OnPoint by Keith Ng


You don't need double-talk – you need Bob Loblaw!

Ah, lawyers. Sometimes, I wonder if they're so super-clever, that they're actually being hilariously ironic with a straight face and laughing their arses off behind our backs.

Take, for example, this correction and apology penned with sincerity and conviction by HotTopic, by his own free – completely uncoerced – will.

Correction and apology to The Listener and its editor Pamela Stirling
On 16 April 2008 we published on this site an article written by Gareth Renowden entitled “Climate cranks claim a scalp”. That article suggested that Dave Hansford had been sacked by The Listener as a result of views that he expressed on climate change, and that The Listener had caved in to pressure from the NZ Climate Science Coalition, or had sacked him because his views did nor coincide with those of The Listener’s editor, Pamela Stirling. The article also questioned The Listener’s commitment to environmental issues and its editorial integrity and independence, and was critical of its conduct with respect to Mr Hansford. In fact Mr Hansford was not sacked by The Listener, and nor did The Listener seek to censor or suppress Mr Hansford’s views. Hot Topic and AUT Media Ltd accept that The Listener and its editor have a strong commitment to environmental issues, and that there was no basis for any of the criticisms expressed on this site of either The Listener or its editor, or of the editorial integrity and independence of The Listener. Hot Topic and AUT Media Ltd unreservedly withdraw those statements an apologise to The Listener and to Pamela Stirling for the distress caused by our publication.

Clearly, there's some very sophisticated irony at work here. A climate change publication is accusing a media organisation of shutting down a voice on climate change. The media organisation then gently convinces said climate change publication to STFU, and to announce (in the manner of those convicted by Soviet show-trials) that the media organisation is in no way shutting down voices on climate change.

Steven Price, over at the Media Law Journal, hopes that “the [original] post receives exponentially greater attention as a result of this legal threat.”

I don’t say that because I’m a free speech absolutist, or because I think the internet ought to be a law-free zone. In general, I think people who defame others online deserve all they get. I doubt this is the first time internet material has been removed in NZ as a result of a legal threat, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Nope, I object to this because I think the Listener has used a tenuous legal claim to bully a blogger into retracting some moderate and reasonable criticisms. I don’t like it when anyone does this, but it’s particularly ugly when the heavies are acting for the media.”

Not me. As a satirist, I just think it's beautiful. So, so beautiful. The perfect symmetry of irony, the flawless technical delivery. I appreciate it, simply, as art.

Speaking of silly things you can do with a lawyer, suing your way onto the ballot is, apparently, not enough. You also have to declare:

'The people in the electorate of Selwyn deserve someone who is of immediate Cabinet material, I am able to offer that opportunity,' Mr Payne told the court.”

Well done, Mr Payne. I wish you all the best in filling Brian Connell's large, red, floppy shoes.

For your future legal needs, you might wish to try:

(Or, if you prefer, in Spanish.)

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