Earlier his week, New York State Governor David Paterson signed a bill into law that is sure to help derail “libel tourists” in their attempts to take New York authors and publishers for a ride to the book-pulping machine via expensive, speech-chilling foreign libel suits.
The bill, the Libel Terrorism Protection Act (a.k.a. Rachel's Law), prohibits the enforcement of a foreign libel judgment unless a New York court determines that it satisfies the free speech and free press protections guaranteed by the First Amendment and the New York State Constitution. It also allows New York courts, under certain circumstances, to exercise jurisdiction over non-residents who obtain foreign libel judgments against New Yorkers.
This is fantastic news for liberty enthusiasts. But it didn't come out of thin air. This victory for free speech is due to the tenacious courage of author Rachel Ehrenfeld, the New Yorker who for nearly four years has battled to have a British default libel judgment against her--brought against her book Funding Evil by Saudi billionaire and "libel tourist" Khalid bin Mahfouz --declared unenforceable in the U.S. It is her ongoing case, which might well be described Abu-Dickensian in length and nefariousness, that inspired the bi-partisan bill that passed the New York State Legislature unanimously last month and was signed into law this week. New York's lawmakers and new governor are to be greatly commended for recognizing the need to act to protect our liberty.
I asked Rachel to comment on the significance of this encouraging development. She wrote:
"Rachel's Law," as NY Assemblyman Rory Lancman stated, "give[s] New York's journalists, authors and press the protection and tools they need to continue to fearlessly expose the truth about terrorism and its enablers, and to maintain New York's place as the free speech capitol of the world." This law should be followed by national legislation to protect all American writers' free speech. Indeed, US Rep. Peter King submitted such law to Congress.
That would be the Freedom of Speech Protection Act (H.R. 5814), which Rep. King (R-NY) introduced in the House of Representatives on April 16, and which should be passed on the double. Rachel continued;
Personally, it marks an important step in my efforts to stop Saudi billionaires like Khalid bin Mahfouz from attempting to silence me and all U.S. writers who expose him and Saudi Arabia's terrorist funding of global radical Muslim organizations, including al Qaeda and Hamas. Thus, I have to go back to court to win the case against Mahfouz and test the effectiveness of this law."
That's right: Rachel's not finished yet. She's still determined to prove her point--our point--that Americans won't be silenced in their pursuit of the truth by legal jihad. As an afterthought, she added:
Amazing how the media at large ignores this new and important development for their free speech rights.
It's not only amazing, it's jaw-drop shocking. One completely appalling way to read the striking apathy is as a tacit concession to the speech curbs the Khalid bin Mahfouz's of the world would like to impose on brave souls like Rachel--i.e., a tacit concession to dhimmitude.
Hope I'm wrong. Meanwhile, here is a link to Rachel's defense fund and more information about her case and other projects.