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The Courts The Media United States

The Ongoing Case of Rakofsky vs. Internet 157

Chmcginn writes "Joseph Rakofsky, a New Jersey lawyer whose claim to internet fame is filing a lawsuit against the Washington Post and the American Bar Association for criticizing his performance at a Washington, DC murder trial, has amended his suit to include a number of bloggers and internet forum members — for criticizing the lawsuit. Which is a bigger threat to free speech — direct government action, or fear of lawsuits for frivolous defamation charges?"
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The Ongoing Case of Rakofsky vs. Internet

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  • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @02:25PM (#36391592)
    SLAPP [wikipedia.org].
  • Suits, obviously (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mbone ( 558574 ) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @02:27PM (#36391628)

    Just look at the situation in the UK - for example, this analysis from the Morton Report [themortonreport.com] :

    The result is that Britain is suffering from a severe case of 'libel chill', where publishers and newspapers are afraid to publish a story because the subject, usually a celebrity, might decide to sue.

    Freedom of Speech is in many ways the most fundamental of all freedoms, because without it repressions of the other freedoms cannot be corrected.

  • Re:DGA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @02:30PM (#36391686) Journal

    But there are times one branch of the government will side against the actions of the government.

    That's one advantage of a government that isn't a cohesive whole, it significantly reduces the cases of the government getting away with abuse.

  • in any society of human beings, free speech will always be threatened, for various arbitrary reasons, such as this asshole Joseph Rakofsky and his wounded ego

    freedom, in any society, for all time, will always erode, and must always be fought for, and maintained. concepts like freedom are not things that are fought for once, and then that's it: freedom established! happy ever after is here! real life is a not fairy tale kingdom

    no, freedom is constantly under attack, forever, and you, yes YOU have to keep fighting for it, or it will decay. depend upon someone else to fight for it, and if enough people do the same thing, it will also decay, since no one is actually fighting for freedom. so whose responsibility is freedom? YOURS. in a society where enough people think that, and you live in the best society on earth

    aside to Ratfuckski:

    grow up, scumbag: people say nasty things about people all the time. let it pass and move on. you only validate their opinion of you when you react to it. ignore it, and the insult loses power over you, and by extension, everyone else. even better, embrace it, make a joke, and laugh at yourself, and turn a negative into a positive impression about how smooth your are

    but give an insult attention, and you validate someone's poor opinion of you. to the extent it becomes truth. after all, if it wasn't the truth that you suck as a lawyer, why would you react so vigorously to the accusation? you're a loser Ratfuckski. now sue me, scumbag

  • Okay I'm not trolling for any kind of political points here. I'm actually trying to point out that ol' Joe here will not have any effect on free speech because not only has he set up a "me vs the world" mentality, the world agrees and won't bother listening. In terms of the grand scheme of American politics, American society and the world in general, no one has a scrap of motivation to join his side.

    US Government intervention into free speech is an unlikely but serious thing to always think about. Joe affecting free speech ain't happening.

  • by Hazel Bergeron ( 2015538 ) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @02:58PM (#36392132) Journal

    Freedom of Speech is in many ways the most fundamental of all freedoms, because without it repressions of the other freedoms cannot be corrected.

    There's this habit in the US of regarding freedom of speech as a binary thing, where the US is regarded as traditionally having freedom of speech but "everywhere else" doesn't. This isn't true. The US has many federal and regional laws restricting speech from official secrets to copyright to inciting imminent lawless action. There are many civil and private consequences to speech from fines for libel or "harassment" (consider calling someone a "nigger" in the workplace just once) to losing your job for trying to form a union - again, it's all about the malleable definitions of "freedom" and "speech". I once heard a satellite Eastern European stalwart compliment the US for encouraging criticism of its government, then lament that American workers did not enjoy the similar encouragement and freedom to criticise his boss that he did. To a Westerner it may be perfectly reasonable that you can be fired for publicly calling your boss a cunt but unreasonable to have any action taken against you for calling your head of state a cunt. But this requires so many assumptions about the sort of society you want to live in, and no matter how hard the West tries to impose it, it isn't yet a universal view.

    We can have functioning societies with whole swathes of different regulations on speech, even though you may argue that more freedom of speech will produce a better society. But if we lack some semblance of rule of law, or if we lack much more fundamental rights such as the right to life or the right to eat (which is usually a consequence in Western nations of the rights to property and to social welfare), then speech doesn't matter so much.

  • by snspdaarf ( 1314399 ) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @04:18PM (#36393076)
    The police are not there because you were called a cunt. The police are there because you called them and apparently reported someone on site who had no reason to be there and was refusing to leave.
  • by smelch ( 1988698 ) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @04:20PM (#36393096)
    Well I just disagree with that. Showing up to a place you are not welcome against the wishes of the owner is not a right, and the government is not firing you, making sure you were fired, making sure you were not paid, helping you clean out your desk, and it is a secondary action to the free speech. Perhaps you see it differently. Tell me, just out of curiousity, do you believe in property rights? More importantly, do you believe the right to free speech is more important than the right to free association? It seems that assuming your example is government force behind the consequences of the initial action (calling your boss a cunt) is correct lead to the conclusion that there is no workable system of protecting all rights, therefore society and government require some rights to be given up. Am I correct in this line of logic?

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