Hi there, Wonkers! You may remember me from all the posts I did about restaurants. Well, did you know I also have a twitter and was recently threatened for libel by a certain (MAYBE!) Russian propaganda front? It’s true!
It all started when I went on Twitter (as you do) and saw WikiLeaks being EXTREMELY butt-hurt about the “illegality” of the Obama administration supposedly leaking information to NBC News. Since WikiLeaks is an organization specifically dedicated to leaking (Russian-approved) information, this struck me as a tad hypocritical, so I sent out the following tweet:
I was perhaps a bit peevish, but I thought the point would be well-taken. Not so; WikiLeaks was NONE TOO PLEASED when they saw that an extremely important (NOPE) journalist (I am not in ANY way a journalist) was criticizing them:
I’m going to take the opportunity to speak to WikiLeaks directly here. OK, WikiDicks, it’s time to explain how American libel law works. I know you’re not aware of what “libel” actually means, since to you it’s “anything that says mean words about Dear Leader Poot-Poot” and “the consequences” are “being gunned down in a dark alley while Putin smirks and makes a real-life shruggie.” And no, despite all the people saying so on Twitter, the reason I’m not in any way guilty of libel is not because I was “only asking a question” and “wasn’t talking about Assange.” I was definitely talking about Assange. Fuck that guy.
Here’s the thing: US libel law places the burden of proof on the accuser, not the accused. Yes, it’s true that in other countries that don’t value Free Speach as much as the US (*cough* the UK *cough*), the burden of proof is on the accused, but that’s not how it works here in ‘MURICA (TM). Here in ‘MURICA (TM), when writing about a public figure, not only does libel require that the statement in question be false, but the person stating it has to know that it’s false (or have acted recklessly with regard to the facts).
As a matter of fact, I don’t know your bossman isn’t a rapist. In fact, I very firmly believe the allegations about him are completely true. I believe it based on my reading of what the victims said he did. I believe he has sexually assaulted multiple women and has thus far completely evaded justice for it. I believe Julian Assange is living slime, a vicious monster who’d gleefully plunge the world into chaos just because Papa Putin tells him to. Why should I have any trouble believing a man like that is capable of rape, the one crime for which there can be no mitigating circumstances?
I don’t believe this based on any secret info I have that no one else does; I’ve read the same news articles as everyone else.
As far as acting recklessly with regard to the facts… he’s currently hiding out in the Ecuadorian embassy in London like the coward he is specifically to avoid extradition due to rape allegations. If that doesn’t meet the good faith standard for believing he’s guilty, I have no idea what would.
There’s another aspect to libel, too: You would have to prove that my statement in some way did harm to you. How exactly does a rando on Twitter calling Assange a rapist do you harm? Are you going to sue everyone who calls him a rapist? Because, uh… that’s not a small number of people. So how exactly does my statement do harm other than the self-inflicted damage from you picking a fight with me? You can’t argue the tweet harms you if the only reason it does is your own decision to highlight it.
So sure, WikiLeaks — you might well be able to win a libel suit if you went after me in the UK, or the Philippines, or any number of other countries deeply hostile to freedom of speech. In which case — ONOES! MY MANY OVERSEAS ASSETS WOULD BE FORFEITED! But you’re not going to do even that. Why, you ask? Because Assange would have to leave his coward cave to be deposed. That’s the last thing you want, because he’d immediately be extradited to Sweden to face justice. Can’t have that happening.
In short: WikiLeaks can eat my taint, I believe their boss is a rapist, and I regret nothing. Blow me, you repression-apologist fuckbuckets.
The preceding has been lawyered. Good luck in your future endeavors!