More On Dowbiggin Vs. Cox

Beating the Habs is one thing. Lambasting the Sens is well, just fantastic.

What a great start to the season.

In any event, I got a ton of emails and tweets asking for more legalese on the whole rumored legal action by Bruce Dowbiggin apparently against Damien Cox. So I tracked down a Toronto criminal lawyer who had offered the following:

“Cox’s angry tweets are totally vague unsubstantiated assertions that Dowbiggin is, pardon the legalese, a jerk. I would think members of the press need to have a thicker skin than that before firing off lawyer’s letters. The only danger for Cox is that he strays close to the line by implying that Dowbiggen fabricates rumours for his stories which could conceivably cause reputational damage and he clearly calls Dowbiggen’s ethical standards into question. There’s no doubt that people need to be careful about their tweets – the internet is a very public forum and defamatory tweets can give rise to causes of action in law. I just sincerely hope that the twitter equivalent of “You’re a liar!” “No, YOU’RE a liar!” doesn’t occupy too much of the court’s time on the taxpayer’s dime ‘cause if it does…now THAT would be something to tweet about.”

More as this and other things develop



You can read more from Edward Prutschi and the whole criminal law scene here

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Raptors Devotee
October 10, 2010 6:31 am

I got a good chuckle, checking your link out, because I played B’nai Brith Slo Pitch with Boris Bytensky, one of the partners at the law firm. Boris is a pretty darn good ball player too.

Edward’s take on the situation is exactly what I had written on your original post, that being that Dowbiggen needs to have a thicker skin.

As far as Cox implying that Dowbiggen fabricates runours for his stories, I can’t help but chuckle over that one, as I immediately thought of Marty York, who built an entire career on just that, and as far as I know, had a thick enough skin to withstand the constant ditherings about that over the years. I can’t even count that high as to how many times Marty was called out for making stuff up off the top of his head. Anybody with half a brain realized that Marty was never to be taken seriously, and he basically wrote stuff up to get a rise out of his readers. He was notorious for making outlandish statements from anonymous sources, and even if true, never revealed them.

I played Slo Pitch with Marty in the 90’s and often joked with him about his writing. He never took himself seriously, and thus is the problem here. Dowbiggen takes himself WAY too seriously, and whatever credibility he had, IMO has been totally lost with his lawyer’s letter.

Raptors Devotee
October 10, 2010 6:50 am

One more thing. The readers are pretty sharp, and know which writers deliver the straight goods and which ones cut corners, with some even making stuff up.

In the MSM there are more checks and balances of course as to what you write, and as an extension to that, it is logical to surmise that just because you write it on Twitter, does not exempt you from any outlandish claims you make or inaccuracies. This is because you have an editor to answer to and there are potential liability issues at stake that need to be addressed before publishing it. At the same time, if it comes to the point that every tweet made by MSM needs to be approved obviously that can’t work. This is why there are certain rules and regulations that employees within the MSM must adhere to while on Twitter that likely are part of any employment contract.

Even for those who are not part of the MSM, on Twitter if you do make any outlandish claims, you will lose your street cred, and be unfollowed, and can be blocked as well by someone on the receiving end. Twitter is in fact a fantastic testament to Free Speech as it allows you to say what you want, but also be held accountable, in terms of your tweets being blocked.

I guess it comes down to what constitutes crossing a line on Twitter. For me, it would have to be something that is completely outlandish and defamatory and also obvious to everybody reading it, and even then, would need to be scrutanized more before taking it to the next judicial level.

I think in this case you have to look at both Cox and Dowbiggen, two writers who both have huge chips on their shoulders and egos to match, so this is more a testament to the personalities involved than anything else.

Can you imagine Arthur or Grange involved instead of Dowbiggen and Cox. The former use humour and wit to deal with anything remotely approaching what went on between the latter, and it is impossible for anything to escalate. This is sports writing, not nuclear arms talks, and it is an embarassment to both Dowbiggen and Cox that it has escalated this far, with who knows what lies ahead.

October 10, 2010 7:31 am

Well as we as seen in the past Dowbiggin doesn’t make things up he takes them from this site and Cox doesn’t let an unsubstantiated rumour or innuendo go unreported (Burns and Bautista)…

I must admit that I am torn on this one, as I firmly believe the medium cannot hide the message. If you cross the line, you cross it and are subject to the consequences. We do not nor have we ever had pure free speech. There are rules to the game and like any game if you get caught outside those rules you pay the penalty.

That being said, as much as I might want to see either cold-cocked (well especially Cox), it isn’t going to happen. In this instance, these two just need to grow some .. thicker skin … deal with it on their own. Hell everyone loves a good hard fight once in a while and it ain’t bad for circulation.

But so far this reminds of a clip I was one saw of movie fight that Hugh Grant was in. As he said about the clip “We just wanted it to be two pathetic Englishmen scared of each other, throwing their handbags at each other, basically.”

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
October 10, 2010 8:45 am

he clearly calls Dowbiggen’s ethical standards into question

Nyet. charges dismissed. case closed.

hard to find a rooting interest with this pair of failures.


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