My fellow NewsReal blogger Kathy Shaidle, who resides in Canada where protection of free speech is weak to say the least, has unfortunately run right into the George Soros’ legal buzz saw. Threatened with a lawsuit by Soros’ Canadian counsel for referencing and excerpting from an article in the Toronto Sun which claimed that George Soros, as a teenager in his native land of Hungary, had “collaborated with the Nazis,” Kathy revised her post and removed the reference.
Ironically, the main thrust of Kathy’s post was an ongoing effort by Avaaz.org, a left-wing organization that is supported by the George-Soros- funded MoveOn.org, to suppress free speech in Canada . Avaaz filed a petition to keep Sun TV News from getting a license for the rarest of phenomena in Canada – a non-leftist, politically incorrect news channel.
Part of the rationale given by Soros’ legal counsel for demanding that Kathy take down the portion of her post referring to Soros’ alleged behavior as a teenager in Hungary was that the Toronto Sun had retracted the claim and apologized. However, it turns out, the Toronto Sun did so only after having received the same threat of legal action in Canada from Soros’ legal counsel.
Soros and his legal-eagle bullies are exploiting Canada’s defamation laws to suppress free speech, something they know would not work in the United States. It’s the legal counterpart to the political bullying being used to keep a conservative voice off the Canadian airwaves.
By way of background, under Canadian common law, defamation covers any communication that tends to lower the esteem of the subject in the minds of ordinary members of the public. Statements that are probably true but considered harmful are not excluded, nor are political opinions. Intent is always presumed, and it is not necessary to prove that the defendant intended to defame.
Canada even goes further in its criminal law. The crime of defamatory libel is punishable by up to two years in prison. Defamatory libel is defined as
“matter published, without lawful justification or excuse, that is likely to injure the reputation of any person by exposing him to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or that is designed to insult the person of or concerning whom it is published.”
Fortunately, in the United States, Soros cannot hide as easily behind such legal barriers to free speech. He would be considered what the U.S. Supreme Court has defined as a “public figure.” Therefore, under the “actual malice” legal test protecting things said or written about public figures established by the landmark 1964 U.S. Supreme Court case New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, Soros could win a libel or defamation suit only if he could demonstrate the publisher’s “knowledge that the information was false” or that the information was published “with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”