To the editor,
I, implies that someone has committed libel and slander when commenting on his involvement vis-a-vis the Citizens United Resolution which the Town Council wisely rejected. [Editor's Note: the Town Council did not vote on the resolution.] He accuses people promoting conspiracy theories about backroom arm-twisting. And then he threatens to prove his “legal skills.”
These are the facts. I wrote a letter to the editor in which I said a group of people encouraged by Kenneth Woodland used a charter provision to bring this matter before the Council. The fact is; encouragement can take many forms. The Councilor supported the measure. Therefore to proponents of the initiative petition could take solace and encouragement knowing of his prestigious support. Hence, my assertion is factual. Further, the statement is neither malicious nor does it purport any wrongdoing on anyone’s part.
I also commented on various blog posts that the Councilor had previously attempted to get this item on the agenda unsuccessfully by using the existing Council rules. He failed because the Council didn’t believe it was their purview. There is no accusation of a conspiracy here. I alleged no illegality, no arm-twisting, and no impropriety. I simply stated well-known facts, which he and other councilors would be questioned about under oath in any demonstration of his “legal skills.”
The law student took offense because (again on a blog) I criticized his introduction of British Common Law during a Council discussion of a Town contract. The Town Attorney had to remind the Honorable Councilor, that Massachusetts General law, not British Common Law, was the relevant code that governed the parties to a contract in the Commonwealth. Perhaps he should have added that the National Anthem is the Star Spangled Banner and not God Save the Queen! This is not libel. I stated a fact -- a fact that should concern voters! A Council meeting is no place to discuss the Socratic method used in law schools. We don’t elect Councilors to employ the ancient Code of Hammurabi or the 12 Tablets of Roman Law to decide whether or not to expand recycling pick-ups.
Libel and slander, needs to be some kind of false statement about some kind of impropriety, used maliciously, to attack someone’s character. Not one of the criteria for libel or slander has been met, let alone all. Moreover, the standard is even higher, when dealing with such a well-known, important, and highly esteemed, public figure.
This issue here is political speech. Therefore, it should be of serious concern to District D voters that Councilor Woodland wants to stifle it! Even more disturbing, he’s seeking to intimidate, his constituent critics, by threatening to demonstrate his “legal skills.”
The young law student needs to hit the books and learn the definition of libel and slander. And if he wants a career in politics, the Honorable Young Councilor needs to grow some thicker skin.