03.04.2015 09:57 AM

Let That Be Your Last Battlefield, Bloggers

So, that court decision, here.

The decision is basically incoherent. Fair comment is supposed to be comment, not a statement of fact masquerading as comment, as was the case here. John Baglow, a.k.a. Dr. Dawg, was called a vocal “Taliban supporter.” I’m pretty sure it wasn’t qualified with “in my opinion” or “I think” or anything like that. It was stated as fact.

I want stress, here, that I have no skin in this game. I think the defendant Fourniers are far-Right lunatics, and they associate with neo-Nazis/white supremacists like Paul Fromm and Marc Lemire, among others. Their lawyer proudly represented Ernst Zundel and the like, which should tell you plenty.

I’m also no pal of the plaintiff “Dr. Dawg.” His politics (with the exception of his stance on Israel) are probably closer to mine, but I don’t have anything to do with him, either.

Why? Well, after 15 years of doing this web site, you see, I just find the whole gang of them – Amazingly Fat Cur, Five Feet of Hate, Brain Dead Animal – just really, really predictable. They’ve all been saying the same things, over and over, year after year, to a dwindling number of readers, and they’ve lost the plot.

The lot of them remind me, in fact, of that third season Star Trek episode, Let That Be Your Last Battlefield, with two combatants fighting with each other for eternity, over something no one can even remember anymore.

Like the mainstream media, blogs don’t command the audience that they used to. Readers have moved on to other things, mainly on social media. There are a variety of reasons for that, but for this gaggle of bloggers, there’s this indisputable reason, too:

They’re really boring.

8 Comments

  1. doconnor says:

    It’s such a ridiculous statement, I don’t see how it could be taken as a fact rather then hyperbole.

    It probably should have been taken as if Dr. Dawg’s ideas where implemented, it would lead to Taliban being more successful in its terrible endeavors, which could be considered a kind of support.

    One should always be hesitant to censor speech.

  2. Ty says:

    Random list of reasons for the fall:

    -You’re main point is the biggest reason they’ve fallen. Just not enough content.

    -Anti-(L)iberal rage fed the boom, plateaued after that. Remember the Republic of Alberta blog that got all that free press? Closed the second after Harper won.

    -Section 13 fights sustained a bit of interest, but after Obama won, if you wanted partisan rage you’d go to a US blog.

    -Small factor: Sites like National Newswatch give you every MSM column laid out all nice, whereas a long while ago you had to go to a blog, Bourque (ugh), or the newspaper site to find it.

    -Twitter gives you all the partisan hackery platform you need without any startup costs. A guy with a polka avatar and a name from an SNL sketch has just as much reach as SDA ever did.

    Good riddance, really.

  3. I wouldn’t be so quick to put this down.

    What this ruling establishes is that, yes, it’s possible to legally defame someone online with a stupid comment, BUT if that someone consistently writes posts that can be interpreted as prompting the stupid comment, THEN the defence of “fair comment” can be used. That means judges considering onlinen defamation *cannot* ignore or set aside the context in which that context was made.

    The judgement also affirms that people who run and operate online forums *are* in fact responsible for the content that appears on them, including those written by new members that can be considered defamatory. Think about the people who have to moderate commentary on news sites in Ontario. That task just got a bit more complex.

    There is going to be applicability beyond the blogosphere. Think about people responding to silly stuff via Twitter or Facebook or any other social media platform. I suspect there’ll be a lot of “online defamation” cases that will cite this.

    • bigcitylib says:

      My understanding is a defamatory statement states a false fact and therefore cannot support an opinion protected by fair comment. This judgement says both that the statement was defamatory AND protected by fair comment. So I too am confused.

  4. Tiger says:

    I think it’s a measured, nuanced decision. Useful as a case of first impression — but really, people need to settle down and settle their differences amicably. There’s no need to enrich the legal profession with online flamewars.

    The blogosphere has died because of Twitter and other social media — we all have something to say, but 140 characters can be enough.

  5. SD says:

    I stopped posting on my blog several years ago. I found that I could get a bigger audience by posting messades on the news-media comment sections and going straight to Twitter.

  6. Jeff says:

    I am with you, and it’s both sides not just one. It’s like bloggers have a small amount of followers and another small amount of people who just visit their site to be outraged or fight.

    It’s like following someone on twitter just to hate on them because you know you rarely agree on anything and hate the person’s point of view. It is fucking stupid.

  7. Connie Fournier says:

    I would like to respond to the comments you made about our recent court victory and, in particular, to the statements about my husband and myself.

    When you claim that we are “far-right lunatics”, and that we “associate with neo-Nazis/white supremacists”, you seriously harm your own credibility. It actually brings to mind “Godwin’s Law”, but we are not even in a debate with you. It’s a little weird and creepy.

    Anyone who knows me or my husband knows full-well that we are not “far-right”. We have made tens of thousands of public posts and they completely contradict that claim. If that label implies racism or anti-Semitism (as I am certain is intended here), then you will find no evidence of racism whatsoever in anything we have ever written. And, in fact, it is well-known that we have been among the strongest supporters of Israel on the Canadian internet.

    Lunatics? Since that is a crass way of describing individuals who suffer from mental illness, well, no. Neither my husband or I are afflicted in that way.

    Need more evidence?

    – one of your oldest friends trusted me enough to hire me to deal with the public on his behalf, and I worked there until I resigned to go back to college
    – a Member of Parliament awarded me a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal
    – while representing myself, I beat your “brother-from-another-mother” (a lawyer who had hired his own lawyer) in Federal Court on a copyright issue
    – I went on to beat him again in the Federal Court of Appeal, even after the National Post lawyered up and jumped onto his team against me

    As far as who we “associate with”, well, that is a pretty interesting question. Because, in large part due to our faith, we associate with people from every walk of life, and I have never refused to shake the hand of another human being. You focus on two individuals who we have have seen a few times at hearings and events regarding Section 13 and our own cases, but, in order to make your smear work, you ignore all the other people that we support and associate with every day. So, I’ll help you by providing a sample list:

    – many good people at the Salvation Army where we attend church and volunteer
    – underprivileged kids for whom I have spent untold hours preparing and serving nutritious suppers
    – groups that spoke out against police mistreatment of protesters at the G20, prorogation, the closing of prison farms, Conservative Party Omnibus bills, lawful access legislation, and Bill C-51
    – some of your more well-known former colleagues at Sun News Network
    – many Members of Parliament and Members of Provincial Parliament
    – a Toronto Jewish group that has held two fundraisers for our legal expenses
    – people in the Libertarian Party, the (former) Family Coalition Party and the Freedom Party of Ontario
    – Ontario Landowners and Canadians for Language Fairness
    – Civil liberties groups
    – bloggers of, literally, every political stripe
    – over 10,000 people who chose to register on Free Dominion over the past 14 years to freely discuss politics with Canadian conservatives

    In the past little while we have supported initiatives from the Green Party, the NDP, and the Liberal Party as well as the CPC (I am on all of their mailing lists). I’ve signed petitions by various leftwing groups when I supported their issues (even Greenpeace). We even attended a rally on Parliament Hill against prorogation where my husband and I were likely the only conservatives in the crowd. Just recently, we found ourselves on the same side of a political issue as David Suzuki.

    We are either the most inept “far-right” activists in the history of the “far-right”, or your post is a gross misrepresentation of the truth.

    As far as your comment about our lawyer, I have only this to say. That is one of the most appalling and unprofessional things I have ever read from a member of the Bar.

    As to your confusion over the Baglow decision, there have been a couple of good pieces written about it over the past couple of weeks by Barry Sookman and The International Forum for Responsible Media. Here are the links:

    http://www.barrysookman.com/tag/baglow-v-smith/
    https://inforrm.wordpress.com/2015/03/05/case-law-canada-baglow-v-smith-defence-of-fair-comment-succeeds-in-landmark-blogging-libel-case/

    If the decision is as completely incoherent to you as you have said, perhaps you could ask them to explain it to you. I know that defamation law is complicated.

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