Saturday, June 21, 2014

SLAPPing voluntarily?

An important decision, or set of decisions.

On the DC Anti-SLAPP suit law.

Some commentary.  

Some background.

The question:  My good friend Walter Block has pointed out, disturbingly (but not obviously falsely) that blackmail should perhaps be legal.  How do SLAPP suits affect the attempt to "blackmail" public figures (through the implied threat of going to the media) into doing the right thing?

Consider three "exchanges":

You have cheated on your spouse.  I have photographic evidence of this.  The photos are legitimate, if tawdry.  That is, the "truth" is that you did cheat, and the photos are "true."

1.  I threaten to go to your spouse and reveal these photos.  I demand money, and say that I will not show the photos to your spouse if you pay me.

2.  Your spouse is an old friend/sister/brother of mine.  You know that I intend to show the pictures to your spouse.  You offer me money not to show the photos.  I say that I must show them.  You offer more money, and at some point you offer enough money that I agree not to show the photos.

The first "exchange" is extortion, and illegal in most states.  The second "exchange" is legal.

For a SLAPP suit, the difference is that the "true" information is being revealed to the media, rather than the cuckolded spouse.  However, it is not obvious that the information is "true," and in fact that is what the suit is supposed to be about.  It is harmful to tell lies about me; that should be illegal.

Or do we let the court of public opinion sort that out?  An interesting law and lawsuit in Ohio, on the "right to lie."

The point being that a SLAPP suit infringes my right to lie.  A "bad" SLAPP suit infringes my ability to tell the truth, of course.  But the suit is about whether what I am telling is true, or false.

What's a good euvoluntarist to do?

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?