Who prosecutes on behalf of liberty? The answer here might not be exact, but it does fall on the media to preserve freedom. And it becomes apparent whenever the activities of the media are throttled. The effect of which is, the public getting uneasy or all out hostile. So goes the case of Comins vs VanVoorhis where Florida businessman Christopher Comins lobbed one heavy sueball at a blogger for defamation.
The alleged act of defamation was an opinion piece blogged by Andrew Fredrick VanVoorhis. VanVoorhis’ post delivered commentary on the shooting of 2 dogs by Christopher Comins. See video below:
Comins had at the time thought the dogs to be wolves threatening the neighborhood. The event was witnessed by a crowd of passers-by, who implored Comins to stop shooting upon realizing that he was aiming at dogs. Might be that Comins’ lawsuit was driven by rage since the characterization given by VanVoorhis’ shooting did make several assumptions. But since the shooting was breathlessly and diligently reported in the media at the time, something else was at play.
When the defamation case was brought before the judge for the first time, it was thrown out since the defendant hadn’t be notified as stated in the law. Further Comins stated that a blog cannot be viewed as part of the media and therefore the law couldn’t be applied in the case. The judge did throw that out – what with the internet having grown rapidly and supporting a whole new way for media to publish news.
And the same has been repeated at a state appeals court. This court bore witness to the positive effects which blogs have had on free speech. “In that sense, it appears clear that many blogs and bloggers will fall within the broad reach of “media,” and, if accused of defamatory statements, will qualify as a “media defendant” for purposes of Florida’s defamation law as discussed above.” – reads part of the ruling.