This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
I’m not sure the Lord made or brought this day. But I do share the joy of this Biblical passage. Today, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Linda Lefkowitz dismissed Rachel Neuwirth’s libel claim against me. This is a day that has been over four years coming. During that time there were moments when I truly didn’t know what would happen and what sort of jeopardy my family and I might be in. There were “well-wishers,” friends of Neuwirth who celebrated in comments they attempted to publish here, that I would lose my home and face financial ruin. Even when I blithely assumed that the American justice system couldn’t possibly vindicate such a case and such a charge, my lawyers warned me that anything was possible and that I could assume nothing.
But thank God, reason and reasonableness prevailed. I should also add that Prof. Joel Beinin, who was also sued by Neuwirth as part of the same legal action, had Neuwirth’s claim against him dismissed several months ago. Both of us have been vindicated. Now we know that when we have a good faith belief that someone holds Jewish extremist views we’re allowed to say it and the law will uphold our right to do so. The justice system may not do with the alacrity I would’ve wished. But it finally did so.
I should add that Neuwirth can still appeal this decision to the Court of Appeal and so we could be doing another round of this in the future.
My lawyers performed stellar service to me and the cause of freedom of speech. They did so despite the mounting legal costs absorbed by their law firm over the years the case dragged on. I thank them for standing by me.
The only sadness I have is for the many others charged similarly with insulting or defaming a public figure who couldn’t muster the terrific pro bono legal defense provided to me by my attorneys. There are so many faced with such legal intimidation who must fold in the face of it.
For bloggers, I wanted to mention the Berkman Center sponsors a terrific legal clinic, the Online Legal Media Clinic, which offers legal representation to bloggers like me accused of various offenses. Unfortunately, it didn’t exist when my case began. I’m glad it does now.