Yet more legal expenses arising


A year and a half ago, Skepticon banned Richard Carrier from its conference for inappropriate behavior. Shortly after that, we announced that we were suspending his posting privileges here pending an investigation of the accuracy of those accusations. Immediately, he stormed off in a snit and demanded that we send him a copy of his blog posts, remove his blog, and then resigned. His behavior simply confirmed that the stories about him circulating on the whisper network were valid concerns, so we were quite content to just let him go his own way.

Unfortunately, he then sued us for the effrontery of merely questioning his behavior. He sued Skepticon. He sued The Orbit. He sued four individuals and three organizations, demanding over a million dollars for this slight.

We’re slowly wending our way through the halls of justice to deal with this absurd situation, and we’re optimistic that we’ll win, if we can just make it to the finish line. If only good lawyers didn’t cost so much money! We’re stretching to keep up, so we just had to increase our goals on legal defense fund to $50,000. Ouch. That hurts. I hope you can donate and help out.

One odd thing: he made the mistake of suing all of us en masse, so we’re sharing the legal expenses, which helps diffuse them a lot. But Carrier is somehow paying all of his legal costs alone, which has us mystified. He wasn’t rich to begin with — before this suit, he often complained about his poverty, and admitted that his wife (now his ex-wife) was covering most of his living expenses. He doesn’t have a job, but instead makes a mediocre living as an itinerant classics scholar (it’s as remunerative as it sounds) with a Patreon account. Yet he’s burning money on legal expenses at least as fast as a whole group of us combined are. This is suspicious. It wouldn’t surprise me if the usual gang of misogynist MRAs and anti-SJW jerks are backing him, which would be an ugly betrayal of all the things he paid lip service to while he was here, and makes us even happier that he packed up his bags and left.

So help us out! Our cause is just, his is more of a vindictive snipe at people he alienated, so please donate to our Defense against Carrier SLAPP Suit fund or to the Skepticon legal fund. We’re committed to fighting this nonsense to the end.

Comments

  1. kestrel says

    I was saddened to hear this is still going on and costing even more money so I have put in my pittance. I wish it could be more… I hope this is all over for you guys very soon and that it comes to a favorable decision for you.

  2. davidc1 says

    Oh bugger it ,just coughed up some cash .Wish it was more ,but i am poor .
    My butler is poor ,my cook is poor even the gardener is poor.

  3. Owlmirror says

    Huh.

    Richard Carrier’s Patreon is funded to the tune of $647 – not per month, as are other Patreons I have seen, but per blog post.

    An admittedly quick perusal suggests that he does not seem to be writing that much, but he does seem to be consistently generating content from his wheelhouse: Jesus mythicism; classical history; philosophical atheistic moral realism; atheism vs theism, etc. I see that he has also collaborated with a dev group in creating a Mythicist app for $7.99, and continues to write books (not sure how well his books are selling, but his Patreon supporters might be willing to pay twice for the same content; once when blogged and again in book form).

    He may also be living very frugally.

    Would his income be subject to subpoena?

  4. thirdmill says

    Owlmirror, No. 6, I haven’t read the complaint, but his income might be subject to subpoena depending on what he’s claiming as damages. If he says, for example, that he’s lost income as a result, then it would be fair to subpoena his financial records from before and after to compare them, to find out if he really did lose income, if that income loss can be proven to be connected to the specific claims in the complaint, and how much money he actually lost.

    And now, I have a question for PZ: Have you looked into whether there might be insurance available to cover legal expenses? Sometimes a homeowner’s policy will include a provision that if you, personally, get sued, your insurance carrier will pay for your attorney. If there’s a plausible claim that your conduct was in any way connected to your employment, you might have coverage that way. It’s worth looking at; if there isn’t any, you’re no worse off. If there is coverage, then it would relieve you of financial stress. And if there are a lot of defendants, and even some of them have insurance that might cover it, that would reduce the share of the fess for the others. Good luck.

  5. says

    Gonna chuck in a couple of bucks.

    +++

    Owlmirror, No. 6, I haven’t read the complaint, but his income might be subject to subpoena depending on what he’s claiming as damages. If he says, for example, that he’s lost income as a result, then it would be fair to subpoena his financial records from before and after to compare them, to find out if he really did lose income, if that income loss can be proven to be connected to the specific claims in the complaint, and how much money he actually lost.

    If it turns out that he gained income because of his new fans, can PZ and the gang claim that money or bill him for advertising?

  6. paxoll says

    Don’t know the story, but there seems to be some very strange things in this post. Was he banned for “inappropriate behavior” or “accusations of inappropriate behavior”? I understand if there was some kind of imminent risk associated with the behavior, much like police or teacher being placed on leave (generally paid) while an investigation is done, so how does this apply to this person? If that is not applicable to this person, then getting angry at this presumption of guilt (as well as punishment) and leaving is quite rational and not “behavior simply confirmed that the stories about him circulating on the whisper network were valid concerns”.

  7. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Was he banned for “inappropriate behavior” or “accusations of inappropriate behavior”?

    Neither. Inappropriate behavior was alleged, and before a back-channel investigation was held, Carrier resigned. No investigation was carried out, as it wasn’t needed. He just couldn’t return after he left on his own.
    When he left of his own accord, the whole incident should have been over and quickly forgotten.

  8. Saad says

    paxoll, #11

    Don’t know the story…

    Then why type the rest of your paragraph instead of saying “what’s the story?” Or searching here and elsewhere websites for the story.

    That’s rhetorical, of course. We know what you’re doing. You don’t care about the actual story and just wanted to get your “what about the poor problematic harasser!” in.

  9. says

    I think the ban question and answer in the last couple comments is conflating two things, Skepticon and FreethoughtBlogs.

    Skepticon “banning” him is just a conference choosing not to invite someone to be a(n unpaid) speaker. Which their policy of getting new speakers probably would have done anyway.

    Also, there was risk. The accusations involved using his position as a speaker at events to be inappropriate.

    Calling it “punishment” is wild overreach. He didn’t lose anything he was entitled to or even had reasonable expectation of. And deciding not to take risks based on credible accusations is reasonable and common, not “presumption of guilt”.

  10. says

    He was not banned here.

    Serious accusations were levied by Skepticon, accusations we could not simply ignore. We temporarily suspended his posting privileges and assigned a behind-the-scenes committee (which I was explicitly not part of) to investigate whether there was grounds for taking any other action at all.

    He quit. Immediately. Made demands and walked out. If he was innocent, a statement to that effect would have given us something to chew over. He didn’t give us anything — except an indignant slut-shaming message in which he explicitly detailed the sexual behavior of a woman who had accused him, as if that mattered, and as if his own participation in a behavior that he condemned a woman for was therefore entirely excusable.

    So no, not only do you fucking know nothing, but we know much more, and his behavior is more damning than you can imagine.

  11. says

    PZ:

    So no, not only do you fucking know nothing, but we know much more, and his behavior is more damning than you can imagine.

    Oh yes.

  12. rietpluim says

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the usual gang of misogynist MRAs and anti-SJW jerks are backing him

    Then Carrier has become poor Lotho Sackville-Baggins.

  13. Tethys says

    I see paxoll has also graced this thread with his defense of the poor mens. I’m still waiting for an answer as to what horrible calamity will befall society if we start believing women and holding men accountable for misconduct.

    Sorry that you need to hire those lawyers. Wish I could contribute, but the heating contractor and vet bill have eliminated discretionary spending for awhile.

  14. Abalone diver says

    To Richard Carrier: We all screw up but we only get better if we listen. yes, not every input is valid, but not throwing a fit, smashing the sand castle and storming off calling everyone a poopy face is something we normally have mastered by the first grade.
    Sorry, I am old and cannot resist the urge to lecture children.

  15. rietpluim says

    And another male celebrity’s career broken without due process *sob* poor little fella

  16. Vivec says

    Even before the Skepticon stuff, Carrier was terminally creepy and way too forward with his interests.

  17. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    If I’m reading this right he’s suing because the group chose to have ethical standards. *Not* because of how those standards were applied, they hadn’t gotten to that stage yet.

    Oh yeah, that reflects so well on him. The lack of introspection on his part is astonishing.

  18. blf says

    As a reminder, the (mysteriously-paid lawyer for) the “complete and total prick of the highest order” — which, just to be completely clear, the “complete and total prick of the highest order” is Richard Carrier — apparently proposed “that we [FtB et al] hand over contact information and communications from all individuals who’d ever said a bad thing about Richard Carrier.”

  19. rietpluim says

    hand over contact information and communications from all individuals who’d ever said a bad thing about Richard Carrier

    Carrier is an asshole.

    My pleasure.

  20. says

    Donated a few bucks to your Pharyngula account. And in case the Dear Delightful Dick is reading this, Hi there, you’re a first grade arsehole.

  21. says

    Before we start wallowing in conspiracy theories about where he’s getting his money, keep in mind that On the Historicity of Jesus has likely been selling pretty well — it’s a hot topic and it’s probably getting more than the usual share of buyers outside of NT-studies/history/whatever faculty and libraries.

    It’s also remotely possible he’s found a lawyer stupid enough to work on contingency

  22. says

    The suspension of Carrier’s posting privileges, pending investigation, was entirely appropriate. Richard Carrier was considering writing something attacking the accuser(s), and I personally would not want FTB to host that unless the investigation found that he was in the right.

  23. paxoll says

    Ok, PZ, that makes much more sense then your original post on the matter. He sounds like an idiot. What possible grounds is he claiming for the lawsuit? Libel? Slander? Sounds like his position at the conference was not paid and even if it was, I would imagine he was compensated according to the contract. What made him single out the 4 individuals?

  24. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    What made him single out the 4 individuals?

    Like your continued posts here. Overly large ego, who believes they must be heard, but they don’t have to listen…..

  25. paxoll says

    @Nerd I have no idea what you are talking about, no one here has said what individuals are being sued. I apologize if anyone here expects me to spend hours combing through the old forum posts about this when PZ seems intimately aware of the details of the matter and can answer my questions with a quick post. Other people may be curious as to the details on why he is asking for money as well.

  26. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I still feel so blindsided and betrayed – by Carrier that is. I’m such a shitty judge of character. Have some money, and may you win, and soon (barring the ludicrously unlikely scenario that Carrier actually has something to show actual legal malice, which I sincerely doubt).

  27. John Morales says

    paxoll:

    @Nerd I have no idea what you are talking about, no one here has said what individuals are being sued.

    That information is accessible from the links in the OP; you have no idea because you did not peruse them before querulously opining.

    (Tsk)

  28. paxoll says

    @John, sorry I misspoke in that response. My question was

    What made him single out the 4 individuals?

    Maybe some link to the relevant forum posts would be adequate.

  29. John Morales says

    paxoll, cf. The Details of My Defamation Case
    by Richard Carrier on July 30, 2016

    Why do you ask the why of the plaintiff from the defendant?

    (I take it you find it easier to ask the wrong people than to search the internet for yourself)

  30. says

    Oh, and from “Fionnabhair” in the comments of that article, an amusingly prescient note:

    “I don’t know if it’s a sufficient explanation, but it would be up to each individual blogger to evaluate the risk for hirself and decide if it’s worth it or not. I mean, I might blog about it, but I also have a tiny blog that doesn’t get updated too often, and doesn’t generate much traffic. I would not write something criticizing Carrier’s post if I was a blogger with FTB or the Skepchick network, however, because of the lawsuit threats bloggers there have received. (I don’t think anyone with Skepchick has been threatened by Shermer specifically, but if it were me on the receiving end, I’d be nervous about drawing Shermer’s attention as well.)

    Criticizing rape culture is already difficult because of the blowback aphra_behn mentioned (blowback which is often worse for women and marginalized persons), and the threat of a lawsuit just makes it even more difficult.”

  31. paxoll says

    @John, I have no idea who he is, so yea, sorry for asking someone who is familiar with the case about it. Is that a link of some sort, it doesn’t seem to work. Regardless I came here because I saw some posts that looked interesting and have received verbal attacks over simple questions. Apparently civil discourse is not part of this community. Good day.

  32. raven says

    …“that we [FtB et al] hand over contact information and communications from all individuals who’d ever said a bad thing about Richard Carrier.”

    I’ve said a lot of negative things about Richard Carrier. He earned them the hard way by being a complete failure as adecent human being.
    Oh oh, that means Richard Carrier could sue me. I would consider that a huge accomplishment.
    Carrier, walk your talk and sue me, sue me, sue me!!!

    Reading this thread and thinking about Carrier has convinced me.
    I’m in for a few more bucks.
    I really don’t like bullies and Carrier, among his other major personality defects, is a…bully.

  33. raven says

    This is a SLAPP suit, of course.
    Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation.
    In an anti-SLAPP suit state, if Carrier loses, he pays FtB’s lawyers and court costs.
    IIRC, last I remember, he was careful to file his lawsuit in a non-SLAPP suit state though.

    Might not matter.
    IANAL but if he loses, the good people can always file and ask for their legal costs to be covered.
    I’ve been involved in a few of these as a donor. We’ve always won and once, I did actually get my donation back with a nice letter from the victim ( a librarian fired for refusing to ban books demanded by a Mormon fascist politician).
    One of the better things I’ve done in my life.

  34. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    I’m afraid I’m going to have to figure out whether my not-12-years-old laptop is dead, needs a few key replacement parts, or will actually finish drying, after being disassembled and pat-dryed, good as new, before I can determine what I can spare :(

    Filing a SLAPP should be a felony, for both plaintiff and the hired-thugs-in-ties they retain.

  35. John Morales says

    paxoll:

    Is that a link of some sort, it doesn’t seem to work.

    It is a reference, thus the Courier font and different colour.

    (I deliberately did not choose to link to Carrier, given there’s a legal case at hand which I don’t wish to prejudice)

    […] apparently civil discourse is not part of this community. Good day.

    But you are on the internet, as evidenced by your posts.
    Civility is contagious.
    Have you tried searching for yourself before asking to be spoon-fed?

    (Good bye)

  36. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    Apparently civil discourse is not part of this community.

    Is “civility” ever not a code word for “horrendous deplorable dishonesty is supposed to be okay as long as there’s no naughty words?”

  37. says

    Paxoll, your very first question was, “Was he banned for “inappropriate behavior” or “accusations of inappropriate behavior”?” Which was covered in the post:

    we announced that we were suspending his posting privileges here pending an investigation of the accuracy of those accusations. Immediately, he stormed off in a snit and demanded that we send him a copy of his blog posts, remove his blog, and then resigned.

    Like a lot of JAQqers, you’re so busy asking questions, apparently, that you haven’t the time to read the post you’re asking about. What degree of respect do you think you deserve for that?

  38. says

    sez paxoll @38: “I came here because I saw some posts that looked interesting and have received verbal attacks over simple questions.”
    Dude. Your very first question—”Was (Carrier) banned for ‘inappropriate behavior’ or “accusations of inappropriate behavior’?”—was, in fact, answered in the post you’re commenting on: Carrier wasn’t “banned”. If your ability to read for comprehension is truly as poor as your first question would seem to indicate, perhaps you should refrain from commenting here, because you’re unlikely to enjoy the experience.

  39. raven says

    Apparently civil discourse is not part of this community.

    Neither are tone trolls. Or at least not for long.
    Get lost Paxoll, the adults are having a conversation.

  40. says

    Filing a SLAPP should be a felony, for both plaintiff and the hired-thugs-in-ties they retain.

    On that note, I wonder if anyone knows: What are the ethical rules for lawyers regarding this kind of thing? Is it fine to take a case that you know has no real merit and push it simply for the sake of intimidating someone on behalf of your client? How bad does it have to be before a lawyer can be sanctioned?

  41. thirdmill says

    LykeX, I’m a retired trial attorney. It is unethical for an attorney to bring a lawsuit that does not have a reasonable basis in law, or that does not have a reasonable basis for attempting to expand or change the law. In theory, lawyers who do can suffer professional discipline or be heavily fined.

    In practice, any lawyer who can’t think up an argument, no matter how tenuous, that a lawsuit has a reasonable basis probably shouldn’t be a lawyer. So it’s a tough standard to enforce. Especially when anyone with deep pockets will usually make a business decision to settle rather than fight. (Even if you did nothing wrong, if you can get out of the case by paying $10,000 in damages, and it’s going to cost you $50,000 to go to trial where you might lose, the business decision will almost always be to settle. In fact, there are professional plaintiffs who make a pretty good living doing pretty much just that.)

    And this is a situation in which there are no good solutions because of the law of unintended consequences. For example, I could support some form of “loser pays” in which whoever loses a lawsuit has to pay the other side’s attorney’s fees, but the risk with that is that poor people and people of color are more likely to get bad results from the court system, so you’ve just made it even harder for them to bring their cases. I’ve heard discussions on these topics for fifty years and literally everything that might fix any given problem has an unintended consequence. Glad I’m retired.

  42. thirdmill says

    Also, there’s a huge reluctance on the part of judges to punish clients and lawyers who bring bad cases because of the notion that everyone is entitled to their day in court.

  43. cartomancer says

    Actually, in my experience, being an itinerant Classics scholar is much less remunerative than it sounds…

  44. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    What are the ethical rules for lawyers regarding this kind of thing? Is it fine to take a case that you know has no real merit and push it simply for the sake of intimidating someone on behalf of your client? How bad does it have to be before a lawyer can be sanctioned?

    As I understand it, lawyers have no professional obligation to serve the interest of justice, and are restrained by ethical rules that seem to consist in their entirety of “don’t [literally] fuck the clients,” “no, seriously, don’t [literally] fuck the clients,” and some nitty-gritty procedural stuff. (Google “engineering code of ethics” and look for “safety of the public” for a good contrast, even if it isn’t always practiced or enforced perfectly).

    Pointing this out, as of at least a few years ago, invariably attracted screeches of “NOT ALL LAWYERS!” which is somehow more respectable than “NOT ALL MEN!” because, um, SQUIRREL!

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