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Donations will be used only for this case, withdrawn by Stephanie Zvan and disbursed to the lawyers and defendants to cover costs as they're accrued.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!
Now that we've crunched the numbers, our outstanding bills are at about $23500, so I have set the goal to the current amount we've raised plus $25000 -- that's a mere $1500 over. And if we reach that goal, that last $1500 goes straight to Skepticon, to help them pay down their own outstanding bills, which have had to be, unfortunately, separate and distinct from ours because they are a 501c3 nonprofit.
There's a light at the end of this long dark tunnel, and for once it feels like it's not a train. :)
Now, this is of course by no means final. Carrier has stated on his blog that he wants to pursue the defendants individually in their states. There may be significant hurdles to vault here, though, where he attempted to have Ohio perform "equitable tolling" of the statute of limitations, but the judge in this dismissal points out he has no ability to do so for other venues.
Since the beginning, I've (personally, meaning me, Jason, adjacent to but not directly a party of this suit) said that if Carrier had any hope of having the court try this case of his on its merits, California was his best bet. That his lawyer did not advise against filing in Ohio, or that Carrier ignored his lawyer's advice, suggests to me that his intent was ALWAYS to SLAPP the defendants into silence, and he'd be hard-pressed to actually file against us in California or Minnesota, both of which have anti-SLAPP statutes that work in our favour. That doesn't mean he won't actually file suit against us -- never underestimate the self-destructiveness of an entitled man whose honour has been besmirched. But it's a damn good sign that this case is done. And we can be hopeful that the financial damage he's already done to us is now at an end.
As soon as I get the numbers from our volunteer accountant, I'll be updating this fundraiser to end at the end of our debts, rather than the floating target it's been thus far. I believe it to still be in the realm of ~20,000 still owed to our lawyers, but I could be off. Additionally, the defendants are meeting the lawyer soon to discuss next steps with regard to this suit and how to possibly limit further damage done to us.
Thank you all so much for your support, beloved donors and fellow defenders of freedom of speech! My understanding is that your generosity is all that has lifted the defendants' spirits in this case's darkest hours.
I'm so very grateful to those of you who've shared and donated and posted words of encouragement, and I'm so very sorry that we keep having to spend money on this utterly unabashed attempt at silencing the critics of Richard Carrier, who's admitted publicly to the behaviour we'd criticized and who persists in slandering the defendants publicly. I can only hope that the longer his lawsuit continues, the more word spreads of his actual character -- one where he'd admit to not following a conference's rules about solicitation of conference-goers, and then sue the people who might dare say that's creepy.
And he calls himself a feminist and a free speech advocate.
We need your help to stay afloat and weather this blatant use of the legal system to silence criticism of an entitled white man who feels his honour is besmirched.
Please help, if you can. If you've already donated, thank you so much -- please spread the word.
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.