Donald Luskin Shouldn’t Be Tossing Around Legal Threats At Eschaton

You know, I like Donald Luskin’s work a lot and I’m certainly no fan of Atrios at Eschaton. But IMO, I think Donald Luskin was in the wrong to have his lawyer send a letter to Atrios which reads in part…

“Dear “Atrios”:

This firm represents Donald L. Luskin, a Contributing Editor to National Review Online and author and host of Poorandstupid.com, among other activities. You recently linked to Mr. Luskin’s October 7, 2003, posting on his website entitled “Face To Face With Evil,” in which he chronicles his attendance at a lecture and book signing presented by Paul Krugman. You chose the unfortunate caption “Diary of a Stalker” for your link. More importantly, your readers, in responding to your invitation to comment, have posted numerous libelous statements regarding Mr. Luskin. Picking up on the theme you introduced, several have made false assertions that Mr. Luskin has committed the crime of stalking. Such a statement constitutes libel per se, an actionable tort subjecting both the author and the publisher to liability for both actual and punitive damages. As a result of your control over and participation in the comment section of your site, as well as the fact that Mr. Luskin has personally brought these libelous comments to your attention already, you face personal liability for their distribution. Determining your identity for the purpose of making service of process can be easily accomplished through a subpoena to Blogspot.com.”

First off, while Donald Luskin certainly is not by any stretch of the imagination a stalker, calling someone a “stalker” while directly linking to what you perceive — albeit incorrectly — to be their stalking seems to be a pretty mild offense given the state of political discourse in our country. Keep in mind that terms like “Commie”, “traitor”, “Nazi”, “Fascist” are tossed around pretty regularly and even prominent politicians on the left often try to tar members of GOP as cruel racist, homophobic, bigots who want to starve old people and young children so they’ll have more hundred dollar bills to use as kindling for their fireplaces.

Then there are the comments in the “Diary of a Stalker” thread which Luskin complained about. As per usual on Eschaton, the comments were classless, acidic and ignorant. Examples include…

“That dude is just completely f*cking insane. Krugman could use this weirdo’s website to get a restraining order. And he ought to, ’cause Luskin seems like the kind of guy who’s gonna come after him with a knife one of these days…” — Scooter

“i heard luskin is actually sully’s gay lover.” — nova silverpill

“It’s obvious that being in the sheer animal presence of the Krenis has driven Luskin into a freezing of self-loathing and repressed desire. No wonder he feels “unclean”. — Louise

“This “man” is not funny. This is not a harmless joke. Luskin, who I took before to be simply a weak willed moronic nerd, has shown himself, as Krugman must have realized when he looked up at him, to be truly dangerous.

A restraining order is in order but certainly this psychotic loser needs help before he “takes matters into his own hands.”

He sees himself as Timothy McVeigh saw himself… a bulwark against the world which did not understand the truth of the Turner Diaries. For Luskin replace that with Ayn Rand’s pseudo-intellectual ravings and sad self revelatory posturings.

It is a matter of time only before this poor, sad, mad, loser decides to make a name for himself by purging the world of the infectious evil surrounding him poised for attack.” — Allan J.

Now I know this stuff is stupid and offensive, but is worth suing someone over? Especially given that this is giving Atrios free positive publicity from the left and right while Luskin’s reputation take a much worse beating over this than anything those obnoxious commentors wrote. Even if Luskin were to sue Atrios, got his identity out in the open, and forced him to take the comments down (and my guess is that Atrios, not Luskin would be in the right here legally — maybe the Professor or Volokh could clear that up), Luskin, not Atrios would be the big loser. Atrios would be showered with attention & support because people would view him as the “little guy” who’s getting pushed around. On the other hand, Luskin would come across as a “pompous, thin-skinned, lawsuit happy bully” who’s looking to try to throw his weight around in a courtroom.

So is it worth to make this big of a deal over something like this? No, it’s not. Were I Luskin, I would swallow my pride, call my law dog off, and just let people know that I got upset at the gross and offensive comments on Eschaton and just overreacted. That’s the way to go at this point. It’s not only the smart thing to do, it’s the right thing to do.

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