2009-08-27 / Columns

Anonymous defamers should be very afraid


I've mentioned more than once over the last few years that there's a day of reckoning coming for the cowardly slime-puppies who post anonymous libels on some of the blog sites around here (Are you listening, da Truth Squad?). And it looks like that day might be coming sooner than the chicken hearts would like.

According to a story in the New York Post last week, a Manhattan judge ruled that people who post anonymous slanders about others on websites can't hide behind the promised anonymity of the site.

The case at hand involved a blogger who posted awful comments about a model on Google's site, Blogger.com, calling her a lot of words I won't repeat here. Just let me say that if someone said those things about your daughter, you'd go after him or her with a ball-peen hammer.

She wants to file a lawsuit against the poster for libel and defamation, but first she needs the blogger's name, which she asked the court to make Google provide.

Of course, the blogger argued that his or her comments were only opinion and "hyperbole." Not actionable, in other words. His or her lawyer argued that forcing Google to give up the name would open a "floodgate" of litigation from everyone who ever felt they'd been insulted online.

Sound familiar?

Happily, the judge — Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Joan Madden, and my Hero of the Week — said those arguments were garbage. She ordered Google to hand over the identity of the coward who posted those nasty things, and do it posthaste.

I'm sure the blogger and Google will appeal, but sooner or later the courts are going to figure out that it's just plain wrong to let people like this hide behind a shield of anonymity. And then, that lawyer was right. There's going to be a flood of defamation and libel suits as victims finally get a shot at justice. There'll be so much work for lawyers filing those cases that lots of them will be able to get out of the slip-and-fall racket.

And there'll be a raft of those cases right here in New Jersey. The people who run the message boards at nj.com finally wised up and cracked down on the dry-gulchers using their site as the modern version of a bathroom wall. But the defamers just moved to other sites that let them keep getting away with their crimes — like da Truth Squad — and figured they could just keep doing it forever.

And let me tell you, the things people say about others on sites like that are every bit as libelous, and slanderous and defamatory, as anything that poster said about the model. Accusations about child molesting, for example. Death threats. Wild slanders about sexuality and accusations of other criminal behavior.

But nothing lasts forever, and as of last week, the anonymous blog cowards are one step closer to being exposed and getting their names in the paper.

You'll read those names right here, as a matter of fact.

• • •

There are a lot of things I don't understand, but one of the things I really don't understand is the notion of ladies' fashion illustrated in The New York Times glossy insert magazine with the trendy title "T" (just the initial because everyone knows how cool that is).

At any rate, this magazine is chock-full of ads featuring women wearing very expensive clothing nobody has actually seen anyone wear, at least on this planet. As a matter of fact, if your son brought one of these gals home for dinner, you'd probably call the police, or better yet, Van Helsing to drive a stake through her heart because she's obviously a vampire.

Words can't do it full justice, but here's what a woman modeling clothing from Lanvin in Paris looked like:

First, her face is powdered white, which makes her blood-red lipstick and incredibly black eye makeup stand out all the more. Her head is shaved, except for a little Mohawkylooking tuft on top that looks like it might be a clipped weasel pelt. There's a black cat lying by her shoulder with its bottom pointing at her, and its tail is going up her nose. She's wearing a huge, clunky necklace that looks like it was made of cut pieces of plumbing pipe. She's got a black fur stole around her shoulders that was probably made from werepanther fur. She needs that fur to keep her warm, however, because her very short dress, made out of what looks like Lego blocks, barely covers her "Oh my God, Martha, am I seeing what I think I'm seeing?" parts.

And as the capper to the whole ensemble, she's wearing a tasteful, gold band as a wedding ring (!).

Here, on another page, is a woman modeling Louis Vuitton, whose ash-blond hair is streaked with electric blue and whose coif is crowned by a hairpiece made from what looks like the business-part of a stethoscope, with fuchsia ribbons sticking straight up. Her dress, which matches the hair ribbons, shows a lot of cleavage, has poofy short sleeves and was cut to resemble something last seen on Marie Antoinette. On her hands, she's wearing what looks like metal-studded boxing gloves. No wedding ring on this model, for obvious reasons (those gloves).

On yet another page, we have a model wearing Miv Miv. Again, her face is white and she's got no hair (the only color on the whole page is the little peek of her yellow bra). Her dress looks like it started out as a man's muffler made of tweed, and as an accent, she's got what I think must be an entire skunk hide pinned to her lapel. She's carrying a purse big enough to hide the body of the person whose soul she's obviously just stolen, and so heavy it's thrown her entire posture out of whack.

And the shoes featured in this magazine! They're all very expensive and look so painful that if Manolo Blahnik worked for the CIA, the government would eventually have to convene a congressional committee to investigate. If we made suspected terrorists wear those shoes for 20 minutes, we'd never have to waterboard another soul, no matter how imperative for national security.

"Don't Manolo me!" they'd plead. "I'll tell you anything you want to know!"

Gregory Bean is the former executive editor of Greater Media Newspapers. You can reach him at gbean@gmnews.com.

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