Appeals court rules bloggers have same speech protections as journalists




You can have my keyboard when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. Practicing journalism without a license is not a crime.


I read the Wikipedia article on the 2011 case and was gobsmacked, repeatedly. Leaving aside the question of how an extortionist can claim First Amendment freedoms, we are presented with this gem:

Obsidion has filed a motion to seize and sell Cox’s right to appeal to help satisfy its $2.5 million judgment, on the grounds that Cox’s appeal right is intangible personal property subject to seizure.

What the actual fuck?


That beggars belief.


nothing on wiki, either. help a Yank out, mate?


So basically bloggers will continue to call themselves journalist or not journalist depending on which set of rules they want to fall under.


from the Reuters article:

“the 9th Circuit still concluded that there was no dispute that Cox’s post was false.”

“…Obsidian would now have to show that Cox had actual knowledge that her post was false when she published it.”

“According to the court’s opinion, Cox has a history of making allegations of fraud and other illegal activities ‘and seeking payoffs in exchange for retraction.’ “

But Cox is the hero here? I’m honestly confused.



You can read the briefs about that at:

(Eugene Volokh took the case pro bono on appeal, and argued it through to this outcome. Cox wasn’t the ideal defendant in this case, but the outcome is significant. Volokh deserves a lot of thanks for his role in this case).


thanks, euan. lovely chatting with you again.


Free Speech rights are the hero. Cox doesn’t have to be. Cox could be a Westboro protester/Holocaust denier/Neo-Nazi/[insert “bad person” here], and the upholding of her free speech rights would still be a good thing because they’re upholding the free speech rights of others who don’t hold her beliefs.


That right there is the more hidden evil here. When corporations can buy your rights, you have no rights because they will always have more money than you. Since political donations are “free speech,” they already have more free speech than you since they have more many than you. One more corporate sovereignty issue and the erosion of individual rights in the face of corporate interests.


There’s more detailed coverage of this incident available at Popehat. It’s long, but entertaining.


Its not on Urban Dictionary? That beggars belief!

It is a response to something so outrageous you can can’t get your hat on. As DevinC put it so succinctly, “What the actual fuck?”


Appeals court rules bloggers have same speech protections as journalists

I don’t think that’s quite what they’ve done. Journalists have never explicitly had greater speech protections than anyone else. Instead, free speech protections for defamation have always depended on the target of the statement. Persons of public interest can only win if they statements against them are false statements of fact uttered in reckless disregard to their falsity. Private individuals have needed to show that the false statements of fact were uttered negligently. There was nothing in existing precedent to suggest that this legal standard only applied to journalists, and the trial court appears to have invented this standard based on the fact that the Supreme Court precedent involved media outlets, and not private citizens. Which is to say that it was the trial court that ruled that bloggers do not have the same speech protections as journalists, and the appellate court simply reversed them and clarified that the Supreme Court precedent applies to all speakers.

Basically, the trial court improperly applied a different standard and the appellate court corrected this.

I think this is the basic gist of the Popehat summary.


Thank you, I hadn’t got to reading Volokh’s take on the whole thing, and I see that his reaction was pretty much the same as mine (though somewhat less profane and cliched.)


yeah, the hang-up for me was “beggars” is a verb here, not a plural noun, which we don’t have in USA-ian speak :smile:

the more you know…


I think its a verb in this case too, or an adjective, I’m not sure which :slight_smile: I think it should be read as, “This shit is so fucked up it makes a beggar of belief.”

Two nations separated by a common language as George Bernard Shaw would have it.


Those more interested in this story, or those that want a few good laughs, should read this Popehat post:

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