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Silence! The UG and Sherdog Censors its Members in Rape Case Discussion
Sherdog and the MMA Underground displayed a disturbing willingness to cave in to pressure from TLI lawyers on February 12, 2014. A number of threads containing commentary related to the Team Lloyd Irvin rape dramatics were deleted, upon those administrators receiving legal threats. Within a day or so, the threads were restored, after massive hue and cry. One such comment on Sherdog:
Originally Posted by shunyata
"Please express to the site owners that we are extremely disappointed in their choice to censor free speech in order to protect Lloyd Irvin rape raping rapist.
We can only assume that if the owners are not actively involved in helping Lloyd Irvin rape people, that this action was taken as a result of the empty and unenforceable legal threat he has emailed to other sites in an effort to prevent people from discussing true events that could lead to him having a bad reputation as a direct result of his real life actions."
"No can do man, sorry. Freedom of speech doesn't apply to Sherdog, since it's a Private site. They've asked us to remove all posts and threads, so it has to be done.
Yes, there have been threats of legal action."
Both The Underground and Sherdog are commercially driven and cultivate relationships with high profile entities in the MMA and martial arts community. Bloody Elbow, another respected publication, successfully resisted a number of similar threats and continues to report on the TLI/rape culture story as it develops. It is also commercially driven but has strong support from parent company Vox Media to report news of note and interest to its target audience and beyond. It probably helps that Vox Media and SBNation are Washington DC-based and have people working for them that are very familiar with the law and politics regarding libel and defamation, and while it appears both Sherdog and The UG lacked confidence in their own understanding of such laws.