Ok, Stephanie Guttormson is the Operations Director for the Richard Dawkins Foundation. She also runs a youtube channel called Think Stephtically on which she has pointed out on a few occasions that Adam Miller, a purported Faith Healer is, well, full of shit. He’s a fraud and obviously so.
Miller then sued her for copyright infringement, tortious interference, and defamation.
The short of what happened is Miller said“I have enough money to afford a lawyer and you don’t.” It’s a sad day when scamming people is that lucrative (anytime you say atheists don’t have morality, just remember how easy it would be for us to lie, switch sides, and retire early).
But we fixed that! I wrote a post about it Miller’s suit that went viral and support came in from all over, eventually causing Miller to drop his lawsuit when it was clear that Stephanie wasn’t going to be going away. Stephanie got her defense costs covered and the extra went to Opportunity Village. All’s well that ends well, right?
Except Miller has somehow found new courage. Today he posted this video:
Long story short: Miller’s going to sue her again, because apparently being criticized for lying to people on the internet is illegal in Miller’s mind. This first video was shortly followed by this ludicrously obtuse video (seriously, watch this one, it’s short):
What an irretrievable asshole.
I’m not going to rebut either video because, frankly, they’re both so asinine that if you accept most of his premises there’s hardly anything I can do to rescue you.
In his first video Miller says “I’m going to drag this individual into Arizona, because he is in Maryland (Steph is trans, Miller keeps referring to her as “he” because, well, he’s an asshole) to continue the lawsuit.” I touched base with Anne Orsi, legal contributor to this blog, about whether or not this is legally feasible. I also asked her if they can really sue Stephanie in a state where she doesn’t reside and if Stephanie will have the ability to countersue in order to put a stop to this harassment. This is what she sent me:
Who is he suing – Stephanie Guttormson or some amorphous body known as “the Internet”? He invites the Internet to troll him and says he’ll sue. He’s not just a charlatan with an ill-defined argument, he’s a fool. This lawsuit will just cost him and his targets more money.If he really wants to try to sue people for expressing their thoughts, he has a very steep hill to climb to get around the First Amendment. If he wants to set himself up as a public figure and gets ridiculed for making ridiculous, unsubstantiated statements, that’s his own doing. He can’t call all atheists communists and paint us with a very wide brush as a red menace that was a boogeyman decades ago without his targets laughing uproariously at him. If he does and says ridiculous things, he can only expect to be ridiculed.
It’s fair game to use vignettes and quotes that he’s made in public. That’s not copyright infringement, even if the bit used was copyrighted. It’s also fair game to test the claims he makes. If they don’t stand up to the test, then sure, he’s exposed as a charlatan. As he should be.
Furthermore, truth is a defense to defamation. Statistics and evidence, which glassy-eyed “true believers” ignore with impunity, won’t be ignored in a court of law. You know – that place where the factfinder (judge or jury) actually looks at evidence to decide the veracity of disputed facts.
He claims he wants to sue in Arizona. He needs to show that Arizona has personal jurisdiction over a defendant to sue them there. This means that they have to have at least minimum ties to the state, they have to do business in the state, or they have to have done the thing he claims is wrong in that state. He sued in Arizona federal court in April claiming that the effects of the alleged wrongdoing were felt by him in Arizona. I seriously doubt that’s going to be enough.
The countersuit might be for harassment. Again, though, to countersue, Stephanie would have to sue him in his home state and would have to show harm resulting from the harassment. If she countersued in the new suit he’s planning to file, then she would have to either acquiesce to jurisdiction or have the suit removed to the Colorado federal district court, which would make suing her a little more expensive for Adam Miller. A multiplicity of frivolous lawsuits can definitely constitute harassment.
I asked Stephanie if she has any ties to Arizona and she doesn’t. So getting a court to accept a lawsuit against a non-resident in this case will be tough from the get-go.
But, of course, this isn’t about Miller having even an inkling of a case: he doesn’t have one. It’s about bothering Stephanie enough that she’ll stop criticizing him and calling him a liar (so he can go right on being a liar without that nagging spotlight exposing it). Sadly, this means more money for a lawyer.
So if you are able to contribute, click this link and donate what you can, but even if you can’t donate anything you can still share this around and get the word out. Again, any surplus goes to Opportunity Village.
I hate seeing frauds escape skepticism through bullshit like this.
Another legally knowledgeable source got back to me with some more details:
Anne pretty much nails the jurisdictional issues and the defamation points. Now, if Miller claims to be a private citizen rather than a public figure, the analysis is a bit different, though. Public figures have a harder time with defamation because the statements are subject to more first amendment protection. Were Miller to deny being a public figure (tough sell, but maybe), he still would have to show that the defamatory statements were untrue and that they caused actual harm, which is difficult.
And unless she passed the copyrighted material off as her own or somehow used his property for profit, I don’t see that sticking. If I quote the Silmarillion on a video, Chris Tolkien can’t really do shit.
Worth noting, if she literally quoted and attributed the quotes to Miller, then Miller is pretty much hosed.
Which, of course, is exactly what Stephanie did.
I also don’t think Miller can escape the burden of propping himself up as a public figure. That’s kind of his whole shtick.