By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

A libel case is dropped

If you’re trying to make sense of the news that the Islamic Society of Boston has dropped its libel suit against the Herald, WFXT-TV (Channel 25) and several other defendants (Globe story here; Herald story here), I suggest you read this backgrounder from November 2005, written by Mark Jurkowitz when he was with the Phoenix.

The shorthand version: The Herald and Channel 25 reported that the Islamic Society, which is trying to build a mosque and cultural center in Roxbury with an assist from city officials, has had some uncomfortably close connections with certain Islamist radicals who are, at the very least, soft on terrorism. The Islamic Society denied the allegations.

The Globe was not named as a defendant even though columnist Jeff Jacoby has written several columns on the subject, the latest of which appeared on April 25. It’s a must-read.

This is a pretty convoluted saga, involving not just a suit but also a countersuit, which was also dropped this week. The case also encompassed some angry rhetoric between members of the Islamic and Jewish communities. Even though the libel case has been dropped, we almost certainly haven’t heard the last of this matter.

The winner here is the First Amendment. Libel suits should not be used to squash discussion of important public issues. Perhaps the reporting on this matter fell short of perfection, but, as my man Louis Brandeis liked to say, the solution to alleged bad speech is “more speech, not enforced silence.”


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8 Comments

  1. mike_b1

    Shouldn’t that be “quash” discussion?Or maybe you’re just exercising your free speech rights (haha).

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: You’re right, but on reflection, I kind of like “squash.”

  3. Anonymous

    I’m surprised you haven’t reported on the cancellation of 1150AM’s “Mass Resistance” radio program. They’re blaming it on Mitt Romney. The show was pretty disgusting in the way they talked about gays.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Mass Resistance had a radio show? Who knew?

  5. Anonymous

    I personally would prefer “stifle discussion.” One “quashes” a subpoena. I’ve never heard of “quashing” a discussion.–raj

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Raj: No, but you definitely can squash a discussion. See this.

  7. Anonymous

    DanNo, but you definitely can squash a discussion.True. Just like you can squash a bug. /ticI was merely indicating my personal preference. I wasn’t trying to suggest that you erred.Nice performance on Beat the Press last week, by the way.–raj

  8. Anonymous

    is the pumpkin a squash or a quash?

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