I suppose we should be grateful that a Russian court has ruled against a descendant of Joseph Stalin in a suit brought by Stalin's grandson against Novaya Gazeta because the paper described Stalin as a "bloodthirsty cannibal".
What gets me is that apparently you can sue under Russian law for defamation against a dead person. That's a law that's ripe for abuse.
If this trend is adopted elsewhere, we can expect see a lawsuit brought by Alessandra Mussolini to restore the reputation of her grandfather, Benito; a lawsuit brought by Michael Reagan against Eric Alterman for calling his adopted father, Ronald Reagan, a "moron" and a "pathological liar"; and a lawsuit brought by the Catholic Church against Christopher Hitchens for his book about Mother Teresa, The Missionary Position.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
No, Really! Stalin Was Really a Nice Guy!
Posted by Jeffrey Shallit at 8:55 AM
Labels: insane laws, libel, Russia, Stalin
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Talking about ridiculous lawsuits, I think this is still the one to beat:
To be fair, statements made about dead people can affect those who are still alive. For example, if Jullian Lennon could prove that his musical career failed to really take off because someone said his father (John Lennon) was satanic, and therefor his son was the antichrist, then Julian might have a case. In this case, the comments about the dead person were a link in the chain of cause-and-effect that incurred the damage.
Hitchens actually published The Missionary Position (working title "Sacred Cow") while Mother Teresa was still alive - in 1995, two years before her death.
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