Some people have asked me why I am speaking out publicly about Brian Leiter’s threat of litigation. If the only thing I cared about was getting Brian Leiter to leave me and my wife alone, silence would probably be the prudent response to the letter we received. But I think the philosophical community is entitled to know when freedom of speech within it is under threat. That's why it's important to me that Leiter's threatening actions are brought to light.
The things we have said about Brian Leiter constitute protected speech. They were not misleading, and we stand by them. If Leiter carries out his threat to sue, we will vigorously defend. We will also have the right to counterclaim against Leiter for false and defamatory statements he has made about us during the last year, including those contained in the letter from his lawyer he published and his commentary on it.
Monday, December 29, 2014
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
A Recent Email from Brian Leiter's Canadian Lawyer
On December 15, Professor Brian Leiter notified me and my wife Carrie Jenkins, through a Toronto lawyer, that he "is prepared to seek redress in the courts of Canada" against us over various Internet postings which he alleges defame him.
Professor Leiter claims to be defamed by:
- Carrie’s pledge on her tumblr blog to behave with civility towards other philosophers and colleagues;
- Carrie’s post to Facebook of the complete text of Professor Leiter’s email of July 2, 2014 regarding that pledge;
- the so-called “September Statement”; and
- the post on the Feminist Philosophers blog entitled “Sometimes An Apology Doesn’t Help.”
His Toronto lawyer has demanded that Carrie and I publish on the Internet, for a continuous period of at least six months, a lengthy apology and retraction (which his lawyer drafted). If we do not, we are warned, Professor Leiter “will pursue his legal remedies against [me and my wife]” and “perhaps others among the original signatories to the ‘September Statement’.” We are also warned that Professor Leiter’s Canadian lawsuit against me and my wife will involve “a full airing of the issues and the cause or causes of [Carrie’s] medical condition;” a reference, it would seem, to posted information about the impact of Professor Leiter’s actions on Carrie’s health, her capacity to work, and her ability to contribute to the public discourse as a member of the profession.
Carrie and I have instructed our lawyer to inform Brian Leiter that anything we have posted about him on the Internet is lawful free speech under Canadian law and under the First Amendment to the US Constitution.
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