Vorige Start Omhoog Volgende

[Articles & Essays, T]      [Register by subject - False accusations] 

3b. Statement by David Thorstad on Dismissal of Anti-Free-Speech Suit

As one of the 'defendants,' I welcome Judge George A. O'Toole Jr.'s
dismissal yesterday of the 'wrongful death' civil suit against NAMBLA et
al. O'Toole, of the United States District Court for the District of
Massachusetts in Boston, should have done so years ago. I was one of the defendants retained after NAMBLA as an organization was dropped from the suit because it could not be sued as an association. 

The judge's decision, apparently unavoidable since the plaintiffs and their
money-grubbing attorneys could not provide a shred of evidence, came
nearly eight years after Robert and Barbara Curley filed suit seeking
$200 million from NAMBLA and its officers. 

I myself was dragged into this exercise in wasting the court's time and harassing innocent men not because of anything I had written or said or done, but merely because my name appeared on the masthead of the NAMBLA Bulletin, until I resigned from the collective, coincidentally, only about one month after the Curley's ten-year-old son Jeffrey was murdered in 1997 by two young men who, I understand, were known to his family. 

I myself knew neither them nor the family, and was not even aware of the murder at the time. The family filed suit three years later in what was clearly a fishing expedition and fund-raising tool. Their lawyer was one Lawrence Frisoli, who, like many in his profession, tried to use the case to catapult
himself into public office, but he was soundly defeated in his run for
Massachusetts attorney general in 2006. The murderers were Salvatore
Sicari and Charles Jaynes. They are not the kind of people I would have
known or associated with.

Not only was their murder of this boy beastly, but it caused
such outrage, doubtless in part fed by hysteria about the Catholic priest
sex scandal, and fanned by the media and politicians, that it nearly led
to reintroduction of capital punishment in Massachusetts, one of the
dwindling number of states without the death penalty.

The two men took young Jeffrey to the Boston Public Library,
where Jaynes reportedly accessed the NAMBLA Web site. That site contains
nothing inflammatory or illegal, or anything anyone in his or her right
mind could construe as encouraging rape or murder of anyone. 

Wendy Kaminer, in one of the few articles challenging the lawsuit (another
excellent one was written by Patrick Califia-Rice), said the site
'seemed a lot less incendiary than the Bible.'  But Frisoli, who was
joined by the conservative Thomas More Law Center, which used the case as
a fund-raising tool, including by running an appeal by Mrs.
Curley'claimed that viewing the site turned the two young men into
murdering monsters. 

(The antigay Thomas More Law Center was also behind
the attempt in Dover, Pennsylvania, to impose pseudoscientific
'intelligent design' on the public schools and, after losing that
effort, it has now suffered another well-deserved defeat by the
dismissal of this suit, which it used as a cash cow.)

Jaynes, it turns out, using a pseudonym, had subscribed to
the NAMBLA Bulletin, making him a 'member', but that is the only
ever-so-threadbare connection he had to the organization. He never
attended a meeting, whether of a local chapter in Boston or a national
conference. He was not known by anyone in the organization, let alone
the defendants. As a very large and overweight black man, he would have
stood out in a gathering of mostly white people, and thus have been an
unforgettable presence, and the plaintiffs never could provide any
evidence to back up their wild claims of his involvement with the

After Jaynes 'joined,' their suit asserted, he 'became obsessed with having sex with and raping young male children.' Even more crazy, it claimed that 'Prior to joining NAMBLA, Charles Jaynes was heterosexual'! This is a novel twist on the ridiculous 'prairie fire theory of homosexuality,' so dear to hetero-supremacists who find homosexuality disgusting, but at the same time so appealing that the merest exposure to it can turn a 'normal heterosexual' into a pervert.

'The absurdity of these claims makes it difficult to take
them seriously,' wrote Kaminer. 'But this lawsuit has already had
serious chilling effects on speech.' 

NAMBLA's Web site was shut down for a while after the suit was filed. 

'Unpopular speech, especially unpopular speech about sex, is regularly blamed for sexual violence and 'deviance,'' she observed. 'Pornography causes rape, according to antiporn feminists. Sex education causes teen pregnancy, according to their counterparts on the right. NAMBLA's advocacy of 'man-boy love' causes homosexuality and violent predatory behavior, according to the Curleys' lawsuit.' 

Defense of NAMBLA in this case, and denunciation of the 
blatant attack on freedom of speech and association, was far from
widespread, whether among progressive, libertarian, or gay groups.

Besides the two articles mentioned, the Spartacist League was one of the
few to have rallied to the defense of constitutionally protected speech.
NAMBLA itself did not promote coverage of the suit, preferring to keep a
low profile. When the suit was filed, one gay group that supposedly
defends same-sexers from defamation, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against
, actually rushed to join in the attacks on NAMBLA. To their
shame, national gay and lesbian organizations remained silent. 

The case ought to have been dismissed years ago, because it
was clear from the start that it lacked all merit. The plaintiffs never
even took a single deposition, despite the judge's granting them that
privilege. Their harassment of innocent individuals with no connection
to their loss of their son (a loss the defendants deplored, having had
only sympathy for the parents' grief) and their misguided effort to
destroy a legal organization have now ground to a halt. The case was
dismissed 'with prejudice,' which means that it cannot be filed again.
But what does it say about American 'democracy' that such a worthless
case was allowed to continue for nearly eight years'

The hero in this sad tale is the Massachusetts Civil Liberties Union (MCLU). The high professionalism of their lawyers, John Reinstein and Sarah Wunsch, and the MCLU's commitment to principle, deserve all the credit for the victorious outcome. 

My files from this case are a foot and a half high, and reflect not only eight years of outrageous harassment, loss of sleep, worry, and frustration, but also
the wonderful and detailed lawyering of the MCLU

Both sides will bear the costs of the suit, but in truth, the MCLU should be reimbursed by the Curleys, Frisoli, and the Thomas More Law Center, which brought this frivolous suit, capitalized on the parents' grief, and promoted
harassment of innocent men. The MCLU not only saved constitutionally
protected rights one more time, but it prevented possible financial ruin
by the many innocent men whose names were dragged through the mud as a
result of this vindictive suit. The ACLU is one of the few bulwarks
against the creeping police state that the United States has become. It
deserves the support of everyone who cares about civil liberties and

[Articles & Essays, T]      [Register by subject - False accusations] 

Vorige Start Omhoog Volgende