Seeking Clarification: Is James Woods A Hypocritical Asshole?

from the good-for-the-goose dept

Oh, James Woods. He has now "settled" the ridiculous lawsuit he filed against someone mocking him on Twitter... but is still fighting a fairly similar lawsuit that was filed against him -- complaining that it's an attack on his free speech rights.

If you don't recall, the rather opinionated actor sued a trollish Twitter user who went by the name Abe List, after Abe referred to Woods as a "cocaine addict" in a clearly hyperbolic tweet. As the case progressed, "Abe List" died unexpectedly, leading to Woods obnoxiously gloating on Twitter that List had "dropped" his anti-SLAPP appeal, and when people pointed out it was only because List had died, Woods demonstrated what kind of character he is by cheering on the fact that someone died.

Nice guy, huh?

And, of course, that leaves out that Woods had a history of tweeting similarly hyperbolic statements about others who he disagreed with:

So, Woods was already looking fairly hypocritical here, but as you'll see soon, that level of hypocrisy is becoming more pronounced.

Either way, after "List" died, you might think that Woods would just drop the case, but given his clear animosity (see tweet above) towards a guy making a silly statement on Twitter, he kept the case going in order to unmask the real identity of "List" and to potentially pursue the case against his estate. As first revealed by Eriq Gardner at THREsq, Woods has finally agreed to settle the case, but at least part of the terms of the settlement is that he got attorney Ken "Popehat" White (who you probably know if you're reading Techdirt, and who has represented us at times) to write a silly letter stating what basically everyone in the world already knew: specifically that when Abe List referred to Woods as a "cocaine addict" it wasn't meant to be taken literally:

From attorney Kenneth White, the letter states, "On behalf of my client — the defendant referred to as 'Abe List' in the lawsuit filed by James Woods — and my client's surviving family, I acknowledge that they are not aware of any facts to suggest that Mr. Woods has ever been a cocaine addict or used any other drugs."

Frankly, this feels more like an attempt to try to humiliate Ken (which, uh, generally isn't a good idea), but the end result just makes Woods look ridiculously and almost comically petty.

Oh, and back to the hypocrisy thing. Earlier this year, we also noted, with some amount of irony, that Woods was now on the receiving end of a very similar lawsuit. A woman, Portia Boulger, sued Woods for calling her a "Nazi" in a tweet that was actually a case of mistaken identity. As we pointed out, unlike some people, we can remain true to our principles, and we believe that Boulger's lawsuit against Woods is just as misguided and just as much as a SLAPP suit as Woods' lawsuit was against List.

Either way, in that case, Woods' lawyers filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings last month, which makes a bunch of statements that sound a little odd, considering they're on behalf of someone who was (at the time) still engaged in litigation against someone who jokingly called him a "cocaine addict" on Twitter.

This case is simply an unsuccessful attempt by Plaintiff to quell the free speech rights of Mr. Woods, a conservative actor. Indeed, Plaintiff's claims for defamation and false light/invasion of privacy both fail as a matter of law. First, Plaintiffs claim for defamation fails as a matter of law because Mr. Woods' allegedly defamatory question is not a statement of fact. Nor would a reasonable reader interpret Mr. Woods' question--seeking clarification--as inferring any factual content. Likewise, Plaintiff's false light/invasion of privacy claim fails as a matter of law because no misrepresentation regarding Plaintiff's character, history, activities or beliefs is present in Mr. Woods' tweets, much less a misrepresentation that would warrant a reasonable person, in Plaintiff's position, to take the serious offense required to succeed on a false light/invasion of privacy claim.

That's... an interesting way of saying what happened. As a reminder, here's how THResq described the tweet that Woods sent:

This all started in March 2016, after the Chicago Tribune posted a campaign rally photo of a woman who was wearing a Trump T-shirt and giving a Nazi salute — the well-known 'Heil Hitler' salute with her right hand raised straight up — and several Twitter users misidentified the woman in the picture as Boulger, according to the complaint. Woods tweeted the photo from his verified account and wrote, “So-called #Trump ‘Nazi’ is a #BernieSanders agitator/operative?”

So, yeah, his tweet was a "question" but a "reasonable person" would be unlikely to think that Woods was "seeking clarification." Rather most reasonable persons would likely believe that Woods was implying strongly that Boulger, a Bernie Sanders supporter, had gone to a Trump rally and pretended to be a Nazi supporter of Trump (which she had not).

But, really, it's the "reasonable person" line that's the kicker here. Because that same "reasonable person" looking at Abe List's tweets would similarly have been just as unlikely "to take serious offense" to that tweet. And, yes, there's something fairly ridiculous for Woods to be whining that someone is trying to "quell" his free speech (even if true) when he was doing something quite similar at the very same time.

Later in the motion, Woods' lawyers (properly) point out that "the general context of the statement" and the "broader context in which the statement appears" are a critical element in determining defamation -- which, again, seems silly given that same test, applied to the guy Woods' sued would likely have worked very much against Woods' defamation case.

Finally the truly amazing argument, given Woods' lawsuit against List. I'll just post the paragraph here:

Likewise, Mr. Woods' allegedly defamatory question appeared on his personal Twitter account, in the midst of a highly-contested and widely-covered presidential political campaign.... A personal social media account, such as an individual's Twitter account, cannot reasonably be interpreted as a forum for fact reporting.... Rather, such a context is akin to a forum or editorial section of a newspaper where a reader would expect to see statements of opinion.... Additionally, Twitter, a social media platform powered by individual user accounts, can be described even more so as a "well established genre of opinionated speech as it is commonly known the average Twitter user is not "normally engaged in the business of factual reporting or news dissemination."

What the actual fuck, James? I mean, I agree. That paragraph is 100% accurate. But it sure seems... massively hypocritical to make that argument while suing someone for their similarly silly tweet about you.

Either way, if you're going to go around suing people for trollish tweets, perhaps don't go around posting trollish tweets yourself. And, if you do and even continue to pursue them after their death, don't then argue in a different lawsuit a bunch of points that totally undermine your own lawsuit. I mean, unless you want to be called out as a raging hypocrite.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 20 Jul 2017 @ 11:01am

    FREE SPEECH FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE! - Woods

    Actually he is not alone there. Most people confuse "free speech" with "free speech I agree with" and will happily agree/suppress speech they don't like if they can. And that's why defending free speech is an uphill battle because it's only needed when you are dealing with speech generally agreed to be obnoxious like color supremacy, Nazism and other similar garbage.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    john woo, 20 Jul 2017 @ 11:02am

    James Woods is a cocaine addict

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 20 Jul 2017 @ 11:07am

    _...don't then argue in a different lawsuit a bunch of points that totally undermine your own lawsuit. I mean, unless you want to be called out as a raging hypocrite. _

    Well:

    "...Mr. Woods, a conservative actor."

    He's that sort of conservative. With money. Bullshit and hypocrisy seem to be stock in trade for this hardly new but increasingly fashionable sort of "conservative".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    crade (profile), 20 Jul 2017 @ 11:37am

    He has money, so he'll probably win both cases. Yay non-functioning legal system!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2017 @ 11:56am

    Is James Woods A Hypocritical Asshole?

    Is the sky high? I water wet? Golly, the sophistry of rhetorical questions just plain steams me!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael, 20 Jul 2017 @ 12:00pm

    If James Woods dies screaming Portia Boulger's name in agony and nobody hears him, does anyone care?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2017 @ 12:28pm

    You have a typo in your headline. I expect better.

    The Is should be after the name James Woods, not before.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2017 @ 12:29pm

    IF a Woods dies in a tree and there is no one around, is he still an asshole?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2017 @ 12:30pm

    Is James Woods A Hypocritical Asshole?

    Let's see...He sues someone for making a funny tweet about him and infringing on their speech then he turns around and says HIS speech is being infringed upon by an almost identical lawsuit.

    Gee, I just don't know. It's a right old brain-teaser it is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2017 @ 12:33pm

    What I don't get is why Portia Boulger would file a lawsuit? Why wouldn't she just get Whitey to take care of him?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 20 Jul 2017 @ 1:21pm

    James Woods: Raging Hypocrite

    I'd watch it. and then laugh at it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jordan Chandler, 20 Jul 2017 @ 2:08pm

    James Woods

    They could have just pointed to James Woods playing himself on family guy and easily won the cocaine argument....the tells Chris a story about hown he has the same cocaine dealer as a model and they had sex.


    But noooo

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 20 Jul 2017 @ 2:13pm

    Is that a rhetorical question?

    When he sued someone for saying mean things about him, something he apparently has no problem doing to other people, his hypocritical nature was confirmed.

    When that person died and he almost literally danced on their grave, saying 'Hopefully screaming my name. In agony' to someone who pointed out that his target was dead, to call him a disgusting, contemptible and vile individual became the understatement of the year.

    His 'hypocritical asshole' status has been well confirmed by this point, this is just another bit of evidence of it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous, 20 Jul 2017 @ 3:09pm

    This violates Betteridge's law of headlines

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2017 @ 3:22pm

    With every time I hear about this guy, I grow more and more certain he's a cocaine addict. Going to such lengths is mighty suspicious. Good luck on your recovery, James.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 20 Jul 2017 @ 3:57pm

    To answer the headline:

    Yes

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 20 Jul 2017 @ 4:39pm

    This is a more and more common pattern out there.

    Some insane woman who will remain nameless sued over mean things said about her online but has no problem saying untrue things about others online. The disconnect seems to be that they have a right to say these things, but no one has the right to say it about them.

    They refuse to look in the mirror & see they are just as bad or worse than they people they call out being mean to them.

    James Woods is an asshole.
    I wish that James Woods had to face in court his own tweets in the same vein as Abe List's & attempt to explain how magically when he does it its not wrong but its wrong when done to him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 21 Jul 2017 @ 12:18am

    It's a shame as Woods is (was?) a great actor, and his work in films like Videodrome, Salvador and Cat's Eye are some of my favourite performances ever. But, great work has been done by despicable people, and there's no shame in admitting that a horrible person did those great works.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 21 Jul 2017 @ 9:31am

      Re:

      It's like the question of how do you treat Ender's Game, knowing it was written by a homophobe? The answer is separately. Just condemn or praise the creative work on its own merits, separate of the contemptible behavior of its creator.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DOlz (profile), 21 Jul 2017 @ 11:12am

    How is this guy NOT in the Trump administration?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Philly Bob, 23 Jul 2017 @ 2:23pm

    OMG, you just called him a "raging hypocrite..."
    I smell a lawsuit!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer
Anonymous number for texting and calling from Hushed. $25 lifetime membership, use code TECHDIRT25
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.