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Friday, August 17, 2007
More on Vaughn v. Imus: Law and Morality

Professor Scott Moss (Colorado) offers some excellent thoughts on the lack of merit of Kia Vaughn's lawsuit against Don Imus. Scott agrees with Mike's comments that the lawsuit likely will fail, in part focusing on a point I made in comment that, despite what the Complaint alleged, Imus's statements could not reasonably be understood as pronouncing anything factual about Vaughn's chastity or character. Interestingly, Moss (a former plaintiffs' lawyer) takes Vaughn's lawyer to task for not following his ethical and professional obligations to properly counsel a client who, while sympathetic and obviously having been hurt, has not suffered the type of hurt that can be remedied by law.

Moss's column highlights this case as a good example of the often-present gap between law and morality--between what is "wrong" in a moral/ethical sense and what is (and should be) unlawful and thus remediable at law. The public is sympathetic to Vaughn and unsympathetic to Imus. Imus "wronged" Vaughn in some moral way. But that does not mean that Vaughn will or should prevail in the judicial system.


I was surprised that Vaughn did not include an IIED claim. In that claim, the fact that Imus was making a poor joke would not matter, so long as the joke was outrageous. It is still not a very strong case, but seems more plausible than trying to argue that Imus was making a factual statement.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 8/17/2007 3:10 PM  

Please don't get me wrong - what Imus said was reprehensible, disgusting and any other adjective you'd like to apply.

That said, this lawsuit is a waste of time. It's obvious that whatever he may have been doing, Imus had no intention of making a factual statement.

Having listened to Imus for 30+ years, I doubt he's a racist/sexist. He's a cranky old curmudgeon who will say anything to get a laugh or a rise out of people. He's an equal-opportunity curmudgeon -- he doesn't like much of anyone.

But could we get some perspective here? I doubt any of these young women have spent five minutes of their lives listening to Imus - he's not from their generation (I have kids that age who wouldn't listen to Imus if I bribed them). Why do they care what some 60-something coot they don't listen to is saying about them? Are they going to go around for the rest of their lives being victims - filing lawsuits when people call them names? If these are, as their coach told us after the incident happened, the cream of the crop, it may not be as good a crop as she thinks.

Frankly, I think these young women were used in April by people who wanted to advance their own agendas; this young woman is being used by a lawyer who's trying to line his pockets.

Anonymous John K -- 8/17/2007 8:20 PM  

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