Sunday, December 4, 2011

German State Court Orders Stefan Rahmstorf To Cease And Desist “Violating Journalist’s Personal Rights”

No Tricks Zone
P. Gosselin

Bitter conflict with climate skeptics has moved to the newspapers and media. Earlier this year, German science review magazine here andblog, the first on 20 February and the second on 26 April 2010. He also had a letter published at the FR on March 25, 2010, where he called the accusations made in Meichsner’s story false and made up. He attacked Meischsner, implying that she played loose with the facts, and that she had even lifted part of her text from skeptic blogs.

Rahmstorf even convinced the FR to publish a 2-page retraction on April 30, 2010, which, according to the WPK Quarterly, claimed that Meichsner’s accusations aimed at the IPCC were “part of a campaign by skeptics” designed “to discredit the IPCC”.

According to the WPK, Rahmstorf wrote in his February 20 blog piece that Meichsner’s story represented:

…a media scandal where a few journalists mislead the public with completely exaggerated or freely made up pseudo-scandals. Too many among them are naive and go along without seeing through the farce.”

Rahmstorf also aimed harsh words at the journalist’s integrity and credibility, suggesting that she never bothered to read the IPCC report and that she did things that never happened. For example, the WPK Quarterly writes:

He accused her of uncritically copying text from [Richard] North and [Jonathan] Leake.”

As credibility and reputation are especially important for the survival of a free-lance journalist, and based on that she had stuck to the facts in her article, Meichsner felt Rahmstorf had obviously ventured too far in his response to her story, and so took the matter to court demanding that Rahmstorf be forced to cease and desist making the untrue claims.

So what judgement did the State Court in Cologne hand down? WPK Quarterly provides that (my English legal translation – you’ll forgive me for not being a lawyer):

In the name of the People, 9 February of this year, a judgement was issued and entails: The Defendant is judged by the 28th Civil Chamber of the State Court of Cologne “to (…) cease and desist from arousing the impression that

a) the Plaintiff copied from bloggers Richard North and journalist Jonathan Leake;
b) the Plaintiff had the defendent informed through the editorial board of the Frankfurter Rundschau that he should remove the name of the Plaintiff from the blog story of the Defendant ’FR Retracts Article Against IPCC’ and to name only the Frankfurter Rundschau. Furthermore, the Defendant must pay the plaintiff 511.58 euro plus interest and bear two thirds of the costs of the legal dispute. The Chamber determined that the grounds were untrue allegation of facts that violated her personal rights.”
WPK Quarterly wrote at length about this story and featured it in its up-front editorial, deeming the overall case merits special attention because:
“…a free journalist was able to successfully defend herself against the malice that a renown scientist who had dumped on her.”

Although Rahmstorf lost in court, he was able to chalk up an off-court victory. When asked if she would report more on climate change, the WPK writes:

For now she has had enough of climate science. She doesn’t write about it any more.”

Indeed it’s not a topic for those with thin skin and people who can’t afford to put their careers on the line. Expressing skepticism over a politically correct issue in Germany indeed leads to malicious nattacks. Like the old saying goes: Sometimes it’s much more dangerous to speak up against wrongdoing than it is to commit it.

Help Us Transmit This Story

    Add to Your Blogger Account
    Put it On Facebook
    Tweet this post
    Print it from your printer
     Email and a collection of other outlets
     Try even more services

No comments:

Post a Comment