Right to Free Speech Wins Again

Popehat points us to a nice victory by SOCNET in a lawsuit filed by John Giduck, the man who claims he was defamed when a SOCNET user stated that he was fraudulently posing as a Special Forces veteran.

The court granted SOCNET’s motion to dismiss (even with no anti-SLAPP statute in Colorado), saying:

It is this tension that has generated numerous cases addressing the first element of a defamation action, i.e. is the statement defamatory. Not every untrue, uncomplimentary or offensive statement concerning an individual is defamatory. Indeed, the law is settled in Colorado that the “mere use of foul, abusive, or vituperative language does not constitute defamation.” 7A Colo. Prac., Personal Injury Torts and Insurance § 32.2 (2d ed.), citing Bucher v. Roberts, 198 Colo. 1, 595 P.2d 239 (1979). Expressions of opinion, as distinguished from assertions of fact, are generally not actionable since “[u]nder the First Amendment there is no such thing as a false idea.” Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 U.S. 323, 94 S.Ct. 2887, 41 L.Ed.2d 784 (1974). Such statements may be (and in practice almost always are) constitutionally privileged in order to safeguard the vigor and candor of public discourse. “Weighed against the individual’s right to be free from false and defamatory assertions . . . is society’s interest in encouraging and fostering vigorous public debate.” Keohane v. Stewart, 882 P.2d 1293. 1298
(Colo. 1994).

Got that? Unflattering statements, such as those that I have made about Medifast and its “business opportunity” are not defamatory in and of themselves. Public debate is important, and that’s why our Constitution affords us protection over our speech.

Read this article for more information on whether or not Giduck was part of Special Forces.

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