Tue, 8 Apr 1997 10:50:17 -0500
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.