November 3, 2014

"We refuse to withdraw our story or apologize for running it, because quoting a woman’s book does not constitute a 'false' story..."

"... even if she is a prominent actress and left-wing activist. Lena Dunham may not like our interpretation of her book, but unfortunately for her and her attorneys, she wrote that book – and the First Amendment covers a good deal of material she may not like."

48 comments:

chickelit said...

I don't get it. She gets publicity, sells more books, and alienates more people. Which part of that upsets her?

chickelit said...

The only thing I can figure is that she wants a ton more of money.

Jake said...

I was waiting to see how long before you posted this. What is it with geniuses?

sean said...

It would seem to me, that in a well-run judicial system, there would be no possibility of ruinous lawsuits on account of quoting someone accurately. Unfortunately, in the world that Prof. Althouse and her lawprof colleagues have created and daily valorize, such is not the case.

Jane the Actuary said...

Is her claim going to be that, clearly, this was not really a biography, despite it's taking that literary form, but was fiction, and should be understood as such?

Ann Althouse said...

"It would seem to me, that in a well-run judicial system, there would be no possibility of ruinous lawsuits on account of quoting someone accurately."

The claim will be that there are inaccuracies in the paraphrasing and characterizing.

She's bringing a lot more attention to this by threatening to sue, and actually suing would make a huge deal out of it.

But then she wants attention for the book, and she's getting it, riskily, here. Who even knows if the stories are true? In the end, she can say that her own words are exaggerations, and in the meantime, she's trying to drag others into defending her.

Not everyone on the feminist side will defend her, however. I was just reading the comments at Bust. Examples:

"The thing about Lena's statements is that she refers to herself as a sexual predator in these situations. By saying these things she is trivializing molestation for the sake of a "quirky" anecdote. Also the way she bribed and basically emotionally manipulated her younger sibling are pretty troubling."

"Are yall serious? I knew white women stuck together but this shit is beyond the pale. Bribing your sister to kiss you isn't "exploration." Masturbating while she's in bed with you isn't just some innocent child's play. This is legit abuse. I've worked with adolescent sexual predators, male and female. This is pretty much what they did. Yall gotta have several fucking seats."

Anonymous said...

Lena Durham once put a finger in my butt.

I said 'no' but she then said "Are you rejecting just this finger or are you rejecting any finger that may be connected to me that might end up in your butt but not the finger in question?"

I was confused.

Then she put a second finger in my butt: she can be persuasive.

I could tell that she was going to try to add her thumb into the fleshy digits she had in my butt but I said 'Stop' and she respected that, she left it at two wiggling fingers.

I asked: So -- can I put one of MY fingers up YOUR butt? but she laughed and said 'No."

Unfair.

So she wiggled her fingers a bit more in my butt and said "My Truth is exactly the length of my fingers."

I started to reply but then the radio played "Sister Christian."


RecChief said...

I was wondering if you were going to post about this.

I can't figure out how her or her attorneys thought they could sue, unless the cease and desist was a scare tactic. Looked to me as if Shapiro simply quoted verbatim what Dunham put in her book, and then opined on what those passages meant.

I'm also wondering why all the people who gushed over this book didn't say anything about her conduct. Sorry it's weird, for a child to do something like that to another child, and it continued into her teens. Did the people who were saying what a great, insightful book it is have similar experiences? Do they think such behavior is normal and widespread? Not too much in this world makes me sick, but this does.

jr565 said...

What were her editors thinking?

Anonymous said...

I'm test-driving a premise. Instead of "turtles all the way down" I will end my comments with:
"I started to reply but then the radio played "Sister Christian."

We'll see.

Diamondhead said...

I wonder if her attorneys advised her against doing that. I would think so. If not, I would say she was poorly served. On the other hand, I have no idea what celebrities' attorneys say to their typically desperate, insecure clients. Is she that far through the looking-glass that she thought she could publish disturbing reminiscences like that and not receive criticism? Does she imagine she is so talented as to be above reproach? I'm just mystified as to what she thought she would accomplish with this threat. It speaks to a kind of delusion I guess.

AustinRoth said...

She is testing the limits of the maxim that there is no such thing as bad publicity, obviously.

Drago said...

RecChief: "I can't figure out how her or her attorneys thought they could sue, unless the cease and desist was a scare tactic. Looked to me as if Shapiro simply quoted verbatim what Dunham put in her book, and then opined on what those passages meant."

At this point in time the left simply views the courts (and executive agencies) as extensions of their political body.

They are thus often surprised when they encounter the limits of this misconception.

chickelit said...

Given Lena Dunham's young age when committing the alleged acts, it might make sense to call her a "prevert" rather than a pervert.

William said...

I saw the first season of Girls. She likes to explore those parts of human sexuality that make people uncomfortable. In one of the shows, she had a fight with her boyfriend because he pissed on her in the shower. As I recall, true love managed to overcome this misunderstanding. Who says chunky girls and piss freaks can't find love on this sorrowful planet......Her parents were apparently as flaky as they we're wealthy. She been seeing psychiatrists since forever. Only someone as analyzed and pampered as her could develop enough self confidence to reveal this much about herself and expect to be admired for the revelations......That girl has got some extremely kinky stuff worming around in her libido.

traditionalguy said...

The real war on women. It's one woman against another woman. Cain and Able were really sisters.

Maybe Dumbham can sue for plagiarism.

Gusty Winds said...

Ms. Dunham is making the same mistake Oscar Wilde made in suing the Duke of Queensberry for libel.

The only difference is Oscar Wilde was interesting and talented.

deepelemblues said...

This is what happens when you're a narcissist whose narcissism manifests in pushing-the-envelope to get a rise out of those old people who should be dead anyway shouldn't they?

Eventually you reveal stuff you did that only you and the other real true believers will defend.

Lena Dunham, that's a shark underneath you. A damned disgusting shark. And congratulations, you had to put a spotlight on it because people like you are *never* wrong and any suggestion you are is literally worse than Hitler and requires a scorched-earth response. That lack of shame and self-awareness and general dirtiness as a human being posing as being a cynfydent modyrn wymyn, yeah, it's not gonna work this time.

RecChief said...

chickelit said...
Given Lena Dunham's young age when committing the alleged acts, it might make sense to call her a "prevert" rather than a pervert.


The passages I've seen are from age 7 to 17.

Ten years. 17 is not that young.

Æthelflæd said...

7 might be just playing doctor, but 17 is just pervy.

Gusty Winds said...

Imagine reading a book published by your older brother and finding out the whole time you were watching Gilligan's Island reruns he had his hand down his pants and wasn't thinking about Mary Ann or Ginger.

Virgil Hilts said...

Has any one seen the cease and desist letter? I did not see it copied on the linked site. Would love to read and curious who signed it.

Revenant said...

I don't see the risk here. Dunham's career depends on her being seen as edgy and uninhibited. This all plays in to that.

If she were a conservative she'd be in deep shit, but she's a doctrinaire lefty. She's got nothing to worry about in Hollywood.

Be said...

My initial thought was, "Lawyers gotta eat, too."

My second one was, Good Lord, what are we getting into, when we start defining defamation similarly to the French (meaning, you could be quoted directly, but if it's used in a context that you think negative to you, it's considered defaming, and subject to punishment.)

chickelit said...

Yes, revenant, I agree with that. But what do you think about her chances of winning?

Anonymous said...

I thought it sounded horrifying when I first heard it, until another article made it clear that she was seven. That would qualify as sensational framing.

Anything 'abusive' she was doing at that age would have been symptomatic of a larger issue - like artsy parents with no proper sexual boundaries, for example. However, if she grew up in an environment of kiss kiss compliments and fabulousness, she may be legitimately surprised that the greater world views her family's habits as creepy.

Sam L. said...

Methinks she hath stepped, or dived headfirst, into a whirlpool of quicksand, leavened with exceptionally crude oil and feces. I predict she finds out at long last that she is nowhere near as smart as she thinks she is. To her great dismay.

chickelit said...

Yes, revenant, I agree with that. But what do you think about her chances of winning?

I ask because I suspect she doesn't give two shits about how she's perceived and really just want to shut down/intimidate speech which she finds offensive.

YoungHegelian said...

Hollywood & show business in general has had to deal with the unfortunate business fact that millions of dollars are wrapped around keeping the on-screen talent, who often aren't too tightly wrapped, functional.

How did her "minders" let this get by? Did her agent/producer not read the manuscript & go "Whoa, girl! Get this sister abuse shit outta here! This could be career-ending stuff!"? Was she told but ignored her handlers?

Hollywood of the golden age knew that the less the fans knew about the personal lives of the stars the better. Let the publicity department build a persona & then let the stars act it in public. It made for better copy than "X is a pill-addicted, wife beating, pervert".

Birkel said...

Catholic priests = Totes disgusting.
Democrat actors = Totes cool.

If I were the younger sibling I'd be planning a lawsuit of my own. That lawsuit is a surefire, bankruptcy-inducing lawyer's dream.

This threatened action, however, cannot win with a reasonable jury. Forget the law. A reasonable jury hearing the facts Dunham herself made public will never find for this shitstain of a plaintiff, imo.

This ain't a college campus, after all. Due process still exists in the rest of America, right? I mean, even with Eric Holder at DOJ, right? Bueller?

From Inwood said...

People who watch Duck Dynasty or Honey Boo Boo are considered beyond the pale.

People who watch this shock person who has nothing to offer, physically or mentally, are considered....

Initially, in answering "sean", Prof A treats this lawsuit clinically as if she were teaching about Defamation in law school, but she explains the reality in the rest of her note.

IMHO, this is all a publicity stunt And borrrring outside of a law school discussion.

It's possible that they picked on Shapiro rather than the National Review because they think that Shapiro can't afford to fight this as NR with deeper pockets might. Isn't NR currently fighting Michael Mann?

In any event I doubt that Shapiro would ever sign any statement like the one presented him, which they know & which will keep this in the news.

Unless sensible people (like us!) realize it's all nonsense.

Hey, gotta go now & read People Magazine about the Kardashians.

I do understand the point raised by sean & others about the chilling effect that such a lawsuit has on free speech, but Shapiro has to be prepared for such nuisance lawsuits & the expenses of defending them.

Hey, he'll get good publicity out of this also.

And it will be interesting to see who in "civil liberties" would defend such suit.

From Inwood said...

Make that who in "civil liberties" would defend the brining of such suit

From Inwood said...

Make that "bringing" of such suit.

And it will be interesting to see who in "civil liberties" would defend the bringing of such suit.

Quaestor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quaestor said...

betamax3000 wrote: Lena Durham once put a finger in my butt.

I know no one called Lena Durham. I suppose you do, or at least your butt does.

If you meant Lena Dunham, I suggest a conceptual exercise: Visualize a barge pole.

John Lynch said...

The book/internet barrier was broken.

Remember John Derbyshire? He finally got fired from National Review because he said something on the internet that he'd said many times in his books. The difference was that what he said on the internet could be linked to and tweeted about. The truth is that internet crowds are lazy and won't do any more work than clicking on two links, tops.

Same thing happens with radio show hosts. They can say things on the open airwaves without repercussions because it's hard to get their statements onto the internet.

In this case one of Dunham's critics took the trouble to get a copy of her book, read it, transcribe it, and then put it onto the internet. Isn't it funny how something so easy still functions as a barrier to criticism? Isn't it funny how so many book reviewers either didn't read the book or chose to hide this from their readers?

In context, I guess sex abuse is OK if you are a girl? Is that the defense?

Revenant said...

But what do you think about her chances of winning

Depends on what you mean by "winning". She won't win the suit, but her opponents will have to spend money defending themselves. In the end, she's likely to succeed in doing them harm.

Joe Schmoe said...

In the series of tweets Dunham posted in her defense, she normalizes her actions by saying 'hey everyone else did weird stuff like this when they were kids too.'

I have several siblings and we didn't do anything like that when we were kids.

tim maguire said...

It just might be the funniest most clever thing to happen in the last 100 years Lena Dunham is pulling an Oscar Wilde and ends the farce by being led off to jail for sexual offenses.

The Drill SGT said...

If I were the younger sibling I'd be planning a lawsuit of my own. That lawsuit is a surefire, bankruptcy-inducing lawyer's dream.


Agree. Lena is going to be short 60% of her lifetime earnings.

I suspect that younger sibling has been approached by at least 10 lawyers offering to take her case.

slam dunk.

couldn't happen to nicer people...

CStanley said...

What Joe Schmoe said. The most disturbing part about this sort of story is when the perpetrator presumes that his or her actions are normal or common.

"Sure, like you didn't do this as a child!"

Ummmm, no.

Mark said...

Somebody's mommy and daddy may have been just a wee bit too accepting of their children''s behavior.

MadisonMan said...

What were her editors thinking?

This will sell!

Beldar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beldar said...

I wouldn't argue to have defamation law federalized. But the public needs to understand that there is a very substantial difference in these claims, depending on where one's sued. And with the internet, forum shopping abounds.

I've practiced civil trial law in Texas, and for the past 30 years I have handled defamation cases, mostly on the defense side. Defamation claims were hard to win and collect on when I started practice, and they're much, much harder now. The lawsuit threatened by this letter would be dismissed in a matter of weeks by most Texas state trial courts and probably by any federal court anywhere that's conscientiously applying Texas law. Indeed, the Texas lawyer who filed such a lawsuit, along with his or her client, might well face potential sanctions liability for a frivolous suit. Even if the plaintiff found some hack local judge to twist Texas law out of recognition to permit a claim like this one to move forward into pretrial discovery, there are pretty good odds that an appellate court would intervene: Media defendants in Texas have an extraordinary right to interlocutory (mid-lawsuit) appellate review of denials of motions for summary judgment, meaning they can often short-circuit the jury process and go straight to the historically more friendly appellate courts to present their First Amendment and other legal arguments.

But that same defamation lawsuit, filed in New York State under New York law, might well follow a very different course — a diametrically opposite one, in fact. Although New York and Texas defamation law derive from shared Anglo-American common-law sources, the procedural framework within which those laws are enforceable might well make a frivolous Texas case into a winning New York case.

(I'm choosing New York for this example since I think that's where this particular frivolous claimant lives, and she might sue there. I'm not licensed in NY, and all my knowledge of it is second-hand. But it's enough for me to nevertheless be entirely sure that a defamation defendant, all things considered, would rather be in Texas and proceeding under Texas law. Ditto California, the other national hotbed for outraged Leftie litigants.)

Because I'm a federalist, it's okay with me for other states to vary from Texans' preferences about their home state legal procedures. Presumably, under the classic high school civics model, the people of NY like it that way, and the people of TX don't, and so that may, at the margins, cause some people to move from one state to the other.

But this is one of those areas of law that is often threatened, yet poorly understood, in which there is the most dramatic spread between the states.

Beldar said...

@Diamondhead (11/3/14, 10:14 PM): One hopes this frivolous claimants' attorneys tried to talk her out of pursuing this litigation threat.

That would require them to be at least minimally competent in law and legal ethics. I don't normally make that assumption about my fellow lawyers just because they've managed to pass a bar exam and avoid subsequent felony convictions.

Threats like this get headlines. Many lawyers are happy to get headlines even if they'll never, ever collect a dime from a contingent fee. And of course some clients — perhaps especially rich, spoiled, self-indulgent celebrities — will pay a lawyer by the hour to pursue a case that could never conceivably produce a contingent fee.

So you're right to wonder about the advice she got, but we'll never be able to quantify the degree of subjective bad faith on the lawyers' part.

From Inwood said...

Funniest comment:

Iowahawk: Lena Dunham cancels book tour to spend more time with sister! independent.co.uk/arts-entertain…

Beldar: Great analysis of this nonsense.

Anthony said...

Remember: When a liberal takes a conservative's quotes out of context or even entirely makes up quotes, it's called fake but accurate.

When a conservative quotes a liberal accurately, it's a vicious smear.