matter" because apparently the political ends justify the dishonest, malicious means.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 10:26am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              What you think makes them guilty is actually what makes them innocent.

              The fact that they are, and always have been, clear and open about the criteria they use to label something a "hate group" is a big part of why this isn't defamation. You can go on and on about what other people think it means: that's irrelevant. The SPLC has been very clear about what they mean by it, how they apply the label, and what they are basing that choice on for any given group.

              It's an opinion, based on clearly disclosed facts. It's not defamation. Deal with it.

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            • icon
              Mike Masnick (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 12:22pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Your assertions to the contrary notwithstanding, "hate group" does have a very clear meaning.

              1. No, it doesn't have a "clear meaning." It's very much in the eye of the beholder. Same as "hate speech" which is why we oppose laws against it (as should you).

              2. Even so, it is a clear statement of opinion by the organization making it, even if you and I disagree with their assessment.

              Your real problem is that you don't like SPLC, and therefore you immediately assume that their bad opinion must be illegal. That's a really dangerous position, Mason, and I'd think you'd recognize that.

              As a few people have already brought up, there's an official definition that the FBI uses.

              There's a definition of "happy" in the dictionary too, and it's still an opinion for me to say "Mason sure seems happy." There's a definition of "asshole" too.

              These are still statements of opinion, not fact.

              And that the FBI has a definition of hate group is potentially an legal issue that said groups can raise... with the FBI. Not with some other group that has its own definitions.

              There's also the intuitive definition that the general public uses.

              Which remains a matter of opinion by the general public. Having a definition does not mean something is factual. There's a question: can it definitively be proven true or false? Hate group cannot. It is absolutely within the eye of the beholder. I can call someone a petulant ignorant asshole. Each of those words have definitions. But it is still a matter of opinion EVEN IF everyone else in the world thinks the person I called that is actually a friendly, wise and giving individual.

              Insults are not defamation.

              The guy directly acknowledged that he's using a loaded term out of context and "it doesn't matter" because apparently the political ends justify the dishonest, malicious means.

              This is pretty funny if you've followed any of Gavin's own career (which you admit that you do not).

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              • icon
                Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:13pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                You still seem to be missing the point. It doesn't matter if it's a "statement of opinion, not fact."

                Let's establish a few baseline facts first. I hope these simple points are clear enough that no one will find a reason to disagree with them:

                • The SPLC "stating their opinion" has caused real harm to others as a direct result of people accepting and acting on that opinion.
                • In most of these cases the SPLC knew--or at least they had no valid excuse not to know--that people would act upon their words in the same general way as what actually ended up happening. (In other words, the harmful effects that occurred were very easily predictable before the opinions were given.)
                • The SPLC freely acknowledges that their "opinion" being "stated" is not in line with the common understanding of the matters they are opining upon.

                These things being true, how do you arrive at a conclusion that it is just to not hold them accountable for the harm that transpired? (In addition to, and not instead of, the people who personally committed the harmful acts.)

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:21pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  None of those bullets are facts.

                  But let's get down to a baser argument: Do you believe that the hecklers' veto should override all first amendment protections on speech?

                  Also, do you believe the hecklers' veto should allow anyone to take legal action against the speaker?

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                  • icon
                    Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:37pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    hecklers' veto

                    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:55pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

                      Please enlighten me. How do you interpret it? Then once you give your definition, answer the two questions in the context of your definition.

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                      • icon
                        Thad (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 2:36pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        I think Mason's right on this one. Typically, "heckler's veto" refers to instances where speech is suppressed out of fear of retaliation against the speaker.

                        Wikipedia:

                        Heckler's veto is an American free speech term describing situations in which a party who disagrees with a speaker's message is able to unilaterally trigger events that result in the speaker being silenced.

                        In other words, a court can't issue a ruling stating "The SPLC can't say this because someone might attack the SPLC."

                        What Mason's suggesting isn't that; he's suggesting the court should issue a ruling stating "The SPLC can't say this because someone might attack one of the groups that the SPLC criticizes."

                        Different targets, see?

                        What Mason is proposing isn't a heckler's veto. He seems to be suggesting that the SPLC is inciting violence. He's wrong (see my comments below on the Brandenburg test), but that's still not a heckler's veto.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:22pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  These things being true, how do you arrive at a conclusion that it is just to not hold them accountable for the harm that transpired

                  Because they have freedom of speech, and they are not liable for what other people do with their clearly expressed opinions. What part of this are you not understanding?

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                  • icon
                    Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:38pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    "All I did was pull a trigger. I'm not liable for what the bullet did in accordance with the highly predictable laws of physics!"

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 2:07pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      The fact that you think society is analogous to physics explains a lot.

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                      • icon
                        Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 2:35pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        At groups large enough for their behavior to best be understood statistically rather than individually, it really is. If you present the same stimulus to a large group of people, a certain number of them are going to react in very predictable ways. (This is the basic principle behind advertising, among other things.) Human nature doesn't change, and we've had a pretty solid grasp on the basic points thereof for a long time now.

                        For just one example, look up "The Book of Swindles" sometime. It was originally written in 1617 in China, as a comprehensive guide to swindling and fraud and how to protect oneself therefrom, but sooooo much of it, if you take out the culture-specific stuff and focus on the human behavior principles involved, remains perfectly applicable even now, in the USA in the Age of the Internet, half a world away and 4 centuries later.

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                        • identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 2:46pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          At groups large enough for their behavior to best be understood statistically rather than individually, it really is.

                          No, it really isn't. But you're just engaging in pretentious, meandering babble at this point. You've lost this one Mason - your opinion on the SPLC lawsuit is, in a word, garbage. And it exposes your professed belief in free speech as false and self-serving. Protest further all you wish - I've made up my mind.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2019 @ 1:38pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Are you defending Gavin as that sounds like his argument. Difference being he didnt shut down anyone elses free speech.

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                • icon
                  Gwiz (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:32pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I hope these simple points are clear enough that no one will find a reason to disagree with them:

                  I have to disagree with ALL of them.

                   

                  The SPLC "stating their opinion" has caused real harm to others as a direct result of people accepting and acting on that opinion.

                  Unless their opinion is "directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action" their speech is protected by the First Amendment. Doesn't really matter what other peoples actions are.

                   

                  In most of these cases the SPLC knew--or at least they had no valid excuse not to know--that people would act upon their words in the same general way as what actually ended up happening. (In other words, the harmful effects that occurred were very easily predictable before the opinions were given.)

                  Same answer as above.

                   

                  The SPLC freely acknowledges that their "opinion" being "stated" is not in line with the common understanding of the matters they are opining upon.

                  Not sure how that matters at all. Morons and idiots are allowed to express their opinions and it's still protected speech.

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                  • icon
                    Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:36pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Do you realize that, while you said you have to disagree with the factual points I set out, that at no point did you actually disagree with their factual nature, only their relevance?

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                    • icon
                      Gwiz (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:49pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Fair enough. I should have stated that your "facts" have absolutely no relevance to your final conclusion that SPLC should be liable for the actions of other people.

                      I used "I disagree" as shorthand for "I disagree that these facts are relevant to this discussion". My apologies.

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                    • icon
                      Thad (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 2:18pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      You made a claim about legal liability.

                      "Even assuming all your claims are true, there's still no legal liability" is a perfectly valid way to respond to a claim of legal liability. Indeed, that's almost certainly the standard that the judge will use to dismiss this lawsuit.

                      It doesn't mean that your claims are true. It just means that it doesn't matter if they're true or not; either way, the SPLC is not legally liable for actions taken by others against individuals or groups that it criticizes.

                      If you want to argue about whether the SPLC is morally responsible for actions committed against people or groups who appear on its list, you're welcome to do so. But once again, you're mixing up your opinion about what's right or wrong with what the law says is legal or illegal. They're not the same thing. It's okay to talk about what you think the law should be, but don't claim that's the same thing as what the law is.

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                • icon
                  Thad (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 2:03pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  You still seem to be missing the point. It doesn't matter if it's a "statement of opinion, not fact."

                  Unless you're suing somebody for defamation. In which case it matters very much.

                  These things being true, how do you arrive at a conclusion that it is just to not hold them accountable for the harm that transpired? (In addition to, and not instead of, the people who personally committed the harmful acts.)

                  This is a useful opportunity for further discussion on the difference between opinions and facts.

                  What is or is not just is an opinion.

                  The legal standards for defamation are facts. Case law defining the limits of the First Amendment is a fact. The text of the legal filings in this case is a fact.

                  Whether or not you personally consider something to be just is completely irrelevant to its merits as a legal argument presented in a court of law.

                  You can argue about what the law should be if you like; that's fine. But don't mix up what you think the law should be with what the law actually is.

                  You seem to be making an argument that the SPLC's list of hate groups qualifies as incitement. There are two problems with such an argument:

                  1. It isn't. The Brandenburg test defines incitement in First Amendment case law. It's also called the "imminent lawless action" test, and here's what it looks like:

                    the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.

                    The three key components are intent, imminence, and likelihood. Even if your argument is correct that the SPLC's hate list fits intent and likelihood (and that's debatable), it fails the imminence test. Imminence as a legal standard is narrowly defined. Here's Ken White:

                    Imminent, for Brandenburg purposes, doesn't mean "in a few months once some nut has thought about it." It's intended to capture the danger of a firebrand whipping up an angry crowd with the means and target of violence close at hand.

                    Now, you're welcome to argue that Brandenburg was wrongly decided and that the Brandenburg test is too narrow. That's a valid opinion! But it's not the law. Again, you're free to argue what you believe the law should be, but don't confuse that with what the law actually is.

                  2. Even if it were incitement, this is a defamation suit. You seem to be having trouble (again) with a simple principle of US law: courts don't get to decide on arguments that aren't presented to them. You're looking at a defamation suit and saying "Okay, but what if it's incitement?" Judges don't get to do that. If you bring a defamation suit, the judge can't rule "This isn't defamation, but it is incitement. Guilty!" That's not a thing. If the lawsuit makes no claim of incitement, than the court can make no finding of incitement.

                    The question before the court isn't "Is this incitement?" It's "Is this defamation?" And the answer is "No." And the reason the answer is "No" is that opinions can't be defamatory, only false facts can be defamatory.

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                • icon
                  Mike Masnick (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 4:24pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  You still seem to be missing the point. It doesn't matter if it's a "statement of opinion, not fact."

                  It most certainly DOES matter when the issue is a defamation lawsuit.

                  Let's establish a few baseline facts first. I hope these simple points are clear enough that no one will find a reason to disagree with them:

                  Okay...

                  The SPLC "stating their opinion" has caused real harm to others as a direct result of people accepting and acting on that opinion.

                  This is not the standard for defamation. Nor do you want it to be. If your opinion is that the SPLC has caused harm, and they absolutely disagree with you, do you want to face a lawsuit for expressing your opinion? Also, your statement here is one of opinion. "Real harm" is a subjective standard, rather than an objective one.

                  In most of these cases the SPLC knew--or at least they had no valid excuse not to know--that people would act upon their words in the same general way as what actually ended up happening.

                  Once again, this is not the standard for defamation. Indeed, as Thad explains to you elsewhere, this is not the standard for incitement, which is the legal theory you're trying to dance towards (and which Gavin's filing does not include, because SPLC's efforts clearly don't meet that standard).

                  The SPLC freely acknowledges that their "opinion" being "stated" is not in line with the common understanding of the matters they are opining upon.

                  You assert a "common understanding" that I think many -- including SPLC -- would disagree with.

                  In other words, all of your "factual statements that no one will find a reason to disagree over them" are all actually statements of opinion. They also are all stated in a manner that some might argue completely misrepresent SPLC and its actions. Under YOUR definition of defamation, they could then sue you.

                  Furthermore, none of what you've asserted above applies to the standard of defamation.

                  These things being true, how do you arrive at a conclusion that it is just to not hold them accountable for the harm that transpired?

                  Beyond the fact, as explained above, that I don't believe you've stated clearly labeled and agreed upon "facts," in the US we don't generally hold a speaker responsible for the actions of others. You know this, because you've supported it in other contexts. Yet here, suddenly, you're eager to support this horrific concept. I do wonder why.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 5:29pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Real harm" is a subjective standard, rather than an objective one.

                    Pffft! Tell that to the guy who got shot because he was on the SPLC's list.

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                    • icon
                      Mike Masnick (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 5:48pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Pffft! Tell that to the guy who got shot because he was on the SPLC's list.

                      It appears you're discussing this case:

                      https://www.cnn.com/2013/02/06/justice/dc-family-research-council-shooting/index.html

                      That's a good example that helps prove my point of why we don't blame someone for their speech due to the following actions by other unstable people.

                      Do we blame Sarah Palin for Gabbie Giffords getting shot? Do we blame Jodie Foster for Ronald Reagan getting shot? Do we blame the Beatles for the Manson murders?

                      No, of course not. The fact that people can take someone else's statements and go commit violence claiming it was because of their statements is not a reason to hold the speaker liable. That would be an absolutely crazy standard.

                      How about one more: Do we blame Gavin McInnes for Proud Boys stomping on protesters following a McInnes speech? Under your definition, that was "real harm" and it came directly after McInnes spoke and riled up his fans. Is he legally liable?

                      Either way, your appeal to emotion notwithstanding, it doesn't change the point I was making. What Mason pointed out above has no impact on a defamation analysis under law.

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                      • icon
                        btr1701 (profile), 7 Feb 2019 @ 12:30pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        How about one more: Do we blame Gavin McInnes for Proud Boys stomping on protesters following a McInnes speech? Under your definition, that was "real harm" and it came directly after McInnes spoke and riled up his fans. Is he legally liable?

                        Under the Brandenburg test, he probably was liable.

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 9:08pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Pffft sorry you mistook crazy person with SPLC. Pease stop being an ignorant asshat and leave your betters to discuss all the tricky adult type things.

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            • identicon
              Adrian Lopez, 6 Feb 2019 @ 2:00pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "As a few people have already brought up, there's an official definition that the FBI uses. There's also the intuitive definition that the general public uses."

              Then there's the one the SPLC is using, and the one the UK government might use, and the one Germany might use, and the one Gavin McInnes and his lawyer Ron Coleman might use, and the one I would use, and so on ad nauseam.

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          • icon
            Gwiz (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 12:01pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            As an aside: How many other people besides me had to Google the definition of "diktat" when reading this thread?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 10:57am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Womp womp

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Adam Steinbaugh (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 12:11pm

      Re:

      So there's an objectively falsifiable, legally-cognizable definition of "hate group"? What about "hate speech"?

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      • identicon
        Prinny, 5 Feb 2019 @ 12:19pm

        Re: Re:

        Don't go putting words in people's mouths, dood. All it does is makes you look bad.

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      • identicon
        A. Ron Dissement, 5 Feb 2019 @ 12:49pm

        Re: Re: If not objective, then it's a smear.

        So there's an objectively falsifiable, legally-cognizable definition of "hate group"? What about "hate speech"?

        SPLC is claiming that there IS, and it's sufficient cause for decent people to shun and refuse to deal with Plaintiff, so the burden is upon the Defendant to define the term objectively.

        I read that you claim to be a lawyer, likely won't agree with my notion there, so the question is best settled this way:

        Is it acceptable that a large, well-funded, well-established, and reputable entity make endless public smears that cannot be objectively defined... ABOUT YOU?

        Even if "legal", it's undesirable. While this suit may not succeed, these well-funded but un-founded smears should provoke legislation to stop them.

        What's "cognizable" is the real damage that such smears cause, and I'd like to see a jury of my peers decide such, not some hair-splitting legalist.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:08pm

          Re: Re: Re: If not objective, then it's a smear.

          SPLC is claiming that there IS

          Where?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:35pm

          Re: Re: Re: If not objective, then it's a smear.

          Is it acceptable that a large, well-funded, well-established, and reputable entity make endless public smears that cannot be objectively defined... ABOUT YOU?

          I think this is one of those irregular verbs. I review, you criticize, he smears. It's just different ways of saying "express a negative opinion." Ain't no such thing as an objectively defined opinion: if you have an objective definition, it's a fact.

          If you have the right to a negative opinion about anyone else, then they have a right to express a negative opinion about you. Human rights are human rights, regardless of how rich or famous or popular either one of you are. If you drag any such distinction into a discussion of human rights, you're actively promoting injustice.

          In short, you want to dislike them? It's my duty to defend their right to dislike you--publicly.

          Even if "legal", it's undesirable.

          I would desire that both of you stop hating. But given that you can both talk and write, what you're going to write is what comes out of both your hearts. You gotta change your heart first, then perhaps you can go talk to them.

          While this suit may not succeed, these well-funded but un-founded smears should provoke legislation to stop them.

          Some thinks simply can't be stopped by legislation, and it's insanity to try. But if we're going to stop stuff by legislation, perhaps we could start by stopping violence, burglary, armed robbery, sexual assault, and distribution of toxic addictive substances. Oh, wait ...

          You can't just dump laws on people and force them to think differently. You have to communicate with them. There was once-upon-a-time a religion that talked about "treating people like you want to be treated." You could start by defending their right to suspect you of hate. If there's anything that would convince them they're wrong, that would be it.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:36pm

          Re:Youre as wrong about this as you are common law

          Sorry bro the first admendment dosent cover butt hurt. I read that you claim to be intelligent despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 9:14pm

            Re: Re:Youre as wrong about this as you are common law

            The tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress, however, DOES cover "butthurt."

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 9:57pm

              Re: Re: Re:Youre as wrong about this as you are common law

              The tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress…

              In his complaint, Mr McInnes alleges four causes of action —

              • (p.40) Count I. Tortious Interference With Economic Advantage
              • (p.41) Count II. Defamation
              • (p.58) Count III. False Light Invasion Of Privacy
              • (p.58) Count IV. Aiding And Abetting Employment Discrimination Pursuant To N.Y. Labor Law § 201-d

              Don't see IIED in those four counts there.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 11:00am

                Re: Re: Re: Re:Youre as wrong about this as you are common law

                It’s quite possible that Gavin’s anus wasn’t the only butt hurt here.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:46pm

          Re: Re: Re: If not objective, then it's a smear.

          Is it acceptable that a large, well-funded, well-established, and reputable entity make endless public smears that cannot be objectively defined... ABOUT YOU?

          Yes.

          Don't believe me? What, exactly, is the difference between something like the SPLC and say... The Onion, aside from the fact that The Onion publishes actual lies? The Onion is well funded and well established and a few dupes do actually believe what they publish. Should it be illegal for them to write objectionable stories about people? Because aside from the shield of being utterly ridiculous they would be absolutely defamatory.

          The SPLC is well within its rights to publish truthful information about whatever it wants and label it however it wants, even if those labels make people look bad. It can label you a demon sent straight from Lucifer's anus to born on Earth in order to assassinate the second coming of Christ if they want to. It can say you want desperately to rape and murder every toddler from Nome to Miami. It can declare you the most dangerous threat to human existence if the whim crossed its mind.

          It's certainly allowed to do all of that. Whether anyone takes them seriously is another matter. And if they do target you with speech you find offensive or incorrect you have a defense: More speech. The answer to bad speech isn't to shut down those who are wrong, its to meet them in the marketplace of ideas and let reason stand on its own. You'd think alt-right people would understand this since they get (unfairly) shut down so often, but I guess it's not really and never was about principles. It's just about your tribe getting one up on the other tribe.

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        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 4:06pm

          Re: Re: Re: If not objective, then it's a smear.

          SPLC is claiming that there IS, and it's sufficient cause for decent people to shun and refuse to deal with Plaintiff, so the burden is upon the Defendant to define the term objectively.

          You should get a refund on your law degree if you think that's how the burden of proof works in defamation cases....

          Is it acceptable that a large, well-funded, well-established, and reputable entity make endless public smears that cannot be objectively defined... ABOUT YOU?

          Yes. That's called freedom of speech, which is allowed in large part thanks to the 1st Amendment which bars government action against such speech.

          Even if "legal", it's undesirable.

          It is undesirable to enable free speech, because someone's opinions might have a negative impact on someone's life? Really? You sure you want to go down that road?

          What's "cognizable" is the real damage that such smears cause, and I'd like to see a jury of my peers decide such, not some hair-splitting legalist.

          So, if you have a negative opinion of me, and it leads people to like Techdirt less, I can sue you for damages?

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 10:49pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: If not objective, then it's a smear.

            Does Mr. Masnick have a law degree?

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:41am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If not objective, then it's a smear.

              Why isn't "phonetic" spelled the way it sounds?

              Just as relevant as your question.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 10:32am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If not objective, then it's a smear.

              Do you? Does it matter?

              The burden of proof in a defamation case has nothing to do with your popularity.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 11:07pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: If not objective, then it's a smear.

            So, if you have a negative opinion of me, and it leads people to like Techdirt less, I can sue you for damages?

            I think it's more like: if you label me as part of a hate group (or a Nazi), and someone decides to assault or kill me because of it, you should be held responsible for your reckless behavior.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 7:51am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If not objective, then it's a smear.

              I'd say the person most responsible for somebody assaulting or killing you would be the person assaulting or killing you.

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              • icon
                Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 8:43am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If not objective, then it's a smear.

                Most responsible, yes. Only one responsible, no.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 9:04am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If not objective, then it's a smear.

                  Most responsible, yes. Only one responsible, no.

                  So then, would you support a change to the current very-high bar for incitement to violence as an exception to speech?

                  As it stands, you can only be held responsible for incitement if your speech is intended and likely to cause imminent unlawful action, not simply any action that is inspired by it after the fact. So if you're leading a rally and you point at someone and say "grab that guy and lynch him right now", that would cross the line - but even if you say something as odious as "we should lynch people" and later someone does, you're not legally responsible.

                  So when Gavin McInnes goes on the Joe Rogan show and says "go out and choke a tranny", he's currently not liable if someone who watches it goes out and chokes someone - even though he was making a general call for violence, he wasn't making a specific call that was designed to immediately produce unlawful action.

                  Are you calling for a change to that standard?

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 10:37am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If not objective, then it's a smear.

                  Sounds as though you support the claim that political posters showing your opponent's head with a rifle scope reticle superimposed constitutes incitement of violence against that person.

                  One such incident occurred but was met with much hand waving, excuse making and other such silliness as everyone knows wtf was going on.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 9:12pm

          Re: Re: Re: If not objective, then it's a smear.

          Do ou know what another name for a “hair-splittining legalistic”?

          A judge.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Qwertygiy, 5 Feb 2019 @ 12:58pm

        To my surprise...

        It looks like there is, in fact, a definition accepted by the U.S. Government, if not enshrined in law.

        "Hate Group–An organization whose primary purpose is to promote animosity, hostility, and malice against persons of or with a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity which differs from that of the members or the organization, e.g., the Ku Klux Klan, American Nazi Party."

        Page 15 of this PDF, the FBI's Hate Crime Data Collection Guidelines and Training Manual: https://ucr.fbi.gov/hate-crime-data-collection-guidelines-and-training-manual.pdf

        According to Wikipedia, the FBI's definition has remained largely unchanged since at least 1999.

        If this counts as a legally-citable definition (IANAL, so all I can tell you is "this is not a law, per se"), then the debate is no longer on whether "hate group" is an opinion about whether a group is hateful, but rather, upon whether it is a matter of opinion that an organization's primary purpose is to promote animosity, hostility, and malice against one of the listed classes.

        Worthy of note: "political beliefs" are not one of the listed classes. Attacking liberals or democrats because said liberals or democrats are African-Americans: yes. Attacking liberals or democrats because said liberals or democrats are homosexuals: yes. Attacking liberals or democrats because said liberals or democrats are non-binary genderqueer munchkins: yes. Attacking liberals or democrats simply because they are liberals or democrats. no.

        If this is not a legally-citable definition, then I believe the article holds without question.

        If it is, well, it's still an extremely uphill battle. Here's a couple of other articles (one with a direct relation to each side, to keep it fair!) that haven't been affected by defamation lawsuits:

        [https://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-racist-racism-white-supremacy-hate-group-727773](12 /21/17: Newsweek article starts out with, "Donald Trump is a one-man hate group.")

        [https://townhall.com/columnists/joshgoldstein/2017/07/26/splc-hate-group-n2360208](7/ 26/17: TownHall article titled, "Southern Poverty Law Center Is a Hate Group")

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        • identicon
          Qwertygiy, 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:11pm

          Re: To my surprise...

          (Note for TechDirt webmasters: it would be nice to have a "preview" option when submitting comments so that we can see when we mess up our markdown, heh.)

          As far as legal searches for "hate group", I found one undefined reference in federal statutes. Additionally, the term was added to the heading of the section in 1996, and removed again in 2002.

          https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/481 (on discrimination in the military)

          "Each such survey shall be conducted so as to identify and assess the extent (if any) of activity among such members that may be seen as so-called “hate group” activity."

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:19pm

            Re: Re: To my surprise...

            The preview button is right next to "submit"

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            • identicon
              Qwertygiy, 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:32pm

              Re: Re: Re: To my surprise...

              Welp. That it is. Right there. The very button I lamented not existing. Next to the button I had to push to send my lament of non-existence.

              I'd blame it on the liquor, except I don't drink.

              I'd blame it on the moon, except I'm a non-lycanthropic cis-dude.

              I'd blame it on optical deformities, except I'm wearing my glasses.

              I'd blame it on Mike for conspiring with Google to hide it from me until I complained about it, except I'm not blue.

              So according to music, that leaves to blame it on the boogie, the rain, the stones, the sun, the bossa nova, the summer night, my last affair, or me.

              Gonna have to go with Evanascence here. You can blame it on me.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:46pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: To my surprise...

                LOL. I always blame me missing things that are right in front of me on an invisible rebellion.

                Just like all spelling mistakes I make are a result of my keyboard conspiring with my computer to start a hardware rebellion against my rule.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:24pm

          Re: To my surprise...

          The thing is, Coleman has already stated that their hate group classification is a matter of opinion -- and the SPLC isn't referencing the FBI definition from what I can see.

          As far as this case goes, that means the argument about an accepted definition holds no water. If Coleman were to revise the case, it might have legs -- he has a number of good points, but has founded all his arguments on a platform that doesn't exist.

          This brings me to a few other observations:

          1) is it possible that Coleman intentionally (and under misguided instruction from his client) torpedoed this case so it would be thrown out? And/or could his inclusion of the hate crime bits be so that the courts would possibly put forward some opinion that the designation of hate speech itself is unconstitutional?

          2) The job of a lawyer is to represent the client. So while all the flaws in this case need to be put at Coleman's door, calling his reputation into question for representing someone with whom we disagree does not look good on TechDirt, even if it's once again subjective. Sure, he's the prosecuting attorney and chose to take this case, but I'm all for legal discourse as well as free speech, as long as it doesn't head into SLAPP territory -- which this suit may just enter (but that's a matter of opinion too until proven otherwise).

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          • icon
            Toom1275 (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:28pm

            Re: Re: To my surprise...

            See also:

            "Techdirt is defaming me because they aren't using my custom definition of Email that puts me as its inventor!"

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Mason Wheeler (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:45pm

            Re: Re: To my surprise...

            The thing is, Coleman has already stated that their hate group classification is a matter of opinion -- and the SPLC isn't referencing the FBI definition from what I can see.

            Yes, that's the point. Words have meanings. "Hate group" means something to most people: it means the Klan. It means neo-Nazis. It means a very specific mental image, and the SPLC is well-aware of that. Playing Humpty Dumpty and declaring that they're using their own personal definition instead of the real one that everyone else uses is incredibly dishonest, and deliberately doing so to cause harm to others is defamation.

            If I said "Fred is a killer," and then Fred sued me for defamation, and I tried to weasel out of it by saying "oh, by 'killer' I don't actually mean 'person who kills someone else;' I was using my own special definition that means something else entirely!", would you expect any reasonable court to buy that?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:58pm

              Re: Re: Re: To my surprise...

              would you expect any reasonable court to buy that?

              Yes because what you said is clearly opinion. And "Killer" has wide interpretation in the current culture across multiple other areas. Like you could say your intention was to say "Fred is a lady killer". That has a completely different connotation. Even if you meant "Fred is a murderer", I would imagine nearly any court would see that as hyperbole and/or opinion.

              Now if you said "I saw Fred murder a young woman named Nancy on 5th and vine" - that is likely actionable.

              But I am not a lawyer, so take all of this with some salt.

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            • identicon
              Qwertygiy, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:03pm

              Re: Re: Re: To my surprise...

              Not that you your point is entirely meaningless... but I feel like a tongue-in-cheek response must be made to your analogy.

              Yo, dude, you're killing it on the drums!

              That's a killer shirt. Far out.

              Be careful, that Mr. Casanova fellow is a reknowned lady-killer.

              Though Mr. Smith gave long, passionate pleas against the defendant, the cross-examination absolutely killed him.

              Context is as important as the word choice itself.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Mason Wheeler (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:06pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: To my surprise...

                Yes, of course context matters. Let's assume, in the interest of brevity, clarity, and not being obnoxious, pedantic people that no one likes, that the context in question was exactly what it sounds like: insinuating that Fred had murdered somebody.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Qwertygiy, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:55pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: To my surprise...

                  Remember, lawyers and lawmakers are generally the most pedantic people on the planet, so it's important to dip into pedantry now and then when discussing it, because that's how the lawyers will interpret it on both sides of a case.

                  It still depends on how you said it, where you said it, and what results it had.

                  If it doesn't harm Frank's reputation any, then it's a no-show no matter what you said. You can say it all you want on comment boards and to your Mom and at the local pub, but unless Frank is adversely affected, and what you said was a direct cause of his adverse affect, it's not defamation.

                  If you publish a news article that says "Frank is a killer", and he gets fired or harassed by people who read the article, now Frank has a case.

                  If Frank actually killed someone, or has claimed to be one, it's not defamation. (This is the Truth defense.)

                  If you prefaced it with "I suspect" or "It seems like" or "I am convinced that" or any other number of wide-ranging qualifiers that show you're not presenting it as a cold, hard fact, it's not defamation. (This is the Opinion defense.)

                  If you state it in such a way that it is unlikely to be reasonably interpreted as being presented as truth, it's not defamation. (This is the InfoWars defense, and the historical fiction defense.)

                  If you were writing in satire or parody, it's not defamation. (This is the Onion defense.)

                  If you were passing along a statement made by someone else, it's not defamation. (This is the Buzzfeed Russia leak defense.)

                  If Frank is a public figure, such as, oh, say, the leader of a national group that shows up to controversial rallies, or even someone who was in attendance at a controversial rally, he has to prove that you said it while already knowing (or not caring) that what you said was false, and that you said it in an intentional attempt to cause harm to him. (This is the Donald Trump Twitter defense.)

                  If Frank already had a bad reputation before you said anything, you might not be immune from punishment, but it makes it a lot harder for him to prove that you're the reason why something bad happened to him. (This is the anti-Joe Arpaio defense.)

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 3:24pm

                    Milkovich v Lorain Joural [was Re: To my surprise...]

                    If you prefaced it with "I suspect" or "It seems like" or "I am convinced that" or any other number of wide-ranging qualifiers that show you're not presenting it as a cold, hard fact, it's not defamation. (This is the Opinion defense.)

                    That's not what then-Chief Justice Rehnquist said in the landmark case of Milkovich v Lorain Journal (1990). Rather, in that case, he wrote for the court—

                    If a speaker says, “In my opinion John Jones is a liar,” he implies a knowledge of facts which lead to the conclusion that Jones told an untruth. Even if the speaker states the facts upon which he bases his opinion, if those facts are either incorrect or incomplete, or if his assessment of them is erroneous, the statement may still imply a false assertion of fact. Simply couching such statements in terms of opinion does not dispel these implications; and the statement, “In my opinion Jones is a liar,” can cause as much damage to reputation as the statement, “Jones is a liar.” As Judge Friendly aptly stated: “[It] would be destructive of the law of libel if a writer could escape liability for accusations of [defamatory conduct] simply by using, explicitly or implicitly, the words “I think.’ ”

                    It seems to me rather likely that Milkovich v Lorain Journal will be cited in the upcoming briefing, so everyone who's interested might as well read through it now, and find out what it actually says — if they aren't already familiar with it.

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                    • icon
                      Mason Wheeler (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 3:29pm

                      Re: Milkovich v Lorain Joural [was Re: To my surprise...]

                      As Judge Friendly aptly stated: “[It] would be destructive of the law of libel if a writer could escape liability for accusations of [defamatory conduct] simply by using, explicitly or implicitly, the words “I think.’ ”

                      Yes, this exactly. If there exists some magic weasel words that act as a get-out-of-defamation-free card, then it basically renders the entire notion of defamation meaningless.

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                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 3:49pm

                        Re: Re: Milkovich v Lorain Joural [was Re: To my surprise...]

                        Yes, this exactly. If there exists some magic weasel words that act as a get-out-of-defamation-free card, then it basically renders the entire notion of defamation meaningless.

                        This is not the argument made in the lawsuit. The lawsuit acknowledges that the SPLC's designations are statements of opinion - but claims that because some people give them great weight and use them as though they were objective determinations, the SPLC should be held liable for them as if they were statements of fact. It has nothing to do with weasel words, and SPLC designations are not preceded with "I think" anyway.

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                        • identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:52am

                          Re: Re: Re: Milkovich v Lorain Joural [was Re: To my surprise...

                          Seems to me you two are in agreement but misunderstanding each other, at least in the latter case. Mason didn't say that an opinion is automatically free from defamation. Quite the opposite. He's arguing that even an opinion can be defamation and that there is no way to couch an opinion in such a way as to avoid potential defamation.

                          I'm neither agreeing nor disagreeing.

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                          • identicon
                            Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 8:11am

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Milkovich v Lorain Joural [was Re: To my surpris

                            That's not the disagreement.

                            Yes, there are circumstances in which an opinion can be defamation - though they are very narrow. They aren't really about the opinion itself being defamatory, but about the statement of opinion implying the knowledge of (false) facts that are themselves defamatory. But my point is: that's a largely irrelevant conversation here, because that's not the argument made in the lawsuit.

                            Rather, the lawsuit proposes an entirely new theory for how an opinion can become defamatory: the idea that if other groups, entirely independent of the speaker, give that opinion weight and defer to it as though it were fact, then the speaker's free speech rights should be diminished and they should be liable for a statement of opinion which would otherwise be protected. That's a very dangerous idea.

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                    • identicon
                      Qwertygiy, 5 Feb 2019 @ 3:42pm

                      Re: Milkovich v Lorain Joural [was Re: To my surprise...]

                      You are correct, the mere fact that it is phrased as opinion is not in itself a defense.

                      "A defamatory communication may consist of a statement in the form of an opinion, but a statement of this nature is actionable only if it implies the allegation of undisclosed defamatory facts as the basis for the opinion."

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                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 3:46pm

                        Re: Re: Milkovich v Lorain Joural [was Re: To my surprise...]

                        The lawsuit does not, however, allege this. It does not make the argument that the SPLC's opinion implies the knowledge of undisclosed defamatory facts. At present, this does not appear to be an issue the SPLC will need to respond to or one the court will consider, as it has not been raised.

                        Rather, the lawsuit makes the argument that the statement of opinion that is the SPLC's designation should be treated as a statement of fact.

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                        • icon
                          Mason Wheeler (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 3:50pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Milkovich v Lorain Joural [was Re: To my surprise...

                          Rather, the lawsuit makes the argument that the statement of opinion that is the SPLC's designation should be treated as a statement of fact.

                          Which isn't unreasonable in this particular case, even if it is in the general case (which I agree, it generally should be!) given that so many groups, including law enforcement agencies, are known to treat it as such.

                          With great power comes great responsibility.

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                          • identicon
                            Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 3:52pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Milkovich v Lorain Joural [was Re: To my surpris

                            Law enforcement agencies do not treat the SPLC's designations as a "statement of fact", they treat it as a trusted opinion

                            People trusting your opinion doesn't diminish your freedom of speech.

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                            • identicon
                              Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:55am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Milkovich v Lorain Joural [was Re: To my sur

                              That may be true for you and I (at least it would be in my case) because our opinions don't hold sway over others to the degree that a public official's or trusted organization's opinions do. There has to be a line drawn somewhere to differentiate when someone's opinion can be deemed defamatory simply due to their level of influence on others.

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                              • identicon
                                Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 8:13am

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Milkovich v Lorain Joural [was Re: To my

                                There has to be a line drawn somewhere to differentiate when someone's opinion can be deemed defamatory simply due to their level of influence on others.

                                What do you mean there "has to be"? Why? Why should people's free speech rights be contingent on what other people, who they have no control over, do?

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                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 4:19pm

                        Re: Re: Milkovich v Lorain Joural [was Re: To my surprise...]

                        Basically the difference between:

                        "He's an alcoholic." versus:

                        "I saw him down fourteen screwdrivers at the bar last night . He's an alcoholic."

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 4:21pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: To my surprise...

                    The "you can't rape a prostitute argument."

                    Defamation law hasn't caught up to the internet. Want section 230? Fine. Eliminate the single-publication rule and let Plaintiffs have jurisdiction.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:38pm

              Re: Re: Re: To my surprise...

              It also mean the proud boys. I mean if the show fits bro...

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 12:20pm

      Re:

      For this argument, the most anyone should get is nominal damages and a declaration that the epithet is technically defamatory.

      $2 in damages like with Food Lion, or $1 trebled as in Trump's USFL v. NFL

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 12:22pm

      Re:

      I don't know anything about Gavin McInnes or the Proud Boys; this article was the first I've ever heard of either of them.

      Ahh. The "he was only a low-level intern" and "i never interacted with him" defense.

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      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 12:24pm

        Re: Re:

        ...huh?

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        • identicon
          Prinny, 5 Feb 2019 @ 12:27pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Don't feed the trolls, dood. Just flag the post and leave it at that.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 12:37pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I'll translate: For someone who has never heard of either Mr. McInnes or Proud Boys, you sure are very confident that the SPLC is lying about them and their actions. I am saying that I think your claims of ignorance are you stretching the boundaries of truth.

          Especially as a frequent commenter on this site. The Proud boys (and their "lawyer" JL Van Dyke) have appeared multiple times. You even commented on a Van Dyke article. So I find complete ignorance questionable.

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          • icon
            Mason Wheeler (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 12:45pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I'll translate: For someone who has never heard of either Mr. McInnes or Proud Boys, you sure are very confident that the SPLC is lying about them and their actions.

            This is because, as I pointed out, I have heard of the SPLC and I'm familiar with their history, both early and recent.

            Especially as a frequent commenter on this site. The Proud boys (and their "lawyer" JL Van Dyke) have appeared multiple times. You even commented on a Van Dyke article.

            Lawyers frequently take on multiple clients. Who was JL Van Dyke representing in the article I commented on? (Which article was it anyway?)

            Your insinuations notwithstanding, the fact remains that I've never heard of these guys before today. Please go away if you have nothing constructive to say.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:01pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              This is because, as I pointed out, I have heard of the SPLC and I'm familiar with their history, both early and recent.

              Ahh so you believe that everyone they go after is being defamed? that SPLC only goes after good people?

              Lawyers frequently take on multiple clients. Who was JL Van Dyke representing in the article I commented on? (Which article was it anyway?)

              I do not have the article up anymore, but a simple site search your name and his will give you the article. Until recently Jason was pretty much only notable for being their lawyer. An asshole too. But mostly for his allegiance to that group. It is possible you read the article and the comments never once coming across the affiliation. But again, you frequent this site and they are a frequent topic. So I still doubt your claim.

              Please go away if you have nothing constructive to say. Bless your heart

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:04pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Gah. Foiled by copy and paste and markdown. The "Bless your heart" was my response. not Mr. Wheeler's

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:29pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Time to get in the habit of pressing the Preview button instead of the submit button ;)

                  (for me too)

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 9:21pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Dig up stupid

              The fact remains you’ve done here today, what Mcinnis did to his reputation over the last couple years. By being mind bendingly obtuse, deliberately ignorant, and just dwarf stubborn, no matter how many times it’s pointed out you are manifestly wrong. You’ve made sure no one here who is remotely familiar with you will take one thing you say seriously from now on.

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          • icon
            Ed (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 9:03am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I immediately had the same conclusion about Mr. Wheeler. Doesn't pass the smell test, for certain.

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      • identicon
        Qwertygiy, 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:21pm

        Re: Re:

        Ahh. The "you dislike red, therefore you must be blue" argument. (More properly known as the false dilemma fallacy.)

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      • icon
        Ed (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 9:05am

        Re: Re:

        I had the same immediate thought when reading Mr. Wheeler's equivocation.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 12:41pm

      Re:

      It's funny how you simultaneously claim to know nothing about the situation but also immediately assume the SPLC is "lying."

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      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 12:49pm

        Re: Re:

        What I said is that I know nothing about the plaintiff. But I do know about the defendant. Also, from the article:

        To that end, SPLC acknowledges that its goal is to destroy organizations and persons it targets as “hate groups” or as members of “hate groups” as a matter of “political struggle,” even if those targets do not qualify based on the broadly-understood definitions above.

        That right there, independent of the details of this case, is lying. They may not like the term, but that's what it is. It's lying with the deliberate, malicious intent to do harm to others, which is defamation.

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        • icon
          Toom1275 (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 12:59pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You do realize that that bit you quoted came from the plaintiff and not a factual source, right?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:11pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Wait. The lawsuit lays out both the FBI's definition, as well as its own definition, of "hate group," and that quote from the lawsuit is criticizing it for not adhering to that definition of "hate group."

          I can understand how labelling a group as a "hate group" contrary to your own definition would be lying, but how it "lying" to label such a group contrary to someone else's definition, especially if you disagree on the definition of what constitutes a "hate group" in the first place?

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        • identicon
          Bobo, 5 Feb 2019 @ 3:14pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Your objective proof that the SPLC is lying is that the plaintiff in this lawsuit says they are? You know you don't HAVE to have an opinion on this, maybe leave it to people who are more informed.

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    • identicon
      Nate P Cilver, 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:26pm

      Re: This lawsuit is pointless

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:57pm

        Re: Re: This lawsuit is pointless

        Paywall. For defamation, the devil is in the details. The case referenced that they settled may well have had merit where this one doesn't.

        With the paywall, though, all that's available on that site is a brief blurb indicating that there's going to be a settlement. Care to expound on the details of the case?

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        • identicon
          Baron von Robber, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:22pm

          Re: Re: Re: This lawsuit is pointless

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:42pm

          Re: Re: Re: This lawsuit is pointless

          Except this Techdirt article seems to claim that being falsely accused of being an extremist by the SPLC always has no merit.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:56pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: This lawsuit is pointless

            Except it’s not a false accusation. And even if it was it’s protected speech. So yeah.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 6:29pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: This lawsuit is pointless

              Well, I guess we can just throw out all trials and have you decide, oh arbiter of truth.

              According to those articles it does not seem to be quite as protected as you think. Did your mom drink excessively while pregnant or were you just a failed abortion?

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 11:18am

                Hi Gavin! So glad you could join us.

                You got nothing but personal insults eh? Not surprising since you seem to be a thin skinned prick. Maybe you should pick a friendlier forum, lest we start making fun of your white trash $8 costcutters coupon haircut. Also perhaps try dressing like an adult and not like your mom scored big off the clearance rack at JC Penny’s.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 4:15pm

          Re: Re: Re: This lawsuit is pointless

          They apologized for labeling someone anti-Muslim, which can lead to a Fatwa, about the most serious consequence.

          Should a court have said "this is opinion" even if it might have driven Muslim factions to kill the person? That's not too far removed from what's said here.

          I see many who claim to be for equality stereotyping white men as evil, which I don't think is fair.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 5:59pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: This lawsuit is pointless

            You got some proof for accusation there bro? Just kidding we both know you’re talking out of your ass.

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              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 10:04pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: This lawsuit is pointless

              Proof for what? That islamistic nutcases might use violence against critics? Or proof that the SPLC was majorly confused when putting Maajid Navaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali on their lists?

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    • icon
      Thad (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:46pm

      Re:

      "Hate group" is a term with a pretty standard, commonly-understood meaning.

      1. What is that meaning?
      2. Can you make a case for why "the Proud Boys are a hate group" is a statement of fact, not of opinion?
      3. Can you make a case for why "the Proud Boys are a hate group" is a false statement of fact?

      I don't know anything about Gavin McInnes or the Proud Boys; this article was the first I've ever heard of either of them. But given the SPLC's recent track record, it seems more likely that he's just another one of their victims rather than a legitimate bad guy, and it's good to see someone trying to hold them accountable for what sure looks like real defamation.

      I mean, I guess if you're going to defend white supremacists, it's better to do it because you couldn't be bothered to do a cursory Google search before opening your mouth than to do it intentionally. But you know, maybe next time try not defending white supremacists at all? That's my recommendation.

      Regardless of your opinion on the SPLC -- and "they're too trigger-happy in classifying organizations as hate groups" is a perfectly valid opinion! -- declaring that Gavin McInnes is probably not a bad guy based solely on the fact that the SPLC says he is a bad guy is pretty specious reasoning. Maybe don't do that.

      You could have said "I'm not going to just take the SPLC's word for it; I'll have to look into this for myself." That would have been perfectly respectable. Jumping straight to white supremacists' defense while admitting you have no idea who they are? Not a good look.

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      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:56pm

        Re: Re:

        white supremacists

        And here you lose all credibility. Try reading point 33 of the embedded complaint, which quotes from the Proud Boys bylaws, pointing out how they are explicitly anti-white-supremacy.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:01pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You may want to google them real quick. Becasue they are absolutely closely tied to white supremacy.

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          • icon
            Mason Wheeler (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:15pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "Tied" by who? Folks like the SPLC? Yay for circular logic!

            When your fundamental rules explicitly say that anybody who believes in the supremacy of one race over another, (specifically including white supremacists,) cannot become or remain a member of this organization, it's a bit hard to credibly say that this organization is a bunch of white supremacists.

            That's a bit like saying "everyone in the No Lawyers Allowed Club is a practicing attorney at law!" It might be theoretically possible if the entire thing is a big lie, but it sounds kind of absurd on the face of it, especially when there are well-organized, well-funded groups (such as the SPLC) going around making spurious, malicious accusations for political purposes.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:42pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              They are a bunch of white supremists. If you don’t like that inconveinent fact, tough shit. And that sort of makes them by default a hate group. So go get you panties ruffled up somewhere else bro.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:56pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                By default I'm more likely to err on the side of "they probably are white supremacists" but Mason is requesting evidence of their ties.

                Your response doesn't exactly do much to discount the points in the post you've responded to. Rather, if we could get some links to their white supremacist activities etc., that would be a better response.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:59pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I’m not here to cure his ignorance, merely point it out. As he said he didn’t know jack about them before this article. And yet he’s somehow sure they aren’t a bunch of racists.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 6:11am

              Very dark grey is no black

              Mason,

              You're on shaky ground here. Read the following transcript to get some background on these people:

              https://www.thisamericanlife.org/626/transcript

              Yes, they do not claim to be white supremacists, but they hold lots of overlapping ideals and it is a really short trip from where they are.

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        • identicon
          Qwertygiy, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:17pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yeah, and Article 13 is good for small businesses because it says so, and asset forfeiture doesn't target innocent civilians because it says so.

          If I put "This channel does not post copyright-infringing videos" on my YouTube channel, that statement or rule or by-law provides no legal proof that I'm not posting copyright-infringing videos. If I verifiably posted Harry Potter, it doesn't matter if I said I didn't. It doesn't work like that, as much as Trump would like to believe otherwise.

          Now, by no means am I arguing they do support white supremacy based on the fact that they include an anti-white-supremacy clause in one of their rules. That's equally false and much more silly.

          I'm merely stating that a rule alone isn't admissible evidence in defense of their anti-white-supremacy. Fair and equal enforcement of said rule would be, as would a lack of reliable evidence of group members engaging in behavior typical of white supremacy.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 3:29pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          https://www.vox.com/2018/10/15/17978358/proud-boys-gavin-mcinnes-manhattan-gop-violence

          Yawn.

          McInn es left Vice Media in 2008. Since then, he has moved to what he calls the “New Right,” which he seems to define as a combination of “Western chauvinism” and social and political libertarianism or perhaps libertinism (for example, he has written extensively on how women want to be “downright abused” and that he had to stop “playing nice” and begin “totally defiling the women I slept with” to get more women to have sex with him).

          His shift to the far right also included espousing anti-Muslim sentiments (“the Muslim world is filled with shoeless, toothless, inbred, hill-dwelling, rifle-toting, sodomy-prone men”) and an embrace of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiments, including a video he made for the far-right Canadian outlet Rebel Media initially called “10 Things I Hate about Jews” (or as he would later tweet, “10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT THE GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKING JEWS!”). He’s also argued that historically, perhaps Jews “were ostracized for a good reason.”

          These videos, and some of his others, earned him a host of new fans, including David Duke. And though McInnes has attempted to push aside accusations of racism (which he argues doesn’t exist), he has written for both VDare and American Renaissance, the latter the publication of the “race-realist, white advocacy organization” New Century Foundation.

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:17am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Wait, disliking Islam is far right? Last I checked Islam IS the far right.

            Rampant Misogyny? Yep, Islam is far right.

            Women as property? Yep, Islam is far right.

            Murdering Gays? Yep, Islam is far right.

            Theocratic governments? Yep, Islam is far right.

            Hating Jews? Yep, Islam is far right.

            Islam is the religious right on steroids.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 2:17am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              And you are the “looney left” on steroids.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 8:41am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Were you aware that it is entirely possible to engage in/advocate for:

              Rampant Misogyny Women as property Murdering Gays Theocratic governments Hating Jews

              While simultaneously hating Islam and the people that follow it? Were you aware that it is, in fact, very common for right-wing fundamentalists, who may or may not advocate for all of the above, to additionally be incredibly vocally against Muslim/Islamic nations?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 3:42pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Interesting approach you've got here.

          "I know nothing about the plaintiff, but I assume everything they say is true. I dislike the defendant, so I assume everything they say is a lie."

          I mean, I can see why you've reached the conclusion that this is a valid suit, if that's how you're operating - not sure why you think anyone should care at all about your opinion though, given your predetermined conclusion.

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        • icon
          Thad (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 5:46pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          And here you lose all credibility. Try reading point 33 of the embedded complaint, which quotes from the Proud Boys bylaws, pointing out how they are explicitly anti-white-supremacy.

          Oh, well that's different, then. If they say they're not racists, then I guess that means they must not be racists.

          Followup question: how do you define "western chauvinism"? How is it distinct from white supremacy?

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    • icon
      btr1701 (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:37pm

      Re:

      And, now we have yet another similar case, this time involving Proud Boy founder Gavin McInnes suing the Southern Poverty Law Center for defamation concerning SPLC's practice of naming certain individuals and groups as "extremist" on its "Hatewatch" or "Extremist Files" lists.

      The problem is the fact that not only do major media companies (CNN, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) take the SPLC's determinations as gospel and act accordingly, but increasing so do government law enforcement agencies. You can be put on a government watchlist for no other reason than an SPLC brands you with 'hate group' designation.

      If they're going to be the de facto standard for both private and governmental sanction, then there ought to be a way of holding them accountable for their pronouncements.

      Having said that, I'm not sure a defamation suit is the way to go about accomplishing that.

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      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:43pm

        Re: Re:

        Having said that, I'm not sure a defamation suit is the way to go about accomplishing that.

        Depends on how you define "accomplishing." Will it put an end to their politically-motivated serial libel if successful? Probably not. Will it be a meaningful, useful step towards that ultimate goal if successful? That's more likely.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:44pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          It’s still not libel if it’s true bro.

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          • icon
            btr1701 (profile), 7 Feb 2019 @ 12:34pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It’s still not libel if it’s true bro.

            And the SPLC has both admitted to being wrong in the past and also not caring if they're wrong so long as their goal of silencing WrongThink is achieved.

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            • identicon
              Baron von Robber, 8 Feb 2019 @ 9:17am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Evidence?

              I know they admitted wrong on a case that they seemed even happy to pay a settlement. The not caring part, do you have anything?

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              • icon
                btr1701 (profile), 8 Feb 2019 @ 11:43am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "To that end, SPLC acknowledges that its goal is to destroy organizations and persons it targets as "hate groups" or as members of "hate groups" as a matter of "political struggle", even if those targets do not qualify based on the broadly-understood definitions above."

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 4:10pm

        Re: Re:

        How about a lawsuit for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress?

        Or criminal charges for harassment or incitement?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 4:16pm

        Re: Re:

        How about working to change the practices of government and LEOs, so they don't infringe civil rights on the basis of one private group's say-so, at least not without a very transparent process for selecting and frequently reviewing such groups.

        That is a much better approach than trying to punish SPLC for its free speech or exert government control over who expresses opinions and who in the public listens to them. You'd actually be increasing people's civil rights, instead of diminishing them.

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 3:59pm

      Re:

      I dunno. This is the part of the whole thing I find really persuasive. "Hate group" is a term with a pretty standard, commonly-understood meaning.

      No, it's not. And, either way, it's still a statement of opinion.

      Indeed, it's not very dissimilar from the smear from the McInnes and friends that a certain group or individual is an "SJW." Should be they be liable for calling someone an SJW if the reaction to that is that they are banned from certain platforms and they haven't "proved" that the person in question engaged in efforts to promote "social justice"?

      Hate group and hate speech are matters of opinion. Opinion is not defamation. That's literally all there is to it.

      If they are deliberately applying that term to people or organizations that don't fit that meaning, to cause people to believe that they are hate groups by the commonly-understood meaning, well... we have a word for that: lying.

      It's still an opinion statement. And it is not lying to express your opinion. You and I may not like SPLC and their way of designating groups. I agree that they're awful at it and have an itchy trigger finger that diminishes their reputation greatly. I also feel that others take the SPLC designations too seriously. But, again, it is their opinion and even if you want to make their opinion illegal (which, uh, has serious 1st amendment problems), it's even more ridiculous to argue that other people's reactions to someone's opinion magically makes it defamatory.

      You cover a lot of bogus defamation suits on here, but this one looks like the real deal.

      It will be laughed out of court. It is not "the real deal." It is laughably bad.

      They are telling lies about organizations with the deliberate intent to cause harm to them, to "destroy [those] organizations" as they themselves acknowledge. That's another concept we have a word for, and that word is defamation.

      No. That's not how defamation works.

      It's also not how you want defamation to work if you truly believe in free speech.

      In recent years, as the actual hatred they fought against has steadily diminished, the SPLC have undergone a Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation, becoming a full-on hate group (by the proper definition) themselves.

      Fair enough. Are you okay if they sued you for defamation given that they clearly don't meet the "commonly accepted" definition of hate group that you insist everyone knows?

      I don't know anything about Gavin McInnes or the Proud Boys

      Sure, sure.

      But given the SPLC's recent track record, it seems more likely that he's just another one of their victims rather than a legitimate bad guy, and it's good to see someone trying to hold them accountable for what sure looks like real defamation.

      So you speculate wildly based on admission that you don't know the facts of the case, trashing SPLC's reputation in the process. Under YOUR OWN (incorrect) definition of defamation, that's defamation.

      Nice job.

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      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 4:12pm

        Re: Re:

        It's also not how you want defamation to work if you truly believe in free speech.

        It's exactly how I want defamation to work, and it doesn't conflict with a belief in free speech in any way. Free speech has never been an unlimited thing, and it's never covered destroying someone's reputation by spreading lies about them (aka defamation).

        You and I may not like SPLC and their way of designating groups. I agree that they're awful at it and have an itchy trigger finger that diminishes their reputation greatly. I also feel that others take the SPLC designations too seriously.

        That's the understatement of the year! When law enforcement organizations take their designations as gospel (which is a real thing that happens) and people get put on government watch lists because they were on the SPLC "hate list" (which is a real thing that happens) and people get shot because they were on the SPLC "hate list" (which is, again, a real thing that has happened,) how much further does it need to go before you acknowledge they're crossing lines?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 4:17pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "How many things do other people need to do before you'll punish the SPLC for its free speech!"

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          • identicon
            Prinny, 5 Feb 2019 @ 4:19pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The word of the day is "incitement." Look it up, dood!

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            • icon
              Mike Masnick (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 5:17pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The word of the day is "incitement." Look it up, dood!

              Hey, just a suggestion. If you are going to smugly suggest a legal point regarding a specific legal term that has a specific meaning within the law as regards to exceptions to the 1st amendment, you should probably understand that term.

              Nothing SPLC did comes anywhere even in the same area code as incitement as defined by the Supreme Court over the years. It's not even remotely close.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 5:11pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          So basically your entire argument is the heckler's veto should override all free speech? I'm going to strongly disagree with you there.

          Also no matter how many times you repeat it, this is nowhere close to defamation.

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        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 5:14pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          It's exactly how I want defamation to work, and it doesn't conflict with a belief in free speech in any way.

          Then you literally do not believe in free speech, because you no longer support the right of criticism if it has an impact on someone's livelihood.

          Free speech has never been an unlimited thing, and it's never covered destroying someone's reputation by spreading lies about them (aka defamation).

          You hit on an awful lot of these tropes: https://www.popehat.com/2015/05/19/how-to-spot-and-critique-censorship-tropes-in-the-medias-coverage -of-free-speech-controversies/

          That's the understatement of the year! When law enforcement organizations take their designations as gospel (which is a real thing that happens) and people get put on government watch lists because they were on the SPLC "hate list" (which is a real thing that happens) and people get shot because they were on the SPLC "hate list" (which is, again, a real thing that has happened,) how much further does it need to go before you acknowledge they're crossing lines?

          In any of the cases you describe, it is quite possible that individuals would have a clear cause of action <b>against the government</b>, because the government cannot do many of those things. Do they have a cause of action against a private organization stating an opinion. Hell no.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 5:40pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Mike, why are you acting like a garden-variety troll here and completely misrepresenting what he's saying? Come on, you're better than that!

            Then you literally do not believe in free speech, because you no longer support the right of criticism if it has an impact on someone's livelihood.

            If it is a lie. Anyone who does support such criticism when it is a lie is simply not right in the head. That's not "free speech;" that's malicious evil.

            You hit on an awful lot of these tropes: https://www.popehat.com/2015/05/19/how-to-spot-and-critique-censorship-tropes-in-the-medias-coverage -of-free-speech-controversies/

            I see one that he hits on--the one about there being limits to free speech--which the author immediately goes on to say is indisputably true but is usually used to cover a bunch of "limits" that aren't real, such as [a bunch of examples that are not what is being discussed here.] Elsewhere, it mentions that defamation is one of the few legitimate exception to free speech protections.

            Sorry, Mike, but you are completely, totally, 100% in the wrong here, and continuing to double down on it is just making you lose respect.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 5:54pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I see one that he hits on

              OK. How about this one that specifically discusses SPLC and hate group designation? https://www.popehat.com/2017/06/29/how-the-southern-poverty-law-center-enraged-nominal- conservatives-into-betraying-free-speech-values/

              Here, I will quote you a relevant paragraph so you can be lazy:

              But the SPLC's conduct is core, classic political speech. Ranting political generalizations about other people and groups and parties is exactly what the First Amendment protects. The SPLC's classification of a dizzying array of entities as "hate groups" may be unfair, unprincipled, immature, and even immoral. But it's also opinion absolutely protected by the First Amendment. Only provable statements of fact can be defamatory. It's certainly possible that the SPLC could make a false and defamatory statement of fact about a group in the course of classifying it as a "hate group" — for instance, by falsely attributing a statement to the group, or falsely claiming the group participated in some specific act. But that's not what's at issue in Liberty Counsel's cowardly-indirect attack on the SPLC. Their complaint says the defamation is the "hate group" classification. "Hate" and "hate group" are not provable statements of fact. They're opinion. You may think the opinion is stupid and without basis, but that doesn't magically turn it into a fact. You may think that having such an opinion expressed about you is very harmful, but that doesn't turn it into a fact either. "Hate group" occupies a place in the American lexicon with "SJW" and "cuck" and "fake news" and "far left" and "extremist" and "death party" and "party of death" and "libtard" and "wingnut" and anything else you'll see people shout at each other on Twitter. "Hate" and "hate group" aren't factually provable, because they're based on opinion. The opinion that being against gay marriage or affirmative action or generous immigration makes you a "hate group" may be stupid, but it's inescapably an opinion.

              ...is just making you lose respect.

              I am sure Mike is devastated that someone who is trying to limit free speech and open up libel/defamation lawsuits for protected speech is disappointed with him.

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                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 2:39am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                He is obviously not at all “devastated” by what anyone thinks about him - just look at the “awards” he accepts and who he accepts them with: convicted traitors to their own country.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2019 @ 2:06pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Just like a hate crime cannot be proven

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        • icon
          Matthew Cline (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 5:23pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          When law enforcement organizations take their designations as gospel (which is a real thing that happens) and people get put on government watch lists because they were on the SPLC "hate list" (which is a real thing that happens)

          Then those organizations should be sued, and/or laws passed to prevent them from using the statements of a private organizations like that.

          and people get shot because they were on the SPLC "hate list" (which is, again, a real thing that has happened,)

          Lets say that say that I had a blog with a large following, and in the past when I've wrote "So-and-so is a horrible person" that So-and-so got shot at. Now if I'd cultivated an audience of people who are likely to go out and shoot anyone I declare to be a horrible person, or if elsewhere I've implied that anyone I declare a horrible person deserves to die, I could understand wanting to hold me accountable. Are you claiming that SPLC has acted like that? Or is it that you consider "hate group" to not be a statement of opinion while "horrible person" is a statement of opinion? Or, in my hypothetical situation do you think that once people started shooting at people I declared to be horrible that I should be legally required to keep my mouth shut even if I hadn't done anything to influence the situation? If so, should I be held responsible if sharing true facts about So-and-so (which aren't invasion of privacy or doxxing) leads to So-and-so getting shot?

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          • identicon
            Prinny, 5 Feb 2019 @ 8:31pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Put it this way, dood. If you know (or reasonably should have known) that your actions will indirectly have certain harmful consequences, and you do it anyway, and harm occurs, you can still be held liable for any number of things, such as negligence or reckless endangerment, depending on the circumstances.

            Why should it be any different if the action in question is telling lies about someone, rather than something more physical? Nobody likes double standards, except the sleazebags who profit off them.

            If the SPLC knows ahead of time how people are using their words, and then they say something and people respond to it in a consistent, predictable manner, then yes, they absolutely are responsible for what happened. They're not the only ones responsible, of course, but they definitely should share significantly in the blame and the punishment. Any law or ruling that says otherwise is horrendously unjust.

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            • icon
              Matthew Cline (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 10:13pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              They're not the only ones responsible, of course, but they definitely should share significantly in the blame and the punishment. Any law or ruling that says otherwise is horrendously unjust.

              If that applies to not just lies, but also to opinions and true facts, then it gives a third parties the ability to unilaterally silence a speaker (heckler's veto). If someone didn't like John Doe talking about XYZ then they could anonymously threaten Doe that they'll assault/murder a random person the next time Doe talks about XYZ, and then Doe will have to just hope that it's a bluff if he wants to keep talking about the subject.

              Or, as another scenario, say that there's someone who is openly a neo-Nazi (self-identifies as a Nazi, swastika armband, etc). I truthfully say on Twitter that he's a neo-Nazi, someone reads that and based on that knowledge goes out and shoots him. If I'm punished by the law because the shooter found out that info from me, people are going to think "this piece of information about So-and-so is going to make people pissed off at him, so maybe I'd better not share it".

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              • identicon
                Prinny, 6 Feb 2019 @ 2:56am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                If that applies to not just lies, but also to opinions and true facts, then it gives a third parties the ability to unilaterally silence a speaker (heckler's veto)

                Yes, this is true, dood. Which is why I specifically said it should apply to lies, and did not say it should apply to the truth. Please don't get into whataboutism here, dood!

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                • icon
                  Matthew Cline (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 3:06am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Please don't get into whataboutism here, dood!

                  I wasn't intending to imply that anyone here was being hypocritical. (Or, if by "whataboutism" you mean something other than "[...] a variant of the tu quoque logical fallacy that attempts to discredit an opponent's position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument ..." then I'm not sure what you mean)

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 5:41pm

        Opinion is not defamation [was Re: Re: ]

        Opinion is not defamation. That's literally all there is to it.

        That's not “all there is to it” —and I shouldn't have to— but I'll point you to Judge Saylor's discussion of this exact point on pp.12-13 of Ayyadurai v Floor64 (D.Mass. 2017)

        [B]ecause statements must be false to be actionable, “defamatory statements are not punishable unless they are capable of being proved true or false.” Accordingly, subjective statements and statements of opinion are protected under the First Amendment as long as they do not “present[] or impl[y] the existence of facts which are capable of being proven true or false.”

        … which of course continues through…

        Finally, “where a statement of ‘opinion’ on a matter of public concern reasonably implies false and defamatory facts regarding public figures or officials, those individuals must show that such statements were made with knowledge of their false implications or with reckless disregard of their truth,” or, in other words, with “actual malice.”

        (Citations omitted in both extracts.)

        In these paragraphs, as you know, Judge Saylor repeatedly cites Milkovich (1990). And that case very explicitly says:

        We are not persuaded that, in addition to these protections, an additional separate constitutional privilege for "opinion" is required to ensure the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment.

        So, it's not “literally all there is to it”, and not only should you know better, but you ought to make sure that your readers are not misled on this point in this discussion.

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        • identicon
          Prinny, 5 Feb 2019 @ 6:01pm

          Re: Opinion is not defamation [was Re: Re: ]

          Wow, that's amazing. Great find, dood!

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        • icon
          Gwiz (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 8:28am

          Re: Opinion is not defamation [was Re: Re: ]

          So, it's not “literally all there is to it”, and not only should you know better, but you ought to make sure that your readers are not misled on this point in this discussion.

          I'm a little confused. Your quotations basically say that opinions are not defamation as long as those opinions are actually opinions and not presentations of untrue facts.

          So where, exactly, is the "more" that isn't part of the "literally all there is to it"?

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 9:44am

            Re: Re: Opinion is not defamation [was Re: Re: ]

            So where, exactly, is the "more" that isn't part of the "literally all there is to it"?

            Did you notice that in summarizing the quotations, you yourself did not merely write “opinions are not defamation…”. Instead, you had to go on just a little bit there to write your own summary. Mike's words, “literally all there is to it”, taken literally, state that you could have just stopped after the first phrase, “opinions are not defamation”. But you yourself didn't stop there.

            What makes this material is what the court said in Milkovich v Lorain Journal (1990).

            In that case then-Chief Justice Rehnquist summed up that argument that was pressed upon that court, as—

            Respondents would have us recognize, in addition to the established safeguards discussed above, still another First Amendment-based protection for defamatory statements which are categorized as "opinion" as opposed to "fact."

            In other words, the respondents in that case essentially wanted he court to say what Mike said, “Opinion is not defamation. That's literally all there is to it.”. The court explicitly declined that invitation.

            The court, in characterizing their prior cases at that time, wrote—

            [W]e do not think this passage from Gertz was intended to create a wholesale defamation exemption for anything that might be labeled "opinion."

            And the court came to the conclusion—

            We are not persuaded that, in addition to these protections, an additional separate constitutional privilege for "opinion" is required to ensure the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment.

            So in this case, the court is rejecting that idea, “Opinion is not defamation. That's literally all there is to it.”

            Instead, as you yourself had to do in summarizing the extracts I provided earlier, the court has said there's a bit more than that to the test.

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            • icon
              Thad (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 10:30am

              Re: Re: Re: Opinion is not defamation [was Re: Re: ]

              That's a lot of words to not answer the question. Here, I'll help you.

              An opinion can be defamatory if it implies false facts. "He's a racist" is a protected opinion. "He's a racist; I heard what he said when his mic was off and the cameras weren't rolling" is a potentially defamatory opinion, because it implies facts that are not stated. If the person you're talking about didn't actually say anything when his mic was off and the cameras weren't rolling, then that's a defamatory statement of opinion.

              So yes, it's true that statements of opinion can be defamatory. However, I'm not seeing any evidence that that's the case in this story.

              The SPLC's designation of the Proud Boys as a hate group is based on disclosed facts, which are detailed on SPLC's website and in its literature. McInnes is not disputing that the quotes attributed to him and other Proud Boys are substantially accurate; instead, he's nitpicking figures of speech like "winkingly". He's disagreeing with the conclusions the SPLC has drawn, but not with the facts those conclusions are based on.

              In other words, he doesn't have a defamation case.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 10:34am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Opinion is not defamation [was Re: Re: ]

                Exactly.

                To make this even more direct for folks following along:

                Statements of opinion can be defamatory, but not because the opinions themselves are defamatory.

                Opinions are never defamatory. Statements of them can be, but only because they can imply something beyond the opinion itself

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                • icon
                  Gwiz (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 11:12am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Opinion is not defamation [was Re: Re: ]

                  Yes, exactly.

                  Thank you for skillfully wording what I was having trouble expressing coherently myself.

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            • icon
              Gwiz (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 10:54am

              Re: Re: Re: Opinion is not defamation [was Re: Re: ]

              So in this case, the court is rejecting that idea, “Opinion is not defamation. That's literally all there is to it.”

              That's not my take on reading Milkovich. My opinion (lol) is that the court was saying this:

              "Opinion is not defamation and the presentation of untrue facts is defamation, but the presentation of untrue facts couched within opinion can also be defamation."

               

              Instead, as you yourself had to do in summarizing the extracts I provided earlier, the court has said there's a bit more than that to the test.

              I'm not sure I would word it that way myself. There isn't really "a bit more than that to the test" because the "test" itself determines if the statement is truly opinion or not. Once it's determined the statement is truly opinion, the defamation claim is denied.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 11:40am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Opinion is not defamation [was Re: Re: ]

                … the "test" itself determines if the statement is truly opinion or not.

                As long as you keep the test of falsifiability as the determiner of the category, then I don't necessarily see a huge, immediate problem in using the label “opinion” as the name of of the category.

                The huge problem down the road, though, is that there's a tyranny to labels. They tend to become despotic.

                When the test of set membership becomes abstractly shortened to whether the facts fit comfortably underneath the categorical label, then the name “opinion” starts to exert its own connotative aspects. You may begin to merely ask “is it opinion?” and thus neglect to actually ask, “are there falsifiable facts implicated?”

                And that's what I read the court as explicitly rejecting. The court doesn't want the label —the name of the category— — “opinion” — to overwhelm the true test of set membership.

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            • icon
              Gwiz (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:04pm

              Re: Re: Re: Opinion is not defamation [was Re: Re: ]

              Why is this comment flagged?

              I simply asked this AC to clarify his/her position and his/her response was well thought out and polite. We even came to understanding of each other's position by the end of the thread, which ended being more of vernacular variation than anything else.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:45pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Opinion is not defamation [was Re: Re: ]

                Why is this comment flagged?

                Somewhat curiously, I agree that a third-party view shows my response to you there as hidden. ‘Somewhat curiously’, because that wasn't immediately apparent to me from my usual view.

                Thanks for mentioning it.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:23am

        Re: Re:

        " it's even more ridiculous to argue that other people's reactions to someone's opinion magically makes it defamatory."

        Unless of course that the SPLC is aware of those reactions to their opinions and is abusing their foreknowledge of such. The SPLC does not exist in a vacuum.

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        • icon
          Thad (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 8:01am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Unless of course that the SPLC is aware of those reactions to their opinions and is abusing their foreknowledge of such.

          Please cite the defamation law that defines this exception. I will accept statute or case law.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 12:54am

      Re:

      It should be noted that he can be both one of their victims, AND a bad guy. Those are not mutually exclusive.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:31am

      Re:

      "I don't know anything about Gavin McInnes or the Proud Boys"

      I've heard of all 3, and let's just say you're defending a group described on Wikipedia as "a far-right neo-fascist organization that admits only men as members and promotes political violence" and a man who once shoved a dildo up his arse on video to make some kind of anti-liberal point because you don't like the tactics of an anti-hate group organisation.

      Opposing the SPLC does not always mean you're on the right side of an argument, even if you do dislike them for whatever reason.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 4:17am

        Re: Re:

        Because as everybody knows, no one ever puts biased or non-factual information on Wikipedia or abuses its free-to-everybody editing for political purposes, amirite?

        Not saying you're wrong, just that the more controversial a subject is, the less trustworthy a source Wikipedia becomes for accurate information. Do you have anything more solid?

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 4:40am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I don't really have time to be doing the full research and I'm going largely on prior knowledge here. But, let's just say that while the SPLC and Wikipedia entries are the first Google results, searching on neither the man nor the organisation brings up anything particularly flattering. This isn't "bad guy" SPLC going after clean cut innocent, no matter how much you hate SPLC.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 5:49am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Just gotta ask, does the T in your handle stand for "Twister"? Because if so, you have excellent (if somewhat obscure) taste in literature! ;-)

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    A. Ron Dissement, 5 Feb 2019 @ 12:52pm

    "I'm fully [hoping] this article to be overrun"

    A writer always states premise in first sentence. This, then, is clickbait, deliberate agitation, or in netwit parlance: TROLLING.

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    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:54pm

      Re: "I'm fully [hoping] this article to be overrun"

      Actually, no. A writer does not always state a premise in the first sentence. Many writing styles, like the formal argumentative essay writing taught in American schools, advise or require that. But they are not the only writing styles.

      One alternative style choice is to preface a piece with background information the reader should understand for context, or that they should keep in mind while reading, or to kibitz on the meta conversation outside the body of the piece.

      Because of the blog format, the author doesn't have a dedicated preface space, and so it must appear in the article.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 4:08pm

        Re: Re: "I'm fully [hoping] this article to be overrun"

        Then there's the "media res" format of throwing the reader/audience into the middle or near the end of the story, without explanation, and then working from the beginning to explain what they just saw.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:44pm

      Re: "I'm fully [hoping] this blue to be leave like he promised

      For someone who hates proper spelling and punctuation you sure got a lot of nerve giving others advise on writing.

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  • icon
    Gary (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:14pm

    Threats

    So isn't this the same guy that has allegedly been threatening his neighbors because they all posted signs saying they won't tolerate hate groups? He really sounds like a stand-up guy.

    https://www.dailydot.com/layer8/gavin-mcinnes-neighbors-signs/

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    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:09pm

      Re: Threats

      SPLC libels Gavin.

      Digital media tabloids run articles based on SPLC libel.

      Neighbors read tabloid stories rooted in SPLC libel.

      Gavin is annoyed that the libel has turned into a larger harassment campaign all rooted in lies. How dare the person libeled be upset to have his family subjected to this sort of treatment, all rooted in libel.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:45pm

        Re: Re: Threats

        Again for the hard of understanding. It’s not libel if it’s true.

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      • identicon
        Nate P Cilver, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:48pm

        Re: Re: Threats

        If the SPLC labels you a bigot then it must be true. Clearly you are a Nazi.

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      • icon
        Gary (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 4:36pm

        Re: Re: Threats

        Gavin is annoyed that the libel has turned into a larger harassment campaign all rooted in lies. How dare the person libeled be upset to have his family subjected to this sort of treatment, all rooted in libel.

        Actually, Gavin is offended that a campaign against him based on facts has made him look bad. Proud Boys and Van Dyke have so many interesting things they have done. Pointing out their dickery isn't libel. (But it is hilarious.)

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 5:51am

      Re: Threats

      There is nothing in the article you linked about him threatening his neighbors. Have you considered starting an organization where you make lists accusing people of things based on your lies? I hear there's big money to be made.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:20pm

    There is no such thing as a silly law suit against the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 5:19pm

      Re:

      There is no such thing as a silly law suit against the Southern Poverty Law Center.

      Yes. There is. This is one.

      But, even taking your statement to mean (as I believe you intend) that the SPLC is a bad organization with bad opinions and malicious intent, to argue that it's impossible for there to be a silly lawsuit against them is a statement that is, on its fact, ridiculous.

      You are flat out saying that you don't believe SPLC deserves to have its own speech protected because you don't like that speech. Just admit that you wish to censor those you disagree with.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:21pm

    Sham Exception

    Filing a bullshit lawsuit is constitutionally protected…

    Rather than digging up solid sources for the convoluted intricacies of the Noerr-Pennington doctrine, let me wave generally in the direction of Wikipedia's discussion—

    Exception for sham proceedings

    There is a "sham" exception to the Noerr–Pennington doctrine which holds that using the petitioning process simply as an anticompetitive tool without legitimately seeking a positive outcome to the petitioning destroys immunity.

    The Supreme Court has articulated a two-part test to determine the existence of "sham" litigation. First, such suits must be "objectively baseless in the sense that no reasonable litigant could realistically expect success on the merits." If that threshold is met, the court will inquire whether the suit demonstrates evidence of a subjective intent to use governmental process to interfere with a competitor's business.

    [Citations omitted.]

    I'd caution readers that, of course, Wikipedia's encyclopedic treatment is no substitute for more in-depth discussion, especially in a complicated field such as Noerr-Pennington doctrine.

    However, I think this is enough to qualify Mike's seemingly-confident assertion that “Filing a bullshit lawsuit is constitutionally protected.”. So, well, yeah… it can be… maybe mostly even… BUT… it depends…

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:25pm

      Re: Sham Exception

      Oh, sorry. Was so busy hemming and hedging that I forgot to link. Here it is—

      Wikipedia: Noerr–Pennington doctrine: Exception for sham proceedings

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    • identicon
      Qwertygiy, 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:49pm

      Re: Sham Exception

      You are correct, not all bogus lawsuits can be filed with impunity. Though, of course, there are three reasons why that particular exception wouldn't apply to this kind of BS lawsuit.

      • Gavin isn't providing any competing products or services to the SPLC, therefore he's not subject to antitrust laws to begin with;

      • the lawsuit must be objectively baseless, and while they may be flimsy, far-fetched, and phantasmagorical, the lawsuit does have several bases of evidence that it's attempting to balance on.

      • the lawsuit must be subjectively filed without hope of gaining anything, only to harm a competitor. Gavin isn't a competitor of the SPLC, and if he wins an injunctment against being labelled a hate group, that would be something of gain to him. (Let alone the damages he seeks for being fired, displatformed, et al.)

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    • icon
      BJC (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 1:54pm

      Re: Sham Exception

      I disagree with you on the breadth of the definition of "bullshit lawsuit."

      Noerr-Pennington, like 28 U.S.C. 1927's sanctions for vexatious litigation, is a constitutionally-permissible way to smack down an abusive lawsuit. But is an "abusive lawsuit" a "bullshit lawsuit"?

      I don't think it is. I think "bullshit lawsuits" may be stupid and wrong-headed, but if a lawsuit crosses into sanctionable territory, it's something beyond a "bullshit lawsuit."

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:18pm

    after some of that university's employees suggested Peterson was similar to Hitler and compared him to a white supremacist. As we pointed out then, even if this was misleading, having someone have a negative opinion of you, and even suggesting you hold views you might not hold, is far from defamatory.

    People are harmed in response to false allegation of racism.

    In Gavin's case, he has been harmed in a number of ways based on false allegations.

    When natural disaster or national emergency looms there is no closer ally than the Democrat next door or the conservative across the street with emergency supplies.

    Laveling political opponents Nazi and racist because you disagree with their views that are not Nazi and not racist crosses a line when they've been repeated so many times that people begin to actually believe them.

    We've got a fun little game of telephone that occurs on Twitter where digital media bloggers follow one another then amplify one another's wild claims. It leads to absurdities like the libelous designation out of the SPLC.

    This case will again reinforce that before labeling a group Nazi or racist, one should actually check to confirm if there is anything to go on before putting it in print. See the Covington reporting for similar case in recent memory where all the reporters rushed to label racism when there was none to be found.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:47pm

      Re:

      In my experience, "I am not XXX" is a statement that is ONLY made by people who realize that there is evidence that would suggest I AM an XXX. No law-abiding person feels the need to say "I am not a crook." People about to tell you the truth do NOT say "I would never lie to you." People who aren't trying to scam you will not say "This is not a scam." I've never had the need to tell anyone I wasn't a white-supremacist, and do not expect ever to have that need. Even the thing I DO say ("I'm a programmer, I don't DO spreadsheets!") is necessary--because people think "he uses computers, he must know how to use a spreadsheet."

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      • identicon
        Prinny, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:51pm

        Re: Re:

        Look up the term "Kafka trap," dood. Because that right there is a prime example of one.

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      • icon
        Thad (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 8:06am

        Re: Re:

        If somebody says "I'm not a racist, but," there is a 100% chance that the next thing they say is going to be racist.

        If somebody were to tell me "I don't write fan fiction where Sonic the Hedgehog bangs Smurfette, I have never written fan fiction where Sonic the Hedgehog bangs Smurfette, and if you ever say that I write fan fiction where Sonic the Hedgehog bangs Smurfette, I will sue you,"...that motherfucker definitely writes fan fiction where Sonic the Hedgehog bangs Smurfette.

        Similarly, if a group puts "we're definitely not a white supremacist group" in its bylaws and sues people who call it a white supremacist group, well, what does that tell you?

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        • identicon
          Prinny, 6 Feb 2019 @ 9:04am

          Re: Re: Re:

          All hail the almighty Kafka trap, dood! You're guilty because we say you are, and any attempt to deny it can be used as further evidence of your guilt.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 9:09am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It would be a terrible and unacceptable system of justice, to be sure.

            But as a way of detecting racist pricks in day-to-day life, it's pretty darn reliable.

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            • icon
              Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 9:24am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              If you are a horrible sociopath of a person, who doesn't mind a massively high false-positive rate and the attendant collateral damage, I suppose it might be...

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 9:28am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                If you are a horrible sociopath of a person

                Nah, just not as naive as you, or as easily hoodwinked by obvious racists.

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                • icon
                  Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 10:01am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  It's not naivete at all that brings me to this position. On the contrary, it's experience, of the deeply personal variety. I have a lot of empathy for people who have had their lives ruined by false accusations of racism, because I've been there.

                  Several years back, my reputation in a certain online community was completely destroyed because one person claimed I was making racist comments about her. It was entirely untrue, and she completely made up several truly horrible things that I had supposedly said, and even when mods looked at the logs and pointed out that there was zero truth to what she was claiming, people still believed her!

                  And you know what the truly crazy part is? I later caught her in a chat room, (she didn't know it was me because I was using a different handle,) bragging and laughing about what she had done to me. Turns out she didn't care about me either way; she did it because I was friends with a rival of hers who she wanted to discredit by association and she knew it would be an effective way of smearing me.

                  Getting dragged through an experience like that can be really eye-opening. So now, when I hear people being accused of racism, I give them the benefit of the doubt, I look at available evidence, and I watch for the data that becomes available after the initial story breaks. As they say, a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes. And what I've found, quite consistently, is that racism in America is as dead as disco. (And I use that term in a very literal sense: it's not extinct yet, there still a few people around with horrible taste who think it's awesome, but by and large the vast majority of people understand that it's a relic of the past that's best left in the past.)

                  Innocent until proven guilty always has been the only reasonable standard, in this and any other type of accusation.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 10:18am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    I look at available evidence

                    No you don't. From your first comment in this thread, you've insisted that you know absolutely nothing about Gavin or the Proud Boys or their actions or statements, and have made no effort to look into them.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 10:20am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    (You also very much need to update your understanding of what racism means and how it expresses itself as a force. You're living in a previous decade.)

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                    • icon
                      Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 10:57am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      No. Taking something that's well-understood and arbitrarily redefining it in a broader context is very much a part of the problem. It's the reason why I mentioned the Shirky Principle in my original comment here. Words have meanings, and the horrifying consequences of the way people twist those meanings around for political advantage was one of the few things Orwell actually got right in 1984.

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                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 11:06am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        Words have meanings - highly subjective, constantly evolving meanings. It is not the role of the courts to step in and punish people over a disagreement on the precise meaning of words used in a clear statement of opinion.

                        The dangers of the government legally controlling language and punishing people for their speech is actually one of the things Orwell got right. You may need to give that book another read.

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                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 11:09am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        Ah, I assumed that was a reply to my comment about the meaning of "hate groups", but no it was a reply to my comment about the meaning of racism.

                        You're an even dumber, more closed-minded person than I thought if you think societal understanding and definition of complex social concepts should be immutable and unchanging. You may think our knowledge and understanding of society should be frozen in an era you're comfortable with, but you don't get to dictate that for everyone else - you just get to dwindle into irrelevance. Knowledge will move forward without you.

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                        • icon
                          Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 11:47am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          Ah, I assumed that was a reply to my comment about the meaning of "hate groups", but no it was a reply to my comment about the meaning of racism.

                          My point works equally well either way.

                          You're an even dumber, more closed-minded person than I thought if you think societal understanding and definition of complex social concepts should be immutable and unchanging.

                          Why? Human nature hasn't changed perceptibly in the last few decades.

                          Please educate yourself on the Shirky Principle, and read up on Fire and Motion while you're at it. A lot of this "evolving understanding" is not new knowledge or organic growth at all; it's a deliberate agenda being driven by people who are so heavily invested in fighting social injustices that they literally cannot afford to admit that they won.

                          Pity the warrior who slays all his foes.

                          -- Klingon proverb

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                          • identicon
                            Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 12:00pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                            it's a deliberate agenda being driven by people who are so heavily invested in fighting social injustices that they literally cannot afford to admit that they won

                            Nope, it's a real advancement of knowledge and understanding by people who are a lot smarter than you.

                            I know you probably think concepts like "racism" and "misogyny" had a clear and useful definition that is now being made vague and broad by wishy-washy SJWs, but in fact the precise opposite is true.

                            The idea that such things are best understood in terms of their social mechanisms and the way in which they are experienced by their targets comes from the most rigorous fields of the humanities, such as analytic philosophy and quantitative-analytic sociology.

                            See, people in these fields, who are doing very rigorous work and as such do indeed require strictly defined terms, have increasingly found that more traditional/colloquial definitions of things like racism and misogyny - based on individual psychology and motivation - are hugely inadequate for properly describing social phenomena observed in data, or for constructing rigidly internally consistent social-philosophical theorems. They have, for quite some time now, been employing much more sophisticated and updated definitions in their work - both in the purely theoretical space and in the applied space where such work informs efforts to promote social justice, combat radicalization, protect victimized groups, etc. Those more sophisticated definitions are now finding their way more and more into colloquial usage and understanding.

                            The problem with defining racism in terms of individual psychology is clear - and is actually very similar to the SPLC's comment about not worrying about whether something is actually motivated by feelings of "hate", but rather focusing on actions and message.

                            It is easy to demonstrate, too: consider a society with total race-based chattel slavery, such as America for long periods of its history. It is actually quite easy to envision periods in such a society where there is virtually no "hatred" of the enslaved race at all, expressed or even in anyone's internal feelings. Indeed, distinct feelings of hatred for a group, and expressions of those feelings, only tend to arise historically when that group is gaining rights and reducing its subjugation/enslavement. And so by traditional individual-psychology definitions of "racism", one could say that such a society is not very racist or even not racist at all. But that would be a plainly absurd conclusion - leading those who are rigorously analytic about this kind of thing to re-examine the definition, and conclude that it must be refocused on social mechanisms of power and discrimination rather than individual psychology.

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                            • icon
                              Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 12:24pm

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              It is easy to demonstrate, too: consider a society with total race-based chattel slavery, such as America for long periods of its history. It is actually quite easy to envision periods in such a society where there is virtually no "hatred" of the enslaved race at all, expressed or even in anyone's internal feelings.

                              And this is the point where you lose all credibility. Have you actually researched any of this? Hatred is not the only expression of racism, not by a long shot. When you look at contemporary discussions of related issues from the antebellum period, what you find instead is disdain and contempt. You see a lot of people saying, in so many words, that the black race was inferior mentally to whites, that they were "less human," that by their nature they were only fit to be beasts of burden and nothing more, and so on. (The publication of Darwin's work on evolution during this same time period was rather unfortunate, as it was used to lend an air of scientific credence to the notion that Africans were "less evolved" and "more bestial" that "proper" human beings.)

                              There wasn't much hatred, not because there wasn't much racism, but because there was so much racism that they weren't even considered to be worth hating! The shift to hatred in later decades is, somewhat counterintuitively, actually a sign that racism had decreased to the point that they could be acknowledged as real competition, and it's been decreasing pretty steadily ever since.

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                              • identicon
                                Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 12:45pm

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                I am well aware of that. You are the one who, up until now, has appeared to me to be arguing that racism must necessarily require conscious hateful motivations. It appears I was mistaken, and your definition is slightly more elaborate - so hopefully now you can accept and acknowledge that understanding of the social phenomenon of racism will continue to evolve.

                                I do hope you will also acknowledge how common a hate-based definition is, and how frequently it is deployed to defend against accusations of racism, or in most of the same ways misogyny. It is the root of "I have black friends!" or "I actually love women!" from someone who is behaving in a clearly racist or misogynistic way.

                                Meanwhile, your example is still quite flawed. The scientific racism of the antebellum period came largely in response to increasing opposition to slavery. The antebellum period does not precede the beginnings of the abolition movement - it is marked by the tension between the slave-owning south and the abolitionist north, and racist defenses of slavery were emerging in response to that. Which is precisely my point: distinct individual racism, clearly expressed, emerges in reaction to social/political gains by the targeted group - and is largely dormant or nonexistent during periods when that group's subjugation is unquestioned and unchallenged.

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                                • icon
                                  Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:28pm

                                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                  You're saying this as if abolitionist sentiment was a thing that got started at some point along the way. It wasn't; it was alive and well from the very beginning of our nation and even earlier.

                                  To give just one example of many, during the process of founding the USA, Sam Adams (John Adams's brother) wanted to throw it out entirely; he warned that if slavery was permitted in the laws of the land, it would lead to civil war in about a century. (This prediction turned out to be so close to what actually happened that it got cut from the script of the theatrical production 1776, because the writer feared audiences would think it was something clever-sounding he made up!)

                                  Abolitionist sentiment was real enough, and influential enough, from the very beginning that the process of admission of new states to the Union was always kept carefully balanced between North and South, such that the North would never gain enough Senate votes to do away with the institution of slavery and the South would never gain enough to strengthen it.

                                  Again, you're coming across as someone who has not studied history here and is only grounded in very modern, very distorted revisionist theories that are quite ignorant of the past that they're trying to atone for.

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                                  • identicon
                                    Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:29pm

                                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                    You're making my point for me much better than you realize.

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                                    • identicon
                                      Prinny, 7 Feb 2019 @ 6:13am

                                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                      Classic troll tactic, dood. Someone completely owns your argument with solid reasoning, so you say "you're just making my point for me" without any explanation or justification of why, to subtly imply that anyone who doesn't get it is just too dumb to understand the obvious.

                                      1/10. Try harder next time.

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                                      • identicon
                                        Anonymous Coward, 7 Feb 2019 @ 10:08am

                                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                        My argument was "racial animus emerges when the targeted group looks like it might be gaining rights" and his response was "nuh-uh, there was lots of racial animus in the antebellum south, and that was a time when it looked like the target group might soon be gaining rights."

                                        I don't even understand how that's supposed to be a counterargument - it's exactly my point.

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                              • identicon
                                Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 12:48pm

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                Your assertion that racism is declining is about as persuasive as my neighbor saying that poor people don't exist anymore because she voted for a higher minimum wage.

                                It absolutely exists. It has not decreased in most communities. The recent events in Virginia should show you proof that it has never gone away. It just morphed into something else.

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                                • icon
                                  Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 12:58pm

                                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                  The recent events in Virginia

                                  Care to elaborate?

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                                  • identicon
                                    Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:03pm

                                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                    Don't be a sea lion. You cannot be that oblivious.

                                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                    • icon
                                      Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:16pm

                                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                      Virginia is waaaaaaaay across the country from me. Whatever "recent events" happened there must not be relevant enough over here to have pinged on my radar.

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                                      • identicon
                                        Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:24pm

                                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                        I'm starting to understand why you think racism doesn't exist: you purposefully avoid allowing yourself to become aware of it.

                                        "I don't know who the Proud Boys are! Virginia? What's that, like Narnia? I'm an ignorant, clueless person who knows nothing at all about America or the world, but I'm sure racism doesn't exist anymore, and you should believe me."

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                                      • identicon
                                        Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:27pm

                                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                        Just like you are not aware of the Proud Boys or Gavin?

                                        It has been national news for the last several days. It has been nearly impossible to avoid. I live nowhere near Virginia and my local news has covered the problems with the governor, Lt. Governor, and others. It is all over social media. It is on every single major national newspaper and national news website.

                                        So either you avoid any news sources, or you are lying.

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                                        • icon
                                          Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 1:33pm

                                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                          Oh, are you talking about that yearbook mess? I heard that some governor had got caught with some really bad photos in his past. I've seen the photos, and the controversy; it just didn't particularly register which state he was from. *shrug*

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                                          • identicon
                                            Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 2:49pm

                                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                            "Racism doesn't exist, and when it does, I just shrug."

                                            You really suck, man. Jeeze.

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                                            • icon
                                              Mason Wheeler (profile), 7 Feb 2019 @ 7:42am

                                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                              Wow, your reading comprehension is truly atrocious here. The shrug was about the state he was from.

                                              Also, the choice of examples is particularly telling. I looked it up, and the photo in question was taken 35 years ago. When that's your go-to talking point for claiming that racism is alive and well today...

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                                              • identicon
                                                TFG, 7 Feb 2019 @ 8:30am

                                                https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/18-examples-of-racism-in-criminal-legal-system_us_57f26bf0e4b09 5bd896a1476

                                                Dated 2016, fairly recent.

                                                Then there's the "totally not a ban on muslim countries" thing that the Trump administration wants to pass.

                                                Then there's the whole thing about The Wall, with people wanting to keep out the Mexicans.

                                                There's the various alt-right groups (not necessarily including the Proud Boys) that exist. There was that Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, which included racists.

                                                It's not very hard to find examples of extant racism in modern society. Racism may be on a decline, but it's definitely still alive.

                                                I'm coming into this particular conversation pretty late, so I'm guessing at positions somewhat. I personally would not argue that society is just as racist as it used to be, but I also would not argue that society is fine the way it is. That society is less racist is good - but if anyone is trying to argue that racism is on a decline so we don't need to worry about it, I have issues with that. I very much hope no one is trying to argue that.

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                                              • identicon
                                                Anonymous Coward, 7 Feb 2019 @ 10:11am

                                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                                The shrug was about the state he was from

                                                No it wasn't. The shrug (and your feigned ignorance - i don't believe for a second that you didn't know what was being talked about the moment someone brought it up) was about minimizing the incident because you don't give a shit.

                                                was taken 35 years ago

                                                Of a person occupying a position of significant political power today. I don't know how old you are - maybe you have that foggy old man brain where the past is all just a blur, you can't process timelines properly, and you're just bewildered by a modern world that scares and disorients you - but you don't get to tell other people that the statute of limitations on them caring about about a working politician's outright, vitriolic racism is up.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 11:13am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    I am sure you will say she lives in Canada when we ask for more information.

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                    • icon
                      Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 11:15am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Why?

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 11:30am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        It is a figure of speech meaning "I don't believe you"

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                        • identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 11:45am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          Aye. At this point Mr. wheeler has so many arguments that are nearly identical in talking points to a vast majority of the trolls here, on twitter, and other sites I have strong belief he is part of the same group.

                          No clue if they are reddit, 4chan, or someplace else. But they all have the same playbook and Mr. Wheeler is following it.

                          And Mr. Wheeler, before you go "proove it", just look at @popehat's twitter feed (or anyone else prominent who has discussed this topic). You can see a large number of trolls makong the exact same arguments you are. Down to the FBI defenition argument.

                          So I do not believe you in your personal story (well I believe that you were called a racist. I just believe that you are making up the part about the confession). Nor do I believe you are some innocent bystander who had never heared of the Proud Boys and Gavin before. Your defense of them is too specific, too indentical to others who have heared of them.

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                          • identicon
                            Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 9:33pm

                            Re: Too dated a reference?

                            It’s almost as if you are saying he’s not just the president of the hair club for men...

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 11:17am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      No clue how that happened. but this comment was supposed to be a response to the racism accusation story down thread. Strange

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 11:30am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    That’s great and all. But at this point you’re down to basically “not all Nazis are bad.”

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    • icon
      Matthew Cline (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 5:29pm

      Re:

      People are harmed in response to false allegation of racism.

      So your position is that, legally, whether or not someone is racist is a matter of fact rather than a matter of opinion?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:26pm

    When Charlottesville occurred who actively used their platform to discourage attendees and denounce white supremacists? -- Proud Boys.

    When white supremacists show up at conservative events who stops them and yells at them to go home? -- Proud Boys.

    Who has diverse membership across the spectrum? -- Proud Boys.

    Who act as bouncer at events stepping between the elderly, women, and activist groups trying to pepper-spray and beat them? -- Proud Boys.

    The sin is that Proud Boys made it look cool to oppose left leaning terrorist groups. Digital media publications moved to destroy everyone involved for that reason.

    SPLC moved away from their core mission and has engaged in creating the appearance of hate groups run rampant rather fight them. Turns out creating the appearance of an ever growing threat is good for donations to the organization. This is shameful as they're tearing down innocent people, their business, careers, and families in the process.

    This suit provides a good opportunity for the SPLC to stop playing these games and return to their core mission.

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    • identicon
      Baron von Robber, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:28pm

      Re:

      Links?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Prinny, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:30pm

      Re:

      SPLC moved away from their core mission and has engaged in creating the appearance of hate groups run rampant rather fight them. Turns out creating the appearance of an ever growing threat is good for donations to the organization.

      Apparently there's a rule about how this sort of crap always happens, dood. They call it the Shirky Principle. TIL.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:50pm

      Re:

      Who were acting like a bunch of drunk racists in New York the other week; the proud boys. Weird how you forgot to include that link. As for the rest, bullshit. I mean it’s not likes there videos of the proud boys at Charlotteville acting like a hate group... oh bother. Bro I don’t know who you’re trying to convince, but the proud boys don’t go to raciest rallies to help old ladies across the street. They go there to, ya know, be racists.

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  • identicon
    Glenn, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:33pm

    I don't support the legal idea of "hate group". No matter how you feel about anything or anyone, you have a basic human right to feel as you choose--fairly or unfairly. If you have your own website, then you have the right to express any view you choose to express. What you don't have a right to do is go to someone else's website and post comments expressing something they don't want there. That can be viewed as trespass and assault, esp. if done repeatedly. Basically, if you have your own soapbox, then you can stand on it all day expressing your... "diversity". Nowadays, though, SJWs think that diversity means "it's OK to be different as long as you're not different from me". It's an "I'm OK; you're not" view of the world. More than anything, these are people who have been poisoned by the Internet and who don't grasp the difference between reality and that which is virtual.

    The world is doomed if these fools take hold. It may be doomed in any case.

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    • identicon
      Qwertygiy, 5 Feb 2019 @ 3:09pm

      Re:

      The definition of hate group is not how the group feels, but how the group acts.

      You can hate blacks or hate whites or hate Democrats or hate Republicans all you want. It's not wise, it's not productive, and it's not healthy, but it's also not illegal, and it's not an instant condemnation of being a terrible person.

      The problem is when your hate inspires you to commit, encourage, or ignore crimes, such as harassment, assault, vandalism, issuing threats, workplace discrimination, et cetera.

      And to be a hate group (by the government's definition), the group must be primarily about acting on this hate. If a group of Republicans attack gay people, it doesn't make the Republican Party a hate group. But if a group of Republicans form a group called Republicans For Heteros and attack gay people, that could easily make Republicans For Heteros a hate group.

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    • icon
      Thad (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 8:13am

      Re:

      I don't support the legal idea of "hate group".

      Yeah, neither do the guys defending the KKK upthread.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:35pm

    Tell Leo Johnson, the guard at the Family Research Council, how innocuous the SPLC "hate group" moniker is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:40pm

      Re:

      Is he the guy who got shot because some extremist got ahold of their "hate map" and used it to pick out targets?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 2:53pm

      Re:

      It’s almoat like the gunman was a crazy person. But if we want to go that route we can look up all the abortion docs who have been killed in America by religious nutters. Because it’s not like those docs put their addresses in the phone book. So nice whatabouism or whatever.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 5 Feb 2019 @ 3:00pm

        Re: Re:

        Whataboutism is when you try to distract someone by pointing to something unrelated that was not the topic of discussion. (Such as the killing of abortion doctors.) When the thing being pointed to is the current topic of discussion--the real harm done by the SPLC's spurious and politically-motivated "hate group" designations--that is not a whataboutism. So you fail here twice over!

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        • identicon
          Qwertygiy, 5 Feb 2019 @ 3:33pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Correct on whataboutism, not necessarily correct on statement.

          "According to the court documents, Corkins had thought about such an attack for years but "just never went through with it.""

          In essence, Corkins was going to make a statement by shooting somebody for being anti-gay, so he looked up where some anti-gay places where. SPLC is only to blame for the FRC being his chosen location, no more than Google would be to blame if he searched, say, "company that hates gays" and found a news article on them reporting on their history of advocating for homosexuality being made a criminal act, insisting that homosexuals are dangerous to children as more homosexuals are pedophiles (even the scientists they cited say that's bogus), and urging churches to cast out any homosexual members.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 6:22pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Or changing the discussion at hand from a lawsuit against the SPLC to a completely unrelated matter.

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  • identicon
    Prinny, 5 Feb 2019 @ 3:07pm

    that whole "marketplace of ideas" concept that defenders of McInnes regularly cite.

    One thing that's worth keeping in mind, dood: markets only work properly when they're open and competitive. Monopolization makes markets break down, and that's just as true for ideas as for commerce.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 8:32am

      Re:

      In which case, Gavin's engaging in some anti-competitive behavior by trying to legally shut down a source of competing idea, dood.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 3:57pm

    I'm shocked there has never been a gay porn film called "Proud Boys."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 3:59pm

    Didn't they call PUA/incel a hate group?

    How many women's ex-husbands or ex-lovers have shot up workplaces and killed innocents? Quite a few it seems. Does that make women who like bad boys a hate group too?

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    • identicon
      Bobo, 5 Feb 2019 @ 4:42pm

      Re:

      There have been multiple terrorist attacks explicitly inspired by incel ideology, AND incel groups openly celebrate the killers as heroes. What more could you possible need to be called a hate group?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 4:41pm

    Other Alternatives

    You can think Gavin McInnes is obnoxious, and be pro free speech, yet at the same time believe the the SLPC is one of the most disgusting organizations in the country. Intolerance and hate is baked into their core mission.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Orange Cheetoes, 5 Feb 2019 @ 6:42pm

    Hate

    Anyone that says the Proud Boys are a Hate Group will be doxed, vilified and sodomized. Speech begets violence. The weak will fall.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Qwertygiy, 5 Feb 2019 @ 6:42pm

    Alfred Hitchcock Was Not A Terrorist

    I see two big problems that I greatly disagree with here. A number of points I do agree with you on, of course. The whole "winkingly" thing, of course. The association of McInnes with his group's behavior. And the agreement that both sides are being, have been, and probably will be disrespectful, poor role models, and often in legal grey areas. But a few things... I feel like your deeply ingrained position that speech should be as free as possible (plus the general incompetency of Mr. McInnes) might have led you to a few false conclusions.

    If a reasonable reader would only interpret "hate group" to mean "a group that hates", there's absolutely no claim to be made over that label. "hate" is subjective, and cannot be proven false. One of two necessities for defamation is at least an implied false statement of fact.

    But I feel that's not the case: a "hate group" is not a mere literal modifier of "group", but has a distinct meaning of its own. This shouldn't be too hard to come to terms with, pardon the pun.

    "super man" doesn't mean just any old swell guy, it's a dude with inhuman powers.

    "red light district" doesn't mean an area that is illuminated with a ruby glow, or even an area with a lot of stoplights. It's an area with, er, ladies of the night.

    "black box" doesn't mean a box that is black. It's a flight data recorder.

    "hate crime" doesn't mean a crime committed with hate. (Or a crime intended to inspire hate, or a crime against hate, or a crime worthy of being hated.) It means a crime motivated with hate for a specific class of person, rather than solely by necessity, opportunity, or circumstances specific to the victim.

    Likewise, "hate group" isn't just any group of people who feel or express hate for something. In fact, according to the SPLC, there needn't be any actual "hate" involved at all to be considered a "hate group":

    "it does not matter to SPLC whether the use of SPLC Hate Designations is accurate in terms of identifying conduct motivated by actual “hate,” because its use is part of SPLC’s “effort to hold them accountable for their rhetoric and the ideas they are pushing.”"

    So the SPLC says there's a difference between "hate" as an opinionated modifier of "group", and "hate group" as an independent term with a strict definition. That makes it a lot less subjective and a lot closer to a statement of fact. But are they right? How is "hate group" defined?

    According to the FBI:

    "An organization whose primary purpose is to promote animosity, hostility, and malice against persons of or with a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity which differs from that of the members or the organization".

    Does your organized group's primary purpose include spreading the feeling of hate, such as (their examples) Nazism and the KKK? If so, you're provably a hate group to the FBI. Otherwise, you're provably not.

    According to Wikipedia (the first Google result in a neutral browser):

    "A social group that advocates and practices hatred, hostility, or violence towards [...] any other designated sector of society".

    A lot less strict than the FBI's definition. If you're a group of people encouraging or performing hateful, hostile, or violent acts towards people for being different than you, you're provably a hate group to Wikipedia. Otherwise, you're provably not.

    Lastly, the SPCL (which is either first or second to show up in neutral browser searches of Google, DuckDuckGo and Bing):

    "an organization that – based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities – has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics."

    This is a little harder. An argument could be made on either side, mostly depending on whether you believe "attack" and "malign" are both objective or not. I believe they are, because they rely on an intent to cause harm rather than the outcome, which is the same requirement as assault (not battery!).

    If these terms are objectively defined, then you can prove you were not doing them and thus don't fit the SPCL's definition of hate group, and thus, they made a false statement of fact.

    (Pssst. Yeah. Yeah, no. I really don't think he'll be able to prove that. I doubt this claim makes it any further than "winkingly." Dude's said some real nasty stuff, let alone what else he or his group may have done.)

    The second point is over what you claim is establishing the label of "hate group" as an opinion because "hate" is a subjective term. I disagree; I feel it makes an entirely different point, which is that the SPLC uses conflicting definitions of hate groups to falsely refer to the Proud Boys as criminals.

    " While SPLC’s rhetoric routinely associates “hate groups” with actual “hate crimes,” SPLC has acknowledged that what it defines as “hate group” activity includes constitutionally protected “marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing,” and that the SPLC’s designation of a “hate group” “does not imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity.”"

    SPLC is accused of associating their hate groups with federal hate crimes. They openly state criminal activity is not one of the factual requirements to meet their designation of hate group, which they say in the quote does not imply a group engages in criminal activity.

    But if they've implied that their "hate groups" are the committers of "hate crimes" in other contexts (which is what they appear to be accused of; I could go digging for the exact contexts but I've already spent too much time & thought on this), they're implying that members of Proud Boys have committed hate crimes, when (at least according to McInnes) they have not. Thus, those statements could be defamatory.

    (Did McInnes claim those exact contexts where they supposedly connect hate groups to hate crimes? I think they'd have to go after those contexts instead of going after being called a hate group, if my interpretation is anywhere near reality.)

    In the end: my opinion, based solely on the facts I have provided here and that have been provided in the article, is that McInnes is doomed to fail on a wide variety of counts, but not because calling a bunch of people a "hate group" is a matter of opinion.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Feb 2019 @ 11:04pm

      Re: Alfred Hitchcock Was Not A Terrorist

      If you keep writing for Techdirt, maybe I will start sending them money. Your writing is that good.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 12:15am

        Re: Re: Alfred Hitchcock Was Not A Terrorist

        Wasn’t that “reasonable reader” argument the basis of Shiva’s appeal? How did that go, anyway?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Qwertygiy, 6 Feb 2019 @ 10:25am

          Re: Re: Re: Alfred Hitchcock Was Not A Terrorist

          It was part of his appeal's argument, but I see no reason that calling someone a "fake" or a "liar", when you have presented substantial factual evidence that suggests they have presented themselves untruthfully, would be defamation.

          His lawyers didn't see so, either, so the other part of his appeal was that Techdirt disregarded "extensive factual evidence," "consciously disregarded" the truth and knowingly acted with "actual malice."

          This is a problem for him, of course, because he's never provided this "extensive factual evidence."

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    identicon
    Major, 6 Feb 2019 @ 4:32am

    Buzzfeed is that you ?

    Am i on Buzzfeed ? I thought i typed techdirt in the url but i seem to have ended on a site where the latest news seem to be an highly opiniated piece with a clickbait-y title. So... is this the new Buzzfeed ? Is techdirt dead ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 8:15am

      Re: Buzzfeed is that you ?

      Are you new to Techdirt? Highly opinionated pieces are the norm here. This is an opinion blog.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    identicon
    John, 6 Feb 2019 @ 5:27am

    Go Left Young TechDirt

    Once again, the Leftists in TechDirt rear their ugly heads. The SPLC is a despicable organization who takes things out of context or simply has no context whatsoever for labeling things "hate" speech or a "hate" group. They are the private equivalent of the government's No-Fly list. No one knows exactly how you get on it, but if you do, good luck getting off.

    Funny how LeftDirt... I mean... TechDirt... hates the no-fly list but just smooches the butt of SPLC.

    If you get put on the SPLC, it can do REAL harm to you. Certain organizations and banks/financial institutions (Visa/Mastercard) will not do business organizations on the SPLC "hate" list. Which can cause significantly more issues than not being able to fly.

    And they have NO ACCOUNTABILITY. ZERO. ZIP. NIL. NADA.

    And yet... LeftDirt thinks it's a bad idea to fight them?

    Hypocrites!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 5:58am

      Re: Go Left Young TechDirt

      It really helps to actually read the article before commenting. It makes you look less like a partisan idiot.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      TonyLurker, 6 Feb 2019 @ 6:49am

      Re: Go Left Young TechDirt

      Funny how you can't see the difference between a GOVERNMENT list and a publication of a private entity.

      Funny how you care more about "fighting" a group you disagree with than upholding the values of this country.

      Much like republicans and the National Debt, those who claim to be on the right only care about "free speech" when they aren't the ones restricting it. They whine about college thought police and then turn around and launch campaigns to get professors and TAs punished for their personal political speech (often eliciting help from state politicians). They whine when a scientist files a defamation claim over being falsely accused of fraud, but cheer when a weak lawsuit is filed against the SPLC that contains no actual examples of libelous statements.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 7:42am

        Re: Re: Go Left Young TechDirt

        They are hypocrites, which is sorta like being a vampire because hypocrites are unable to see their reflection.

        And now there is some asshat politician whining about how our education system is indoctrinating our children with the ideology of fairness.

        Think about that one for a bit ... wtf

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gary (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 7:10am

      Re: Go Left Young TechDirt

      John, thank you for your endorsement of the Proud Boys.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 7:20am

      Re: Go Left Young TechDirt

      Whining about other people's exercising their right to free speech make you look terrible and you should feel terrible. You whine about consequences, but ignore how them being put on the splc list is a consequence of their words and actions. You can fight them all you want, NO ONE SAID THAT IT IS A BAD IDEA. what was said is this lawsuit is stupid, and will fail. You created a strawman to knock down so you can pretend you have a point. You illustrate your victimhood complex, how you see splc's speech as a bad thing, because it challenges your speech. Your whining about this exposes your hypocrisy here. You are free to create your own list, you are not free to demand others to stop speaking, which is what you are advocating here.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 8:18am

      Re: Go Left Young TechDirt

      Wow, it's almost as if there are significantly different standards and rules about governments compared to private individuals or organizations. Crazy!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 11:35am

      Re: Go Left Young TechDirt

      That’s nice. Best give mom back her phone before she finds out you’ve been posting on the internet with it again.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 12:15pm

      Re: Go Left Young TechDirt

      Once again, the Leftists in TechDirt rear their ugly heads. The SPLC is a despicable organization who takes things out of context or simply has no context whatsoever for labeling things "hate" speech or a "hate" group.

      I had no idea it was "leftist" to -- checks notes -- support free speech and fight against censorship.

      Huh.

      Also, if taking things out of context or stating things without context is defamation, well, whoo boy, are a lot of people defaming others. For example, under your own (incorrect) defintion, you're defaming me by calling me a "leftist."

      Funny how LeftDirt... I mean... TechDirt... hates the no-fly list but just smooches the butt of SPLC.

      So you didn't actually read the article did you? Not the part where we agreed that we don't really like the SPLC. But, apparently, to you, this is about team sports, and you automatically root for your team and against the other team, no matter how ridiculous it is. Interesting position. But that makes you a partisan hack.

      And yet... LeftDirt thinks it's a bad idea to fight them?

      I have no problem with people pointing out why they're wrong or where they make mistakes or mocking them or anything of the sort. What I do have a problem with -- as SHOULD you -- is using the government to suppress their speech.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 6:25am

    These people seem to think free speech, means tney are free to say whatever and be free from challenges and consequences. They seem to believe free speech means they are free to say things, but others are not free to say things back. This makes very clear these people are the biggest snowflakes ever.
    Always playing the victim, believing they, and only they, are entitled to the freedom to speak, and anyone else who speaks against them using their own speech, is somehow violating the free speech of these snowflakes. Seems like i have to repeat what i say in hopes of actually getting through to them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    aethercowboy (profile), 6 Feb 2019 @ 9:18am

    I'm Torn

    I support freedom of speech.

    But, at the same time, I think that the way that some people are "weaponizing" allegations (and the demand for action based on said allegations) is a troubling trend.

    If somebody decided to call me a racist, bigot, sexist, whatever, my first reaction would be to wonder why they would make such a claim about me, and try to get to the bottom of it (especially considering that I am none of these things). If it was causing me difficulty getting a job (thanks, Google), then I think I would be perturbed for the impact such baseless accusations have made against my financial well-being. At what point does somebody's right to freedom of speech trump my ability to go through my life without having to deal with baseless accusations? I suppose that point is at the established defamation laws. And I suppose it would be easier for me, a non-public individual, to make a defamation case against an SPLC-like entity versus a public individual like McInnes under those laws (especially since there's "no such thing as bad publicity). Still, it's a little concerning that an allegation can be leveraged, and the court of public opinions can cast a ruling before the real judges can even hear the case. But my example's a little bit different than what's actually happened.

    I saw an article on HuffPost from 2014 (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/clay-calvert/false-accusations-of-homo_b_5597047.html) about whether calling someone homophobic could be considered defamatory. It made an interesting point that accusing someone of being gay when they were not is growing to be increasingly less defamatory, as being gay is no longer quite so stigmatized. It makes me wonder if the increasing stigma attached to certain words, such as "racist" may eventually get it to the point where a false claim of racism is defamation per se. However...

    The SPLC has documented evidence (https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/proud-boys) supporting their claims of the Proud Boys as a "hate group/" So, I suppose, in a way, their labeling it as such was made in good faith, and not with blatant disregard for the truth. Whether you agree with their evidence or not, the real issue is: do they legitimately believe what they're saying is the truth. I'm inclined to say yes, they do.

    Ultimately, I think it's just an intersection of two very polarized groups: one that has association with people who discount everybody who disagrees with them as "nazis" and one that has association with people who discount everybody who disagrees with them as "commies."

    I think the best course of action is to not take up sides in an ideological argument, but instead look deeper into the underlying situation: should an entity be allowed to aggregate information about another entity and present that aggregated information with some level of interpretation to come to some unfavorable conclusion about said entity? I'm inclined to say yes. And that same entity is allowed to bring a rebuttal. But I don't think it would be defamatory if it was all done in "good faith."

    For everybody on either side of the issue, let's try this intellectual exercise: say, instead of this situation, it was the Proud Boys who labeled the SPLC as an "irresponsible public charity" with several documentations of such (here's a link that indicates as much written by the Illinois Family Institute: https://illinoisfamily.org/marriage/seven-reasons-beware-southern-poverty-law-center/ -- pretend the Proud Boys wrote it). Should the SPLC then be able to sue the Proud Boys (or, heck, in the real-life example, the IFI) for defamation? If your answer is different than your answer for the current situation, then you should definitely ask yourself why.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 9:26am

      Re: I'm Torn

      Just one important note:

      Defamation per se does not change the questions of whether something was true, a statement of opinion, rhetorical hyperbole, etc: all those defenses still apply. A person retains all their first amendment rights against a defamation claim, even per se

      The only thing that per se defamation changes is whether or not the plaintiff has to prove harm from the statements, and show damages to get awarded money if they win. Normally, the plaintiff must demonstrate not only that a statement was untrue, but also that it did indeed harm them. But there is a short list of kinds of statements (e.g. that someone committed a crime, that someone has an infectious disease) which the court automatically recognizes as harmful, and does not require the plaintiff to prove damages. They must still prove that the statement was (a) a statement of fact, not opinion or hyperbole, (b) untrue, and if they are a public figure (c) was made with knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the possibility of falsity ("actual malice")

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 9:56am

      Re: I'm Torn

      For everybody on either side of the issue, let's try this intellectual exercise: say, instead of this situation, it was the Proud Boys who labeled the SPLC as an "irresponsible public charity" with several documentations of such (here's a link that indicates as much written by the Illinois Family Institute: https://illinoisfamily.org/marriage/seven-reasons-beware-southern-poverty-law-center/ -- pretend the Proud Boys wrote it). Should the SPLC then be able to sue the Proud Boys (or, heck, in the real-life example, the IFI) for defamation? If your answer is different than your answer for the current situation, then you should definitely ask yourself why.

      If we have the same situation as this lawsuit, with the SPLC suing the Proud Boys, the lawsuit would be just as stupid.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        gerry berry (profile), 11 Feb 2019 @ 3:58am

        Re: Re: I'm Torn

        The SPLC’s listing of McInnes and the PB’s as a “hate group” is NOT done in good faith! That’s the whole point! Anyone who knows anything about McInnes knows the claim that he’s a “racist” and “far right” are absurd! And the same goes for the PB’s. Go and watch his videos, read his articles, and NOT just accept the second hand opinions of others. Go directly to the source as I have done for many years and it will become blindingly obvious. What kind of “racist” is married to a full blood Native American for a start? And has 3 Native American kids? And what kind of “racist hate group” has Black and Asian and Mexican and White and gay members? The SPLC must know this, or if they don’t then they’re not very good at basic research, because none of this is hidden! So you have to question WHY they put the PB’s on their list. And once you do, the reason becomes clear, they NEED HATE GROUPS! And the more the merrier! As that’s what brings in the dollars! Almost FOUR HUNDRED MILLION at last count! That’s a LOT of progressive dollars! And as we all know MONEY CORRUPTS!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          bhull242 (profile), 11 Jul 2019 @ 7:02pm

          Re: Re: Re: I'm Torn

          One can be racist without discriminating against all other ethnic groups. A racist can even be married to a person of a different race. After all, a misogynist can marry a woman, right? They can even do so without hypocrisy, although many bigots are hypocrites.
          I don’t know enough about McInnes specifically to say whether he, himself, is a racist, but I do know he is far right, which is completely different. I can also say that there are good reasons to suspect that he is.
          Also, being black, Asian, Mexican, white, or gay doesn’t prove you’re not a racist, though it’s not the worst evidence to suggest you’re not. That said, whether or not the Proud Boys are specifically “racist”, there are other reasons I might consider them a hate group.
          Here’s the thing: whether someone is a racist is a matter of opinion, and many definitions differ regarding the degree that each of actions, words, thoughts, and instincts play a role in determining whether or not someone is a racist. There are also many kinds of racism, depending on degree of discrimination, amount of hate (not all racism involves hate, incidentally), basis on prior experience, which races are involved, etc.
          Finally, the “good faith” thing only matters with regards to the “actual malice” standard, which doesn’t even matter if the statements are all either true or undisputed statements of fact (for which the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to prove them false, and they must merely be substantially true), fair reporting, pure opinion, or opinion based on disclosed facts. And even there, “actual malice” is a high bar to reach and very difficult to prove, and while I have had issues with the SPLC’s classifications, I don’t believe that their missteps are intentional; rather, I believe that they have good intentions and are just overly zealous or incautious at times.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 10:02am

      Re: I'm Torn

      and one that has association with people who discount everybody who disagrees with them as "commies."

      Note that this description does not describe Proud Boys but of generalized conservative groups on Twitter.

      The Proud Boys are more inclined to laugh, say something positive about the West, tell an off-color joke, look for ways to improve their community, then stand their ground if attacked (verbally, or physically). They debate. They love to debate. They're an outspoken bunch.

      Make a point to separate what digital media says about the group -- there is no shortage of claimed views attributed -- and the views that actually come from the group.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Baron von Robber, 6 Feb 2019 @ 10:30am

        Re: Re: I'm Torn

        But they like violence more.

        "One member of the Proud Boys encouraged others to fight the "faggots wearing black that won't let us in", and was later arrested for punching a reporter from DNAinfo"

        "At the 2017 March 4 Trump rally in Berkeley, California, Kyle Chapman was recorded hitting a counter-protester over the head with a wooden dowel. Images of Chapman went viral, and the Proud Boys organized a crowdfunding campaign for Chapman's bail after his arrest. After this, McInnes invited Chapman to become involved with the Proud Boys, through which he formed the Fraternal Order of the Alt-Knights."

        "McInnes has said "I want violence, I want punching in the face. I'm disappointed in Trump supporters for not punching enough.""

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proud_Boys

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2019 @ 9:44pm

        Re: Re: I'm Torn

        That’s nice. It’s a bunch of bullshit. But it’s nice. You make the proud boys sound like the fucking rotary club. And the only think they have in common with those guys is that most of them are fucking racist too.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    gerry berry (profile), 11 Feb 2019 @ 3:36am

    The SPLC is a scam. They themselves are now a hate group. And Gavin McInnes has every right to sue them. And he will win. Because the Proud Boys are NOT a “hate group”, as everyone who follows McInnes’ antics already knows! Defamation has nothing to do with free speech. They’re free to say whatever they want about McInnes and the PB’s...and he’s free to sue them for defamation! The SPLC’s listings have a direct effect on people’s lives! If it was just their opinion then no one would give a monkeys, but it’s not! Maajid Nawaz and the Quilliam Foundation also sued them for defamation and the SPLC caved in, as they will do in Mcinnes’ case, and ponied up 3 million dollars and removed Nawaz and Quilliam from their list of anti-Islam organizations. So, the idea that suing them is “ridiculous”.....is ridiculous! They caved in before it went to trial because they knew they were in the wrong. The SPLC are a bunch of chancers milking dumb progressives for multi millions of dollars, almost FOUR HUNDRED MILLION at last count! They’ve long ceased to be a respected source and are now just another arm of the Democrats smear machine.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2019 @ 3:59am

    Wait 'till his Native American wife and their three children find out he is a white supremacist. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gavin_McInnes

    Not sure why there is no mention of these facts in the article. Does being married to a minority and having three mixed-race children take away from the narrative? This silly lawsuit?

    He was de-platformed. This silly lawsuit is the only way to get his speech out there. Sounds like he is being labelled a hater so that he can be hated and have his speech shut down. Is this what we do with speech we don't like? You think it is silly to try and clear his name and re-enable his speech?

    I thought he was a comedian https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIH-J3uLN3E

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 11 Feb 2019 @ 6:00am

      Re:

      "Does being married to a minority and having three mixed-race children take away from the narrative?"

      No more than the fact that John Wayne Gacy was a popular childrens' entertainer takes away from the narrative that he was a psychotic killer. He wouldn't be the first person to have married to deflect away from an agenda, or to not mentally make the distinction between people they know and the "other".

      "This silly lawsuit is the only way to get his speech out there."

      It's really not. The problem is that these whiny balls of hate want all the audience size and ease of access that comes with using other peoples' platforms, but none of the responsibility of living in polite society. Half of that Wikipedia entry you posted suggests that all these platforms had every right to tell him to get off their property.

      If these people clubbed together to make their own platforms, they could so it easily. They just want the audiences that the other platforms have already built without doing the work.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2019 @ 8:40am

        Re: Re:

        Yet the details about that clown Gacy are included, as you know. Now that everyone is polarized regarding this story, it is easy to dismiss the details, as you just did. Would one child fit your narrative? Three mixed race children seems extreme even for a white supremacist. Must be to make sure they are fooling everyone and he does seem to be a fun loving person, doesn`t he? Got any extra tinfoil?

        He is the co-founder of Vice Media and Vice Magazine[2][3][4] and host of Get Off My Lawn, formerly on Conservative Review Television. He is a contributor to Taki's Magazine and a former contributor to The Rebel Media, and was a frequent guest on television programs on Fox News and TheBlaze.[5] Linked above in my previous comment

        Sounds like he has started lots of whiny platforms. Do you mean he should create a new "twitter" or a new "youtube?" "To that end, SPLC acknowledges that its goal is to destroy organizations and persons... ...even if those targets do not qualify based on the broadly-understood definitions above." That sounds like a whiny ball of hate to me. "Should we decide we don't like you, we will destroy you, as opposed to countering your speech." Should the SPLC also create a new "youtube," (if that is what you meant) or just him? People you don't like have no freedom of speech? Or do they just have to go somewhere where you don't have to hear them? Also, are you being forced to listen to him? On youtube or twitter? Will you feel compelled to jump just because he says to?

        I guess you just don't know what humour is a-boot, eh! Regardless, surely, or is it Paul, you can't not have Nunavut (pronounced: none of it). He is a comedian. Proud boys was started as a joke. When a couple of morons in a hurry took him seriously, he denounced the group.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 11 Feb 2019 @ 8:59am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Yet the details about that clown Gacy are included, as you know"

          I suspect you meant to type a word other than "included" as that sentence makes no sense as written.

          "Would one child fit your narrative? "

          My narrative is that this guy does appear to be saying a lot of racist things for someone who's supposedly not racist. If he's overcompensating or putting up a front, he wouldn't be the first guy in history.

          "Sounds like he has started lots of whiny platforms."

          He started a couple of those, read more carefully and you'll see that he either didn't start the rest (merely hosting occasionally) and that the ones he did start he left a long time ago.

          But, let's say he did - if he has his own platforms, why is it so vital for him to co-opt someone else's? Why do those platforms not have the right to tell him to GTFO if he has somewhere else to go?

          "Do you mean he should create a new "twitter" or a new "youtube?""

          Why not? Someone started those, and some further will create the next big thing at some point. There's even a Twitter competitor directly intended for racists shitbags (Gab). It's not Twitter's fault that the racist shitbags are outnumbered by decent people.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gab_(social_network)

          "Also, are you being forced to listen to him?"

          No. But, Twitter aren't forced to host him either.

          "I guess you just don't know what humour is a-boot, eh!"

          I'm not sure when the weak Canadian stereotype has to do with this conversation, but then I'm also not in the habit of clicking on random YouTube videos when people use them as a replacement for an actual argument.

          "He is a comedian."

          Yeah, yeah, Alex Jones, Glen Beck and other wastes of skin also claim to just be entertainers when called out on their behaviour. They never seem to have a problem with being "confused" with real shitbags until it affects their grifting.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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