This morning I received an email from a local attorney, containing a link to a post on HA, with the following request:
Please remove the defamatory, false and libelous post about me on your blog.
And this was my instant response:
I have just reread [redacted]’s post, and it appears to be nothing but opinion, block-quotes and links. I understand if you find his deft refutation of your Seattle Times column injurious to your reputation, but there is certainly nothing false nor libelous about it. Perhaps a less adversarial approach might have been for you to request an opportunity to post a response on HA in your own defense? I am always happy to facilitate such dialog.
I want to assure you that I take requests like yours very seriously… in fact, apparently much more seriously than you do, judging from its spurious nature. If you can provide what you believe to be clear examples of “defamatory, false and libelous” statements in [redacted]’s post, I will consider them, but a takedown request requires quite a bit more than a vaguely threatening email from an attorney. For obvious reasons central to the very nature and viability of the medium, [redacted] and I, and the many prominent national bloggers who would surely rally to our defense, do not take these sort of threats lightly. And neither should you.
For the moment, as a courtesy, I will keep your identity anonymous in any post I might write about this issue. But please understand that I have limited patience for attorneys who attempt to bully me into surrendering my First Amendment rights.
I’m not sure what this attorney is attempting to accomplish. Maybe eliminate critical commentary from the list of hits people might get when Googling the attorney’s name? Yeah, well, that strategy didn’t work all that well for attorney Bradley Marshall, now did it?
The thing is, the minute bloggers like me start backing down to vague threats like this, merely out of fear of incurring the legal expense, is the minute blogging ceases to be an honest and viable medium. And I’ve always believed that the day I stop writing fearlessly is the day I stop being a writer worth reading.
So let this post serve as a final warning to the litigiously itchy everywhere: I have a public platform at my disposal, and I’m not afraid to use it. If you feel we are in error, let us know, and we’ll consider posting a correction. But you better be damn confident about winning a defamation suit before idly threatening to bring one, or else it will be you who will ultimately regret your error, not the the other way around.