August 8, 2006

Sue It Out: UK Crying Expert Throws Legal Tantrum Over Parents Messageboard

cartmans_pissed.jpgYou know what's funny about England? They speak English, but they still have different names for things. They have a best-selling, but controversial cry-it-out baby scheduler like Dr. Ferber, only her name is Gina Ford. And their Urbanbaby, a message board where parents--mostly moms, really--trade advice and heated discussion, is called Mumsnet.

Now Ford has threatened to sue Mumsnet out of existence. Near as I can tell, some Mumsnet users--none of whom were named Eric Cartman--called Ford, more or less, a "dirty Jew."

[Seriously. Her lawyers' claims of defamation (pdf) center on comments implying "that our client has unpleasant and unhygenic personal habits," and that she "straps babies onto rockets and fires them into South Lebanon."]

Anyway, with no First Amendment to defend, and after trying desperately to cave to Ford's lawyers' every demand--including ongoing policing and censoring of any remotely critical Ford-related discussions, and the removal of long-published interview transcripts with the author--the Mumsnetters finally took a stand, and refused to pay Ford's legal bills. To avoid getting sued out of existence, then, they banned all discussion of any kind about Ford, her books, and her techniques.

Nice to see a mediascape more screwed up than the US's. But it made me wonder if our own Urbanbaby was in similar jeopardy. I needn't have worried: the only two mentions of Gina Ford on UB's boards were "Remember, she has never had a child of her own," and "And I thought I was a Sleep Nazi."

Mumsnet HQ Statement: Mumsnet and Gina Ford [mumsnet via dt reader--should I say? I don't want her to get sued...]

1 Comment

"You know what's funny about England? They speak English, but they still have different names for things."

Hm, yeah the ENGLISH invented English, therefore *you* have different names for things, not the English.

We've got many more 'grounded' (by that I mean sane) childcare experts (Dr Tania Byron etc) and some much nicer message boards than Mumsnet! Ah it would be no loss to lose the pair of them!

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