Heartland Institute Threatens Legal Action Against Mom Working For A Better World
The Heartland Institute is attempting damage control after the DeSmogBlog revealed confidential documents about the institute’s funding and its strategies to insinuate its anti-science agenda into our children’s education and undermine the IPCC . Although the Heartland Institute applauded the illegal release of thousands of personal emails stolen from Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in 2009, its reaction to last week’s release of documents that one of its own staff circulated is markedly different. In fact rather than celebrating this incident which allows the general public, along with reporters and other opinion leaders to, as its president Joe Bast wrote after the 2009 emails were published, “take a serious look at the skeptics’ case in the global warming debate” the Heartland Institute is threatening to sue bloggers who have posted links to the documents, or even (see below) links to blogs or web pages discussing the documents. So much for the First Amendment.
The folks at the Heartland Institute are all for freedom of speech when it comes to bashing climate scientists and quoting out of context from illegally obtained emails, but no so much when the tables are turned and their information intended for private consumption becomes public. They even threaten mothers like me, who blog because climate change is a threat to our children’s future, and who don’t make one red cent off of it. Mr Jim Lakely, Heartland’s communications director, communicated this to me today:
By e-mail to: email@example.com
350 or Bust
Re: Stolen and Faked Heartland Documents
It has come to our attention that your blog or web site has taken one or more of the following actions:
– Posted links to a document titled “Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy.”
– Posted links to certain other documents purporting to be those of The Heartland Institute.
– Posted blogs or web pages discussing any or all of these documents.
Please be advised that the Confidential Memo is fake. It was not written by anyone associated with Heartland. It does not express Heartland’s goals, plans, or tactics. It contains several obvious and gross misstatements of fact. Publication of this falsified document, or blogs or web pages about it, is improper and unlawful.
As to other documents purported to be authored by Heartland, we are investigating how they came to be published and whether they are authentic or have been altered or fabricated. Several of the documents say on their face that they are confidential documents and all of them were taken from Heartland by improper and fraudulent means. Publication or republication of any and all confidential or altered documents is improper and unlawful.
Furthermore, Heartland views the malicious and fraudulent manner in which the documents were obtained and/or thereafter disseminated, as well as the repeated blogs or web site posts about them, as providing the basis for civil actions against those who obtained and/or disseminated them and wrote about them. Heartland fully intends to pursue all possible actionable civil remedies to the fullest extent of the law.
Therefore, we respectfully demand: (1) that you remove links to these documents from your blog or web site; (2) that you remove all posts that refer or relate in any manner to these documents or quotes from them; (3) that you publish retractions of prior postings; and (4) that you remove all such documents from your server, if you have placed them there.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you require any further information.
Very truly yours,
I’ve forwarded the email to those who are more familiar with the law than I am and I haven’t heard back from them yet.However, I have checked out what other people on the internet are saying about the Heartland Institute’s bullying tactics, and it seems the consensus is that they don’t have a leg to stand on. Techdirt put it this way:
Now, I don’t care what you think of Heartland, climate change or anything along those lines. Whether you think it’s a wonderful organization or an evil organization… one thing I would hope we could agree on is that threatening people for “commenting” on documents with legal action, even if the documents later turn out to be fake, is not a good idea. I can certainly understand the temptation to try to get people not to comment, but the threat is pretty clearly bogus. The documents — and the leak of the documents — even if faked or altered, are still a public interest issue, and it’s hard to see how there’s any law broken in commenting about what’s in the documents. There may be legal issues for whoever leaked the documents, but those who are commenting on them? Sorry, that’s just silly.
In the meantime, I have something to communicate back to Mr. Lakely, who is co-director of Heartland’s Center on the Digital Economy as well as its communications director. I’m 350orbust’s Communications Director and I can be very economical with my digital communication, but I will let this young woman speak for me: