Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Charlottesville videographer sues conspiracy theorists, expanding the legal scope of defamation into implicit content; now Fox gets a deserved legal bodyslam over Seth Rich

Brennan Gilmore, who recorded video of the car striking and killing a bystander at the neo-Nazi rally and protest in Charlottesville in August, is suing several Internet conspiracy theorists (including the Alex Jones Channel  -- at least two companies and several individuals) for defamation in Virginia courts.  He explains this in his own words in the Washington Post here.  Rachel Weiner and Abby Ohlheiser summarized the litigation in an article in the Post Metro section on p. B5.

The attorney Andrew Mendraia said, “We don’t think the First Amendment protects blatantly defamatory speech that inspires violence and hatred of victims of terrorist attacks.”

This would be an important concept:  defamation usually is understood as something that leads to job loss, or end of a relationship, or reputation damage.  This time it includes making someone a target of others whom the speaker knows is likely to be incited.  (The issue could border on “implicit content.)  As a practical matter, I’ve had to think about this idea a lot since 9/11.

Update: March 15: 

 If that isn't enough, Fox is getting sued by the Seth Rich family for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and judging from National Review's narrative, it looks like the conspiracy theorists took over. 

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