Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another lawsuit in the blogosphere, this one over evolution (sort of)

Fellow American Society of Journalists and Authors member Joshua Berman has called our attention to a post at boingbong.net, wherein there’s a revelation about a professor at the University of Minnesota Morris being sued, along with Seed Media, for a negative book review.

The professor ripped into a book by Stuart Pivar, who has morphed from author to plaintiff. Pivar’s case was filed August 16 in the New York Southern District Court. Pivar’s suit alleges assault, libel and slander.

I take small comfort in the fact I predicted lawsuits in cyberspace would increase. I attributed my prediction to technology and intellectual property rights. However, I am adding the proliferation of lawyers as an additional cause of this phenomenon. In my post, I even alluded to libel and slander. Sink me, I'm psychic.

I guess I could read the professor’s reviews and maybe even look at the book, but I don’t place much faith in anyone who tells me there’s a definite answer (or even a half-witted answer) for how we all got here and why we look like we do and why if we’re so smart we pay for water in little plastic bottles. My faith in religion and science both have declined rather steeply in recent years. Science can’t cure a common cold and religion can’t cure the darkness of the human heart. Besides, I’m a poet and I prefer mystery to definitive answers on any given day.

The professor says the author submitted the book for review. So if I were the judge (and most of them, sad to say, do not have an abundance of common sense), I would nix the suit in a heartbeat. You send someone a book for review, you take what you get and act like a big boy. In addition, the publicity is likely to benefit both the book and the professor, so they’ll both be winners in a sense.

Last time I looked, we still had a semblance of freedom of speech in this great country. Hopefully, the judge in the case will be aware of that and act accordingly.

Follow the links from the original boingboing post to read the reviews, comments and lots of other stuff about how 10-legged spiders have nothing to do with collapsed coelenterates and other really juicy matters.

Celebrate the trendy preoccupation of media and masses, not to mention the courts. Science now reigns over Mount Olympus, Valhalla and anywhere else a deity can plop his feet. Or his theory.

(~~Photo of Southern Black Widow courtesy of Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services~~)

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