Friday, October 30, 2009

Should Dawg Sue Adrian?

Well, Adrian has finally done it: apologized to Dr. John Baglow (aka Dr. Dawg) for referring to him as an "admitted supporter of the Taliban", an accusation which prompted legal action on Dawg's part. Now that an apology has been issued, the question surely arises. Should Dawg be merciful? In our first "free blog poll" here at BCLSB, we put this question to our loyal readers:

PS. is the "Dr." in "Dr. John" a real designation, or something more like "Dr. Funktabulous"?


Robert McClelland said...

Sue him into the poorhouse, Dawg. These douchebags won't learn their lesson until enough of them have had their spines ripped out.

Ti-Guy said...

Adrian's apology might be a condition of Dawg dropping his claim.

If so, I hope he insisted any money Adrian raised for his defence be refunded or donated to charity. The Rightist bloggers have cottoned onto a neat little scam here: defame an adversary and then beg for money to defend yourself.

Dr.Dawg said...

Yeah, the "Dr." is real enough--a PhD, which I usually send up in the "Dr. Dawg" pseudonym. I only use it when formality calls for it--academic conferences, courts of law, and dealing with police officers. :)

What did people think of the post just before the apology? I'll be getting back to everyone on that.

By the way, BCL, I trust that your $5 is in the mail?

John Cross said...

I think that the apology is good. However if there are things related to this that Adrian has said that are verifiably untrue, then these should be corrected.

Robert McClelland said...

Yeah, the "Dr." is real enough--a PhD

I PhD in terrorism I bet. ;-)

What did people think of the post just before the apology?

I think it demonstrates that Adrian doesn't believe he did anything wrong and casts doubt on the sincerity of his subsequent apology. That's why I don't think you should let him off the hook. At the very least, wring a second apology out of him.

sassy said...

What did people think of the post just before the apology?

That he is about to go through the motions (teh apology) to try to save himself BUT that he still maintians that he did nothing wrong and hopes his dear readers will understand.

Your Honour: I am truly sorry ... for getting caught

austin said...

It may come as no surprise, but I tend to be right of center. It's this crap though why I spend more time on Liblogs or progressive blogs than Blogging Tories. There is a few good blogs there but the majority are just boring conservatives, the rest though, are like a never ending attack ad. If Rush Limbaugh ever lost his job they would not have to look further then blogging tories to fill his shoes.

I'm not saying that Liblogs do not have a couple of whack jobs of thier own(steve's stoned and high) but I find Liberals are just more interesting debaters(once again with exception to stevie).

Me personally I would not sue someone for calling me anything really, I have a thick skin, but a man has to do what a man has to do. If Dr.Dawg truely feels defamed, go for it.

Dr.Dawg said...

Well, I'm restricted in my comments at this point, but just so you know, Adrian pulled my several requests for a retraction and apology out of his spam filter on September 2--a day after the libel.

Since excised, here is what he posted on that date:

Don’t get cranky “Dawg”. I just found out today I had a spam folder! Seems you were selected for it. Very intelligent AI program this filter has.

I find it greatly amusing you would threaten to sue somebody because they defamed your pseudonym, “Dr.Dawg”.

But listen, Dawg, whether you support the Taliban from a philosophical standpoint, or whether you reject them outright, your writing on your blog undermines everything Canada is trying to accomplish in
Afghanistan. In effect, since you support immediate withdrawal from
Afghanistan without a security plan for the people left behind, you do “support” the idea of a Taliban-state.

So sue me. But you better get in line with Jack Layton, for every
person who’s inferred the same idea.

His claim now that he never had a request for an apology from me prior to my Notice of Libel is, to put it politely, misremembered.

All I can say at present. More later.

KC said...

This whole business of airing legal laundry all over the blogosphere seems so bizarre to a lawyer. If these were my clients I'd tell them to stfu.

Ti-Guy said...

Discretion, KC? In the Age of Information? In the Age of Twitter and Facebook and "Rate My Cock?"

That train left the station long ago. There's an entire generation out there for whom discretion is...I don't know...fascism or censorhip or something.

KC said...

Maybe I'm wrong on this, but I was of the understanding that Dr. Dawg and "Raphael Alexander" were of a different generation from I.

Airing your laundry in libel cases is all the more dumb (from a defence perspective) because you increase your damages by repeating and more widely disseminating the allegedly libellous statement(s).

Steve V said...

Appearing wigged out from where austin sits is a compliment. I also enjoy the "stevie" crack from all the wingers, means I bug them :) Thanks for that.

I think Dawg should let it go now, point made, full victory.

Dr.Dawg said...

If I'm being criticized here, know that my recent post was drafted by my lawyer.

The public record simply has to be corrected or I am defamed all over again, and that job ain't over yet, given the new post over at Adrian's today.

KC said...

No I'm certainly more aiming my comments at the defendant in this case.

Holly Stick said...

I have to say I enjoyed the comment that suggested Dawg was upset because the Liberals are down in the polls. There's someone who doesn't do its homework.

word verification is teeduck; as in sitteeng duck?

Mark Richard Francis said...

@Austin: who said he "would not sue someone for calling me anything really"

Insult aren't libel. "Austin is a crackpot" There! Try to sue me. LOL.

But when someone moves beyond the pejorative and makes a factually untrue claim which can be seen to damage a person's reputation, then there's a case to made for seeking damages or at least a clear retraction.

Compare "Austin is a crackpot' vs 'John Doe is a known supporter of the Taliban.'

We all have to put up with a certain level of defamation -- most defamation is not libel -- but when people are publishing false accusations of, say, a criminal offense, well who would want that to stand uncorrected?

Ti-Guy said...

No I'm certainly more aiming my comments at the defendant in this case.

Adrian's never been able to control what he says. I've never been quite sure whether it's been a ruse, or whether he's simply unable to gauge how his comments will be received. He did once write (based on an online questionnaire he filled out) that he showed symptoms of Asbergers Syndrome. But then who under 40 doesn't these days?

KC said...

Mark - I'd do some more research or talk to a lawyer before you proceed on that understanding of the law. The law of defamation is far broader than I initially understood it to be. Lots of statements that would appear to be opinion (i.e. "X is a fascist") are legally defamatory. I'm actually pretty disturbed by the scope of defamation law.

austin said...

Take it anyway you want stevie. But you and that crap you call a blog is an afront to free speech and honest political debate. You routinely delete messages that raise honest question to your ramblings and then leave the message up from they are sick of you deleting them, making them look as bad as you can. You make yourself the equivalent of a liar.

austin said...

@Mark: who said a bunch of illiterate crap just to take a shot at me.

Did you read my whole post? The last line where I said "If Dr.Dawg truely feels defamed, go for it." I would not sue because in these law suits you have to prove that a 'reasonable' person would believe the defamatory remark. And anyone who goes on political blogs to call people a "crackpot" in my opinion is not a reasonable person.

Ti-Guy said...

The law of defamation is far broader than I initially understood it to be. Lots of statements that would appear to be opinion (i.e. "X is a fascist") are legally defamatory.

This is true. Which is why people should be careful about who they're talking about (is the person identifiable, does the person put a lot of stock in his/her credibility, does the person have a reputation, is what is being said remotely plausible, is the person generally litigious, etc. etc.)

Also, it doesn't help when people persist in it, over a great length of time. After Kate McMillan got sued, I decided it was a good idea to stop calling the racist proto-fascist harridan nasty names as much. Although it's ruined by Internet experience, I'll tell ya.

Jerome Bastien said...

Lots of statements that would appear to be opinion (i.e. "X is a fascist") are legally defamatory.

I dont know that this is the case. For example, in a recent SCC decision a vancouver radio host was sued for calling this pro-life woman a nazi, and that was deemed to be fair comment.

I am no expert in the field, but I think if the defendant had said "she is a member of the nazi party", the case may have turned out differently.

I do think however, that Godwin's law applies.

KC said...

Jerome - The trick is making your way through the doorway of one of the defences (i.e. fair comment, etc.). One of the biggest obstacles as I understand it is when your statement may have been fair comment except that you intended to be malicious.

Ti-Guy said...


That's this case, with Rafe Mair and Kari Simpson, right?

That's why we need courts and tribunals, not just laws. In this case, good jurisprudence determined that the defamation was fair comment, given Kari Simpson's Hiltleresque behaviour.

Jerome Bastien said...

KC: I believe you're right. Libel laws appear to be a very complex maze of defenses and exceptions and stuff.

I like the Penn & Teller approach myself. In their first episode of Bullshit, they say they cant call people frauds or liars because of libel laws. But they can call them assholes. And they (well Penn actually) take full advantage of that.

"And then there's this asshole..."

Jerome Bastien said...


yes it is. here's the actual decision.

I had a couple of things wrong in my previous post - Mair didnt call her a Nazi, but compared her to Hitler (distinction without a difference) and it wasnt because she was pro-life but because she opposed books portraying same-sex couples in schools.

I think its a good decision too.

Terrence C. Watson said...

I'm going to sue Ti-Guy for calling me "a mildly annoying sprite" a while back.

That really hurt my reputation in the mythical creature community.

Terrence C. Watson said...

Oh yeah!

And Adrian's apology only sounds right when you read it aloud in a whiny, petulant voice.

"A comment appeared on my blog..." PLEASE! Who put it there? The Wordpress fairy? Gremlins? An annoying sprite!?

I think it's even less sincere than the "mistakes were made" canard.

Ti-Guy said...

I'm going to sue Ti-Guy for calling me "a mildly annoying sprite" a while back.

Defamation. Please submit an address for service.

It was "slightly unsavoury sprite," Terrence.

Zorpheous said...

Oh man, this is just going to get messier, ain't it?

Blogging really is losing its appeal when shit like this happens,... not saying the Dawg is wrong to pursue this,... sigh Seems like we need to employ lawyers to proof a blog post nowadays,... groan

Steve V said...


hehe. Must have had the IQ comment filter on. I set it to 60, low as it can go. Keep tryin :)

Sorry bcl.

Ti-Guy said...

Seems like we need to employ lawyers to proof a blog post nowadays

We? Only right wing bloggers need that. Normal people avoid defamation or know when to remove libellous commentary.

Zorpheous said...


I have seen some really stupid comments/blog posts made on leftwing and progressive sites. I don't think this kind of stupid is limited to a specific political quadrant. Just my opinion and observations

Ti-Guy said...

I'm not a big fan of the "they're all the same" argument. It's an affliction these days.

When it comes to defamation and vilification, the Right wins, hands down. In fact, it's the only thing they're really good at. And they are good at. The use they make of communicative strategies and tools to vilify and defame is impressive and the time and energy they spend learning and perfecting the craft...almost humbling.

austin said...

There certainly is idiots on all sides of the political spectrum. Like people on the left like to call anyone on the right a neo-con which I do not understand. Neo-cons used to be mostly democrats, Jimmy Carter is a neo-con, but since Bush jr anyone on the right gets thrown in with that tool.

But Ti-Guy is right, the right wingers have mastered the defamatory remarks. You have to look no further then Limbaugh to see that. The left or center has no one who matches this dolt even Micheal Moore would have to step his game up to match him.

Ti-Guy said...

Jimmy Carter is *not* a neocon. A lot of former Clintonites are though.

Anyway, I like to keep American and Canadian politics separate, especially when it comes to things like "left and right" (which don't mean much at the best of times). In Canada, for most people, "Left" means public health care, public education, social safety net and things like public utilities. In the US, "Left" means, hippies, patchouli, hairy armpits, birkenstocks, LSD, "teach ins," etc. etc...

Terrence C. Watson said...

Damn it, Ti-Guy. "Unsavory sprite" is worse! Are you saying that I am not tasty? That I lack flavor? That I have the consistency and blandness of a McDonald's hamburger?

Words matter, dude! :-)

And Adrian's apology still sucks balls.

Ti-Guy said...

Put that "u" in "unsavoury," traitor!

Hey, I thought you'd be flattered by the qualification. Gives you a certain, louche but rakish, daring-do quality not seen in a libertarian since Francisco d'Anconia.

Zorpheous said...

Hey, I was just trying be honest and not tar everyone with same brush.

Unfortinately the BT'ers have lost almost all of their honester bloggers, Andrew (Bound by Gravity) and James (the Progressive Right,... on the Progressive Bloggers side) to name a few. Nowadays, the BT'ers collect people like The Dodo

Terrence C. Watson said...



Now let me tell you why the love of money is NOT the root of all evil.

[Ninety minutes later.]

... and that's why A is A, why it is rational to smoke, and why it is moral to allow all the poor people (i.e. moochers and looters) to starve.

Gee, I guess I was flattered by that ;-)

austin said...

After spending 20 minutes on wikipedia trying to figure out what exactly a neocon is(most dictionaries said a neocon is a conservative who believed in neoconservatism)I feel confident enough that Jimmy Carter is a neocon. There is a lot there and a lot of it contradicts each other but if you go back to the original meanings, you can throw Jimmy in there.

Mark Richard Francis said...

@KC: I'm all too well aware of the breath of libel law in Canada.

There is such thing as 'false opinion' in Canada, and claims over innuendo gets messy.

The Mair case was raised in this thread. The lawyer who won that case was my lawyer in my BC libel case.

I got sued over, among other things, having a hyperlink that went to a site, that had a hyperlink to a site which had some alleged libel on it. The BCCA has since largely put an end to such plaintiff shenanigans.

One of the requirements of fair comment, is that you have to actually believe in what you wrote. Where it got weird in the Mair case was that the BCCA claimed that Mair had to believe in what they said he meant, even though he explicitly stated in the broadcast he didn't mean that.

In Canada's libel law, two people can theoretically co-author a work, get sued for libel, and one be found guilty and the other not, if it is found that one author had malice and the other didn't.

Why libel law remains obsessed over a author's state of mind is beyond me. No one reading the material knows.

We are due more rulings regarding Fair Comment defenses from the SCC. We hope the definition of Fair Comment gets stretched more.

Most defamation is not libel, however that doesn't stop plaintiffs from claiming so.

Ti-Guy said...

I feel confident enough that Jimmy Carter is a neocon.

Well, I wouldn't recommend that you go around telling other people you firmly believe Jimmy Carter is a neocon if you want to be taken seriously.

austin said...

Well whats your definition of a neocon?

Ti-Guy said...

As you can see it's very complicated.

First, there has to be a history of liberalism or leftism that the person has turned away from because he/she had come to believe it was doing more harm than good. But there's also the element of deception involved. Neoconservatives believe that democracy can't work if people know the real truth (which they believe is only available to highly educated people like themselves) and therefore has to ordered and controlled through myths, like religion, the threat of an enemy bent on its destruction or the myth of democracy itself.

To my mind, deception is the most telling characteristic of the neoconservative.

austin said...

Well by your definition, Jimmy Carter certainly is not a neocon. I always believed a neocon was someone who made thier political decisions based on thier religion, which Jimmy Carter did. After my journey on wikipedia I see it's not so simple. I'll retract mt statement on Carter being a neocon.