• Blowing the dust off with a legal threat

    by  • 11/4/2012 • intelligent design, life • 0 Comments

    Woke up to this email from a university student in Nebraska. As I did last time, I need to break this up a bit in order to properly respond to it.

    First, the letter with my inline responses for the wider audience, and then I’ll post my email response, which was much more brief.

    Dear Mr. Murray,

    A couple of years back we had an interesting debate concerning Ben Stein’s movie on creationism (http://foo.ca/wp/2008/05/02/alright-who-shit-in-my-inbox/). Although I did send you a private email concerning my beliefs, I did not give you permission to post those comments over the internet.

    The Internet’s an amazing place, isn’t it? You can meet all sorts of people with all sorts of ideas, and disagree with them. The trouble is, that these interactions leave trails. One point that I have learned since I sent my response to Eli; he didn’t send an email. His communication that I based my 2008 post on was sent through another channel. My quoting of his responses give a name and state – that’s it. No Facebook profile, no email address, nothing else.

    The closest that I can see my post here on foo.ca coming to libel is that I called Eli ignorant. In the context of the conversation, I believe that the term ignorant is entirely defensible given the content of the original conversation where Eli showed he was distinctly uniformed on the subject.

    This is a violation of my privacy as any content that is posted to the internet needs to be given permission if that individuals name/identity is to be used. It would have been fine if you had omitted my name and previous university label, but you did not.

    My this, I’m assuming that Eli means that he wouldn’t have been able to Google himself.

    I will be following your actions concerning my request to remove the posting and if it is not removed I will have to revert to legal means. I may be a man of little means, but I have several lawyer friends that work in companies that represent one of the largest companies in the world. I wish to warn you that failure to respond may result in the shutting down of your website, a lawsuit, etc. I wish to settle things as peacefully as possible. I have taken record of your address that you have posted on your site.

    Oh, you have lawyer friends that work for big law firms that represent big companies? Corporate lawyers are often willing and free to provide pro bono legal support to all their pals, aren’t they?

    Please consider that international libel laws do not necessarily require a court appearance by yourself or any other such procedure since this is an international libel issue. I may have the option of choosing a means of settlement that favors my purposes and neglects your interests.

    That’s good to know – I won’t have to make a court appearance for libel! Hang on – libel? Quoting someone’s statements, verbatim, that make them look stupid makes me the libellous one? I thought he was the one making himself look bad in this case.

    “When an individual or company is libeled in a serious manner, it is likely that the libeled individual will look to the courts for a remedy. Individuals bringing suit for libel will frequently find that being libeled on the Internet places them into a unique position of being able to select the forum which suits them most favorably.”
    http://www.law.buffalo.edu/Academics/courses/629/computer_law_policy_articles/CompLawPapers/holland.htm

    I’m not really sure what bearing some law student’s paper from the mid 90s has on this issue.

    “But if you damage someone’s reputation by trying to embarrass them in a public forum, you could be sued for libel or defamation. After all, there’s no reason to assume that the messages you send through cyberspace are immune from lawsuits.” http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/defamation-in-cyberspace.html

    The opinion of Some Guy On The Internet in the mid 90s also doesn’t really concern me. Neither of these links concerns email specifically, nor the use of the allegedly offended party’s own word in the claimed defamation.

    I do wish to settle this as quickly as possible and, again, only wish that you remove the blog posting that has my name and material that was not given permission for internet posting.

    My response?


    I’d hope that someone on the Dean’s List would be smarter than to make internet threats like this on first contact. I will not, at this time, consider removing the post you refer to.

    You may want to have a discussion with your lawyer about what constitutes libel. Your handy post to a law course paper some kid wrote for a class in 1996 doesn’t address publishing an unsolicited email received from a third party. The defamation link, also from the mid-90s is hardly applicable as far as I can tell, although I am also not a lawyer.

    I will also likely be posting extracted portions of this and any past or future emails from you or your lawyers.


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