the inertia
(Wednesday) 4.16.14

Defamation of Character: Otis Carey Levies $200K Lawsuit Against Surfing Life

categories: the inertia


The controversial issue. Photo: <a href="http://www.surfinglife.com.au/">Surfing Life</a>The controversial issue. Photo: Surfing Life

Two weeks ago, Surfing Life Editor Wade Davis was informed by the title’s publisher, Morrison Media, that they were being sued by Aboriginal surfer Otis Carey. Carey claims that a feature titled, “Poetry Night with Mermaid Killer” written by surf writer Nathan Myers and printed in the the March issue — included a passage  (the third paragraph) which resulted in a “defamation of character” and has levied a lawsuit specifying $200,000 in emotional damages.

The referenced passage read as follows:

“With his apeish face and cowering hair-curtains, I expect little more than Cro-Magnon grunts from his mouth. I am caught off guard by the clarity and eloquence of his speech.”

An immediate backlash followed on March 11th as surfing’s social media community (with hashtags like #ASL_relates) criticized what they deemed as “racist,” and soon thereafter, on March 12th and 13th, the situation was picked up by mainstream media outlets such as The Guardian (online), The Huffington Post, Yahoo!, and Buzzfeed.

A sampling of the initial outrage. Photo: TwitterA sampling of the initial outrage. Photo: Twitter

In response, SL posted an unreserved apology in a statement published March 14. They, in turn, claimed that their editorial process overlooked the racist connotations many associated with the passage. Aside from the aforementioned statement, SL kept quiet at the behest of their publishers.

Now, with a lawsuit on the table, they have broken their public silence. While Carey continues to keep quiet himself, Myers submitted “My Open Letter to Otis Carey” to The Inertia, published early this morning, and Davis agreed to speak with us by email.

“I haven’t been in touch with Otis, at his family’s request, and heard from his father only once, the day before it went to the tabloids,” the editor wrote. “If I was given the chance to speak with Otis, I would have suggested that we take this mistake and turn it into a positive, working together to highlight the potentially devastating effects of carelessness and doing something positive for the indigenous community.”

We have attempted to contact Carey for comment but were unable to reach him. We will continue trying and will update this post as soon as we receive a response.

Otis Carey, getting it done in the water. Photo: InsightOtis Carey, getting it done in the water. Photo: Insight


This article is published on solspot.com via our partner: The Inertia

View the original article on The Inertia

  • nusa

    To know more about Surfing Life’s and Nathan Myers unethical surf journalism practices check this: http://eepurl.com/Urqyr

  • james

    While the statement is racist no doubt I don’t see how this is defamation of character and this lawsuit makes Otis look like an idiot after the writer states: “I am caught off guard by the clarity and eloquence of his speech”. Ya he went off spewing racism but this was a compliment negating that.

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