Queens Assemblyman Rory Lancman got some international recognition this weekend when the British newspaper The Guardian published an excerpt from You Can’t Read This Book that references one of his signature efforts. The book, which focuses on how the English legal system intimidates journalists, praises a 2008 bill Assemblyman Lancman sponsored to protect journalists reporting on terrorism from overseas libel lawsuits.
“Rory Lancman, a stout member of the New York state assembly, stood on the steps of the New York Public Library and began a campaign to make English verdicts unenforceable in America with a magnificent speech: ‘When American journalists and authors can be hauled into kangaroo courts on phoney-baloney libel charges in overseas jurisdictions who don’t share our belief in freedom of speech or a free press,” he said, “all of us are threatened.’”
The U.S. Congress subsequently passed the Speech Act based on New York’s law, creating a federal protection for journalists reporting on terrorism.
Assemblyman Lancman, who’s considered a potential Congressional candidate, touted the British recognition as a victory for anti-terrorism efforts. “New York is the world’s crossroads, so what happens out there – in this case, the U.K.’s libel tourism problem and its misuse by terrorism apologists and facilitators – affects us here,” Assemblyman Lancman said the book. “It’s nice to know that our defense of free speech here in New York is having an impact overseas, as pressure builds in the U.K. to cease being a haven for libel terrorists.”
Watch the 2008 speech referenced in the book below, where Assemblyman Lancman and Majority Leader Dean Skelos announce the legislation: