I think a suit for slander and libel could also be asserted.
That one might be harder to prove, only because I think the vast majority of people realize the people harassing him are not actually sensible. Don't you have to be able to demonstrate damage to prove a slander or libel case? Of course, I am not a lawyer. (Yay me!!) So I might be wrong.
There's a special place in Hell reserved for this particular group of conspiracy theorists.
Did I understand the article correctly in the Edmonton Sun to state that they're the same folks who think 9/11 was also a hoax?
If so, with the inclusion of the Sandy Hook tragedy, they've disrespected over 3000 deceased individuals and slapped the surviving relatives across their collective face to boot.
Hope they're proud of themselves.
....free speech does not always equate to "reasonable" speech...and asshats like these deserve nothing better than daily dumpings of fire ants into their undergarments...sure it was a conspiracy, dreamt up and executed by the same people who staged 9/11, faked the moon landing and try to make us believe Trump's hair is real-and not a mating rug for hamsters...
Don't you have to be able to demonstrate damage to prove a slander or libel case?
Yep, you're right. There are several ways a complainant must go about proving that slander (or a written form of slander called libel) has taken place. For example, in the United States, first, the person must prove that the statement was (a) false, and (b) caused harm or (c) the complainant must clearly demonstrate prove that the statement was made without adequate research into the truthfulness of the statement. These steps are for the ordinary citizen, however. For a celebrity or a public official, the complainant must prove the first three steps and that the statement was made with malice (that is, statements were intended to do harm through a reckless disregard for the truth).
Courts tend to be fairly accepting of alleged damages, but are rather precise (if not downright picky) about establishing proof.
As an aside, one of the figureheads of the "truther" movement is James Tracy, a professor of Historical Media Studies at Florida Atlantic Univeristy. Professor Tracy maintains a blog at a website titled "Project World Awareness" whose mission statement is as muddled as the reasoning typically employed in Tracy's editorials.
Here's an example of Tracy at his finest:
For example, on May 1, 2011 President Obama announced the
assassination of Osama bin Laden, the mythic mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, to
an apparently ecstatic nation. Most conventional news outlets reported Obama’s
announcement unquestioningly because it fit the scheme of their overall
erroneous reportage on September 11th. When alternative news media
and bloggers almost immediately pointed to various contradictions in the
story—the observations of eye witnesses to the raid, doctored photos of bin
Laden’s alleged corpse, and international press reports that Bin Laden died many
years prior—corporate news outlets acted swiftly to repress the well-reasoned
critiques as “conspiracy theories” with a barrage of swiftly-produced editorials
and op-eds. Indeed, the announcement of Bin Laden’s supposed demise came just
four days after the Obama administration released the president’s purportedly
authentic long-form birth certificate, an event at once uncannily amplified and
repressed by the proclamation of bin Laden’s fate; where the vocabulary of
repression produced another term, “deather”.
It goes on and on and on, and it's disheartening (and occasionally frustrating) relatively well-informed folks cannot see this for the utterly meaningless babble (literally, ishkabibble) that it is. Any attempt to debate the validity of essentially meaningless or baseless statements often reduces efforts of sensible discussion to absurdity.
What can be done to stop this sort of silliness? I'm not entirely sure anything can be done - one cannot legislate against stupidity, nor does it help to ridicule the patently ridiculous. But I suspect it would help things a lot to simply let people figure these matters out for themselves.
Looking at the above description of slander/libel, then Gene Rosen has a case. I wrote an article about this last week. Some are calling him a satanist and one of his attackers even accused him of sacrificing one of the children in his basement! THAT certainly fits the description.
These people are the kind of folks who apply the reverse of Occam's Razor to any situation: instead of the simplest explanation for anything, they go with the most ridiculous and convoluted. Because it's easier for them to think that thousands of people - including government officials - are perpetrating a hoax than to entertain the notion that they might be wrong about something. Facts don't fit your beliefs? Well, change the facts! Unfortunately, there are way too many who think this way.
"Truthers" however contend their statements are protected by the First Amendment, which reads in part: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech,or of the press.
In 1985 Joel Feinberg, one the most influential figures in American jurisprudence, introduced what is known as the "offence principle", arguing that prior concepts of what constitutes harm (under existing libel and slander statutes) did not provide sufficient protection against the wrongful behaviours of others. Feinberg wrote "It is always a good reason in support of a proposed criminal prohibition that it would probably be an effective way of preventing serious offense (as opposed to injury or harm) to persons other than the actor, and that it is probably a necessary means to that end."
To put this more bluntly, Feinberg (who unfortunately passed away in 2004) could see a societal shift coming wherein the traditional practices and responsibilities of "fair speech" were being abandoned, and in order to preserve the justice system and social order American courts would eventually need to crack down on individuals and groups that (knowingly or unknowingly) crossed the line. To date, however, America - unlike many other nations in the world - has not enacted legislation specifically prohibiting hate speech as laws prohibiting hate speech are deemed unconstitutional as they would, in effect, restrict free speech. It was and is believed existing statutes would suffice. The "truthers", various media pundits and the folks from Westboro Baptist demonstrate the outcome that arises from this line of reasoning.
Dollars to donuts, though, this issue (among many, many other issues that America is currently facing) will eventually need addressing.