Support Free Speech With SPX Legal Defense Fund
As TCJ.com reported, in August,
Rape, Sexual Harassment Allegations Prompt Defamation Suit from Small-Press Comics Publisher Cody Pickrodt
I’ve never heard of Pickrodt or his imprint Ray Ray Books, but he has picked a method certain to make him notorious. He sued eleven comic creators and a publisher — Whit Taylor, Laura Knetzger, Josh O’Neill, Tom Kaczynski, Hazel Newlevant, Emma Louthan, Ben Passmore, Emi Gennis, Jordan Shiveley, Morgan Pielli, Rob Clough, and Uncivilized Books — for $2.5 million for repeating or reporting on Taylor’s statement that alleges that Pickrodt raped her.
Says Pickrodt’s attorney, Joe Carbonaro of Carbonaro Law in New York City. “He’s really suffered as a result of this. He’s lost clients. He can’t really network within the comic book community, as you can see.”
I can’t really see suing as helping that situation, particularly since it might appear to be an attempt to silence anyone who spoke out against this kind of abuse.
To assist in the legal defense, SPX has established the Defend The 11 legal aid fund.
SPX is organizing this fund in consultation with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which brings legal and fundraising experience to the effort.
Of this next step in SPX’s fundraising support for the defendants, SPX Executive Director Warren Bernard said, “Cases of this nature can continue for years, and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. When news of the lawsuit reached us, $20,000 was pledged to ensure these creators have immediate access to quality legal representation — but defending these charges of defamation is likely to be a long and expensive process. Most of that initial $20,000 SPX commitment from has already been spent to pay legal bills.”
Fundraising has brought in almost $50,000 of the desired $120,000 in the week since it’s been active. The group of 11 defendants earlier put out this statement:
“As artists, writers, art educators, comics critics, and small independent publishers, many of whom rely on freelance work to pay our bills, a lawsuit like this is going to put an enormous financial strain on all of us. Simply put, we can’t afford to fight this without help. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from our community and are especially grateful for the generosity of SPX to provide us with financial assistance. We also appreciate efforts by the CBLDF and other institutions and individuals who have provided additional fundraising support and legal advice.”
“For many years, SPX has quietly extended financial support to cartoonists in need, but there is no being quiet about this case,” said Warren Bernard, Executive Director of the Small Press Expo. “Our community must come together in support of its members who are facing unprecedented challenges — and to defend the kind of community we wish to be. From the very beginning, our two organizations agreed that we must do whatever we can to help.”
Another TCJ.com article covers some of the background behind this, as many criticized the CBLDF for not helping, although the organization must follow its charter to stick to First Amendment issues as a non-profit. Half of the original $20,000 provided by SPX would have normally gone to support the CBLDF, and that organization supported the rerouting of the funds this year.