A slapp shot from the point

It’s only a minor thing in the face of all of the other repressive activities in the US, but Mark Steyn’s travails within the court system, after having been sued by Michael Mann over his hockey stick, is quite significant in its own way, possibly more so because Mark is one of the few who is willing and able to fight back. In an article he brilliantly titles Slappstick Farce – and you will have to read the article to understand how clever it is – Steyn discusses how difficult it has been within the American system to deal with Mann’s lawsuit. One more example of how someone on the right finds dealing within the system so difficult.

I don’t think much about the First Amendment these days. As a practical matter, it’s simply not feasible in a global media market to tailor one’s freedom of expression to the varying local bylaws. So I take the view that I’m entitled to say the same thing in Seattle as I would in Sydney or Stockholm, Sofia or Suva. But, were Dr. Mann to prevail, it would nevertheless be the case that his peculiarly thin skin and insecurities would enjoy greater protection under U.S. law than they do in Britain, Canada, Australia, and other jurisdictions. It would thus be a major setback for the First Amendment.

That’s worth making a noise about. Up north, following a similar SLAPP suit from the Canadian Islamic Congress, my publisher Maclean’s, who are far less ideologically simpatico to me than NR, nevertheless understood the stakes — and helped get a disgusting law with a 100 percent conviction rate first stayed by a hitherto jelly-spined jurist and ultimately repealed by the Parliament of Canada. This too is a free-speech case. Free speech is about the right to thrash out ideas — on climate change, gay marriage, or anything else — in the public square, in bright sunlight. And you win a free-speech case by shining that sunlight on it, relentlessly. As we embark on our second year in the hell of the D.C. court system, that’s what I intend to do.I don’t think much about the First Amendment these days. As a practical matter, it’s simply not feasible in a global media market to tailor one’s freedom of expression to the varying local bylaws. So I take the view that I’m entitled to say the same thing in Seattle as I would in Sydney or Stockholm, Sofia or Suva. But, were Dr. Mann to prevail, it would nevertheless be the case that his peculiarly thin skin and insecurities would enjoy greater protection under U.S. law than they do in Britain, Canada, Australia, and other jurisdictions. It would thus be a major setback for the First Amendment.

The comparison is with Macleans, which is something like The Bulletin once was, and National Review, which is supposed to be the stalwart beacon of freedom on the right, is part of Steyn’s continuing disenchantment with the magazine in which he writes. Hardly anyone is standing up for freedom in the US any longer, with the dangers to wealth and reputation so large that the risks of being anything but a leftist jerk are just getting too high.

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