Blogs and Libel: The Gray Area

You know John Gray of Mars/Venus/1950s-sex-roles fame? Turns out his
Ph.D. is a little less than accredted
and probably a mail-order degree (along
with his ex-wife Barbara deAngelis’s credentials) and the only accredited about
the guy’s CV is his high school degree. Irish blogger Gavin found this expose
and concluded that "John
Gray, is a fraud."
The good Dr. Gray wasn’t too cool with that and
his lawyers issued a demand that the alleged libel be corrected and to publish
a formal apology to Gray within 3 weeks. Gavin is refusing
to apologize and issue a correction.

The debate seems to hinge on the word ‘fraud’ and if that is libelous or not
– as well as the intent of ‘malice’ that libel requires against a public figure.
It also exposes problems of jurisdiction: the blogger is in Ireland, the web
server is in the U.K. – the perceived libel in the U.S. This is the constant
source of contention with all internet matters – the internet is a decentralized
global network – it is not it’s own entity – therefore jurisdiction is always
going to be hairy as well as any riffs on ‘commuity standards’.

Also notice that much of this would have been avoided if Gavin had said: "John
Gray is reported to be a fraud." Plus: contesting the opinion makes all of us set up and pay attention and see Dr. Gray in a little less than doctoral light.

One thought on “Blogs and Libel: The Gray Area

  1. Matt Perelstein

    …and, no matter what kind of degree John Gray has, or doesn’t have, he changed a LOT of lives, and saved a LOT of marriages!
    His stuff was ground-breaking in its simplicity – a simple, clear explanation of why, and how, men and women communicate the way they do. It’s different for each — so pay attention! powerful, life-changing stuff.
    I know that wasn’t your point Andy, but I just wanted to put in a plug for the guy, no matter what his formal schooling. He figured some stuff out, wrote it down, the world went WOW – Good Points!, and everyone won.
    – Matt

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