4
Oct/08

'Sarah Palin Endorses Hamas'?


Jeffery Goldberg writes about the Mid-East for the Atlantic. For what it’s worth, he was pro-Iraq invasion in 2002. He recently wrote a piece about Sarah Palin’s comments to Katie Couric that you can read here. His piece was entitled “Sarah Palin Endorses Hamas.”
His argument, as I understand it, is this: because unintended consequences, such as Hamas’ victory in ostensibly democratic elections, can occur, to articulate the US goal in the Mid-east as merely consisting as being pro-democracy, as Governor Palin seems to have done, is to be overly simplistic to point of shallowness. In my view, his title was an example of reductio ad absurdum paradox, a term I just made up, meaning that he attempts to illustrate the fallacy of Palin’s view by suggesting that an otherwise logical inference from her statements, that she would defend Hamas, is an absurd paradox.
A McCain campaign spokesperson wrote to Goldberg and said:

Governor Palin did no such thing [as to endorse Hamas], and your title is nothing short of slander. Having read your work for some time I doubt that you believe Hamas qualifies as “those who seek democracy.” That you would put those words in Governor Palin’s mouth is libel.

I asked a colleague who practices libel law, for his take on the use of the terms ‘libel’ and ‘slander.’ First he gave me pre-scripted talking points that I viewed as non-responsive, so I asked the question again and he responded:

The headline strikes me as a good example of rhetorical hyperbole. No
one reading it in the context of the post as a whole would make the
mistake of thinking Mr. Goldberg meant that Sarah Palin had
deliberately, knowingly expressed support for Hamas. He expressly
questions whether she knew what she was saying. Without a statement
that could be taken as an assertion of fact, there can be no claim for
defamation.
I imagine that the campaign is worried that the headline — without all
its context — might show up in search results when people look for
information about Governor Palin’s views on international affairs. If
that’s happened, I’d say it’s too bad — a blogger can’t be blamed for
the indexing of a bot.

I note that a lot of people read blog posts by means of RSS feeds that display only headlines. I think that in an environment where even ‘straight’ news services use ‘gotcha’ headlines in order to entice readers to click on the story, readers may be somewhat conditioned to not read headlines as staright assertions of fact.
Your thoughts?



22
Mar/08

"[I]n which a plaintiff claims that something that is fictional is not factually accurate "


That’s an interesting way of characterizing a ‘libel in fiction’ claim. WSJ Law Blog reports on such a claim withstanding summary judgment.



28
Jan/08

The Blind Trashing The Blind


mass effect.jpg
NY Times: Author Faults a Game, and Gamers Flame Back:
What happens when the audience can talk back.
An Expert On Such Things opined on Fox News about the video game Mass Effect. She criticized the sexual content of the game and said:

“Here’s how they’re seeing women: They’re seeing them as these objects of desire, as these, you know, hot bodies. They don’t show women as being valued for anything other than their sexuality. And it’s a man in this game deciding how many women he wants to be with.”

The Expert later acknowledged that she had not actually played the game.
Fans of the game objected to this and several factual errors about the game. They went to Amazon and wrote user comments about the Expert’s book. Many comment authors acknowledged that they had not read the book.
Amazon has announced that it will take down user comments by those who had not read the book.
The Expert has now seen the game played and has retracted her comments.
EA, publisher of Mass Effect, has requested an apology from Fox News.
The Babes of Fox News website.



13
Jan/08

Text Of Complaint in Sneaky Chef Case


Via TheSmokingGun, text of complaint in Lapine and Sneaky Chef v. Jessica Seinfeld and Jerry Seinfeld (alleging copyright and trademark infringement, and defamation).



14
Nov/07

Food, Drug and Shirt Administration?


lululemon.jpg
NY Times: “‘Seaweed’ Clothing Has None, Tests Show“:
One of [Lululemon's] lines is called VitaSea, and the company says it is made with seaweed. The fabric, according to product tags, “releases marine amino acids, minerals and vitamins into the skin upon contact with moisture.”
Lululemon, which has received positive media coverage for its fabrics, also says the VitaSea clothing, made from seaweed fiber supplied by a company called SeaCell, reduces stress and provides anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, hydrating and detoxifying benefits.
There is one problem with its VitaSea claims, however. Some of them may not be true
.”
. . .
. . . The company . . . prints the company’s “manifesto” on its red shopping bags.
The manifesto includes messages like, “Stress is related to 99% of all illness,” “Friends are more important than money,” and “Coke, Pepsi and all other pops will be known as the cigarettes of the future. Colas are not a substitute for water. They are just another cheap drug made to look great by advertising.”
(emphasis added)



21
Jun/07

"Kitchen Nightmares" Just A Bad Dream?


Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has been sued by a former restaurant manager, alleging that Ramsay falsified scenes for a Fox reality show, “Kitchen Nightmares.” Coverage here. Email me for a copy of the complaint.



19
Jun/07

Why I'm Not Blogging About AVVO Yet


I’m not ignoring commenting on AVVO, the numerical lawyer rating service that is the subject of lawsuits – it’s just that if to answer a question such as whether I thought AVVO was good or not, I was required to analyze numerous factors, and I didn’t have the time to competently evaluate all, or even a significant majority of those factors, then to offer an opinion prior to completing the analysis would certainly be premature, and perhaps even negligent (assuming that I had even chosen the relevant factors in the first place). It certainly wouldn’t speak well of my opinion at all.



14
Jun/07

Oft Got Without Merit, and Lost Without Deserving


WSJ (reg req): “Firms Tidy Up Clients’ Bad Online Reputations” (concerning firms that remove or displace negative content on the web, such as Reputation Defender, Inc. and Defend My Name)



21
Mar/07

PagRank Lawsuit Against Google Dismissed


43(B)log: “KinderStart v. Google dismissed” (Google assigned page rank of zero to plaintiff’s site).



15
Mar/07

Zsa Zsa Gabor's Husband Sues Bill O'Reilly


Who can not click on the headline “Zsa Zsa Gabor’s husband sues Bill O’Reilly“?