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Don Burleson Blog 








Don't libel a legume on the web

Don’t libel a legume!  This article notes a new legume libel law bring proposed by the state of California.  The law would allow farmers to sue anyone who defames California produce:

“Last week, Assemblywoman Audra Strickland (R-Thousand Oaks) introduced AB 698, which would allow growers to sue those who abuse their asparagus — or their spinach, or broccoli or any other "perishable agricultural product."

The bill states that the disparagement could be disseminated to the public "in any manner." So any food-purity fanatic with a blog and a distaste for genetically modified crops or E. coli in his spinach could get an unpleasant notice from a lawyer. . .

The idea of extending libel laws to vegetables seems laughable enough on its face to ensure its extinction. Yet such laws cannot be simply laughed off. One of the purposes of the 1st Amendment is to encourage debate, and food libel laws would have a chilling effect on this speech.

Though plaintiffs under Strickland's bill would have to prove that defendants knew their statements to be false, or acted with reckless disregard for the truth, the threat of a lawsuit alone is enough to discourage many people from speaking out.”


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