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Sunday, March 30

The Pirates of Libel Penance: Jay Currie channels Gilbert & Sullivan and Queen to bring fresh perspective to the defamation suit of "Dr Dawg" vs "Peter O’Donnell."

Marc Lemire has sent me -- unsolicited, mind you -- his account of Day 1 of the trial. This means if I wanted to understand what the law suit is about I'd have a fighting chance if I opened the email. But from his live-blogging of Day 4, which introduced me to the case, I think I can say these are the only things I need to know:

1. In part because no one in this trial involving multiple pseudonymous names is entirely clear on who is suing whom, there is a very real chance the plaintiff has mistakenly sued himself.  A suggestion of this possibility might have surfaced during a particularly strange turn during Day 4 of the trial, which I passed along to Pundita readers on March 28 via Marc's account.
2. This suit, which launched in 2010, is over "impugned" words as the Court terms them (or is it "impugning" words?) posted on a Canadian blog called Dawg's Blawg. To be exact, seven (7) words.  

3. Bloggers are now taking themselves far too seriously. No one anymore gives a rat's hindquarters what insults people hurl at each other on the Internet, especially when the verbal combatants speak behind pseudonyms such as Miss Mew and Dr Dawg.   

4.  Canada needs to update its libel laws, which (I have on authority from a Canadian) haven't changed since the days when dueling was used to repair defamed reputation, and get serious about outlawing SLAPP suits.

5.  Death on the dueling ground is almost preferable to the ridiculously and one might argue criminally harsh expenses and financial penalties borne by Canadian defendants who lose in frivolous libel suits.  This says nothing of the agony to the Canadian taxpayer, who perforce supports this misreading of justice.             

All this caused me to wonder how Jay Currie, a person of sound mind, got subpoenaed to testify in the matter of "Dr Dawg" vs "Peter O’Donnell."  From his reply to just that pointed query I realized that I'd been wrong when I'd invoked Lewis Carroll's real name in an attempt to convey to Pundita readers the essence of the trial.  This isn't Through the Looking Glass; this is Gilbert and Sullivan terrain. 

One thing led to another when I mentioned my discovery to Jay and so we have the beginnings of an operetta that G&S could take to heart.  He modestly avers that he has only a minor talent for Dawgerel but I think he shows real promise as a lyricist, although I'll confess I wrote the libretto and added the last stanzas.

The PlayersBasso profundo: Dawg
Quavering soprano: Miss Mew
Tenor:  Judge
Chorus:  Themselves

Aboard the captured HMS Canadian Civil Courts System


To the tune of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody and accompanied by a great many exclamation marks which I've omitted here for the benefit of the reader's eyesight: 

CHORUS: [hoisting the skull and crossbones flag up the mast] Defamation. DEFAMATION. Will not let you go.

MISS MEW: l'll repeat it.

DAWG: I'll sue.

MISS MEW: And I will too.

CHORUS: This will not pass. This will not pass. Defamation is a very bad sin.

DAWG: I'll not take slander.

CHORUS: No you won't.

Miss Mew: Nor will I.

CHORUS: The truth of it is that Dawg's a shit. Dawg's a shit.

DAWG and MISS MEW: Doesn't matter, doesn't matter. Defamation, reputation. Impugned words, worse than turds.

CHORUS: Worse than turds.

JUDGE:  [looking up from his copy of Car and Driver magazine] Sheriff, clear my courtroom of these ruffians.

CHORUS: His Honor called us ruffians. Make him walk the plank.  First rum, then the plank. 

MISS MEW: First catnip.

DAWG: First biscuit.

MISS MEW: Catnip.

[Dawg chases Miss Mew around the deck, the Judge throws his magazine at Dawg]
[Miss Mew runs up the curtain, bringing it down on the heads of the entire cast]

One might argue, indeed!

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