The InstaPundit is shocked. Dan Drezner is appalled. Don Luskin is threatening legal action against Atrios? Since I said a few days ago that he had gone too far with the "anti-Semitism" thing, I suppose I can just hide behind my earlier story.
But wait! What had I said about the stalking thing? Staring at my posts, and the various comments, I extract this:
I am taking Ms. Grey's side on one point - I thought Don Luskin's account of his sojourn into the heart of darkness could have been a minor comedy classic. Playing it for doom and gloom was, well, gloomy. And doomed.
And, a bit later:
"I continue to think [the stalking debate is] pretty funny."
However, lawsuits aren't funny. Even if some lawyer has advised him that he has a case, this cannot be the best way to approach it. Nor is this likely to be an effective tactic in demonstrating that Prof. Krugman has lost perspective and judgement.
Fortunately, there is always over-reach from the other side to bail us out of a jam. Atrios wants everyone to de-link Don Luskin. Soon enough, we predict this will evolve to "de-link anyone who links to Luskin", a la the Little Green Football/Rittenhouse Review laugh fest a while back. Whether we reach the third level is anyone's guess.
Whether the best way to combat the stifling of opinions is to stifle opinions remains an open question.
UPDATE: Back in 1997, Clinton acolyte Sidney Blumenthal sued ur-blogger Matt Drudge for $30 million, in what some thought might be an attempt to silence and intimidate. We have no doubt that a younger Atrios was horrified by Mr. Blumenthal's behavior.
But time heals all wounds, and only a few years later, Atrios was hawking Mr. Blumenthal's book. And the lawsuit was settled, too - Mr. Blumenthal agreed to pay $2,500 to Matt Drudge to let the mess die.
I will take his current call for a boycott just that seriously.
MORE: This is explanatory, but not exculpatory - as a casual reader of Don Luskin's site, I have not noticed Atrios to be a particular target of his ire. OTOH, Don Luskin described a recent Hannity and Colmes interview in which he gave a "no comment" to the question of whether he would sue Prof. Krugman. And here is the Jan. 17 Paul Krugman column mentioned on the show.
My guesses - Atrios is collateral damage; Luskin has sued Krugman (or will); Luskin has been advised that he should also sue significant media which propagated the "stalker" slur; and the point is to deny Krugman's team a "selective outrage" defense, in which Krugman's attorneys argue that if Luskin were truly bothered, he would not be suing only Krugman.
And while I am on a roll - can we stop already with this notion that this lawsuit is about "the not veiled threat to "out" me as the real purpose", to quote Atrios. I have seen no evidence (hey, show me, maybe I missed it) that Luskin has any interest whatsoever in outing Atrios; I understood the letter from Luskin's attorney as a not so thinly veiled attempt to get Atrios to remove an offensive post.
Section 230 states that " no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."
This does not mean that bloggers are immune from libels they themselves write. It means that they are immune from (for example) libels published in their comments section (if they have one) because these comments are written by other people and the blogger is merely providing a space for them to be published. Congress wanted to treat operators of chatrooms and other interactive computer services differently from letters to the editor columns in a local newspaper.
So if bloggers defame somebody, they can still be sued for what they say, just not for what someone else who publishes on the blogger's site says.
Emphasis added. Now, I accept that Atrios has a plausible defense; however, to assert that his role is not at all comparable to a "Letter to the Editor" function, and essentially comparable to a chat room operator, strikes me as untested.
In the case before us, Luskin did contact Atrios privately, Atrios seemed to admit to editorial discretion but chose not to exercise it, and the nasty letter followed.
It seems clear what the two sides would argue; the notion that Luskin must lose on this point strikes me as open. The "public figure" argument, OTOH, looks like a mountain too high to climb.
UPDATE: A "mega-ditto" for Roger Simon.