Some readers have asked for an update on the looming Mann vs Steyn trial of the century. I wish it were looming a bit more imminently, but apparently it would be unreasonable to expect the sclerotic District of Columbia courts to litigate a 270-word blog post in under 270 weeks.
As you know, Michael E Mann, the inventor of the global-warming "hockey stick", the single most influential graphic in the history of climate alarmism, sued me for defamation for calling his ever more flaccid stick "fraudulent". I had called it fraudulent in national publications in Britain, Canada and Australia at various times over the last 15 years, but the First Amendment apparently requires giving up five years in court and a seven-figure sum for the privilege of learning whether one can say the same thing in the United States. And, by the way, it is fraudulent: It abolished the very concept of "natural variability" and insisted that nothing happened in the global climate until the 20th century, and it did so using a handful of unreliable tree-rings processed through a statistical method fished out of a can of alphabet soup.
Right now, the case is stalled while the DC Court of Appeals decides whether their brand new anti-SLAPP law comes with a right of interlocutory appeal. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. But as of now no one knows. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to find that I'm a test case. At any rate, written briefs were filed last September and there was half-an-hour of oral argument in November, but apparently after seven months the judges are still no hurry to issue an opinion.
When their Lordships - or whatever you call 'em here - have settled that piece of fascinating legalistic folderol, we'll go back to the trial court to see what the second trial judge (that's another long story) makes of things. I'm bored with this, and said long ago that my wish is to go to trial as soon as possible, as it's the fastest way to wrap it all up. That's why I answered Michael Mann's discovery requests of me over a year ago, since when he has declined to reciprocate and answer my discovery requests of him. As he put it:
While Dr. Mann agrees with Mr. Steyn that discovery should move forward on Dr. Mann's claims, discovery cannot move forward on Mr. Steyn's counterclaims.
Ah right. Funny how that works. Judge Weisberg professed to find it all a wee bit ironic:
Plaintiff opposes the motion to stay discovery and argues that, at a minimum, the court should permit him to proceed with discovery against Defendant Steyn... Beyond that, Plaintiff takes the ironic – albeit legally correct – position that he should be able to proceed with discovery against Steyn, but Steyn should be precluded from taking discovery on his counterclaim because Plaintiff's anti-SLAPP special motion to dismiss the counterclaim triggers an automatic statutory stay.
Whatever. There are times when I wish I had the same kind of co-defendants I had in my free-speech wars in Canada: Maclean's, unlike National Review, is a dentist's waiting-room mag not an ideological mission, but they and I were as one in our fight not just against the Canadian Islamic Congress but against the now repealed Section 13. By contrast, National Review, for whom I wrote for a decade and a half, are offering the curious and fainthearted defense that they were never my publisher but merely an "interactive computer service provider" to which I had the access code (see page 49 of their most recent brief). They're a court filing or two from claiming they're Lufthansa and I'm Andreas Lubitz - just some crazy guy who locked himself in the NR cockpit.
Oh, well. For all that, I've never felt more optimistic about how this case is going. If there is a "97 per cent consensus" on the science, all 97 per cent decided to steer well clear of Michael E Mann: Last fall, not a single amicus brief was filed on his behalf, not one. He claims he's "taking a stand for science", but evidently science is disinclined to take a stand for him.
On the other hand, and somewhat to my surprise, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Reporters Committee for Press Freedom, the American Society of News Editors, the Association of American Publishers, the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (The Village Voice et al), NBC Universal, Bloomberg News, the publishers of USA Today, Time, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Detroit Free Press, The Seattle Times, The Arizona Republic and The Bergen County Record have all filed amici briefs against his attempted shredding of the First Amendment. They're in no way fans of mine, but they recognize that this is the most consequential free-speech case before the US courts since New York Times vs Sullivan, and if Mann wins it would be a catastrophic defeat for the First Amendment. That said, on global warming and "climate change", they largely agree with him. But I've also been heartened to learn how many scientists across the spectrum want nothing to do with Mann (scroll down here), and regard a defeat for him in court as a victory for genuine science.
Contrary to belief in some quarters, I'm not without legal representation - although I do reserve the right to conduct the deposition of Mann myself, if only because it will make for a better scene in the movie. Rather, my legal team is headed by Dan Kornstein, the driving force behind the most important free-speech legislation this century. We're preparing for the end of this ridiculous sideshow about anti-SLAPP interlocutory-appeal mumbo-jumbo, at which point we'll press for a trial as soon as possible, and Michael E Mann can defend his hockey stick on the witness stand.
I won't deny that there aren't days when I wish I didn't have my head in some interminable brief and could be working on my next book, or album, or on the lam holed up in a Swiss clinic awaiting the removal of my facial-construction bandages and the delivery of my new Azerbaijani passport. But the moment passes, and I can assure you I'll see this thing through - and I'll win.
I've explained before why, in the malodorous climate presently prevailing in the federal bureaucracy, I have chosen not to set up a 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 or 501(c)87 for a legal defense fund. So we're instead trying to get through this with what I like to think of as a legal offense fund. Our main vehicle is the SteynOnline gift certificate, which we previously offered only during the Christmas season. It's an easy way to help support my pushback against Mann without filling your basement up with copies of my disco CD (although they do make very good attic insulation). Instead, you can buy a gift certificate for yourself (starting at $25 and going way up beyond). If you want to give us the "full legal bang for the buck" (as one reader puts it), that's great. If you want to redeem part of it for a book and let SteynOnline have the rest, that's also fine. If you want to hold on to it and load up with Christmas presents this December, that works, too. The gift certificates have no expiration date, so if, in ten years' time, you have a sudden burning desire for $100 worth of Steyn vs the Stick souvenir mugs, you'll still be able to load up.
The gift certificates are available online here, or, alternatively, US and Canadian customers can make a telephone purchase by calling 1-866-799-4500 toll free from 8am to 3pm Eastern time on weekdays. We also take checks (or cheques) drawn on US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and British banks - and in euros. Please make them payable to SteynOnline and mail to Box 30, Woodsville, NH 03785, United States of America.
If you'd rather support this free-speech battle by buying a book or T-shirt, well, the SteynOnline store is the one-stop shop for all your Mark Steyn needs. We have the brand-new must-read Climate Change: The Facts, featuring me, James Delingpole, Jo Nova, Andrew Bolt and a bunch of crucial scientific heavyweights including Ian Plimer, Willie Soon and Richard Lindzen. I'm more than happy to autograph it for you.
We also took your advice, and introduced two exclusive trial-merchandise designs, "Steyn vs the Stick" and "Clash of Sticks", that are now available both as T-shirts and sweat shirts (for men and women) and on mousepads and coffee mugs. We're also making it available with my book Lights Out in a Steyn vs the Stick Free Speech Special.
As we approach the third anniversary of my blog post, I'm enormously grateful to all the support from around the world. From New York and Toronto to the Falklands and Vanuatu, SteynOnline readers across the planet have kept me in the game through these last 18 months. As I said, a victory for Mann would be the worst setback for free speech in this country for 50 years - and a setback for science, too. I'll have more to say about that in Washington later this week. But there's a lot at stake here - and that's why I'm playing to win.