In mid-2008, UK science writer Simon Singh fell afoul of the weird and archaic English libel law. After he wrote in The Guardian that chiropractic lacks scientific support and that such treatments are bogus, the British Chiropractic Association sued him for libel. And in England, a libel case is always a major pain for the defendant regardless of whether he wins or not. He has to prove that he’s innocent (!), the damages are 140 times as high as in other European countries, and even if you win it costs you huge sums of money, loads of time and loads of stress. (Also, the law promotes international libel tourism, where people in other countries can bring cases against each other to English courts.)
But Singh didn’t settle. He fought back, and has expanded his motivation to include the reform av English libel law. I’ve had his campaign’s sticker, “Keep Libel Laws Out of Science”, in the left side-bar for months. And yesterday, Singh wrote to his supporters to ask us to sign a petition not specifically about his case, but about English libel law in general. English PEN, Index of Censorship and Sense About Science are jointly behind it. I signed up immediately. Check it out!