I've not wanted to blog about this madness, but Fantagraphics has taken out an ad in the back of Seattle Weekly asking us to protect the "1st Ammendment rights".
Now, in point of fact, I believe in your First Amendment right to misspell "Amendment", but it's hardly a good way to generate excitement for your side.
I've long held an opinion in this legal dispute with Harlan Ellison, although I've largely kept quiet. Mostly because I'm only privy to so many of the details and my time and interest is such that I've only done so much research into the details available to me.
For those unaware of the details of this overblogged issue, can check From Hell's Heart, I Litigate at Thee! by Brian Miller and Bugfuck! by Richard Cusick. The short version is, Gary Groth published comments about Mr. Ellison and his behavior during a trial at which they were both defendants, which Mr. Ellison claims are defamatory and has taken legal action against him.
For many people, this has been a difficult (or easy) call, based on which person they're naturally more inclined toward, based on personality, work and such. And I'll be honest, that inclines me personally toward Ellison, for a whole bunch of reasons.
That said, Fantagraphics has put out many volumes of amazing material, with plans for many more and I'd hate to see them go under because of all of this.
Ultimately, Gary Groth is a goddamn liar, though. The entire public relations campaign they're running, all that stuff about the "1st Ammendment", is a goddamn lie.
Groth has dealt with his lawyers and I'm sure they've explained this to him. He's accused of Defamation, which is not protected by the First Amendment. He, along with Fantagraphics et al, is either guilty or not guilty of this charge. I won't speak to that.
Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps Groth and his lawyers are planning a bold move, arguing against hundreds of years of Constitutional law. If they are going about an argument for their First Amendment right to libel people, I'll be interested in hearing the argument... and planning a corresponding article about how much Gary Groth loves sex orgies at kindergartens and stealing money from Alzheimer's patients. The world would be a whole lot of fun if he were to win that one.
But in the real world here, the one in which I'd actually have to find some evidence of Mr. Groth doing those things before I could state he did them, it's more likely that he will argue that he's not guilty. No sexy First Amendment issues. None at all.
He will be forced to say that either his statements about Mr. Ellison were not intended with malice - I think neither side would have difficulty finding evidence of the other side acting with malice toward the other, quite frankly - or that his statements were simply true.
Now, as I'm left with who to believe in a case that seems to be largely almost entirely on whether a statement Mr. Groth wrote and published about Mr. Ellison is true, I can't say I find it easy to jump onboard with the one whose basic public argument is a bald-faced lie.