There have been three incidents that I know of where bloggers have been threatened with libel litigation for what were essentially political speech.
Niewert vs. Wizbang (in this case, Niewert just advocated libel suits against Wizbang)
And now, we can add another – MEMRI vs Juan Cole
I publicly oppose all three.Cole doesn’t make it easy on me; his post recounting the threat is headlined “Intimidation by Israeli-Linked Organization Aimed at US Academic.” Of course the fact that it’s an Israeli-linked organization makes the crime far, far worse – in Prof. Cole’s eyes.
But as far as I am from supporting Cole – and I’m really, really far from supporting him (I have a post in the blog queue about despicable Columbia professor Joseph Massad and Cole’s support of him) – I can’t remain silent when someone, even someone I admire like MEMRI, uses the heavy hand of the law to attempt to quash what is essentially political speech.
I think Prof. Cole is flat wrong about virtually everything he says about MEMRI. I think that his responses to MEMRI’s challenges are laughable. Ali, of Iraq the Model has recently taken him to school on Iraqi history.
But in lawyering up and trying to intimidate Cole into silence (as opposed to shaming him with facts, which would be a good thing) MEMRI has gone too far.
I’ll be emailing a copy of this post to Yigal Carmon at MEMRI, and I’d encourage my readers to let him know what you think as well.