So, a model, a skank, and a priest walk into a bar.
Kidding. Actually, a former model in NYC, stumbles across an anonymously-authored blog that refers to the former model as a "skank" and a "ho."
The blogger had only written a few posts and had even fewer feedback comments, and it was clear from viewer traffic that only a smattering of people had even visited the blog. But still, the model was understandably annoyed.
She hires an attorney, launches a campaign to publicly (on network television) denounce the anonymous blogger, and makes plans to sue the anonymous blogger for harm allegedly caused to the former model's reputation.
But first the former model and her attorney sue Google, the owner of Blogger.com, to compel the company to supply them with the anonymous blogger's IP address and email address.
I assumed they'd lose that suit, but earlier this week a federal judge sided with the former model and ordered Google to turn over the info.
Today the former model announced that she'd figured out who wrote the blog post(s) calling her a skank. It was a passing acquaintance. The model says she telephoned the acquaintance and demanded to talk about things. The blogger nervously declines and suggests they go through their respective attorneys. But the model says no attorneys, tells the blogger she forgives her, and reiterates that they should get together and talk things over.
End of story.
As (almost) always, I have mixed feelings about this one - this time 'cause I'm not sure where the line protecting the 1st Amendment stops and the gray area that poorly governs the Web starts.
I don't blame the model for being angry. Who wants to be called a skank? But if I sued for everything mean-spirited that I've been called online I'd be rich...or I'd owe lots of attorney fees for cases I believe would have been ultimately tossed out of court.
The nature of blogs seems to be loose and carefree - unless, like this one, they're written under the auspices of a larger corporation that requires certain evidentiary standards.
I mean if this anonymous blogger can be sued for calling a woman a skank, does this mean the snark bloggers who make money off of comic insults, like Brendon Donnelly of WWTDD.com, will be sued next?
Yeah, there are laws against slander and libel. But I think when it's online, unless someone does genuine, tangible harm to your reputation or earning power, you should probably turn the other cheek. Otherwise, you might inadvertently drive more traffic to the offending blog, by complaining about it publicly in the first place.
In a New York Daily News story linked above, the former model, asked why she pursued this case so doggedly, replied "Why would anybody let it go? If somebody attacks [you] on the street, you're not going to let it go."
I have to partly disagree with her - and my column tomorrow touches on this notion. But "why would anybody let it go?" Because it's a short collection of dumb words, that's why. The former model even says in the article that she considers the blogger inconsequential. So let it go. Not that big of a deal. I get called nasty crap all the time in other people's blogs. I have absolutely no interest in finding out who those people are...unless I can find out and go put an arse whuppin' on 'em without anyone finding out.
I kid, I kid! Go non-violence. Rah, rah.
BTW, follow me, please: http://twitter.com/jamesburnett.