Saturday, January 08, 2005

SLAPPS explained: "The strategy of using a SLAPP is to claim some ambit amount, say $6 million dollars, and then serve a writ on the defendants. In the writ are, usually, a series of conditions. One of which is to seek that the defendant make no written or spoken comment on the matter over which they are being sued. In short, the writ seeks to limit the ability of one side of a debate being able to express their truly held, personal beliefs. In short, a SLAPP is a fancy way of trying to get your opponents silenced. Well, at least it's a little more humane than dragging them behind the shelter shed and belting the crap out of them like the schoolyard bullies used to do. That or put a bullet in their head. Whatever tactic is used, the idea is to shut your critics up.

"The main way this has been achieved, without resorting to violence, is through the sheer threat of having a multimillion-dollar 'fine' and potential civil action taken against you. The US experience has been that, 'The resulting effect 'chills' public participation in, and open debate on, important public issues. This chilling effect is not limited to the SLAPP defendants - other people refrain from speaking out on issues of public concern because they fear being sued for what they say'. The interesting thing and the most enlightening as to why these cases are brought, is to look at the US where almost 80% of the SLAPP cases are won by those being sued. This means only one thing. The SLAPP is not meant to do anything other than to intimidate, waste time and, perhaps, win the company bringing the case a little time to do some fancy PR and save a few percentage points of their profit.

"Sharon Beder, quoting a US judge, points out that, 'The conceptual thread that binds [SLAPPs] is that they are suits without substantial merit that are brought by private interests to 'stop citizens from exercising their political rights or to punish them for having done so' . The longer the litigation can be stretched out, the more litigation that can be churned, the greater the expense that is inflicted and the closer the SLAPP filer moves to success. The purpose of such gamesmanship ranges from simple retribution for past activism to discouraging future activism'. "

The SLAPP is thus similar to the 'Fair Game' corporate legal tactic used by Scientology founder L.Ron Hubbard: "The purpose of a lawsuit is to harass and discourage rather than to win.... Don't ever defend. Always attack. Find or manufacture enough threat against them to cause them to sue for peace. Originate a black PR campaign to destroy the person's repute and to discredit them so thoroughly they will be ostracized... The law can be used very easily to harass, and enough harassment on somebody who is simply on the thin edge anyway, will knowing that he is not authorized, will generally be sufficient to cause his professional decease. If possible, of course, ruin him utterly."

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