Is it just me or is everyone getting just a little bit overheated about the EL Paso affair? I note a certain self-righteousness about some of the posts, not to mention a rush to judgement. A few details seem to have been lost amid the kerfuffle:
1. The statements in El Paso about Kathy Maguire may not be libellous, so those bloggers who have so hastily assumed that they are would do well to cool their heels. To wrongly accuse another of defamation is in its self defamatory, as is accusing a person of not having respect for the law or for others.
2. The fact that El Paso have affected Ms. Maguire’s Google results is unfortunate for her, but not in its self a cause of action. (Google results are however a possible means of quantifying damages. More on this later.)
3. The purported cease and desist letter, written by one Ted Randall of CMR radio network is unprofessional in tone and full of typos. If I was sending such a letter with genuine litigious intent, (rather than merely as a scare tactic) I wouldn’t write it myself. I’d get it written by someone who knows how to spell “counsel?? properly. A lawyer for example. And I wouldn’t send it by e-mail either. Also, why would a radio station threaten to sue on Ms. Maguire’s behalf? In any case, you can’t sue for libel on behalf of another. So the letter is something of a hoax in its self. El Paso probably guessed as much and figured it’d make good fodder for an April fool. The Sunday Times weren’t the primary target of the hoax, but merely had the misfortune to run with the story.
Richard Waghorne couldn’t be more wrong in calling El Paso “a particularly pointless blog??. On the contrary, though I’ll grant you that the content is fairly risqué stuff, and would give me nightmares if I was the authors’ lawyer, I think it’s quite brilliant. It has the authentic funny-nasty atmosphere of a good pub gossip in a provincial Irish town. And people in provincial Irish towns love gossip, the more salacious the better. Certainly, they love it more than “what I’m reading??, “how my cats are getting on?? or “what I think about the Israeli elections??. It’s a different type of blog to, say, this one, but its hugely successful and far closer to the mainstream. To answer Richard’s jibe, the “point” of El Paso is, like that of all blogs, to provide items of interest to its readers, of which it has plenty. Local blogging of this kind may prove a growth area.
I’ve said it about bloggers before, and no doubt I’ll say it again: “Get over yourselves??. El Paso is more about Dundalk than it is about blogging, which may be why certain sophisticates find it embarrassing. Runningwithbulls has understandable reasons for not finding the joke all that funny, but I note, for example, that Adam Maguire, with his talk of “quality and integrity?? has clambered onto an inappropriately high horse. Similarly, the usually sensible Maman Poulet, like a village busybody lamenting a local n’er-do-well asks ‘Was anyone surprised it was them who got themselves into this mess?’. Further, she has suggested that El Paso is irresponsible and “has it’s own agenda??. Now doesn’t this imply that they should instead adhere to some other agenda? Perhaps one deemed appropriate by the “blogging community??? This to me is indicative of a snooty, “Irish Blog Establishment?? attitude. Only a few weeks after the first ever Blog Awards and we already have elder statesmen turning up their noses at provincial oiks. Forgive me if I’m not impressed. If El Paso defames someone, the victims have a remedy in libel. Let them seek such remedy if they wish, but don’t everyone else come the scold, bleating “you’re only ruining it for everyone else??.