A quiz on defamation
On this day in 1703, English author Daniel Defoe was placed in a pillory for libel after publishing a political satire, but instead of pelting him with stones and refuse, the public showered him with flowers. This week’s quiz is about defamation, slander and libel
1. Easy one to start with. What, technically, is the difference between libel and slander?
2. In March 2016, the website Gawker lost a defamation case against a famous former professional wrestler, after he took them to court for releasing a sex tape featuring him in 2012. Name the wrestler.
3. Which former successful cricketer sued the then IPL chairperson Lalit Modi after the latter had tweeted claiming he was not a part of the IPL auction because of match-fixing allegations?
4. In the 1990s, which current MP and former cabinet minister sued author Khushwant Singh for a chapter in his book Truth, Love and a Little Malice about the person’s relationship with a former PM?
5. District Attorney William Peterson, former police officer Gary Rogers and ex-criminologist Melvin Hett launched a libel suit against a famous author after he wrote a true crime book about the wrongful convictions of Dennis Fritz and Ronald Williamson. Name the author who won the case.
6. Which film star famously took the British tabloid Sun to court in 2018 after the publication accused him of being a wife beater?
7. Which famous painter sued art critic John Ruskin after the latter had described his painting, Nocturne in Black and Gold — The Falling Rocket, as the equivalent of asking 200 guineas to fling a pot of paint in the public’s face?
8. The ‘small penis rule,’ is a strategy, often used by authors to avoid libel lawsuits and was first described in a New York Times article by Dinitia Smith in 1986. What is the rule?
9. Blood libel was a false allegation, used in 1930s Germany to spread anti-Semitic propaganda against the Jewish community. What did it allege?
10. In a celebrated case in 2014, Andew Rector sued Major League Baseball, the New York Yankees and ESPN for broadcasting his image in a game between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Why specifically did they show his image?
1. Libel is written, slander is verbal. Both are forms of defamation.
2. Hulk Hogan. The website went bankrupt after settling at $31 million.
3. Chris Cairns of NZ, a UK court awarded him damages of 90,000 pounds and costs of over a million dollars.
4. Maneka Gandhi, the chapter was titled ‘Gandhi and Anands.’
5. John Grisham. The work was The Innocent Man, and Dennis and Ronald were exonerated after 10 years in prison. It remains his only non-fiction work.
6. Johnny Depp. In 2020, the British courts ruled that 12 of the 14 incidents of violence against Amber Heard were ‘substantially true’.
7. James Whistler. While he won the case, the court just awarded him a token farthing, and he had to declare bankruptcy because of the substantial court fees.
8. Disparaging a recognisable male character in the work, and then saying that he had a small penis. The logic was that few males would then come forward and claim they were the person being described and libelled.
9. That Jews used the blood of children for ritual purposes during Passover and other holy purposes.
10. A camera caught him sleeping during a critical moment in the game, and the announcers made fun of his lack of interest in the game. Rector lost the case.
Joy Bhattacharjya | Photo Credit: "BLink;Blink"
Joy Bhattacharjya is a quizmaster;