The Roger Shuler story has revealed cracks in the “solid front” that certain right wing bloggers have been putting on. For example, we caught these amicus curiae comments our favorite Assistant District Attorney submitted at Popehat’s libertarian blog court. Mr. John Patrick Frey does not believe that defamation is protected speech, and invests courts with the power to determine what speech is defamatory. Who knew it would be so easy?
Frey dropped Akbar’s name in the first comment, indicating that he has perhaps not yet abandoned the conspiracy theory connecting Shuler’s arrest to Kimberlin’s lawsuit. Blogging about Shuler’s arrest right after it happened, Frey tried very hard to convince readers that the RogerS in comment threads at BU was Mr. Shuler. He has yet to issue any corrections or clarifications on this point.
But it is his view of defamation that we find most interesting.
Two weeks ago, Brett Kimberlin met Maryland’s Brodie Test for defamation. Judge Algeo then ruled the identity of @kimberlinunmask would be compelled. Now that Aaron Walker, R.S. McCain, William Hoge, and their boss Ali Akbar are all being sued in a court that has recognized Mr. Kimberlin’s prima facie case for defamation, they face an uphill battle to prove they did not defame him. And by Mr. Frey’s own reasoning, it would be no big deal if Algeo hit the defendants with that unconstitutional gag order immediately. But we doubt Frey would stay silent as Team Akbar screamed bloody murder over an injunction. We submit that he would indeed find it a “big deal” for bloggers on his own side of the ideological divide to experience any of the treatment Mr. Shuler has received in Alabama. McCain has cheered Mr. Shuler’s kinetic arrest, while Hoge has filed hundreds of frivolous criminal charges against Bill Schmalfeldt, but what has Frey said of all that?
These people are not interested in fair or impartial justice; they are just rank hypocrites whose politics happen to be acceptable to Mr. Frey. He “fervently believes” in your right to say something with which he disagrees — until someone arrests you, jails you, or hits you with prior restraint for saying it. Then, it’s “no big deal.” If you have defamed anyone, Frey has no sympathy — unless you have defamed Mr. Kimberlin, who is just a “censorious asshat” using the courts to silence you.
It takes impressive mental gymnastics to overcome so much cognitive dissonance, and Frey’s mind is just not quite strong or limber enough to stick the landing.