Some time ago I wrote about the asinine lawsuit filed by a petty politician, Phyllis Morris, over comments made about her during an election… an election in which her past record as mayor came back to bite her in the butt. She lost the election by a landslide not because some bloggers commented about her track record, but because her own actions showed she was not competent for the job.
The [allegedly] moronic former mayor has finally dropped her lawsuit against Richard Johnson, Bill Hogg, and Elizabeth Bishenden and, believe it or not, the makers of the WordPress blogging platform, Automattic Inc.
Those previous articles, “Phyllis Morris despises Free Speech, sues everyone she can think of for $6 million!” and “Court of Public Opinion Renders Verdict in Phyllis Morris case: Guilty of Gross Stupidity” made it clear that this woman was out of control and her actions were nothing more than a SLAPP lawsuit… the acronym for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.
SLAPP lawsuits are now illegal for the very reason they are designed to accomplish one thing and one thing only: silence Freedom of Speech through court action.
They’re the antithesis of what Canadians stand for, and yet this is the very thing the [allegedly] moronic Phyllis Morris did when she didn’t like what people were writing about her in public forums.
I have little tolerance for people like Ms. Morris, and for obvious reasons.
She was a public official about whom the public has every right to comment. Discussing how competently or incompetently she does her job is precisely the sort of thing that Freedom of Speech is for. Public officials have no right NOT to be talked about.
WE pay their bloated salaries and pensions… we have every right to discuss their incompetence, if that’s what we believe it is, without fear of that politician filing asinine $6 million lawsuits against us.
It would seem that after losing her court battle to have anonymous commenters on a public blog identified she’s decided that common sense is the only option left to her… and she has finally dropped her lawsuit against Richard Johnson, Bill Hogg, and Elizabeth Bishenden.
It’s about time.
“I am greatly relieved that this is behind us, [but] quite frankly, I don’t want anything to do with local government ever again,” Mr. Johnson said.
Quite frankly, who can blame him for taking that position? After this experience, local politics has clearly left a very bad taste in Mr. Johnson’s mouth.
All because some dingbat local politician can’t handle someone talking about her.
Her statement of claim made the ridiculous assertion that posts on the Aurora Citizen website made her the subject of “ridicule, hatred and contempt”, an assertion that is absolutely hiliarious.
Does this mean that anyone who makes a cartoon of Stephen Harper, for example, should be sued into oblivion?
Harper, like the dim-witted Phyllis Morris, is a public figure. Part of being a public figure means accepting public criticism and commentary on their actions or lack thereof, and this includes things such as ridicule and contempt.
It’s called SATIRE.
Deal with it.
That, or don’t run for public office. It’s a simple choice, even if Ms. Morris doesn’t like the consequences of the ones she has made.
Richard Johnson, one of the disgusted and unfortunate defendants in Phyllis Morris’ vindictive debacle, is so jaundiced he has vowed not to have anything to do with local government again.
To echo Christopher, who can blame him? It’s people like Ms. Morris who give politics a bad reputation and turn citizens off from participating in community affairs.
According to Megan O’Toole’s National Post piece of October 18, 2011,http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/10/18/former-aurora-mayor-drops-blogger-lawsuit/, Mr. Johnson said the former mayor’s decision to pull the plug may have also been linked to the increasing costs of the lawsuit; up until last December, 2010, AURORA’S TOWN COUNCIL WAS FOOTING THE BILL! (Emphasis mine).
The new council voted to pull funding after Ms. Morris was resoundingly whooped in the municipal election on October 25, 2010.
I should hope to shout that the new Aurora town council would pull the plug on using public money to fund this atrocious outrage. The spending spree should never have been sanctioned in the first place! By any council. Anywhere!
When elected to office, you’re on your own, honey, through thick and thin, regardless if your feelings are hurt along the way. Nobody should run for public office who doesn’t own an armadillo-hide suit.
Maybe the Aurora citizens should go into a huddle and find a way to force every member who sat on the former council to work extra jobs in order to repay taxpayers’ dollars to the public coffers they so frivolously threw to the winds. It would set a precedent that might make councils everywhere in Canada think twice before they approve spending public funds so recklessly; the elected members would know they ARE GOING TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS.
“This was a politically motivated attack,” Mr. Johnson went on to say in the National Post. “It was a David vs. Goliath fight where she was using town resources to go after residents, and then as soon as the playing field becomes level, she backs out.”
It also was noted that Mr. Johnson and other defendants had not at the relevant time considered whether to pursue repayment of nearly $100,000 spent to date in defending the action.
A hundred thousand dollars is a lot of coin to leave on the table. But whether they do or don’t push for reimbursement, the pen is always a mightier weapon than a sword. I hope Richard Johnson, Bill Hogg, and Elizabeth Bishenden use their new-found Freedoms of Expression and Speech to blog the living daylights out of former Aurora mayor Phyllis Morris so she doesn’t resurface as a public official ever again.
Hayek was right says
I think her decision to drop the suit had more to do with her weak position and the advice of her lawyer who must have informed her of recent appelate and supreme court rulings on defamation/SLAAP suits. It was deemed by court ruling that a public offiial is open to the “rough and tumble of online internet debate”. Short of accusing them of being practicing pedophiles, most rude commentary is fine in dealing with the political class.
Too bad Johnston is packing it in though. In any confrontation between political tyranny and resistance tyranny wins if resisitance quits.