Australian Teen With Wacky Mullet Sues The Media For Making A Meme Out Of His Haircut

from the did-streisand-have-a-mullet dept

We already know how bizarre defamation rules in Australia can be, but apparently even they have some limits down under. A teenager named Ali Ziggi Mosslmani (who goes by "Ziggy") got a bit of internet fame last year when a photographer, Jeremy Nool, took a picture of him at a birthday party and posted it to his Facebook page. People noticed Ziggy's somewhat unique mullet haircut, and the picture started to go viral:
As you can see, it has over 10,000 likes, almost 25,000 comments and over 1,500 shares. As these things tend to do, it also inspired people to create new meme images out of it. Here are just a few:

All a bit of internet fun. But, apparently, Ziggy had a bit of trouble taking the joke and went off and sued three Australian media outlets for mocking his haircut. As we've seen in other Australian defamation cases, it appears that the claims relied on this concept of "imputations" -- as in what the images "impute" about the individual. However, Ziggy and his lawyers basically tried to claim that the imputations of the memed images were basically the end of the world. And the judge didn't buy it.
Judge Gibson said Mosslmani’s case was “overpleaded” and appeared to be designed to “claim as many imputations as possible while simultaneously avoiding a defence of honest opinion or justification”.

The only imputation the judge allowed was that “the plaintiff is a ridiculous person because he wears a controversial haircut”.

“The plaintiff is entitled to plead an imputation of condition – namely being a ridiculous person for having such a hairstyle – as well as an imputation amounting to an act. This imputation is reasonably capable of being conveyed and will go to the jury”.

The imputation that he was “hideously ugly” was rejected despite the headline saying the complainant had a “ridiculous haircut” .
I'm still confused as to how an "imputation" that someone "is a ridiculous person because he wears a controversial haircut" could possibly be defamation, but, hey, that's Australia.

In the meantime, Ziggy will have to pay some of the costs of the media organizations he sued for the overpleading efforts. And the judge has suggested that maybe he should recognize the humor in this and the fact that it's not all negative:
District Court judge Judith Gibson mulled over the evidence and declared that Mosslmani’s Texas tailgate “generated a great deal of interest on the internet, most of it humorous.”
In other words, yes, the judge found the memes funny herself. She also noted that all the "likes" on the Facebook post suggested that people liked the image, rather than that they were mocking Ziggy.
“However, the publication goes on to say that the photograph has generated 11,415 comments, 10,000 likes and 1.7m views, which suggests that the hairstyle has its fans and opponents, but is not indicative of ugliness; to the contrary, 10,000 people pressed the ‘like’ button,” Judge Gibson said.
Meanwhile, this lawsuit and ruling is creating something of a Streisand Effect. Before this, it seemed that the meme was mostly known in Australia, but thanks to the lawsuit, it's going global. I hadn't seen it prior to the lawsuit, but now it's everywhere. And the photographer who took the image, Nool, seems to be having a lot of fun with it. He got to go on an Australian morning TV program and has been happily sharing the meme'd images himself:
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Filed Under: ali ziggi mosslmani, australia, defamation, imputations, jeremy nool, memes, mullet, mullet meme, reputation, ziggy mosslmani

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2016 @ 10:01am

    Re: Am I the only one....?

    A wise philosopher once said: "the generosity of women never ceases to amaze me."

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