Defense against Carrier SLAPP Suit
Dr. Richard Carrier is suing us for reporting on his well-known allegations of misconduct. These allegations were widely reported on throughout the community, including by third-parties both critical and sympathetic to him who are not themselves defendants.
This lawsuit has all the hallmarks of a SLAPP suit -- a lawsuit filed to stifle legitimate criticism and commentary. The named defendants are Skepticon, The Orbit, and Freethought Blogs - as well as individuals Lauren Lane, the lead organizer of Skepticon; Stephanie Zvan, a blogger for The Orbit; PZ Myers, a blogger for Freethought Blogs; and Amy Frank-Skiba, who publicly posted her first-hand allegations against Carrier.
We need your help to keep our voices alive. All the defendants are represented by the same attorney, First Amendment lawyer Marc Randazza. Randazza is providing his services at a significant discount, but we are not asking him to work for free. Plus, there are thousands of dollars in “costs” for the case that don’t include legal bills, and there is no way to discount those. In order to continue fighting this lawsuit, we, the defendants of this case, have put together this campaign to raise money to defray our costs, some of which is outstanding.
Donations will be used only for this case, withdrawn by Stephanie Zvan and disbursed to the lawyers and defendants to cover costs as they're accrued. In the event that the funds raised exceed our legal bills, they will be donated to Planned Parenthood and a breakdown of what was spent where will be performed at the close of this campaign.
We are pooling our defense costs with Skepticon, however as a 501(c)3 non-profit Skepticon is also conducting its own fundraiser where donations may be tax-deductible (ask your tax advisor). Skepticon cannot use donations it receives to help pay the shares of other individuals or organizations, though, and any excess funds raised via their campaign will go to the Skepticon conference fund.
We are confident that the court will uphold our First Amendment rights. But, through time, stress, and of course financial expense, every case like this has a chilling effect. Your support enables us to fight, and creates a warmer environment - not just for us but for others in the future.
Thank you for your support of freedom of speech, and may your new year be powerful and effective!
It's been a year and a half now, and we're all tired. In the last few months, we've seen the #metoo movement demonstrate just how powerful speaking out about sexual misbehavior is. If we have to fold, I promise you, it won't be because any of us has stopped believing in our right to free speech, nor in the truth of what we're speaking about in this particular instance. Every one of us, tired or not, is still in the fight as long as we have the resources to do it.
We knew that defending our right to discuss these public allegations, defending discussing any instance of any member of our community treating any other badly, would be an expensive proposition going into it. We stood firm, knowing it would be a long fight. We're committed to that fight, because we are certain we've got the truth on our side. We're working to pull truth into the light now, but depositions are highly time- and money-consuming. We need to be able to last through them and the resulting motions.
Thank you so much for all of your support. I hope this is the last time we have to raise the goal and raise money for this fight.
We are at just over our original goal of $20,000, and in well under a week. I am overcome by the response.
As we've been saying from the outset, though, this fight was designed explicitly to drain the defendants' resources, and generous as your response has been, it won't keep us fighting forever. Every one of the defendants in this case is certain they will be vindicated in court given enough resources, but until and unless Carrier folds, we don't know what the future holds.
The best possible case in my mind is that he decides to let the suit drop and we can use the bulk of the funds after settling up all legal debts to shore up Planned Parenthood, with it likewise under assault by this administration. But knowing that this particular case is being pursued in an effort to assuage someone's sense of honour in spite of the facts, we all know that is unlikely.
So, with that in mind, as promised, I'll be raising the goal by another $10,000 -- and I'll make public note that this money could go to a cause Carrier claims to support, if only he'd drop the suit.
Thank you all!
As a warchest, though, this will keep us in the fight for a few months at most. Paying the considerably lower legal bills from this month's sparser than usual filings has already cost about $3800 by my outsider's understanding, so while we all appreciate that this burden has been significantly lifted for us, it's not entirely gone, nor will it be until Carrier either drops the case or the case is ended.
Carrier demands a trial by jury, which would be a very significantly longer road to an end of this fight than trial by judge. The best outcome for all of us would obviously be for him to drop the matter and allow the defendants to discuss the well-known events of the allegations against him, but he's indicated that he feels honourbound to prove he's innocent of the original allegations that were reported on, and he'll evidently sacrifice third party bloggers within the community and violate numerous folks' privacy and trust in his filings of private emails by third-party non-defendants, to do it. So I have little hope of that happening.
So, this campaign will continue until the end of the case, and as we reach markers, I'll be raising it by $10,000 increments, until such time that the case has ended.
Each of the defendants has already dug quite deeply to stay in this fight because we all feel this case is an assault on freedom of speech and that, if we can withstand the significant financial burden the case places on us, we can prove our cause just and true. We are gratified that the community members are in agreement with us on this point and we are bolstered to continue the fight as long as possible.
Please, if you can't donate, and you agree with this cause, share as far and wide as you can. That will be every bit as valuable to us.
Thank you all so much!
But let's be honest -- lawsuits like this are intended to sap the defendants' resources and cause them to fold and accept whatever unfair capitulatory positions they're asked just to make the whole thing go away. I'd rather not this suit go that way, and clearly, neither would you. The more we can squirrel away, the better! And anything we don't spend on fighting this suit will go straight into the coffers of Planned Parenthood, so you can feel good about where it'll all end up regardless.
In the event we reach our goal of $20k, I'll happily bump the ceiling up to 30k and weep openly with joy for the hope you've given the defendants.
Thank you all for your generosity!