A Maine legislator has shot back in the pendng defamation lawsuit against local writer Lance Dutson, calling for an investigation of the state agency involved and suspension of the state’s contract with New York ad agency Warren Kremer Paino Advertising (WKP).
The ad firm filed the multi-million dollar lawsuit against Dutson, who publishes the Maine Web Report, for criticizing the agency and publishing an ad created by the firm on behalf of the Maine Office of Tourism. The ad erroneously carried a phone number directing people to a phone sex service.
Maine Rep. Stephen Bowen (R-Rockport) told a state official in a letter, "WKP’s suit smacks of an attempt to silence a taxpayer who is legitimately expressing concerns over how his tax dollars are being spent. When the suit is looked at in the context of the Office of Tourism’s generally poor handling of this situation from the start, this entire sorry episode has the appearance of making the state complicit in a conspiracy to discredit a critic of its policies."
I just have one thing to add to this ongoing story, other than my hope it gets resolved soon for Dutson’s sake and for the sake of protected speech in a civil society.
Bowen said that "In a small state like ours, where people retain a strong voice in
public affairs, everyone has the right to question what the state is
doing and how it is spending our money. That right is
Although his conclusion is correct, I disagree with his premise. The right to question has nothing to do with the size of the state, but the size of the voice.
Citizens have the ability to affect change, whether in Maine or Calfornia, whether in Belgium or the United States. And it wasn’t just the voices of Maine residents and media that put pressure on Bowen to call for the investigation, it was the voices of hundreds of bloggers from around the country and the world that pumped up the volume on this clarion call.
What the greater community did on behalf of Dutson will not change the world, I know. But it’s a hell of a start.