[Marxism] New Guinea Tribe Sues The 'New Yorker' For $10 Million

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Apr 22 07:16:05 MDT 2009

Rhonda Shearer, the widow of Stephen Jay Gould, is a prime mover in 
this. She contacted me for information on Jared Diamond about a year ago 
when she was first getting her ducks lined up in a row and after she 
found my go-for-the-jugular-vein attack on Diamond. Go here: 
http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/my_ecology.htm and look for 
articles on "Collapse" and "Guns, Germs, and Steel".

After she referred me to the New Yorker article, I wrote this: 


New Guinea Tribe Sues The 'New Yorker' For $10 Million
Dirk Smillie, 04.21.09, 9:18 PM ET

In an April 21, 2008, New Yorker story, "Vengeance Is Ours," Pulitzer 
Prize-winning geography scholar Jared Diamond describes blood feuds that 
rage for decades among tribes in the Highlands of New Guinea. Diamond 
tells the story using a central protagonist: Daniel Wemp, member of the 
Handa clan, a blood-thirsty warrior bent on avenging his uncle's death. 
That quest, writes Diamond, touched off six years of warfare leading to 
the slaughter of 47 people and the theft of 300 pigs.

Now Diamond's protagonist is fighting Diamond. A two-page complaint 
filed in New York State Supreme Court on April 20 seeks $10 million from 
the New Yorker's publisher, Advance Publications, claiming Diamond's 
story falsely accused Wemp and fellow tribesman Isum Mandigo of "serious 
criminal activity" and "murder."

Diamond is a best-selling author and winner of a National Science Medal 
and the MacArthur Foundation's "genius award." But Wemp has some 
academic backing of his own. Rhonda Roland Shearer, director of the New 
York City-based Art Science Research Lab, whose media ethics project, 
stinkyjournalism.org, will soon release a 40,000-word study on Diamond's 

Shearer dispatched researchers to New Guinea and interviewed 40 
anthropologists to fact-check Diamond's story with a fine-tooth comb. 
The result, as summed up by the report's working title: "Jared Diamond's 
Factual Collapse: The New Yorker's Papua New Guinea Revenge Tale Untrue."

New Yorker spokeswoman Alexa Cassanos said she could not comment on 
Wemp's suit or Shearer's study because she has seen neither, saying 
only, "We stand by the story." Diamond did not immediately return calls 
to Forbes.

Complicating Wemp's case, perhaps, is an interview he gave to Shearer's 
researchers, in which he stated that the stories he told Diamond were in 
fact true.

But a Wemp friend and legal adviser, Mako John Kuwimb, explains: "When 
foreigners come to our culture, we tell stories as entertainment. 
Daniel's stories were not serious narrative, and Daniel had no idea he 
was being interviewed for publication. He has never killed anyone or 
raped a woman. He certainly has never stolen a pig."

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