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04 June 2009 @ 04:08 pm
protecting our doctors  
I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting to do something to protect our physicians in wake of Dr. Tiller's death.

What do you guys think about the possibility of a statute that bans public (e.g. at gatherings, or on the media) villification of specific abortion providers (i.e. by name)? I know there would be a first amendment challenge, but we have the whole "wanted poster" website precedent to work with...
 
 
 
Curtains cannot hide you from my eyes!: Feminismcelestialfire on June 4th, 2009 09:22 pm (UTC)
I think libel/slander things cover the media to some degree, but there are so many legal things surrounding abortion provision/coverage/etc, I'm not sure anyone has put the time/funding into pursuing this. Unfortunately, a great deal of it is covered under free speech and the right to peaceably assemble.
electric misfit love machineeyelid on June 4th, 2009 09:32 pm (UTC)
libel/slander doesn't cover political speech, or arguably "true" speech/opinion. There was nothing protecting Dr. Tiller.

regarding first amendment issues... see the cases where websites targeting abortion doctors were ordered taken down. I think there is a strong argument that such protections, narrowly tailored, are merited.
Curtains cannot hide you from my eyes!: Coolest f-word evercelestialfire on June 4th, 2009 09:37 pm (UTC)
I think those cases were issues surrounding the home addresses and schedule information being published, though, right?

There were, of course, laws against murder that were there for Dr. Tiller, but obviously they didn't do much for him. =/
Fiona: Pro-Anti-Stupidfiona64 on June 4th, 2009 10:22 pm (UTC)
This may cover it ...
electric misfit love machineeyelid on June 4th, 2009 10:52 pm (UTC)
Re: This may cover it ...
FACE doesn't prevent the naming and villification of abortion providers.
Fionafiona64 on June 4th, 2009 11:23 pm (UTC)
Re: This may cover it ...
Theoretically, it does; the problem is that it is not well enforced. In fact, if you contact your local FBI and tell them you are reporting Jill Stanek under FACE (http://www.jillstanek.com/archives/2009/06/partial_birth_a_2.html#more) that it is intended to do just that. They consider acts like Stanek's to be inciting violence against physicians.
semi-titledpocochina on June 5th, 2009 03:22 am (UTC)
If the laws that exist about threatening or dangerous speech and activities were enforced when it came to abortion providers - FACE and slander/libel, but also assault (which in civil law means making someone reasonably fear bodily harm; not like criminal law) stalking, harassment, assault, trespassing, proper granting and execution of protection orders - abortion doctors would be safe. Annoyed frequently, and I too would like to see that stopped, but safe. In fact, if law enforcement had fulfilled an obligation to follow up on a call they received last weekend, Roeder might have been in a holding cell on Sunday morning. The problem isn't the statutory framework, it's that law enforcement are negligent in their protection of abortion providers. Normally I'd defend them as under-funded and -staffed, but I'm very much not in the mood to make excuses for them. Aside from which, from a policy perspective, I see anti-choicers getting their victim complexes on and tying up enforcement of the law in endless appeals which would eventually get up to a bunch of conservative judges itching to show off their Kewl Dood civil libertarian cred.

I think there's a lot to learn from the suits by the SPLC against hate groups - no, you can't prosecute someone for speech alone, even if they did use non-protected speech, because in this context you'd have to get a jury that was essentially all pro-choice - but you can sure as hell make them broke. I don't expect Dr. Tiller's family to do anything, I am just hoping they can find some peace - but if every clinic worker and health care professional sued for financial compensation to make up for the hundreds of wrongs perpetuated on him/her by the anti-woman movement, it would make a serious difference in terms of bankrupting the jerks and in terms of PR. Nobody would go along with this "non-violent movement" heinous bullshit.

Grain of salt - IANYAL.
electric misfit love machineeyelid on June 5th, 2009 03:05 pm (UTC)
threatening or dangerous speech

not really, IMO - there's no law that you can't put an abortion provider's name, address etc up, and call them a murderer. Like Jill Stanek just did.


The problem isn't the statutory framework, it's that law enforcement are negligent in their protection of abortion providers.

I see that as a hole in the statutory framework.

For instance, what if, if Stanek's post were illegal and the government refused to prosecute... the doctor could bring a civil suit against Stanek, and not only collect a fine per instance and treble damages, but also attorney's fees and costs? (I'm taking from the Civil False Claims Act here).

That would penalize lifers who broke the law. It wouldn't get every crazy on the net, but the high-profile ones would be significantly deterred. ISPs would cut of violating users. Etc.
~morpheus0013 on June 5th, 2009 10:10 am (UTC)
I've been trying to figure out where to go with this, moreso since I ended up seeing dr-tiller.org or whatever the hell it was last night. Bearing in mind that there are few things I hold in higher esteem than the 1st amendment...

Am I correct in believing that we have some sort of methodology in place for proving intent in a court of law? This is the basis of the different degrees of murder, IIRC. If we can prove intent for murder, can we prove intent for speech? If that methodology will transfer, that may satisfy the 1st amendment issue.

I don't want to Godwin myself here, but I keep seeing the defense of "well, pro-lifers think this is a holocaust/genocide, wouldn't you have spoken up during the Holocaust?" Putting aside how insulting I find that entire line of thinking, and putting aside the fact that believing abortion is a holocaust or genocide merely proves one is bad at knowing what words mean, it did in fact put me in mind of figures such as Hitler. Can we make a defense of his early words under the banner of free speech? What about his later words (ignoring the fact that free speech = the government can't control what you say and the obvious problem there of Hitler being the government,) can we defend those under free speech? And again, I'm not trying to compare the antis to Hitler, I'm merely trying to make the point that it's both tiresome and, IMO, inaccurate to write this off as, "Well, you can say anything you want, if people go crazy with that it's their fault." Does that type of belief exonerate Hitler for any of the crimes those he merely whipped into a frenzy committed?

I'm also unclear about the legality of publishing non-publically available photographs of private individuals on a website. Photos from newspapers, brochures, etc. are probably impossible to legally block, but what about the shots of folks taken in public? I rarely if ever take photos of strangers, because mostly because it's rude to do so without asking. But I was under the impression I had no legal right to do so, either, and certainly not to publish said pictures. That may be my misperception, and if it is, is that a law that should be changed?

I made a big long public post the other day on the topic of responsiblity in the violence that comes out of the extreme antis, and while I haven't quite figured out where I believe the law in such regard should tread and where it should not, I do know that I think inciting people to murder is wrong and should not be protected speech, and that I think this is exactly what villification of specific providers does.

Does the first amendment protect lying and coercion? I honestly don't know.
electric misfit love machineeyelid on June 5th, 2009 03:07 pm (UTC)
Incitement can be made illegal - e.g., shouting fire in a crowded theatre.

Does the first amendment protect lying and coercion?

Slander may be outlawed consistant with the first amendment. But normally, proving slander in this kind of case would be difficult, and the rewards minimal. I think we need a new, more stringent cause of action.
~morpheus0013 on June 6th, 2009 01:03 am (UTC)
I think we do as well. I'm struggling on trying to find existing laws and framework in order to advance that. I'm wondering if we can build off ideas such as slander.
electric misfit love machineeyelid on June 6th, 2009 02:36 pm (UTC)
I have an idea on it - see post in my LJ for more details.
~morpheus0013 on June 6th, 2009 06:11 am (UTC)
I know, I won't shut up.

This may a better way of framing what I was thinking than the Hitler analogy, which is awfully fraught. It may make a discussion on where first amendment rights should and do end with regards to villifying abortion providers more visceral and accessible to folks who haven't thought about it all that much.

Not that I think Leanleft.com is going to convince too many moderates or conservatives, mind you. Just that the idea and framing of that argument is useful for accessibility.