Showing posts with label Celebrities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Celebrities. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Justin Bieber's (Reported) Spitting Problem

Over at my forum, a visitor described having Justin Bieber spit in his face,
This past Friday night, Justin Bieber, came to the club I was DJing at. I was opening for his tour DJ, DJ Tay James, and afterward I was allowed to stay in the VIP area and be on standby to take over for him once he finished his set. Bieber showed up at around 1:00a and stayed until 2:30a. I was called back down to the VIP area at around 2:00a to be ready and waiting for Tay James to get done. He decided to stay on until around 2:30a (closing time for the club) At around 2:15a, I was approached by two of Bieber's bodyguards and was accused of taking pictures of Justin Bieber, apparently there were no pictures allowed of him, I'm assuming because he's not the legal age to be inside of a club. In any case, they took my phone from me and went through my phone, there were obviously no pics of bieber, but i did have some photos I took when I was on the stage and I was DJing, much much earlier in the night, at around 11:30p - 12:15a. So they pulled me back into the kitchen area, which wasn't much farther away from where Bieber's VIP area was located. Bieber got wind of the situation and as he was making his way out of the club, he came up to me and said to my face "Your mother's a bitch, your father's a bitch, and you're a bitch." and then spit directly into my face. Not near my face, not on the ground, right in my eyes nose and mouth, and then he walked out. It happened so fast I had zero time to react.
There were several witnesses to the incident, but the man asking the question was concerned that if he reported it the witnesses might not back him up and his employers would not like the resulting negative publicity.
Two of the club owners were in the back area in the kitchen. They were right there and saw it happen. I'm not sure if there were any other witnesses or if there was surveillance footage of the incident...The problem I have is the altercation and the publicity this might negatively bring to that place. I'm afraid any witnesses wouldn't come forward or testify. And that I'm screwed if I even bring this up to them, even though they did see it happen.
Then the story broke, through the actions of one of the witnesses:
oh boy. this just got interesting... apparently a prominent radio station in Columbus is saying that they have a witness who saw this happen... and now they want to interview me...
TMZ has picked up the story. A radio show host saw a report of the incident posted to Facebook by a witness, and investigated.
Bieber's official rep refused to comment -- but a source in JB's camp tells TMZ, "Everything's been going really well on the tour and it's just really sad that someone would copycat others' baseless claims just to try and get attention for themselves."
What do you make of the disconnect between the Bieber camp's denial and the manner in which the incident actually came to the attention of the media?

I can feel sorry for Bieber and the choices of the adults in his life that led his emotional maturity seemingly being frozen in time the moment he became a celebrity, but he's a grown-up now. Whether or not you believe this occurred, can you deny that it's well past time Bieber started acting his age? He's nineteen, so it's not like that should be a particularly high bar for him to reach.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Mrs. Carter?

Very traditional, and all but....
Beyonce has wisely chosen the day following her Super Bowl triumph to announce world tour dates for 2013, with UK dates in April and May. So far, so expected, but there is one surprise. She's called the tour "The Mrs. Carter Show", a reference to her 2008 marriage to Jay Z (aka Shawn Knowles-Carter; Jay Z is rumoured to have taken on Beyonce's surname 'Knowles' in 2009).
Why doesn't she just call herself Beyonce-Z?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why Might People View Prejudices As Irrational

If you're going to make derisive arguments about how far the apple falls from the tree,1 you had best protect your parents by having something intelligent to say. When you have nothing more substantive to offer but ad hominem abusive about the children of celebrities and adherents of religions you don't like, well, discretion is the better part of valor.2

Ben Shapiro asserts that "the values espoused by Hollywood parents infect their children", and provides (among others) the following example:
[Is it any coincidence, for example] that the sexually over-the-top and androgynous Cher, had a daughter, Chastity (Chaz), with sexual identity issues?
Forgive me for asking, but what exactly is it that would make somebody believe that Cher is androgynous? Is it her tradition of wearing long hair in feminine styles? A wardrobe that often seems inspired by Vegas showgirls - but under the apparent belief that showgirl costumes aren't sufficiently revealing? And Cher is simultaneously "sexually over-the-top" and "androgynous"?

Perhaps it's that Shapiro is confused by the fact that Cher isn't a conventional beauty, but it would be rather childish for him to say, "Look at Cher's face - she looks like she could be a man", let alone to suggest that her facial features caused her child to have gender identity issues. But if you look at anything else, what could possibly be the source of Ben's confusion? Seriously - I've seen lots of pictures of Cher, and I really can't recall any where I was even slightly confused about her gender.

And then there's the issue of the father... the late Sonny Bono, staunch Republican, former Member of Congress. You would think that the last name "Bono" might have clued Shapiro in, but apparently not. I'm reminded of various long-discredited psychological theories that blamed mothers for autism, effeminate behaviors of boys, homosexuality, and the like. Chaz Bono has a male gender identity? It must be mom's fault. Ron Reagan is gay? It must be... Nancy Reagan's fault?

When I hear people who fret that people can catch homosexuality or gender identity issues, as if they're diseases, I think it says more about the speaker than it does about the subject. That is, I rarely encounter somebody who appears to be secure in his own gender identity who believes that the exposure to an ostensibly androgynous parent will turn a child into a cross-dresser, transexual or homosexual.

Shapiro also attacks Oliver Stone, whom he suggests places no level of import on "religion and pro-Americanism", because one of Stone's children recently converted to Islam. I suspect that, had Sean Stone converted to Orthodox Judaism, Shapiro would not be singling him out as an example but, you know, "wrong religion". Sean Stone has made the statement, "People don’t like Ahmadinejad, but that doesn’t warrant a war or an uprising." Forgive me, but I'm not seeing any "anti-American" sentiment in that statement, nor any basis for Shapiro's claim that Sean Stone is "a backer of genocidal anti-Semite Mahmoud Ahmadinejad". If that's the best quote Shapiro could cherry-pick, you would think he would have been able to recognize his attacks as baseless.

Over at The Non Sequitur, John Casey challenges similarly weak reasoning by Dr. Keith Albow, in which Albow attempts to characterize David Brock as "a dangerous man" supposedly feeling that "he’s unloved and unloveable, shunted to the side" because he was adopted.
Many adopted children are tremendously well-adjusted, but for some reason, this man feels he’s unloved and unloveable....
Casey observes,
... when I make up these arguments for quizzes on fallacies I feel as if I'm being unfair. Nice to be proven wrong. I think.
It's no surprise to find that the logical reasoning behind reactionary prejudice like Shapiro's falls somewhere between weak and absent, but it remains somehow disappointing that people like Shapiro and Albow can so easily find platforms to espouse and advance their attacks and prejudice.
1. Via LGM.

2. When you start trying to count the fallacies in Shapiro's claims, you can quickly become overwhelmed by the sheer volume. Ad hominem abusive, post hoc, composition, genetic fallacy, guilt by association, spotlight, straw man, questionable cause, biased sample, hasty generalization, begging the question, appeal to spite....

Logical fallacies can be used to prop up an argument the speaker knows is weak, so as to mask its weakness. William F. Buckley, Jr., was a master at that art. They can (and will) slip into anybody's thinking, because we are all human and are thus all susceptible to flawed thinking. Sometimes, though, the speaker offers them with sincerity, and establishes a pattern of earnest, habitual illogic that reveals him to be a weak, undisciplined thinker.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Narcissistic Side of Twitter

In thinking about Twitter, and the reason it lives on despite its core functionality being replicated by services like Facebook and Google Plus, two things occurred to me. First, Twitter achieved its initial rise due to an influx of celebrities. Second, Twitter allows ordinary people to follow, or even be followed by, celebrities, to engage in what seems like a conversation, and perhaps even to experience the excitement of having a celebrity respond to or re-tweet something that they have said. Second, it is the faux relationships that continue to drive Twitter. The sense that somebody you have seen on television "knows" you, cares about what you say, or is even reading and writing her own tweets. Yes, some celebrities manage their own feeds. Others have publicists or staff members who handle that for them, yet even when they're known to use proxies other Twitter members still seem to feel the thrill of contact.

Twitter serves celebrities, in that much of celebrity is built upon a false sense of communality or camaraderie, and now you can have "proof" that a celebrity likes you and cares what you have to say. It's an automation of the historically slow process of receiving fan mail, perhaps responding to it, perhaps dropping in a head shot. It's like being a member of a celebrity fan club, but where the celebrity actually "knows you you are" and "shows up". Twitter may be the virtual equivalent of the butler at the door or, for those who tweet through proxies, the virtual equivalent of the intercom between the butler at the door and you outside the locked exterior gate. But if you can't see all of that distancing, is it really there?

What brought this to mind today? A smart person who probably should know better than to care about Paris Hilton in the first place:
Paris Hilton is tweeting up a storm about how much she loves Bali. It's her first visit. She tweeted a few hours ago, "Make a wish. 11.1l.11"

Since I've stood up for Paris on TalkLeft so many times during her various legal difficulties, I thought I'd ask her a favor. I tweeted her in reply:
@ParisHilton I wish you'd visit Aussie Schapelle Corby, doing 20 years for pot in Kerobokan Prison in bli, Pls Google her name.
"I've blogged favorably about her," meets, "She's on Twitter", and somehow that seems to become, "She may listen to me and perhaps even share my outrage at Bali's legal system". Even if we assume Paris manages her own feed, and doesn't pass that task off to a publicist or intern, what about Paris would make you think that her trip to Bali and her raving about the wonders of the country is being driven by her amazement? Would it not be a safer bet that she has been comped or compensated to promote the nation or certain of its attractions, and won't be saying anything negative? (Call me cynical, but I believe Paris's raving is a thinly disguised sales pitch from a somewhat over-the-hill celebrity spokesmodel. Bali isn't under FTC jurisdiction.)

If a celebrity "friends" you on Facebook or, if we're to that point, adds you to a Google Plus circle, you can see (or search for) your face among the tens of thousands of others. Yes, if you want to browse the members somebody claims to follow or his list of followers, your account will be every bit as difficult to find. But Twitter puts the feed, not the faces, front and center. And due to occasional celebrity retweets or responses, people do get reinforced that their tweets are being heard.

I heard a celebrity being interviewed recently (it may have been Louis C.K.) and he mentioned both that he didn't like Twitter and that people got angry at him because he didn't follow anybody. (Solution: Hire an intern?) To me, this highlights the extent to which Twitter flourishes upon the false sense of "He likes me too". Even if you never look at the feed, you'll have a happier population of followers, and probably a much larger one, if you make them think you care what they say. Twitter makes that easy.

I don't mean to diminish Twitter's value as a communication tool. There are people who like it for following news, politics, business tips, etc. I just happen to be coming to the conclusion that the thing that allows Twitter to continue is the false sense of community it creates between its high profile members and their followers and that, absent that, it would be a shadow of its present self. A mere year ago, Justin Bieber was responsible for a full 3% of Twitter's traffic. What does that tell you?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Did You Miss The Word "Anonymous"

I realize that the words "ethics" and "paparazzi" have very little in common with each other, but for goodness sake - don't stalk people at 12-step meetings, even if they're celebrities.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Dead is Dead

I appreciate that there were a couple of decades of "Elvis sightings" before the truth sank in, but it shouldn't take a celebrity studded memorial service to understand the obvious.

Sorry, I know denial is part of the grieving process, but enough is enough. There won't be a comeback tour. No matter how huge a fan you were, no matter how celebrated a person is, no matter how badly you feel the press and public abused your hero, dead is dead.

Let these words sink in: Sarah Palin's political career is not coming back from the grave.

Unfortunately, though, I expect she'll live on in video.

Friday, June 26, 2009

When A Child Is A Parent's Meal Ticket

A couple of months ago my four-year-old became very interested in Michael Jackson. His "moves". She doesn't have much interest in his childhood work, but is absolutely fascinated by his dance sequences and choreography. She wanted to see him perform live. As I reflect on that, it didn't even cross my mind that Jackson was 50 years old. His changes of appearance were disturbing, saddening, but they had one of the effects he (owner of "Neverland") apparently intended. He did grow up but he became, in a sense, a man without age. Had he kept his original appearance, and become wrinkled and gray, I doubt that the public surprise at his early death would be quite the same.

The span of his career led to my daughter asking questions about his age in various videos, as well as his evolving appearance. The best explanation I had to offer for his surgeries was that I suspected that he didn't like himself. My daughter couldn't understand why somebody wouldn't like himself, and I'm grateful for that. But then, she didn't have Joseph Jackson raising her in an atmosphere of isolation and abuse. What a lovely guy.

Something that's apparent from Jackson's childhood is how readily people will ignore the abuse and mistreatment of children if it jeopardizes the gravy train. Tell me nobody saw Joseph make threats or administer beatings to his children, when they missed a step or a note during their childhood practices and performances.
He touchingly describes his humiliation at having severe acne as a child, and the relentless teasing by his brothers and father, who called him "Big Nose." "You didn't get that ugly nose from my side of the family," says father Joe Jackson, according to Michael. He also describes throwing up at the mere sight of his father who "threw him against a wall" and beat them with "anything that was handy."
Lisa Marie Presley comments on her relationship with Michael:
"I became very ill and emotionally/ spiritually exhausted in my quest to save him from certain self-destructive behavior and from the awful vampires and leeches he would always manage to magnetize around him," she wrote.
It's one of the strange thing people do... we develop coping skills to get us through our childhood, and have a hard time breaking out of those same patterns as adults, even when we have a "choice" and following the childhood pattern is self-destructive. It seems that Jackson was surrounding himself with versions of his father - people who would bleed him dry for their own devices. But as an adult, he could also choose people (or choose to end relationships with people) who wouldn't challenge him to break with the past and enabled his eccentric and self-destructive behaviors. I suspect that his pattern of conduct, relationships and surgeries was supposed to help him be happy, but instead provided at best brief moments of relief from the unhappiness they otherwise perpetuated. And I will not be surprise if, having expressed to Lisa Marie Presley the fear that he would "end up like" Elvis, his death involved a similar soup of pharmaceuticals - a maladaptive tool to escape from (and avoid) pain, physical and psychic, that probably ended up magnifying both.

A childhood only counts for so much. Jackson is responsible for the mistakes he made as an adult that led to his isolation in his final years. But if he's capable, I hope Joseph Jackson spends some time thinking about what he did to his children. That he's somehow able to feel shame, remorse, embarrassment for his role in the unhappiness of, dare I say, more than one of his children?
Update: More on this theme from Eugene Robinson:
Jackson once said his father used to beat him, perhaps because he was the "golden child." Joe Jackson has always denied being physically abusive, but in a sense it doesn't matter. It seems to me that attaching oneself to one's young son like a leech and denying that boy any semblance of a childhood qualifies as abuse.

* * *

The worst choice, of course, was the way he frolicked with children at his Neverland ranch. Jackson was acquitted of child molestation charges, but he also paid a reported eight-figure settlement to the family of one alleged victim. Let me be clear that no childhood trauma would excuse molestation. My question, though, is where were the staff members and the agents and the hangers-on - and the loving family members - who had an inkling that all might not be right at Neverland? Did they choose to look the other way?

I believe Jackson's story that he suffered from the skin disease vitiligo -- though I don't believe that vitiligo or any other infirmity was the reason for the disfiguring plastic surgery that turned his face into a pale, taut mask. It had to be self-hatred - not necessarily an attempt to make himself "white" but to make himself hideous.
I don't think Jackson was trying to make himself hideous - that seems to be the inevitable result of having too many significant cosmetic surgeries. I'm more inclined toward thinking, body dysmorphic disorder.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Oh, The Poor Children....

The Internet is buzzing with news of Susan Boyle's appearance on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent. The Telegraph's Rupert Christiansen laments that people with "touching" stories get on this type of talent show and, despite being significantly short of professional quality, gain celebrity.
Poor nice Miss Boyle. The story of her deprived, honest life is touching. In a more rational society, she could have had a enjoyable part-time career singing for pleasure rather than profit in the local choir and amateur operatic society, which is where talent such as hers honourably belongs....

But Susan Boyle is past the point where informed criticism would make any difference, projected into a crazy fantasy world where all our dreams come true and anyone can earn the equivalent of a Goldman Sachs bonus in a nanosecond.
Let's be honest for a moment. Boyle did a nice job with a song, but were she a stunning beauty by conventional standards she wouldn't be receiving this level of attention. It's the contrast between the expectations of the audience and her performance that has made her a sensation. (For an illustration of the opposite effect, consider Joshua Bell's performance in the DC subway.)

Yet how does that make her different from any other celebrity? Some of the world's most recognizable celebrities were born in to fame, bought their way into fame, or had a chance encounter with an agent or producer that led to fame. How many of them were boosted not by talent, but by their appearance? And at that, often an appearance that was in small or large part purchased at a cosmetic surgeon's office? Which of the top earning actors are among the world's most skilled? Which of the top ten earning singers? It seems fair to ask, is Christiansen offended by the serendipity involved in Ms. Boyle's sudden fame, or by the fact that it's not the type of serendipitous outcome with which he's comfortable?
What really bugs me, however, is that Miss Boyle’s success gives out the entirely misleading message that anyone who can pass muster at karaoke can become a star overnight and that it’s luck, rather than slog, that does the trick. How can we expect young people to take the surer path and train for years in drama schools and music conservatoires when there’s this short-cut smash-and-grab approach to stardom on offer?
Think of the poor, talented children who will look at Ms. Boyle's case and recognize that there's a huge amount of luck in achieving fortune and fame. Because... what? They're not going to notice it from the success of pretty much every other celebrity out there? Because the most famous entertainers in the world, the highest paid actors and singers, trained for years in "drama schools and music conservatoires"?

But leaving that aside, assuming Boyle even had the opportunity to spend years training in a drama school or music conservatory, what would have happened next? Let's even assume that she would be "in the class of Elaine Paige or Patti LuPone". Is it not fair to ask, would people like Christiansen be able to get past her physical appearance? ("She's an exceptional talent, but....") What lesson would Christiansen have children draw from the fact that people who look like Boyle are most often relegated to the chorus, or become backup singers?

The idea that Ms. Boyle is exceptional in how she found celebrity? It's nonsense. The idea that Ms. Boyle would have had a strong chance of finding fame, let alone equivalent fame, by pursuing years of training in a music conservatory? In my opinion, also nonsense. I'm not arguing that the knowledge that fame, and the huge paycheck that goes along with it, has more to do with serendipity than with talent and hard work is the most inspirational lesson for young people. But such is life. Most people have to train and work harder than a lot of celebrities did, yet settle for far less reward.

There's one more thing Christiansen overlooks. That fame and fortune frequently come in what seems like a flash, and it's easy to forget that there's often a great deal of effort, preparation, and work that leads up to somebody's being able to get to the point that they become an "overnight sensation". Another expectation bias comes up when we hear the background to a particular performer's success and learn of their years of formal study and practice, years of minor performances when nobody had heard of them, or, similarly, hear a beautiful celebrity speak out on an issue and are surprised that they appear both intelligent and informed. That surprise is just as much a consequence of our instant-celebrity, beauty over talent culture, as is Ms. Boyle's attaining fame and possible fortune by virtue of her TV appearance. It's every bit as much a bias to see beauty and assume "unintelligence" as it is to see somebody of average or below average appearance and assume "untalented."

Christiansen's quick to embrace formal training as the proper path to fame, and for vocal performers there's no real doubt that formal training can make a huge difference. But it appears that Ms. Boyle took advantage of the formal training opportunities she could reasonably obtain. She didn't just wake up one morning and say, "I think I'll go on TV today and sing glorified karaoke." She studied and practiced (within the confines of her day-to-day life), got an opportunity, grabbed it, and by virtue of extraordinary luck and timing it worked out for her. That doesn't make her exceptional in the world of celebrity - it makes her pretty typical. I don't begrudge her the opportunity to make the most of her fifteen minutes - she should go for it.

Friday, January 09, 2009

How... Nice For Him

Just when you thought Joe's fifteen minutes were over, we get another dose of tragi-comic relief:

Joe the Plumber's Magic Umbrella

Is he scared that one of the Hamas rockets might have his name on it? Not really. After all, as he explained, he's a Christian so God will keep him safe.

"Being a Christian I'm pretty well protected by God I believe," he said.
So basically, we'll see "Joe the Plumber" follow up on stories of tragedy and loss by asking, "Have you considered converting to Christianity so you, too, can be protected by G-d's magic umbrella?"

Do you think that Joe will stop by Bethlehem for a few "man on the street" interviews with the local Christians? (Do you suspect, as I do, that Joe doesn't even know where Bethlehem is located?)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Joe the Blegger

For only $14.95, you too can help keep "Joe the Plumber" from ever again having to do an honest day's work.

Ain't celebrity grand?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Making The Most of that Fifteen Minutes....

As if we needed more evidence that John McCain detests our celebrity culture.

I have to hand it to "Joe the Plumber," though. He has apparently discarded his fantasy that he can become the owner of a plumbing business worth $250,000.00, with a comparable annual income, without engaging in the hard work and discipline involved in becoming an actual plumber or saving up a down payment, in favor of making the most of his momentary fame. Paris Hilton, eat your heart out.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Celebrity Conversions

If this doesn't convert you to Christianity, perhaps nothing will:
"What being born-again means for me," he explains, "is that I'm having so much fun in this interview that we're not going to go out an get an 8-ball of blow tonight and go crazy ... Inasmuch as I'd like to do that, I'll just go home and read some scripture with the wife."
Yes, that's right - noted actor Stephen Baldwin is preaching the Gospel, Hollywood stye. I should have seen it coming with Bio-Dome, a movie which caused thousands of people to pray... that it would be short, or that the ushers wouldn't notice them sneaking out to go to a different movie across the hall. But don't expect him to appear as Moses in any upcoming films....
Although Stephen struggles to list more than five of the Ten Commandments - "I should know this," he muses, "I spank my children because they don't know this"....
To avoid a spanking, I wonder if his kids just make up the other five.... "Dad, Commandment 9 is 'Thou shalt not date thy brother's ex-wife unless he gives you permission first', number 6 is 'Don't hire a hooker unless thou knowest for sure that she's actually a woman', and number 10 is 'Thou shalt not take from thy neighbors stash unless thou art prepared to share thine own.'"

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The "Method Acting" Defense?

What is it with prima donna celebrities throwing telephones at people? Do you think it would work if she argues, "But your honor - I am trying out for the role of Russell Crowe in an upcoming biopic. I know I was out-of-line, but I was just that deeply into character."

I like this,
[Defense attorney David] Breitbart called the [prosecutor's] request for $3,500 bail "an insult," saying his client's Park Avenue apartment is worth more than $3 million and she earns "more than six figures on a regular basis."
Would an appropriate response be, "Would your client find a $1 million bail less insulting?"

(It appears that Ms. Campbell has been previously accused of similar acts.)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Shattering All The Stereotypes....

The context. (They're broadcast television stuff, but these links aren't appropriate for every workplace.)

In response to this, and apparently more directly to this:

an apparently real Playboy Bunny asks,
Why is a shark/whale/ocean your mascot? It's not called the shark pit.
In furtherance of her effort to shatter stereotypes, I understand that she also likes butterflies and flowers, and prays every night for world peace.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Freedom of Speech

Public figures - typically celebrities and politicians - in the United States sometimes complain about the Times v Sullivan standard for slander actions, pursuant to which they must demonstrate "actual malice" before they can recover damages for false statements printed about them. ("Actual malice" means that the statements are made despite "knowledge that statements are false or in reckless disregard of the truth".)

Other nations don't follow the same rules. In fact, few other nations offer publishers similar protections, and most offer far less. This has resulted in what is now referred to as "libel tourism", where the rich and famous seek out a nation where a work is published or distributed, but which offers few protections to publishers, and brings suit in that nation.

The United Kingdom has been the subject of such "libel tourism" in recent years and, according to the London Guardian, this has resulted in a decision by the U.K. subsidiary of Random House not to carry House of Bush, House of Saud by Craig Unger, a book about the connections between the Bush family and the Saudi royal family.
Unger's thesis is that the eagerness of US politicians to tap into Saudi money over the years may have compromised Mr Bush's determination to fight terrorism: "Never before has an American president been so closely tied to a foreign power that harbours and supports our country's mortal enemies."

How far Unger's thesis is credible is something that the US reading public will be able to decide for themselves. The book is becoming a bestseller in US election year. In Britain, however, the deputy chairman of Random House denied that the decision to suppress it was "pusillanimity or unnecessary self-censorship".
The article includes some complaints from the Deputy Chairman of Random House, criticizing the U.K.'s libel laws as "draconian" and "disgraceful", "stifling legitimate freedom of speech".

The principle behind the U.S. approach to "public figures" is that a public figure is in an excellent position to respond to any criticism, fair or unfair, and thus needs fewer protections than a similarly situated private citizen. This has certainly been borne out in practice. A "defamed" celebrity can appear on several, perhaps dozens, of talk shows and conduct similar numbers of interviews to respond to accusations. A private citizen has no similar opportunity to reply. And despite the fact that some nefarious rumors get published, celebrities seem to weather the occasional storm quite well.

Meanwhile, the U.S. public gains access to information which, when true, can be quite valuable - and when false or misleading, can nonetheless trigger important public debate and discussion. No, not the nonsense in the Enquirer, but books like Unger's. Given the societal costs and benefits, perhaps other nations should consider sending the tourists back home.