aethercowboy’s Techdirt Profile


About aethercowboy

I am a strong supporter of free speech and reasonable copyright law. I also operate the website

aethercowboy’s Comments comment rss

  • Feb 6th, 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 ( 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 ( 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: -- 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.

  • Sep 27th, 2018 @ 10:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Ahh...

    Guess that rules out intelligent design...

  • Sep 27th, 2018 @ 5:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Also, Cory Doctorow, are you not Amazed?

  • Sep 26th, 2018 @ 11:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I completely agree. It makes me lose respect for Peterson every time he sues someone for defamation.

    (and, yeah, I'm one of those guys who read his book and watches his videos regularly on YouTube.)

  • Sep 26th, 2018 @ 11:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Ahh...

    Your evolution analogy is flawed on so many levels.

    1. You cannot have a "belief" in something that has sufficient empirical evidence to prove or disprove its existence. That would be like saying "I believe that 2 + 2 = 5" or "I believe that 2 + 2 = 4". Either it's true, or it isn't. As with metaphysical things, these are inherently unprovable, and thus, can be believed: unicorns, fairies, Odin, etc.

    2. Assuming for the sake of argument that evolution is an empirically provable fact (your quotes indicate that you may not agree with this statement otherwise), then it's likely that humans have also been selecting for compassion for as long as we've been living in groups. Therefore, a human who believes that survival of the fittest is desirable, and also believes that everybody should be afforded health care, may be unable to act on the former, and choose the latter, because compassion.

    3. Further, the ideas of evolution are about the propagation of a species (or, perhaps a gene, if you believe what Dawkins has to say), and therefore, it's perfectly reasonable that someone who considers the evolutionary ramifications of things will also appreciate keeping other members of their species alive.

    4. One could also argue that advances in medical science are an evolutionary step in humanity. Therefore, where do we draw the line between what is human evolution and what is just being silly and helping people otherwise live?

    5. You're also not considering the fact that most people don't actually care enough about evolution enough to hold the tenants of survival of the fittest to be a major guiding principle of their lives.

    Don't you find it to be silly that the people who don't believe in evolution also don't believe in universal healthcare? If evolution is false, then it's on us (and decreed by many of our gods) to help other people, especially those that aren't good contributors to the gene pool.

  • Sep 26th, 2018 @ 10:54am

    Re: Re:

    Thank you for the response.

    While I may have a fairly decent understanding of defamation law in the US and my own state (a lawyer once threatened me with a defamation counter suit while I was suing his clients for real estate fraud... which he never followed through on, as it was a baseless claim to begin with), it seems that Canadian defamation law is a little less free.

    After taking a brief crash course in Canadian defamation law, it seems that this could potentially be construed as libel. However, it all depends on the interpretation of "fair comment" wrt Manne, and "responsible communication on matters of public importance" wrt Vox.

    It also depends on how the courts would interpret that statement, and whether it was "calculated to disparage the plaintiff in any office, profession, calling, trade or business held or carried on by the plaintiff at the time of the publication."

    According to my research, Canada has the most plaintiff-friendly defamation law in the English-speaking world. So, it's anybody's guess how it will turn out. Though, thanks to the SPEECH act, it's unlikely that if Peterson does win this case, any Americans will be harmed in the making of this lawsuit.

  • Sep 26th, 2018 @ 10:16am

    (untitled comment)

    I'm generally in agreement with you, Mike. I think that Peterson going after these people for defamation would be like me going after a toddler for calling me a doody-head.

    However, Item (f) does seem legitimately defamatory. It suggests that he inappropriately manipulates his clinical patients, something that could, potentially affect his career as a clinical psychologist.

    Of course, I'm all open to explanations as to why this isn't a legit claim.

  • Aug 30th, 2018 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Proof

    He is even part of their inner circle!

    Or at least, their address book...

  • Jun 22nd, 2018 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Wilfrid Laurier

    I'm wondering if the legal strategy involves Howard Levitt's bank account.

    (Just kidding, Howard! That's a joke, and not meant as a defamatory statement!)

  • Jun 22nd, 2018 @ 1:01pm


    ^ forgot to log in.

  • Jun 13th, 2018 @ 12:18pm

    (untitled comment)

    If you could magically materialize butter by copying a snippet of text on the internet, my cat would totally know how to use a computer by now.

  • Mar 8th, 2018 @ 8:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Out of sight out of mind

    I dunno. I live in Ohio.

  • Mar 7th, 2018 @ 11:12am

    Re: Out of sight out of mind

    It's sad that my kindergarten-aged daughter understands object permanence better than my senator.

  • Nov 3rd, 2017 @ 11:22am

    (untitled comment)

    This redefines covfefe!

  • Sep 29th, 2017 @ 11:40am

    (untitled comment)

    There's an interesting tax law at play regarding costumes ( Basically, for tax purposes, there is a distinction between clothing and costumes (also, a similar distinction for dolls vs. toys, and that may be at the heart of the battle. It could be argued that costumes are not clothing, and are thus not utilitarian goods.

    Granted, that's a stupid argument, but it'll probably be the one at the heart of the suit.

  • Sep 29th, 2017 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re: The Hand Drawing the Hand Drawing the Hand...

    Well, yeah. I didn't mean adaptation in the sense of something that would require lawyers. Inspired is more appropriate. Nevertheless, the point is the same: if we're going to argue "theft of ideas", we need to follow this to its logical conclusion. I suppose instead of going to Más a Tierra, we could instead take it to the Colosseum, but that's an exercise left to the reader.

  • Sep 29th, 2017 @ 5:55am

    The Hand Drawing the Hand Drawing the Hand...

    Aren't these both basically adaptations of Suzanne Collins' *The Hunger Games*? Of course, that was basically an Americanized version of Koushun Takami's *Battle Royale*, which we all know is basically Stephen King's *The Running Man*, only set in Japan. Which, of course, is William Golding's *Lord of the Flies*, but as a reality TV show. Of course, *that* was a satirical response to R. M. Ballantyne's *The Coral Island*, which is itself based on the themes of Daniel Defoe's *Robinson Crusoe.*

  • Sep 11th, 2017 @ 10:55am

    (untitled comment)

    Someone should remind Mr. Vanaman about Section 512(f) before he takes legal action. I'd imageine Mr. Kjellberg has the resources to follow it through.

  • Aug 16th, 2017 @ 5:40am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Hmm. Guess I didn't say "savages". "Terrible," rather. Still, the point is the same.

  • Aug 16th, 2017 @ 5:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The key and only important take-away...

    My bad, it was the Daily Storm, not Stormcloud. All these stormy things get jumbled up in the head when you don't care enough to follow them.

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