Monday, February 08, 2010

Say, How DId That Happen... Part II

Yesterday, I suggested that Ezra Levant might have back-dated a post in which he retracted some of the false information he had been pushing re Giacomo Vigna, a CHRC lawyer that Levant will be meeting in an Ottawa courtroom tomorrow morning at 10:00 AM.

Buckets asked why somebody would care to back date a post? Well--and I am of course speculating here--when you have so many acolytes following your defamation cases, some of whom are also getting sued, often because they took your word as truth on some point or another, and you are forced to make an embarrassing factual concession to one of your legal opponents... Maybe you want to do so in a manner that will bring as little attention to the admission as possible. Stick your "correction" among week-old posts where most people are likely to miss it.

In any case, much of the evidence for back-dating came from the comments to this particular post. For one thing, there were only three there originally (plus one test comment I made yesterday) as opposed to the 30 or 40 a Levant post usually generates. Furthermore, while the post itself was dated January 18th, the earliest comment to it was from the 23rd, almost a week later.

Yesterday, sometime during the evening...those comments were made to disappear (as CC pointed out in my comments). By whom, I wonder? And to what end?

Cue the theme from The Twilight Zone!

Doo Doo Doo Doo
Doo Doo Doo Doo
Doo Doo Doo Doo
Doo Doo Doo Doo the key of B minor.


Ted Betts said...

By back-dating a post, it does not appear in the blog aggregator, exposing it to the eyes of so many more people. Try it with Liblogs or Progressive Bloggers.

A defamation claim is about harm to one's reputation because of the publication of falsehoods. In a defamation suit, therefore an apology is important for two reasons.

First, if you lose, you can claim the penalty should be less since the harm caused to the plaintiff's reputation was eliminated or at least lessened by a retraction or apology in the same publication. i.e. anyone who saw the first falsehood would have seen the retraction and therefore the reputation was unharmed.

Second - and this is fairly new law - it is an important defence to show that, even if the facts you relayed were false, you were not acting maliciously but based on what you thought was true and the moment you found out your information was incorrect, you apologized or retracted. In fact, the failure to apologize, clarify or retract a known falsehood when given the chance can be taken against you.

Which makes the back-dating even more interesting since, by back-dating it and minimizing the number of people who see it, it defeats the purpose of publishing it in the first place.

bigcitylib said...

"Which makes the back-dating even more interesting since, by back-dating it and minimizing the number of people who see it, it defeats the purpose of publishing it in the first place."

Or kills two birds with one stone. You meet the requirement (apology) but make sure few people see it. Think where newspapers print their retractions.

Ted Betts said...

Exactly. It's stupid from a legal defence point of view.

To back-date it, you obviously and deliberately are trying to minimize the number of people who see it. Which undermines the very purpose for publishing it in the first place. Worse for him because if he did back-date it, that fact can be used against him trying to establish bona fides.

buckets said...

Kind of like that scene in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

‘But look you found the notice didn’t you?’

‘Yes,’ said Arthur, ‘yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of The Leopard’.’

buckets said...

The back-dating at Ezra's blog now confirmed.

Ti-Guy said...

This is kind of small-bore, stale Ezra. For some fresh Ezra, y'all need to listen to this National Post podcast ('The Omar Khadr saga'), with L'il Johnny Kay, Chris "Not Always" Silly and Ezzie himself.

Ezra supports Omar Khadr being summarily executed because he's a pirate. Or something. I'm only halfway through and already, Chris Silly sounds like he wants to slit his own wrists. Of course he discredits himself by fawning and gushing over Ezzie by complimenting him several times for having thought about his position long and hard.