I like James Woods. He’s a great actor and an even greater American. Coming out as a conservative in Hollywood couldn’t have been easy, and I was glad to see him join Twitter a few years back and start openly expressing his opinions.
So I’m trying to work through my feelings about the following story. Eriq Gardner, Hollywood Reporter:
Incivility on social media seems to be a regular occurrence, and celebrities usually shrug it off (or don’t even read the comments from people who are tweeting at them), but James Woods is making a $10 million case about it.
On Wednesday, the actor went to the Los Angeles Superior Court and sued the anonymous individual who is tweeting as “Abe List” for defamation over a derogatory tweet that suggested Woods was a “cocaine addict” — a message that Woods complains was sent to “thousands of AL’s followers and hundreds of thousands of Mr. Woods’ followers.”
Here’s the text of the now-deleted tweet from the now-deleted account:
@RealJamesWoods @benshapiro cocaine addict James Woods still sniffing and spouting.
— Abe List (@abelisted) July 15, 2015
Apparently this guy had been hounding Woods for months, and a specific allegation of criminal behavior was the last straw.
I don’t blame James Woods for being unhappy with a dumb troll, and I guess he has a case for defamation. But this seems like a bad idea. I’ve been following Woods on Twitter since shortly after he joined, and until I saw this story, I had no idea somebody had accused him of being a cocaine addict. If I’d known somebody had accused him of being a cocaine addict, I’m pretty sure I’d have just chalked it up to some anonymous troll who’ll say anything about a celebrity who dares to express the “wrong” political opinions.
Yes, online anonymity can be abused. People will say just about anything if they don’t think they’ll be held to account. And in 2015 America, it doesn’t take a lot for such rotten lies about someone in the public eye to become conventional wisdom. I’m just not sure this is the best way to deal with it, though. This seems like overkill. Ten million bucks?
And now he’s publicizing an anonymous accusation from some nobody, when it would’ve been better left ignored. How many people would’ve known about it? How many would’ve cared?
I’m not rooting for “Abe List,” mind you. He or she did something really stupid and malicious, and I have no sympathy. I’d love to be able to say, “Go get that cowardly troll, James!” But I can’t. I have a bad feeling about this.
Well, maybe they can work it all out without ruining anybody’s life. Ever the optimist, that’s me.
P.S. No, I’m not anonymous. I’m pseudonymous. Get it right.
Looks like James Woods' lawsuit brought down the accounts of both @abelisted and wife @stequus. Both were prominent users on Twitter.
— Eriq Gardner (@eriqgardner) July 30, 2015