Thursday, May 10, 2007

The final straw

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.


Becca said...

THANK YOU! I'm tired of hearing about this defamation case Groth has masquerading as a "first amendment" case.

Did they really mispell amendment? CLASSIC!

Neil Sarver said...

Thank you. I'm glad I'm not alone on this. I'm tired of people getting sucked into that... because who doesn't want to support the First Amendment, right?

And, yes, either that or the Weekly "corrected" it wrong, but that seems less likely, doesn't it?

cinebeats said...

I can't take sides because both Groth AND Ellison have reps for being real jerks and I don't agree with either of them.

The whole thing seems really silly to me. I think both men should just check their egos at the door and walk away from the whole ridiculous mess that could hurt a lot of innocent people.

Neil Sarver said...

Oh, I totally agree. This is totally a playground taunting game by too men who are much too old for that.

At his best, Ellison can be a very witty kind of asshole... and I find that very appealing generally, but I think his response to this has been generally dull and childish.

That said, as best I can tell, he really believes that he's been libeled, even if he's making a much bigger deal of it than it justified. So, as best I can assess, he's being honest with me.

There's no excuse at all for Groth's bullshit, though. He's too smart and must be too well-represented to really believe he's fighting for First Amendment on any level. As such, he's lying to me and insulting my intelligence, and I take specific issue with those things.

I suppose, it's the same mentality, but I'm only writing a single blog post among many and not dragging a whole ton of other people, soliciting donations or risking the financial well-being of a company that employs many decent people and is an important source of valuable work, so I have allowed that my transgression is more minor.

And frankly, one can't say often enough that Gary Groth is a goddamn liar!

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