In sending a threatening lawyer's letter to a newspaper, Leung Chun-ying did something stupid and counterproductive. All that has done is enable his critics and enemies to portray him as undermining the freedom of speech and of the press.
But we should also ask: are they any less opportunistic, reprehensible or even unethical?
In the letter, the chief executive claims an opinion piece by Joseph Lian Yi-zheng that appeared late last month in the Hong Kong Economic Journal is defamatory as it purportedly claims Leung has triad links. Lian does hedge his claims in the article - after having made them - by saying people should cross-check facts. Did he cross-check himself or show any evidence? Lian's readers deserve to know.
Lian admitted he partly based his contentions on unproven comments made by Lew Mon-hung, a man who has been arrested and is being investigated by the Independent Commission against Corruption. In other words, Lew is hardly a reliable source.
Then the Journal's editorial and management board, clearly realising the article goes beyond the pale, issued an apology - of sorts.
It said: "Our newspaper and the author of the article did not allege Mr Leung had had relations with triads. We apologise if the article prompted some readers to make unfair conclusions about Mr Leung."
But its chief editor, Chan King-cheung, insisted the apology was for the paper's readers, not Leung. Well, is the Lian article accurate and fair, or is it not? If it is, then Chan should stand his ground and stick it to Leung. If it is not, his paper should apologise to him. Its half-way apology is just unprofessional.
Meanwhile, the Civic Party and others are jumping on the bandwagon. The party's chairwoman, Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, has helped launch a campaign to spread Lian's article far and wide on the internet.
Does Eu think Lian's article is fair and accurate? If she does, her campaign should not just fight for freedom of expression, but regime change!
If Eu, Chan and Lian really think Leung has triad links and have proof, hell, I will join them and start a revolution myself.