Unintended Consequences

So I was having a twitter conversation(is that actually possible?) with a friend concerning the Shermer/Myers debacle that seems about to be played out.

I won’t waste your time going through the entire back-and-forth. Suffice to say that the conversation started me thinking about the judicial process in general and unintended consequences which can arise.
First though, I want to say that I believe what Dr. Myers did last month is despicable. Publishing unsubstantiated anonymous allegations about anyone should be viewed by all of us with contempt. It appears there will be some sort of consequences for Dr. Myers even though I feel certain it never entered his mind that anyone would have the audacity to challenge him legally. As my friend said, Ego. It’s really bad in my opinion when you live your life within a bubble of bowing and scraping synchophants that lead you to believe you can do no wrong.
It’s also incredible to me that Dr. Myers can place a disclaimer in the same post basically stating that he doesn’t know if this allegation is true or not, but decides to publish his article to the entire world anyway. Did he really, really believe that there would be no repercussions? Or was it on purpose as my friend thinks because as most of us know, there’s no love lost between Mr. Shermer and the Usual Suspects?
Back to the point though, it’s the unintended consequences of this debacle that are going to change lives (yes, the plural) forever. It’s not that Mr. Shermers reputation has been harmed and possibly irrevocably so, but there are others as well that will have to pay a price for Myers’ incredibly stupid provocation.
I’m especially talking about the anonymous woman who wrote to Dr. Myers in the first place. If this case ever does come to court, Dr. Myers will have to Name Names. That’s right, the woman making the initial accusation will have to come forward and testify under oath. That’s another life you’ve ruined, Dr. Myers.
Oh, but there’s more! In her accusation, the accuser also mentions being told by five other women that they too were raped by Mr. Shermer. That means she will have to Name Names as well and then these women will also have to come forward and testify. Under oath. There’s five more lives you’ve possibly ruined Dr. Myers. The count, with Mr. Shermer, is now seven.
All of this devastation, and I haven’t even mentioned how Dr. Myers’ life will be affected because frankly I don’t care, is being wrought because some people have an animus of some sort toward Mr. Shermer? Careers may be shattered, maybe even relationships dissolving away into the ether because someone with an ego decided he had to take another person down.

6 thoughts on “Unintended Consequences

  1. Ah, I see. A gut sense. It hasn’t been that long (in the legal world) since the C&D on Aug 12, but I would be surprised if suit hasn’t been filed, though the case may not be active.

    Myers has a problem that you point out. If Myers wants to argue that he has no liability because the accusations were true (nearly always a defense to libel/slander), then the alleged victim will have to be named and be available for questioning, etc.

    It is possible that Myers could move forward without naming names and strictly argue he has no liability because Shermer does not meet the burden for a public or limited public figure (assuming he is either of those). That tactic could backfire, however, because it essentially would say that the accusations were false – judge or jury might not look kindly on that.

    If Myers is married, the other person this potentially effects is his wife and family, both monetarily and emotionally.


    • Yes, I agree, but I think that Shermer could be considered a public figure. But why does that matter? I’m not a “public figure” but if you accuse me of some crime, without proof, don’t I have access to the same remedies as a public figure? And yes, Myers is married, his kids are grown.


  2. It matters because a public figure has a higher burden of proof (e.g., the actions malicious). The burden for non-public figure is not as great.

    I would think that Shermer would argue at trial that he is not a public figure for purposes of libel.


    • Agree. That it is a higher burden does not meet it’s impossible by any stretch. And as you say, what we have here is a very nasty allegation. Very nasty. It’s not a case of someone calling someone else a liar, an asshole or the like. This is serious.


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