The funny thing about going through the Kiwiblog archives, is that you come up with stories like this.
See here for more.
Some readers may recall the case of Brett Kimberlin in the US. Kimberlin is a convicted bomber, perjurer, drug runner and has various other crimes to his name.
Since his release from prison, he’s made a habit of attacking those who call him what he clearly is.
One of his lawsuits is against various conservative bloggers, filed in the state of Maryland. (There’s also a federal case). That case came to trial this week.
Obliviously, with his convictions, the idea that calling him a terrorist is not deformation. So the case ended up focusing on the allegations of paedophilia, a crime which he appears to have committed but not been convicted of.
Here’s one version of what happened:
In order to prove a defamation case in Maryland, the plaintiff must prove that what the defendant said or wrote was false. Brett Kimberlin could not do that. After putting his older daughter, Aaron, Ali, Stacy, and me on the stand, he had produced no evidence of falsity. He had no case. With the jury sent out of the courtroom, Judge Johnson incredulously asked him, “Is it your theory that you can come into court and say, “I was defamed,” and rest your case?” Because TDPK had offered no evidence for the jury to consider in its deliberation, the judge ruled that there was no case, and gave a verdict in favor of the Aaron, Stacy, Ali, and me as a matter of law.
Clearly, his first step would be to show that he was not a paedophile. But outside of calling his own daughter as a witness (which proves pretty much nothing), he called the people he himself was suing. That didn’t go so well.
But I knew things were going to go very bad for Brett when he asked me the question “why do you believe I am a pedophile?” You do notask a guy with a semi-photographic memory a question like that. So I went over Jessica/Debbie Barton, another fifteen year old girl he told singer he had been “romancing,” his teen dream, and then as I was getting to his wife, I got interrupted, but I got to that story a few minutes later. He did not enjoy, for instance, hearing me recite the story his wife told me about her walking in on him kissing her twelve year old cousin. In short I was able to recite most of the facts laid out inthis post (which this title is riffing off of) and he clearly regretted it.
One thing that kept occurring, also, is Brett kept expecting me to spontaneously blurt out his narrative, rather than, you know, reality. So he asked me if I said that we should destroy his daughter’s life “because of the corruption of the blood?” All of this comes from having written this post which, as you might notice, does not say that at all. So I remember specifically answering “no, I have literally said the opposite. I have said that we should as much as practicable shield your daughter from the effects of your misconduct.”
Here’s the thing: if someone acuses you of a crime, and you sue them for deformation, your first job is to show that they are wrong. Really wrong. Reading these accounts of the trial, Kimberlin really didn’t bother to do that. He didn’t even come close to trying.
So, the court had no choice to (effectively) declare that “Brett Kimberlin is a paedophile” is a true statement. I mean, he didn’t bother to refute it, did he? And it wasn’t like he had spent months of effort filing a case in order to “clear his name”. If he had the proof, that was the time to present it. If he didn’t have it, he should have withdrawn the case.
Biggest legal backfire in history? Quite possibly.
In 1972, the Deomcratic party’s HQ was the subject of a bungled attempt at a break in.
This lead to a scandal that is so well known, that it became known as “Watergate” after the hotel, and almost every scandal in the English speaking world having the “-gate” suffix attached.
Why would you break into a competing party’s headquarters? Well, you’d find information, strategies, and other things that the opposing party is using legitimately. But you’d also find material that would be embarrassing – possibly even criminal if released to the general public.
What’ we’ve seen this week has been much the same.
Imagine the Republican party operatives who broke into Watergate succeeded.
Imagine they leaked the documents to a known, friendly journalist who wrote a book without checking with any other sources, compromising principles that journalist previously claimed to hold proudly. Imagine that those affected were able to claim with credibility that not just one break-in had occurred.
What we have here is a lot like Watergate. Only, where that break-in failed and backfired, this one succeeded. Only, it didn’t really find anything much, in 8gb worth of stolen material. So little new material in fact, that the media are really struggling to find anything. So little, that an entire chapter is about a man who’s email wasn’t even hacked, and thus, relies entirely on banal, already-public information.
And, just in case you thought this book was somehow principled, it ignores long-standing allegations of worse behaviour from the other side of the isle. (For all Slater’s faults, he has always blogged under his own name, and has never made the slightest secret of his connections to that party.)
Yet, what we have are opposition leaders praising those who engaged in the dirty trick, claiming that the stolen documents show serious flaws in our democracy. There are even journalists condemning the condemnation of the guilty party.
Here’s what the politicians said about it:
Labour Party leader David Cunliffe says allegations made in Nicky Hager’s new book ‘Dirty Politics’ are “the closest New Zealand’s got to its own kind of Watergate”.
How about The Greens?
The Green Party is to lodge a series of official complaints over allegations contained in Dirty Politics.
The party was also promising to hold a Royal Commission of Inquiry if elected “to get to the bottom of what has gone on and to seek recommendations on how to rebuild a clean and fair political system in New Zealand”.
[I would note that I have previously called for a Royal Inquiry into the 2005 election, and the attempts by the Labour party to intimidate public servants regarding their theft of $800,000 of public money and their breaking of electoral law and the subsequent attempt to change said law to their own advantage.
To the very best of my knowledge, the Green Party never came close to making such a demand, and still defends and supports the law changes to this day.]
“The New Zealand public cannot have any confidence in our democracy until these claims are investigated and [alleged] offenders held to account.”
The party revealed this morning complaints would be lodged with the police, Parliamentary Service, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and the Privacy Commissioner relating to the allegations of “corruption and abuse of power”.
“John Key has degraded our democracy,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.
What about Winston Peters?
Winston Peters is comparing the revelations in Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics to the Watergate scandal that brought down US president Richard Nixon.
Note the language used. People are comparing the allegations spun from material from a successful break in, with a failed attempt at a break in to extract similar material.
Ladies and gentlemen, a more cynical bit of politics you will not find.
Update: Try this: There was a break in, the material gathered is being compared to water-gate.
I found this on Instapundit today. It’s so sad, I almost wept reading it.
When Khmer Rouge forces seized Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975, the couple was living with eight of their children in a rural town called Kampong Chhnang. Three days later, the guerrillas arrived and residents — including Younly — cheered, relieved the war was finally over, his 86-year-old widow Som Seng Eath recalled.
But within hours, everything changed. Every soul was ordered to leave on foot.
The Khmer Rouge were emptying Cambodia’s cities, marching millions of people into the countryside to work as manual laborers. Their aim was to create an agrarian communist utopia, but they were turning the Southeast Asian nation into a slave state.
Younly “didn’t believe what was happening. He kept saying, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll be back soon, don’t pack much,’” his widow said. She ignored his advice, and took as much as she could — including five of her husband’s school notebooks, and several blue ink pens.
As gunshots rang, they joined the departing hordes, cradling their young children and whatever they could carry. As they walked into the night, people wept.
Sadly, we forget so quickly just how evil humanity can be.
Go read, and remind yourself of the dangers we face when people decide that they can reshape society to their ideal, by whatever means they deem necessary.
Related, is this via Patterico. You can click through and read the letter to which this is a reply, but I think the reply pretty much speaks for itself, and the state of politics today.
Dear Son of A Right-Winger,
Go back and read the opening sentences of your letter. Read them again. Then read the rest of your letter. Then read it again. Try to find a single instance where you referred to your dad as a human being, a person, or a man. There isn’t one. You’ve reduced your father — the person who created you — to a set of beliefs and political views and how it relates to you. And you don’t consider your dad a person of his own standing — he’s just “your dad.” You’ve also reduced yourself to a set of opposing views, and reduced your relationship with him to a fight between the two. The humanity has been reduced to nothingness and all that’s left in its place is an argument that can never really be won. And even if one side did win, it probably wouldn’t satisfy the deeper desire to be in a state of inflamed passionate conflict.
The world isn’t being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist — the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world. The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they’re truly better people than the others who think differently. The world officially ends when we let our beliefs conquer love. We must not let this happen.
Worth pondering, I think.
In case you’ve been living under a rock of some sort, you’ll have noticed a really silly “Internet Party” has been founded by one Kim “Dot Com”, convicted criminal awaiting extradition to the US.
Mr “Dot Com” is keen to avoid said extradition, and hence is using his money to buy his way into our parliament.
Now, clearly he’s been casting around for which political grouping might be most open to his ministrations.
We now know the answer to his careful research. He has discovered that left-wing environmentalists are most easily bought.
That’s not to say he’ll actually succeed in buying enough to get anywhere of course. But don’t let’s forget that supposed “anti-big money” principles are quickly forgotten on the left.
After yesterday’s post, I noticed this article – trying to tell Christians that they’ve done the wrong thing… or something.
Here are the reasons one “Carol Howard Merritt” has.
Christians should always uphold human rights. Jesus taught us a great deal when he healed the woman who had been bleeding. He taught us that women who demand healing ought to find that cure. Jesus restored her to health, even though the established religion deemed that she was unclean. Jesus ignored the men in charge, and he listened to the woman in suffering.
So far, so good.
That medical condition would now be treated with contraception. Birth Control is considered a basic human right, according to the United Nations. It’s important for the health of women. It keeps women and children out of poverty.
1. Christians should uphold human rights.
2. Human rights are defined by the UN.
Therefore, we conclude:
3. The UN is the body that decides which rights a Christian should support.
Wait, that seems wrong somehow. Wasn’t the Bible supposed to be in there somewhere?
But that raises a serious concern: how did Christians know what to do before the UN came along? Maybe they had some sort of system of deciding right and wrong before the UN? It’s possible people!
The fact that a corporation would want to deny (yes, I said deny. If you’re making a Hobby Lobby clerk’s salary, it’s very difficult to pay for contraception without insurance coverage) a woman’s basic human right is disgraceful. People of faith should care about the dignity of all humans–particularly those who cannot afford to have children. We should always be willing to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, and see to the dignity, worth, and healing of women, even when the established religious power says that she should be denied.
Jesus healed a woman, so how dare you deny a woman earning well above minimum wage (seriously, google it) the right to have their employer pay for 4 out of 20 mandated birth control methods.
Christians should encourage life-saving science and medicine.
Paging Dr Obvious.
It has been frustrating to watch people say that contraception is an “abortifacient” when the medical and scientific community has said that it is not.
Wait, what? One second we’re talking about life-saving medicine, next we’re abusing people for avoiding something that they think kills.
Anyway, having done a bit of reading, it is entirely possible that she’s right on this point – is may well be that at least one of the 4 disputed methods does not work by preventing implantation.
If so, yay! There is no ethical concern here. All we have is a failure to communicate the science properly. That’s a pity.
But on the other, if some of them do in fact prevent implantation then they are considered by Christian ethicists to be abortifacients. In other words, talking about what science has proven misses the point that this is a debate about the ethics.
Here’s a silly analogy. Let’s say Jim refuses to ride in John’s car, because it’s a Honda and Jim believes all Hondas are diesel and he refuses to ride in diesel cars. Now, Jim is wrong about the facts – John’s honda uses petrol. But that mistaken believe about the facts says nothing either way about Jim’s decision to avoid diesel cars.
A religious person’s belief should not trump the facts and take away basic medical care for women, even if it’s sincerely held. Plus, we really should have a faith that is strong enough to endure an eighth grade sex education class.
Here we have a couple of non sequiturs.
Given these issues, it’s hard to analyse the first sentence any further.
Finally for this section, she engages in a childish jab about sex education classes. I have no idea where that even came from.
Christians should care about the environment. One of the very first commands in Genesis was when God told us to care for creation. We were to be stewards of the fish, birds, cattle, wild animals, and every creeping thing.
Again, so far so good. Oh, outside of the whole “fall” thing where a very long-term slide into destruction started, ending in God eventually re-creating the whole thing sometime in the future.
In the United States, we use more resources than people in other parts of the world, and we are causing our destruction. Wars are being fought over petroleum. We frack the ground God gave us because we’re hungry for more fuel. Tension is growing over water rights. Because of our overuse of resources, overpopulation can cause us to defy one of God’s first instructions to us. Allowing for birth control helps us care for creation.
So essentially she’s trying to:
a) make the claim that overpopulation is a real thing
b) make the claim that Christians should be doing something about that and
c) make the claim that birth control is the “something” that should be done.
Quite outside the fact she hasn’t proven that any of those things are valid, this case isn’t about whether a woman can buy birth control. It’s about whether an employer has to pay for a method their beliefs say is unethical.
So… yea, a long bow being drawn there.
Christians believe that women and men are made in the image of God.
Again, start with the statement that no one disagrees with.
People are made in the image of God, not corporations.
Two true statements in a row! We’re on a roll people!
Because of that basic theological understanding, we know that corporations should not be considered over individuals. One of the guiding principles of the Supreme Court’s decision is one of “corporate personhood.” Corporations have corrupted our political process as they have given more power and because they have more money than individual people. We have watched as poor and working class people have lost their voice to the will of corporations. Our economy strains with the increased disparity between the rich and poor. Our country is watching that gap become deep and wide with the related disparities in our quality of education.
So to sum up, Corporations are Evil (TM). They’re run by faceless shareholders… oh wait, this decision covers closely-held corporations, where the company is the personal property of a very small number of individuals.
Now, we give corporations even more power, through allowing the greatest stakeholders the right to withhold medical care to women.
Frustrating how the Christian ethic of “not lying” never seems to occur to this author. No such rights have been given, a very limited ethical objection has been respected.
Jesus said that we should always be looking after “the least of these.” Through giving corporations more power, we are taking away a woman’s human rights and we are ensuring more poverty among women and children.
Yet again, an assertion completely unsupported by any of the facts here. Let alone the idea that small families are better, which isn’t something I see supported in scripture – in fact quite the opposite (Psalm 127).
As a Christian, I am profoundly upset by the Supreme Courts’ decision. And I hope that other men and women of faith might stand with individuals, who are made in the image of God, and who have the right to access the medical care they need.
As a Christian, I just wish people would make conclusions from something resembling an argument. Because it’s pretty hard to respect anyone who writes junk as bad as this one does.
I ran across this report earlier today.
I’ve seen some bad reporting over the years, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an article that seems to be deliberately designed to make people more ignorant.
Let’s look at a few points:
1. If you work at certain types of for-profit companies, they no longer have to cover the cost of any contraception that they say violates their religious beliefs
The Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) requires most health insurance plans to cover birth control without cost-sharing. Without healthcare coverage, the pill can cost about $25 a month and an IUD (intrauterine device) can cost up to $900 (though it’s inserted once and lasts up to 12 years).
So my first observation is that they all but admit that this is about saving a measly $25 per month at worst. And there’s the elephant in the room that this is covering something that anywhere else would not be an insurance item.
They also tacitly admit that there was only 4 of the 20 methods covered. So really, it’s hard to see this being a very serious sort of issue. They also start out by talking about the Pill, giving the impression that that is one of the methods removed – but it’s not.
2. All three female Justices dissented, arguing that this ruling limits women’s rights
All of the women on the court are liberals. The liberals voted for less religious liberty, and only one of them is a man. Apparently (since this article is aimed at women) it’s important that you know that all the women on the court were rooting for you. Or something.
Then there’s this quote.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the dissenting opinion and was joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Justice Elena Kagan and Justice Stephen Breyer (the only male justice who dissented). “The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage,” Ginsberg wrote
Here’s the thing about that. It’s complete nonsense.
It is not even remotely true. It is literally impossible for one simple reason: this decision has given employers of any sort precisely no, zero, zilch rights to determine what pharmaceuticals and employee might buy. That’s not a right employers have ever had, sought, or wanted, even in their wildest dreams.
Yet, that claim not only appears in a media report, but a supreme court decision.
3. The ruling may depress use of IUDs at some privately held corporations that deem it a form of emergency contraception
This is where we really get into the weird zone. I mean, who cared about the IUD use rate at privately held corporations? Seriously, that’s a really weird thing to say.
Now, it would be more useful to say, “this will reduce the use of this really effective method”. And they do try to say that… sort of.
But note this:
The IUD can also be used as emergency contraception if it is inserted five days after intercourse, hence the Hobby Lobby’s objection to it and not birth control pills.
That’s about as good an example of what the article does all the way through: skirts the core issue that this ruling is about abortifacients. Seriously, the word never appears yet that was the entire ethical objection that the court case was about.
4. Women’s rights groups are angry because they see the ruling as a loss of autonomy for women
Feminists don’t like this? Gee, who knew.
See what I mean about making people more ignorant?
Oh, and did you notice that having someone else pay for your birth control somehow = more autonomy. Feminism, gotta love it. (Seriously, you have to, it’s in the rules of modern liberalism.)
In fact, this point is so idiotic, it required detailed fisking.
Some women’s rights advocates have taken the argument even further than Ginsburg did. Up until this point the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) has been interpreted as a protection for individuals’ religious practices—not those of corporations. The Supreme Court just said that these protections also extend to for-profit companies,
Bzzzt. Wrong. It ruled that when you have a closely-held company, forcing a company to do something is forcing an individual (or a small group of individuals) to do something.
but didn’t protect a woman’s right to choose her method of birth control.
Bzzzt. Wrong. As pointed out above, this ruling says precisely nothing about that. It’s about who pays for it.
Thus, many critics argue, the Supreme Court decided that corporations are people, but women are not.
They may even honestly believe that. But I doubt it – I mean, they’re not that stupid, aren’t they?
Women’s rights groups say restricting insurance coverage for some types of contraception, or making coverage more difficult to obtain, undermines access to birth control in general and point to studies that have shown that offering greater access to contraception—rather than restricting it—leads to fewer unintended pregnancies and thus reduces the number of abortions by 75 percent annually.
That’s a true statement, they do say that. They also say that women are more autonomous when given $25/month worth of pills by their employer. Did I mention that? Yep… ok, just checking.
5. Under the ruling, some corporations could attempt to refuse coverage for other, non-contraceptive medications and procedures citing their religious beliefs
But even the people who wrote this admit almost immediately that it’s a bogus claim:
In the majority opinion written by Justice Alito, he specifies that the ruling applies only to the contraceptive mandate, and states that it should not be understood to include to other insurance mandates, like those for blood transfusions or vaccinations.
Fact is, if something else comes up, it’ll go through the courts again.
So there you have it. A report that never actually talks about the key issue, grossly insults women, tells incredibly silly lies, and then tells us about the most obvious thing ever written.
Modern journalism – gotta love it.
This is from the “you’ve got to be kidding me” files. George Zimmerman’s lawsuit against NBC came up recently, and the same judge that appeared to be so biased against him during his criminal trial proved it by throwing out what is really a slam-dunk case.
In the audio played repeatedly by NBC on the air to a national audience, the dispatcher’s inquiry was spliced out, as was Zimmerman’s explanatory text of why it appeared that Martin’s behavior was notable:
Zimmerman: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good . . . He looks black.”
The doctored audio obviously suggests that Zimmerman purportedly believed Martin was “up to no good” solely on the basis of being black–prima facie racism. Utterly fabricated, of course.
Despite this, Judge Nelson has dismissed Zimmerman’s libel suit against NBC on the basis that he had become a “limited public figure” in the controversy. How so? Judge Nelson writes:
[Zimmerman]e voluntarily injected his views into the public controversy surrounding race relations and public safety in Sanford and pursued a course of conduct that ultimately led to the death of Martin and the specific controversy surrounding it. Moreover, Zimmerman’s shooting of Martin rendered him a public figure in the ensuing controversy.
Yep, according to Judge Nelson, Zimmerman became a limited public figure unable to pursue a clear case of libel because, while doing nothing whatever unlawful himself, and conducting himself precisely as instructed by the police who managed the Neighborhood Watch Program in which he participated, became the victim of a vicious, life-threatening attack by Trayvon Martin.
More simply, if you are the utterly innocent victim of a violent criminal attack by someone of another race, and defend yourself, that makes you a limited public figure subject without recourse to deliberate libel by the news media.
Of course, even as a limited public figure Zimmerman could still sue for libel if he could demonstrate malice. Judge Nelson deals with that by simply concluding that he cannot demonstrate malice:
Zimmerman cannot carry his burden of proving that the single, allegedly [?!?!--AFB] defamatory statement he challenges in the March 20 TODAY show broadcast was disseminated with actual malice.
She similarly dismisses other disseminations of essentially the same libelous content.
Go read the whole post. And yes, this is the exact same judge that ignored the law and threw out perfectly valid cellphone evidence, without actually telling anyone why (which would have made the judgement appeal-able).
Frankly I’m amazed that she, or the prosecution the Zimmerman case, are allowed in a courtroom at all.
I mean, seriously. If conservatives are so evil, show some real data and stop making it up.
Because if you don’t have real data, not only does that say something about the people you’re trying to smear, it also says something about you.