The First Thing We Do Is Sue All the Bloggers
You may remember the uproar or you may have even seen the video. It’s at the bottom of this post. In the video, a man is shooting at some dogs in a field as an onlooker videos the episode and gasps. The video went viral and the man on the video was heavily criticized on the likes of CNN and major print publications. The man shooting at the dogs felt as if he was being defamed, so he sued Matthew Frederick VanVoorhis.
You know Matthew Frederick VanVoorhis, the not so well-known author of the Public Intellectual blog. Scott Greenfield’s The Simple Justice blog provides all the details of the suit including the shooters’ original defamation suit. Greenfield suggests the shooter went after VanVoorhis rather than CNN because VanVoorhis would not be able to defend himself. VanVoorhis is able to defend himself, with First Amendment lawyer Marc Randazza who had a role in the Glenn Beck UDRP case discussed here. He filed a counterclaim against the shooter (also available through The Simple Justice blog).
What would the shooter have to gain from this suit? Is VanVoorhis a deep pocket compared to CNN? Is the shooter looking to redeem himself in a public forum? Wouldn’t a win against CNN go much further than a victory over a blogger? All he has done is drawn more attention to the original video invoking the Streisand Effect. Maybe the shooter is trying to get an injunction to prevent VanVoorhis and those in active concert with him to continue publishing the allegedly defamatory material. Would the website operators who post user generated content, who are protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, be in active concert? This would not be the first time someone tried this tactic.
So, Mr. VanVoorhis gets a link to his blog and we post the video one more time. It’s not as disturbing as it could have been if the shooter was a better shot.