Good grief. Now Giacomo Vigna is threatening to sue me!
It’s hard to believe, but I’ve received yet another threat of a lawsuit from a member of the human rights set. This one is from Giacomo “Serenity now!” Vigna, a lawyer for the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
Vigna’s letter is a classic case of why lawyers should not represent themselves, even if they think they’re saving a few bucks: their judgment is clouded by their emotions.
I mean, seriously, look at why Vigna says he’s going to sue me. On page three of his threat, he’s underlined what he says makes him really mad at me. He complains that I made fun of his courtroom antics, when he told a tribunal chairman that the whole hearing had to stop because Vigna didn’t “feel in a serene state of mind”. I compared Vigna’s lame series of excuses – a discussion that went on for twenty pages of court transcripts! – to a student who pulled the fire alarm to get out of writing an exam.
You’d think that Vigna would want to forget about that awful, awful day when he turned the tribunal hearing into his own therapy session. But not Vigna – he says he’s going to sue me for calling his drama audition a “farce”.
Alright, readers, skip the next few paragraphs. They’re a private message from me to Vigna, barrister to barrister, and friend to friend.
Pssst. Giacomo. If you’re embarrassed by me poking fun at you on my little blog, how are you going to handle a whole trial about your Dr. Phil moment? There was nobody paying attention to your hearing last year – certainly not Richard Warman, the nominal plaintiff, who didn’t even bother to show up that day. Nobody really cared that you had an “episode”. Do you really want to have a full-blown trial, in a real court, about your statement that:
“I don’t feel very well. I feel dizzy, I feel anxiety, and I am not in a serene state of mind to proceed with this file today. I have a lot of things worrying me right now and I don’t want to elaborate… I am not dying, Mr. Chair, I don’t have the flu, but I am not mentally capable of proceeding under these circumstances.”
Don’t you see that, if you want to get even with the fellow who made you look like a fool, you would have to – geez, how do I put this gently – sue yourself?
Giacomo: Don’t. Aim. The. Gun. At. Your. Own. Foot.
OK, everybody else, you can start reading again.
Vigna’s demand letter continues in the same vein for quite some time. On page four and five, he again underlines what really made him mad – the video montage of George Costanza’s dad shouting “Serenity now!” on Seinfeld. I’m not sure what legal defence I’d use on that one – truth or fair comment. I think the judge would be too busy laughing to even listen. Again, I can’t believe that anyone would actually want to have a trial on the important legal question of whether or not his whimpering merits a comparison to a Seinfeld character. Maybe we can call in some expert witness to testify about just how badly Vigna embarrassed himself that day. Was it a Seinfeldian humiliation? Or did it reach South Park levels of self-degradation? I could talk about that for a week at trial, but I don’t know if Vigna could, without – you know what’s coming – losing his serenity.
But page eleven of his threat gets interesting. That’s where Vigna moves from merely beclowning himself to actually endangering himself.
It’s one thing for a defamation court to laugh about Vigna for a week, deciding whether or not he’s a fool like Seinfeld's Kramer. But it’s more serious when the subject at hand is his unethical conduct. The man should really get a lawyer to give him cool-headed advice.
I suppose my favourite part of Vigna’s libel notice is the very last page, page 13. I’m not just talking about Vigna’s use of the royal “we” to describe himself. (We all do that. Sometimes when I’m at Tim Hortons and I order two donuts, I say “we” want two donuts, because I don’t want the cashier to think I’m eating them both myself). And I’m not just talking about Vigna’s suggestion that I hire a lawyer to get good advice – this from a fellow who has clearly not shown his own letter to anyone who will talk him down from his ledge.
No, my favourite line is his last sentence. After 13 pages of threats, 13 pages of trying to strike terror into my heart, what is Vigna’s coup de grace? What is his “or else”?
Vigna threatens to have the trial… in French!
Whatever turns his crank, I guess. The French do have a theatrical tradition of farces – I pick up a real Jerry Lewis vibe from Vigna, though his serenity monologue was a little bit more Three Stooges.
(It's not surprising that Vigna threatens to use Canada's official bilingualism as a weapon against me. It's similar to his use of "human rights" law as a weapon of censorship. Official bilingualism and human rights commissions were supposed to make Canada better, to protect minorities -- at least that's how they were sold to us. That they are now used cynically and abusively by people like Vigna tells you that even government bureaucrats don't believe the propaganda of Trudeaupian idealism. Those policies are just one more weapon with which to attack their political opponents.)
Vigna’s threatened lawsuit is so obviously frivolous and vexatious, it’s laughable. I hope it goes no further. But, unfortunately, if he really does proceed with a suit, I won’t just be able to laugh – I’ll have to run a defence, and that costs money. And even if I beat Vigna in court – in a year or two – I’ll still have to shell out money for lawyers along the way. I really don’t see how even a quick trial would cost less than $30,000. And remember, that’s on top of Richard Warman’s lawsuit against me and my fellow bloggers, and that’s on top of the human rights commission complaint against me, which still continues.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Vigna has piled on. Other bloggers have written about Vigna’s tomfoolery but, as far as I can tell, I’m the only one he’s threatening to sue. And I don’t doubt there will be more suits on top of those.
There’s a term for this: SLAPP, or strategic lawsuit against public participation. It’s Richard Warman’s specialty, and now Vigna’s getting in on the game. And, I’ll be candid: if it weren’t for the support of the blogosphere, I’d probably crumble under the pressure of it.
But so far, so great: I’ve been able to fight these bullies. As I’ve said before, I’m up for the fight, and I believe in it. I actually think I’m suited for it. The only thing I’m missing is financial strength.
I hate to ask again, so soon after asking for help to fend off Warman’s suit, but if you want to chip in to help me fight off Vigna, please do. Even a bare-bones defence is going to cost me tens of thousands of dollars – and I’ll have to come out to Ontario for the trial, too.
I didn’t ask for this suit. But it’s clear to me that the human rights industry can’t win through arguments, so they’re going to try to bludgeon me (and others) into submission.
Well, I’m not rattled – I’m still serene. I’m going to fight them as long as it takes. Please help me if you can.
Ezra "Tranquility" Levant