Is Courtney Love's Twitter Respected Enough To Warrant A Lawsuit?


C. Love is headed to court again, being sued for comments she made on Twitter. As this is the first-ever high-profile defamation lawsuit over a celebrity’s Tweets, it could set a precedent for how the Twitter platform is viewed.

It all started back in March 2009, when Love—using a now defunct Twitter account (she’s since started a new one)—went on one of her infamous Twitter rants in which she made nasty comments, insults, and accusations about fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir—with whom Love had been in a dispute over Simorangkir’s demand for payment for thousands of dollars’ worth of clothing—saying that she was a violent prostitute drug-dealing thief who lost custody of her daughter. (Yeah, pot/kettle on some of that.) Love went on to write, “She has received a VAST amount of money from me over 40,000 dollars and I do not make people famous and get raped TOO!” Love also posted similar sentiments on additional social media outlets, like MySpace and Etsy, over the next several days.

Now Simorangkir is suing Love for an unspecified amount — thought to be somewhere in the millions — claiming Love intentionally posted false statements about her, thus damaging her fashion career. Simorangkir will be burdened with proving that something like a celebrity’s Twitter account holds the same kind of credibility as traditional media outlets (like, say, a newspaper) and that Love’s Twitter followers would interpret her Tweets as fact rather than opinion.

Given Love’s history as a public persona, that might be a tall order. Don’t get me wrong, I love the woman, and think she has some really smart things to say about rock ‘n’ roll gender politics and fame and some really funny things to say about just about everything else. But do people really take her spurts of 140 characters to heart? Especially when she’s particularly known for going on nonsensical Twitter diatribes? Not to mention the fact that she’s fallen off more wagons than stages (Russell Simmons recently called her a “crackhead”), making it difficult to discern which Tweets reflect mental competence (this could be important to her defense; more on that in a second).

What I’m saying is that the exact thing that has driven Love throughout her career — her shit-stirring, her screaming vocals, her admitted need for attention, her makeovers — and what makes her so compelling is her unyielding insistence that she be seen, heard, and taken more seriously. I’ve always admired her for this, because I don’t think it comes from a place of damage as much as I do her feminist mindset. Still, the underlying sentiment of it all is that — despite her efforts — even she thinks she’s not being taken seriously. Besides, it would be difficult for her to damage someone else’s career and finances when she’s been too busy trying to rehab her own.

Love is expected to testify at the trial (scheduled for January 18), and she has a rather unique, yet not particularly surprising, defense: She’s crazy. Her lawyers have called in a medical expert who “plans to testify that even if Love’s statements were untrue, her mental state was not ‘subjectively malicious’ enough to justify the defamation lawsuit.” Essentially, she was so addicted to verbalizing her racing thoughts on Twitter that she didn’t realize how her comments would be perceived.

Courtney Love’s Tweets Lead to Unique Defamation Showdown [THR]

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