novalis: (Default)
([personal profile] novalis Feb. 1st, 2014 07:21 pm)
This is stupid. People have an a right to believe what they want, even if they are too stupid to evaluate evidence.

It's actually pretty sad that Steyn fired his lawyers, because really, "Steyn is a total moron who has no idea what is or is not true" is their best argument, and it's not one he's going to make himself.

Still, hopefully the judges will figure it out.
dr_whom: (Default)

From: [personal profile] dr_whom

I'm not quite sure what claim you're making here. People have a right to believe what they want, but do they have a right to assert false accusations about other people without evidence, even if they do believe them to be true? That is to say, do you believe libel laws are wrong in general, or just their application to this case?

From: [identity profile]

The article you linked (and the one it linked) weren't very clear, so if you're getting more information on this from elsewhere, can you let me know?

Specifically, they say that such defamation suits are very hard, but with no explanation for why this one is succeeding. Also are the hoops this suit has jumped through substantive checks where you'd expect a defamation suit to fail, or were they spurious roadblocks thrown up by Steyn, and the actually tentative judgments lie ahead?

However, yes, a pundit should be able to say "the advocate of this position I don't believe in is full of it" without fear of reprisal, let alone destruction. No matter how dumb they are as a defendant.

An interesting question to me in the article is the alarmist claim that any verdict or settlement will destroy the entire magazine. This is pretty much entirely from the fact that National Review is very small, and has a very hand-to-mouth budget situation. Which I believe is true, for both them and most magazines that form the political-intellectual circuit of this country. The idea that a $100,000 settlement could knock a serious policy voice out of circulation is worrisome on many levels, besides just the particular case of a defamation suit.

People who think this isn't a horrible state of affairs, I think believe one of two things:
a) NR's literal accounting books might be thin, but they have deep potential backing from donors who would save the magazine if anything truly threatened it. Especially if it was unjust.
b) These magazines don't really matter.
hakamadare: (liberal)

From: [personal profile] hakamadare

so, after thinking for a moment, i believe i fall into the “These magazines don’t really matter.” camp. however, i’m also perfectly willing to believe that this is because of my own ignorance about… how policy decisions get made? how political messaging is coordinated? something else?

if you’re up for it, i’d really appreciate a brief explanation of why magazines like the National Review are significant. my naive assumption is that such magazines have a relatively small subscription, with fairly uniform political beliefs, and that the content of the magazines reinforces the beliefs already held by the readership.


From: [identity profile]

Well, to free form ponder for a bit, I'd say this discussion breaks down into "before the internet" and "since the internet".

Before the internet, policy magazines like NR, or The New Republic, or Mother Jones, I think were an important part of the political dialogue. They presented _policy_ in a way that influential (read: elite) audiences could understand and care about, and often as not made it into important government decisions (be it among the executive or legislature). No one ever said "I made this bill because of National Review", but no one ever says that about any reason except the most banal and high-minded of ideals. We can't tell where political decisions come from, but it was plausible that these were as influential as any other source.

And relative to many other sources (including the op-ed page), they were more about substantive policy, and so it was good that people were thinking and talking about policy. Remove one, and you could make that half of the political spectrum more shallow.

But that was before the internet. The internet is still too new for us to know what it's full impact is. But there's a very good case that "if these magazines didn't exist, their readers would just read a much cheaper website that has the same virtues anyway", and stamping them out is a Sisyphusian task. Which would be good.
Additionally, because there are so many more options, many readers just surf over to websites with more immediate gratification anyway, and read less substantive policy analysis. And this magazines feel that commercial pressure, and start to cater to the short term emotional impulse more (which one of the linked articles references, in the case of NR and Steyn.)

But again, the internet is still too new to be sure, and it would be risky to do away with old, useful tools just because _maybe_ (or even probably) they have been superseded by the new.


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