Matthew C. Ryan is not the most unusual name. It's not unique, but it's also not John Smith — a name so common that when you hear something bad about someone with that name, you don't assume it relates to any particular person with that name. If you hear Matthew C. Ryan, you may very well assume it's the Matthew C. Ryan you know. This is especially so when the name is also tied to a specific place — in this case, the University of Texas in Austin, Texas.
A Google search for Matthew C. Ryan today yields a mere 797 hits, and this is after all the stories telling us one of the names behind the pseudonyms in the lawsuit brought by the Yale law students who had some mean, nasty thing written about them on the AutoAdmit website. Surely, before the release of the name, a Google search would show that it is surprisingly rare worldwide and that there is another Matthew C. Ryan at the the University of Texas. But they sent the name out anyway, and the damage has been done.
Now, is that a tort? The lawprof lawyer who is representing the plaintiffs is enthused about the expansion of tort liability for speech that damages reputation or causes emotional distress, so it will be sad if he can't enjoy the expansive theories of tort law that may come in the form of a lawsuit filed by Matthew C. Ryan. But the pleasure is there for fans of irony and poetic justice. To top it all off, Matthew C. Ryan is a lawprof lawyer. Sweet!
Yes, you could say a lawprof lawyer should have a thick skin and tough it out. Hey, I thought the Yale law students would do better to show the world — and their future clients and employers — that they have thick skins and can tough it out. But they brought a lawsuit. They wanted to show that there are consequences for the things you say that hurt people, consequences that courts should enforce.
Lawsuits. They breed.