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Tue, 8 Apr 1997 10:50:17 -0500
TEXT/PLAIN (22 lines)
Any lawyers involved can mediate.  As I understand it:

You can't "libel" a dead person, period.  An estate can't sue
for libel of the diseased.

There is a different standard for libel and slander when it
involves a public figure.  That doesn't mean there's no
standard (Carol Burnett and others have successfully sued
tabloids), but it is relevant here.  As I understand how such
things have worked, it is precisly the kind of statement that
Hoffman has made that first amendment jurisprudence expands to
cover when we're dealing with a public figure.

And one more thing:  in the U.S., truth is an absolute
defense against libel.  So if the diseased or his estate
could sue, then we could discuss the historical record, which
is what I suggested we do.  But folks, that can be mighty
dangerous for a plaintiff.  Witness Oscar Wilde:  he ended up
in jail because HE sued the Marquis of Queensbury for libel.

Glen Johnson