September 4, 2012
New York, Opinions

An attempt to suppress political expression

By JOHN RICHARDSON, TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2012, watertowndailytimes.com

CAPE VINCENT – There is good reason to believe that the intention of the lawsuit recently filed [1] against Jefferson Leaning Left and Pandora’s Box of Rocks blog authors is not really about defamation at all. Rather, when you look at the collective content of those blogs since they began, it is perfectly clear that they are an expression of thought and opinion about political and governmental activity and dynamics in Cape Vincent and Jefferson County.

The lawsuit is nothing less than a crude attempt to stifle the free speech of citizens regarding their government and about public policy. Is BP involved in this? BP has used proxies in the past in the town of Cape Vincent, so it is reasonable to believe they are very aware of the suit and may have even encouraged it.

BP may be getting ready to file an Article X application for a wind farm in Cape Vincent very shortly, and the BP leaseholders may desperately want to shut down the two local blogs, because the public opinion on these blogs is read nationally and has done a lot to enlighten readers about the fallacies of wind power and subsidies they need to survive.

The lawsuit is clearly nothing more than an attempt to scare the blog owners and their commenters. Just the mere filing of a lawsuit tends to make many people nervous, whether the lawsuit has merit or not. To that point, I have noticed that the comments on the blogs have already tapered off greatly. I suspect that may be just the effect BP wanted, if they are behind the suit.

I think it is possible BP was fully aware of the suit before it was filed. BP certainly wouldn’t want to bring the suit themselves, because they may not want the negative publicity of trying to shut down public opinion that could easily sway against them had they done so.

Moreover, while the BP leaseholders may not understand this, I think BP knows the lawsuit can’t be won and more than likely that it will be dismissed as an attempt to unlawfully limit political speech. But of course, winning the suit isn’t really the point at all. It is more likely that the real intention of the named plaintiffs is to stifle local opinion and serious public discourse about the real dangers to the environment, public safety and the waste of taxpayer dollars with their wind project, before BP files their Article X application.

The frustrated BP leaseholders appear to be willing to play any role they have to in order to bring their wind dollars to town. My guess would be that BP may have suggested Vorys to the leaseholders.

And if this is the case, BP wasn’t very smart in choosing a law firm that has represented them in the past. Unfortunately for BP whether they suggested Vorys or not, it is reasonable to assume there is a connection when you connect the dots.

And if they in fact gave any consultation to the plaintiffs or recommended Vorys, it is shameful corporate bullying that needs to be exposed to the public and the media for what it is.

The lawsuit defendants should provide the information we already know to every news source that has begun to ask hard questions about big wind and every congressman and senator in Washington who is opposing continued wind tax credits.

If it is proven that BP collaborated in any way in this suit, this is the exact type of storyline that should be covered nationally by the likes of CNN and Fox News. Our elected representatives who oppose continued taxpayer support for wind energy need to be informed about these kinds of manipulative tactics – tactics designed to drown out the voice of the people in wind targeted communities.

It is a well-established fact that BP retained professional consultants to come into Cape Vincent to work with the leaseholders to organize their efforts at discrediting all opposition.

It is an undeniable fact that BP encouraged leaseholders to seek local elective and appointed office to make the local government as wind friendly as possible – knowingly disregardful of fundamental ethical standards for clean government. Should anyone not consider it very possible that a frivolous lawsuit seeking to put a damper on local opposition voices would be another device in BP’s tool box?

The bloggers’ lawyers should depose every plaintiff and also the BP project manager and anyone else suspected of being connected to this case. I would bet at least one or more of the plaintiffs has told anyone who supports them and who would listen what is going on here. Have the lawyers depose all of their friends and family, and then ask the tough questions when they are under oath. Find the deep throat, and then expose the entire issue to the world.

BP and Cape Vincent BP leaseholders, are you sure you want to go down this road? Are you sure you want to ask a court to quell the expression of constitutionally protected political speech? Are you sure you want to try to muzzle the right of the people to question the actions and decisions of their local public officials and political figures, and the qualifications of those who seek to be elected and re-elected to public office? Bad move.

Think hard before you take things from bad to worse in this community, if you still care about the community.


URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2012/09/04/an-attempt-to-suppress-political-expression/


URLs in this post:

[1] the lawsuit recently filed: http://www.wind-watch.org/news/2012/07/27/cape-vincent-bloggers-sued-for-defamation-by-wind-farm-backers/