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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Can someone call me a ho so I can get a big lawsuit, too?

I mean, jeez, if a cheap insult means you can file a lawsuit, then someone insult me, quick!!

Unsurprisingly, Don Imus is being sued for his "nappy-headed hos" comment. I also wouldn't be surprised if more of the Rutgers girls file lawsuits, as well.

But, basically what's happening is that Kia Vaughn is suing Don Imus for slander against her good name (emphasis mine):
Don Imus is facing his first lawsuit from a player on the Rutgers Women's Basketball team for derogatory comments that cost him his job as a radio host in April, ABC News has learned.

Kia Vaughn, star center for the Rutgers Women's Basketball team, has filed a lawsuit against Imus for libel, slander and defamation -- the first civil suit to be filed against the former radio host. Vaughn is asking for monetary damages of an unspecified amount.

"This is a lawsuit in order to restore the good name and reputation of my client, Kia Vaughn," said her attorney, Richard Ancowitz, in an exclusive interview with the ABC News Law & Justice Unit.

Today's suit refers to terms used by Imus April 4 -- including referring to women on the team as "nappy headed" -- as "debasing, demeaning, humiliating, and denigrating" to Vaughn and her fellow players. "There's no way these bigoted remarks should have seen the light of day," Ancowitz told ABC News.

"Don Imus referred to my client as an unchaste woman. That was and is a lie."

Of the networks that aired "Imus in the Morning," the lawsuit alleges that they "wrongfully, intentionally, willfully ... created, tolerated and maintained an atmosphere in which the making of outrageous statements and comments was acceptable, encouraged, and/or rewarded for many years prior to this occurrence and/or overtly encouraged the statements made."

Robert Baker, a civil trial lawyer in California, says the high visibility of Imus' comments would help Vaughn in court. "Everyone knows how unwarranted those comments were. It makes it easier for them to win their case," Baker told ABC News.

"She has a slander per se case -- the word itself was something derogatory. She doesn't even have to prove that she was damaged."

Well, at least there's some truth to this story. Who cares if this girl is damaged or not? A white guy said something rude and insulting about a black girl, so therefore, she must deserve money.

Excuse me while I roll my eyes and snort in disbelief.

It's sad that we have become so litigious today. I mean, really -- why is this even a viable lawsuit? Does this girl deserve any money because some guy called her a mean name? It was rude and wrong of him, but that does not automatically equal a lawsuit. And he didn't even single her out specifically!

I don't see how she has a case, anyways. I mean, take the word "ho". As rappers gleefully indicate, "ho" can have many different meanings. It can mean an unchaste woman. It can mean a prostitute. It can mean someone's girlfriend. It can simply mean female -- and so on and so forth. All Imus has to do is point out that she fits one perceived definition of the word "ho" and there goes the worst insult she received. And seeing as he didn't say "Kia Vaughn is a nappy-headed ho", I don't see how she can claim intentional malice against her, personally.

Vaughn is also arguing that she is a "public figure", and it is therefore defamation of character because he called her a "ho" when he knew that there was little to no truth behind it.

First of all, how does Vaughn figure she's a public figure? Did anyone know her name before this whole mess came forward? I doubt anyone knew her name until she filed the suit, and therefore distinguished herself from the rest of the Rutgers team. The head coach talks about how Imus' comments rip away all the positive feelings from their great season, but honestly -- how many people even knew Rutgers made it to the national championship before this whole controversy? I mean, let's not get carried away here. This isn't like March Madness, where the country follows it obsessively. If this girl truly thinks she is some kind of famous basketball player, well, she needs to step down off that pedestal, quick.

Second, all Imus' team needs to do is use two little words to defend himself: comedic satire. Imus is know to use it quite regularly.

Not to mention that, if she was so damaged, then why did it take over four months to file a claim? Her lawyer says it has simply taken time to prepare, but what a surprise that the suit was filed the same day that Imus got a huge new contract.

But, a lawyer spoke the truth, as rare as that may be. In today's litigious culture, none of that really matters. She doesn't need to prove that she's damaged, that she's suffered financial setbacks, that Imus was talking about her specifically, or that she isn't a "ho". She doesn't like what he said, and therefore, is entitled to a fat payout.

And that, my friends, is sadder than what Imus said to begin with.

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Of Hypocrisy and Hate Speech

3 comments:

jamal said...

Ho!

Anonymous said...

There are three problems with this lawsuit:
1) Verbal remarks cannot be libel by definition. She can sue for slander only, not both.
2) She actually *does* need to prove damages for a charge of defamation of character to hold merit.
3) Comedic satire or not, for slander (or libel) to hold, there must be proof of malice.

The fact is that most such lawsuits get settled out of court because in virtually all such cases, there is a demonstrable absence of malice. However, to avoid the negative publicity that would undoubtedly accrue, it is far easier to just settle.

You make a good point that the timing of the lawsuit is coincident with a lucrative new contract. Clearly the happy neaded no is counting on the fact that since she is a female minority and Imus is a rich white male, a vigilante jury would award her giga-bucks. The only way this could get any better would be if Imus had made the comments on the 700 club.

Angry White Guy said...

And since Imus got FIRED, I doubt he cares about bad publicity...