Sunday, July 05, 2009

Clueless Palin Sinks to New Low

Just when you thought the saga of clueless and soon to be ex-governor Sarah Palin couldn't become any stupider, she (via her law firm) is now threatening to sue people who say bad things about her for defamation:

"To the extent several websites, most notably liberal Alaska blogger Shannyn Moore, are now claiming as “fact” that Governor Palin resigned because she is “under federal investigation” for embezzlement or other criminal wrongdoing, we will be exploring legal options this week to address such defamation. This is to provide notice to Ms. Moore, and those who re-publish the defamation, such as Huffington Post, MSNBC, the New York Times and The Washington Post, that the Palins will not allow them to propagate defamatory material without answering to this in a court of law. The Alaska Constitution protects the right of free speech, while simultaneously holding those “responsible for the abuse of that right.” Alaska Constitution Art. I, Sec. 5. These falsehoods abuse the right to free speech; continuing to publish these falsehoods of criminal activity is reckless, done without any regard for the truth, and is actionable."

Considering that Palin is a documented serial liar, it's pretty rich when she threatens to sue others for what she claims is lying.


Bayesian Bouffant, FCD said...

The Alaska Constitution protects the right of free speech...

Lame. Last time I checked, the Huffington Post, MSNBC, NYTimes and Washignton Post do not publish from Alaska.

Alex said...

Uhm .. there's a pretty big difference between lying and defamation.

If I say that I am a 6'6" athlete with gorgeous good looks and a 190 IQ, that doesn't hurt anyone. Who could possibly sue me for that?

On the other hand, if I repeatedly tell people that you are under investigation by CSIS for child molestation and bestiality, you'd have some damn good grounds to sue me.

Don't let your ideological blinders fool you. Whether she's a liar or not is completely irrelevant in this case.

Jeffrey Shallit said...


1. You see the differences between lying and defamation; I see the similarities. In the US, at least, you can't defame someone if you made a statement you honestly believed to be true. (Not so for Canada, where you can be sued for libel even if the statement you made was true.)

2. Palin, or her lawyers, should know about the "public figure" exemption for libel under US law, which makes it incredibly difficult for people in her position to win a libel case.

3. When Palin claimed that Obama "pals around with terrorists", if that's not a lie that constitutes defamation, I don't know what is.

Unknown said...

Maybe she'll sure them in England? All those publications are available on the internet in England, and given English libel law she'd probably win.

Alex said...

1. That's true enough, but threatening to sue them tends to motivate people to publish a public retraction of their statements. That's probably what she's going for.

2. See above :)

3. Ayers is a terrorist. There really is no doubt that. There's some debate about how close of a relationship Obama had with Ayers, but there's also no question that they at least knew each other. In other words, the statement Palin made is at least based in reality, whereas the accusations made against her by the media are pure fabrication.

Or are you going to argue that her statement is a lie because she said "terrorists" instead of "a terrorist"? I'm not sure exactly which part of her accusation you're objecting to.

Jeffrey Shallit said...


There's no way Palin will get a retraction based on the statements published so far.

As for Ayers, is it your belief that "once a terrorist, always a terrorist"? I agree that his behavior 40 years ago was reprehensible, but is the man today the same? Did Obama really "pal around" with him? And yes, I am objecting to the use of the plural. Taken all together, I don't hesitate to classify Palin's statement as a lie.

Alex said...

That's possible. I guess we'll see.

As for Ayers ... it's a question of definitions. I guess you could call him a "reformed terrorist". But we rarely qualify such terms. Someone who commits murder is considered a murderer, regardless of how long ago the offense occurred. Ditto for rapists. It's not any different for terrorists.

Plus I'm not sure that he actually is reformed. He's never expressed any regret, and has - in his roundabout way - implied that he still sees nothing wrong with his actions.

Palins statement may have been misleading, but it was in no way a lie. It's certainly no worse than many of the things that were said about her during the campaign. I wasn't impressed with either side of the last election, and with the media least of all.

Mark said...

I got the impression that Palin's sttement about "pallin' around with terrorists" was intended to suggest that Obama is sympathetic to, and knowingly supports terrorists who are working to commit violence against the United States. I say that is definitely disingenuous, dishonest, and deceitful. There is valid cause for speculating that Palin's motivation for quitting might involve a significant scandal, having to do with suspicious relations that had been discussed before. Of course, such speculation is merely that--speculation, which arises because what Palin did was extremely unusual. What other governor quit before completing a first term except those who accepted another, offered, position (or died or went to jail, or were impeached)?

Doppelganger said...

"...whereas the accusations made against her by the media are pure fabrication."

Which accusations are you referring to, and how do you know that they are 'pure fabrication'? Because Palin said so?
Do you think she really did kill the 'bridge to nowhere' because she is a 'fiscal conservative'?

Anonymous said...

Bill Ayers & Bernadette Dohrn are unrepentant terrorists. They are also friends of Obama. Reverend Wright also has some interesting perspectives on 9/11.

King of the Road said...

Wow, I stumbled across this blog (in the usual internet way, I can't even retrace my steps) and for a while, found it interesting though I don't particularly sympathize with militant atheism.

Further, I'm neither Republican nor a Palin supporter. But your loathing for her has clearly stunted your logical faculties. The serial liar link you provided provides a retraction of at least one of its own contentions.

Ayers has stated (paraphrasing, it's too late in the evening to look it up) "we didn't do enough" when referring to his actions in the '60's.

Given your strident atheism, I can see why you detest Palin and there's plenty about her to criticize but your shots are poorly aimed.

Jeffrey Shallit said...


When you say At least one of her lies turned out to be true, that's a pretty tepid defense of Sarah Palin.

As for "strident atheism" - I guess that's your term for refusing to kowtow to the theocrats.

Mike from Ottawa said...

"In the US, at least, you can't defame someone if you made a statement you honestly believed to be true. (Not so for Canada, where you can be sued for libel even if the statement you made was true.)"

In Canada, as in England and the US, truth is an absolute defence to a claim in defamation. The difference is that in the US a 'public person' has to show the alleged defamer did so with malice before the burden of establishing a defence is put onto the defendant. Differences in how courts deal with costs in Canada and England (the law is different in Scotland) mean the libel chill isn't as bad here as it is in England, though it is certainly there. I have no doubt that our libel laws as they are will be challenged on the basis they infringe on freedom of speech as enshrined in our constitution's Charter of Rights and Freedom and think it likely that some less extreme version of the US' requirement for more than mere error will be imposed. I do think the US has gone too far one way, seeing things like the propaganda of the Swift-boating of Kerry being beyond any recourse.

I'd love to see Palin sue as I anticipate it would be the same sort of triumph for her than David Irving's suing of Deborah Lipstadt turned out to be for him.

"As for "strident atheism" - I guess that's your term for refusing to kowtow to the theocrats."

Though I don't speak for 'King of the Road', your characterization may not be accurate, because one can object to the hostility of atheists like PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne, directed at all religous people, without personally being willing to kowtow to the theocracy. I'm regularly disappointed by the willingness of people who claim to be ruled by reason to resort to that particular false dichotomy. In my own case, I refuse to kowtow to "the theocracy" and I'm religious. I view temporal power as a dire thing for religious leaders to wield.

I might be moved to use "strident atheist" of someone who has adopted the program of hostility and ridicule toward all religous persons as their mode of promotion of atheism. If you don't like that term, perhaps you can suggest another that could be used of those who embrace hostility and ridicule for all religious persons.

Jeffrey Shallit said...


"In Canada, as in England and the US, truth is an absolute defence to a claim in defamation."

That's not true. A true claim can still be libelous in Canada and England, provided it was uttered with intent to damage someone's reputation.

As for P.Z., I don't think he ridicules all religious people. But he does ridicule religious people who say and do silly and contemptible things, and thank god for that!