Look, we wouldn't fancy being called "Horsey Face," "ho," "skank bitch," "#1 skanky superstar," "old hag," and "psychotic, lying, whoring, still going to clubs at her age, skank," either. But grounds for a lawsuit?
As mentioned previously, these unkind words were launched at model Liskula Cohen by class-act blog Skanks In NYC. The 36-year-old model, who has appeared in Vogue and other fashion magazines, is suing Google, which hosts the blog, for defamation, in an attempt to force the blogger out of anonymity. In the lawsuit, Cohen states that the blog's slings and arrows paint her as a "promiscuous woman who is filthy, disgusting, foul and a whore," a rep that's not done much for her "desirability for endorsing products." While the uncharitable could perhaps suggest that this desirability was already somewhat in question — and, further, that said anonymous asshole is considerably more fixated on the model's activities than is the public; and, further still, that this is in fact the first we have really heard of her and this kind of publicity isn't really serving to distract from a site we'd otherwise be unfamiliar with — the real question, which Salon's Tracy Clark-Flory poses is, does she have a case?
Not exactly. As a lawyer tells her, for the case to hold water, the model would have to prove that Skank's assertions were not just their opinion, but rather, deliberately misleading: "a false and unprivileged statement of fact that is harmful to a person's reputation." In other words, well-nigh impossible to do. (Although it does seem like she could probably prove pretty conclusively that she's not the #1 skank in New York — surely there's gotta be some viable competition, both amongst celebrities and professional prostitutes, no?)
Of course, however much flack she'll take for the law-suit, her thin skin, the fact that she had an unpleasant bottle contretemps with a bouncer last year, and the possible publicity ploy — in short, however misguided it may be - we get why someone would want to do it: on a basic level, it seems wrong that a stranger (or, even worse, not) should be able to write vile things anonymously. Sticks and stones nothing, reading that has to be a punch to the gut for anyone not trained from childhood to weather gratuitous insults. And the internet is, as pundits are fond of saying, still the "wild west," legally speaking. There's certainly scope for precedent-setting and why not in this case, frivolous though it may seem? It would be nice if there was some resolution to this case beyond "Skanks in NYC" getting more hits, Cohen humiliating herself, and the rest of us just feeling really, really sad. Because we imagine the wild west being slightly more exciting than that - or at least involving more frontier justice.
Model Sues Over "Skank" Comment [Salon]