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Does this constitute libel?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by tapintoamerica, Jun 20, 2007.

  1. tapintoamerica

    tapintoamerica Well-Known Member

    Here's the latest offering from social commentator Boyce Watkins:


    I'm ashamed to admit I don't know enough about libel law to know if this is "actionable," as they say. The former defendants are not named. Therefore, I wonder if the author has the freedom to offer up this opinion: "The Duke Boys are not innocent victims. They are rowdy, disrespectful, thuggish frat boy alcoholics who abuse women of color."

    Any lawyers/experts out there who can shed some light on this question?
  2. Whatever it is, it's disgusting. What an asshole. He may be right, but what an asshole...
  3. imjustagirl2

    imjustagirl2 New Member

    Holy. Shit.

    Boyce Watkins went to college with me. We used to get into damn near screaming fights at K-Lair. I had a friend who ran for SGA office, and one night while we were all out plastering posters on campus, Boyce and I had a huge argument because I was the only white person out there and I was an easy mark.

    We were about as different politically as you can be. I had no idea he'd actually made a living off this. Holy crap.
  4. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    It could be argued that they are public figures. But no way do they dignify this by pursuing the case, even if they had a case.
  5. Chi City 81

    Chi City 81 Guest

    Yeah, he sounds like kind of a scumbag.
  6. Shaggy

    Shaggy Guest

    I thought it was a pretty decent column. I disagree with many of his points, but it wasn't an outrage like some of you think.
  7. imjustagirl2

    imjustagirl2 New Member

    I don't think he's a scumbag. Really, I don't. I think I did in college. But he's highly intelligent, and I think he's just very much into ... hell, I don't know how to say it. But he's not willing to take the politically correct position just to take it. And he's willing to fight, especially if the person being wronged is black.

    Again, take this with a grain of salt because I haven't seen the guy in about 10 years.
  8. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    There is a serious flaw in one statement made in this column:

    The men were rowdy and drunk, and even they may not remember what they did that night. Let's be clear about another fact: Being found not guilty is quite different from being found innocent.

    They were not found not guilty ... there was never a trial for their to be a verdict.

    And the state distroct attorney went so far in his statement as to say that the three were "innocent of these charges."

    Which leaves Watkins defending the Orwellian proposition that being found innocent "is quite different" from being found innocent.
  9. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    I don't see much of a libel case there...after all that's been said about the defendants, calling them 'rowdy, disrespectful, and thuggish' seems pretty tame. Did they abuse any women of color? What's your definition of abuse, maybe they did on some way. Is there anything in this column that shows reckless disregard for the truth? Will they suffer any damages as a result? Not likely.

    Unfortunately, you can't sue for dopiness.
  10. tapintoamerica

    tapintoamerica Well-Known Member

    A good point by HejiraHenry, who accurately states these people were never brought to trial. Therefore, they weren't acquitted. They weren't found "not guilty" by a jury. They were cleared before the jury pool was even assembled. I wonder if the implication that a trial was conducted is also problematic for the author. I do know this: If I wrote that people had been brought to trial when, in fact, they had been exculpated before a jury was empaneled, I'd have some explaining to do. But then again, I work for a legitimate source of journalism. Thoughts?
  11. Chad Conant

    Chad Conant Member

    Isn't there security camera ATM footage of Reade Seligman taken at the time he was supposed to be assaulting the woman in question?
  12. tapintoamerica

    tapintoamerica Well-Known Member

    21: The full text of the sentence to which you refer also calls them "alcoholics." Is this sufficient to trigger successful litigation?
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