Misguided Pianist Asks Washington Post To Remove A Less-Than-Wonderful Review Under Right To Be Forgotten

from the can't-forget-it-now dept

There are all sorts of issues with the whole "right to be forgotten" ruling in Europe from a few months back. However, some of the confusion around it has resulted in people thinking it's something that it totally isn't -- leading to some rather public revelations of astoundingly thin skins. Take the case of pianist Dejan Lazic who apparently was not pleased with a less than sparkling review the Washington Post gave him four years ago. The review really isn't that bad. It basically just says the performance didn't quite live up to expectations, and someone as talented as Lazic should be able to do better. Lazic's response? Send the Washington Post (not Google) a demand to take down that review under the right to be forgotten ruling. Let's count the ways that this is profoundly mistaken:
  1. The ruling only applies to "data controllers" -- i.e., search engines in this context -- and not the publishers themselves. That was clear from the ruling.
  2. The ruling applies to search engines in Europe, not newspapers in the US.
  3. The ruling is not supposed to apply to people in the public eye, so famous world-traveling musicians don't count.
  4. The purpose is to remove outdated information, not things like a review of a performance.
  5. It most certainly is not, despite Lazic's stated belief, supposed to be about letting someone control "the truth" about themselves.
  6. Because of all of this, the lukewarm review of Lazic's performance from 2010 is getting lots of new attention.
  7. Because of all of this, Lazic's views on censorship, free speech and his own personal reviews is now widely known.
Lazic, however, is big on this "truth" thing -- and apparently, negative reviews are not the truth, and thus should be removed:
“I so often listen to a concert, and then the next day read about it in the newspapers — read something that is simply too far from the truth,” Lazic complained. “This is something I, as an artist, am seeking and looking for my whole life: the truth.”
There's a simple way to avoid that: don't read your own reviews. Or, recognize that people have opinions and not everyone is going to like everything you do. But Lazic, apparently, thinks that an individual should have the right to edit others opinions of him or herself:
We ought to live in a world, Lazic argues, where everyone — not only artists and performers but also politicians and public officials — should be able to edit the record according to their personal opinions and tastes. (“Politicians are people just like you and me,” he explains.) This is all in pursuit of some higher, objective truth.
Not only that, but apparently a negative opinion, according to Lazic, is "defamatory." That's a rather interesting definition of defamatory that few legal statutes would agree with, because it's wrong.
“Defamatory, mean-spirited, opinionated, one-sided, offensive [and] simply irrelevant for the arts,” is how he put it.
The review itself doesn't appear to be, well, any of those things necessarily. But that's Lazic's opinion, which he's entitled to. Well, except, based on Lazic's own "rules" for truth, it certainly seems like the author of his original review, Anne Midgette, should now have the right to claim that Lazic's opinion of her opinion is "offensive" and have it deleted as well.

Except that's' not how it works.

And it's especially bizarre in the world of the arts, where reviews and criticism are quite common. Living in a world where people can delete negative reviews may feel good, but it makes no sense at all. It's a world in which the worst performers are never driven to improve because just about anyone can just disappear a negative review because they disagree with it.

Filed Under: defamation, dejan lazic, free speech, opinion, pianist, reviews, right to be forgotten, thin skin
Companies: washington post

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2014 @ 7:56am

    ...basically just says the performance didn't quite live up to expectations, and...should be able to do better...

    Can we say the same thing about journalism in this country?

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