And just what is malice when it comes to proving libel? Retired Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., who wrote the Sullivan decision, defined it as “knowledge that the [published information] was false” or that it was published “with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.” In other words, public officials no longer could sue for libel simply by proving that something that had been broadcast or printed about them was false. Now they would have to prove that a journalist had knowingly printed false information while making little, if any, attempt to distinguish truth from lies.
The Supreme Court later extended its so-called Sullivan rule to cover “public figures,” meaning individuals who are not in public office but who are still newsworthy because of their prominence in the public eye. Over the years, American courts have ruled that this category includes celebrities in the entertainment field, well-known writers, athletes, and others who often attract attention in the media.
The burden on the plaintiff to prove libel is pretty high, even higher when dealing with a “public figure”, which arguably being a board member of Pennsylvania’s prominent state anti-gun group would make him, if this troll is who it seems to be. That’s not even mentioning we’ve all agreed this evidence is circumstantial, and not something you could take to court.
Also, being an IT professional, I’m well aware of how IP spoofing works, and if someone is spoofing in order to frame Dr. Reily, this is something that should be investigated. I’m a bit skeptical anyone would go through that much trouble. Spoofing an entire blog and numerous comments isn’t an easy feat.
5 Responses to “Libel?”
- SayUncle » More anti-gun sockpuppetry - [...] not outside the realm of possibility that he posts there too. And now, some other poster, is threatening a …