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Is it Defamation for Blogger to say TSA Raped her?


Matthew Chan:
This is a pretty graphic and outrageous case where both parties engaged in some outrageous behavior. It seems the blogger really made a huge scene but it does seem like having female genitals manipulated by a TSA Agent (regardless of gender) seems way over the line.

Read the very graphic and explicit blog post:

The TSA Agent shouts Defamation, the other side says "rhetorical hyperbole".

This case really makes the who "extortion" accusation as defamation here on ELI seem very tame.

NOTE: These letters repeatedly refer to the female genitals in fairly explicit terms.

Complaint Letter from Vicki Roberts, Attorney for TSA Agent

Rebuttal Letter from Marc Randazza, Attorney for Amy Alkon (Blogger)

Interestingly, the TSA agents attorney doesn't say the agent did not stick her fingers into the advice goddesses genitals. He merely says the TSA agent followed proper procedure.

If this is proper procedure, then the advice goddess has done americans a great service in blogging about this.  That's something we all ought to know so that we can see to it procedures are changed.

But in any case, it seems to me whether this was or was not proper procedure is irrelevant to the claim of defamation.  If proper procedure involves an action that meets some dictionary definitions of "rape" or that linguists would recognize is often called "rape",  it's not defamation for the advice goddess to use that word to describe what was done.   It's true that what happened might not meet the definition rape in criminal statutes in that jurisdiction, but criminal statues don't create or limit the meaning of words. 

Anyway, if that TSA agent wants people to not think badly of her, she's going to have to deny sticking her fingers into the advice goddesses genitals.  Saying she was just doing her job and objecting to the word choice isn't going to make anyone say, "Oh, now I see your side."


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