Defamed By Diamond? New Yorker Sued By Papua New Guinea Tribesman Over ‘Blood Thirsty’ Claims

highland-tribe
Daniel Wemp, a tribesman from Papua New Guinea is seeking damages from the New Yorker over an article written by Pulitzer prize winning author Jared Diamond was published that portrayed him as a vicious, bloodthirsty rapist and killer. The lawsuit claims that Wemp and fellow tribesman Isum Mandingo did not know that they were being interviewed for publication when they recounted tribal tall tales. He and the other tribesman are seeking $10 million in damages.

570_jared_diamond1Diamond’s article, “Vengeance is Ours”, was published April 21, 2009. It details a six year conflict between rival clans that resulted in the deaths of 43 people and the theft of 300 pigs that was allegedly sparked by the murder of Wemp’s uncle. The New Yorker stands by its author, however, others have cast doubt on the legitimacy of Diamond’s story.

Wemp’s fellow tribesman and legal adviser, Mako John Kuwimb, commented:

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.

Rhonda Roland Shearer of stinkyjournalism.org has published a 10,000 word article entitled, “Jared Diamond’s Factual Collapse: The New Yorker’s Papua New Guinea Revenge Tale Untrue.” Shearer’s study involved fact checking Diamond’s article. Three local researchers in Papua New Guinea interviewed 20 people and Shearer spoke to 40 anthropologists. The situation will be further examined in an upcoming 40,000 word article.

It should be noted that while the anthropologists may dispute some of Diamond’s details, they did report that Wemp maintained that the names his stories were true but that the events were not.

In Shearer’s own words:

The truth is Tribespeople blame Daniel for the New Yorker “lies” about the raping and endless murderous ways of the Handa and Ombal because it is untrue and common knowledge with government official, police and local tribes.

What Handa member and lawyer Mako Kuwimb meant was that Daniel was telling stories causally–like at a bar. When you don’t know you are being interviewed this naturally effects the precision of what you say – here or there in PNG.

The ugly fact is no one indigenous person named in the article was ever contacted before or after publication.

[Forbes]

 

About the author: C. S. Magor

 

C.S. Magor is the editor-in-chief and a reporter at large for We Interrupt and Uberreview. He currently resides in the Japanese countryside approximately two hours from Tokyo - where he has spent the better part of a decade testing his hypothesis that Japan is neither as quirky nor as interesting as others would have you believe.

Website: http://www.weinterrupt.com

 

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  • http://www.StinkyJournalism.org Rhonda R Shearer

    When errors get going it is hard to stop them…

    To clarify, we used three local researchers in Papua New Guinea, as my initial report –of the name you cite–makes clear. This report is published and is 10,000 word. Go to http://www.stinkyjournalism.org/latest-journalism-news-updates-149.php#comment

    The 40, 000 report is forthcoming –of a different name.

    Next, about Wemp saying the stories and names are true and he says they are “inaccurate”. This is not a riddle but makes sense. They were–when he told them to Diamond–Diamond made them inaccurate. That the names are real is a big problem.

    The truth is Tribespeople blame Daniel for the New Yorker “lies” about the raping and endless murderous ways of the Handa and Ombal because it is untrue and common knowledge with government official, police and local tribes.

    What Handa member and lawyer Mako Kuwimb meant was that Daniel was telling stories causally–like at a bar. When you don’t know you are being interviewed this naturally effects the precision of what you say–here or there in PNG.

    The ugly fact is no one indigenous person named in the article was ever contacted before or after publication.

    Isum, the co-plaintiff, for example, never met Diamond, never spoke to fact checkers. Factcheckers and editors admit they only have notes from May 2006…then why are all the quotes attributed to Daniel as spoken in the car during 2001-2002?

    Media outllets simply cannot write about criminal activities of named parties when they don’t have a clue if they are real people, or if they are truly criminals or not.

    New Yorker will not be able to spin doctor their way out of this one. The facts–and their negligence–speak loudly for themselves.

  • http://www.StinkyJournalism.org Rhonda R Shearer

    When errors get going it is hard to stop them…

    To clarify, we used three local researchers in Papua New Guinea, as my initial report –of the name you cite–makes clear. This report is published and is 10,000 word. Go to http://www.stinkyjournalism.org/latest-journalism-news-updates-149.php#comment

    The 40, 000 report is forthcoming –of a different name.

    Next, about Wemp saying the stories and names are true and he says they are “inaccurate”. This is not a riddle but makes sense. They were–when he told them to Diamond–Diamond made them inaccurate. That the names are real is a big problem.

    The truth is Tribespeople blame Daniel for the New Yorker “lies” about the raping and endless murderous ways of the Handa and Ombal because it is untrue and common knowledge with government official, police and local tribes.

    What Handa member and lawyer Mako Kuwimb meant was that Daniel was telling stories causally–like at a bar. When you don’t know you are being interviewed this naturally effects the precision of what you say–here or there in PNG.

    The ugly fact is no one indigenous person named in the article was ever contacted before or after publication.

    Isum, the co-plaintiff, for example, never met Diamond, never spoke to fact checkers. Factcheckers and editors admit they only have notes from May 2006…then why are all the quotes attributed to Daniel as spoken in the car during 2001-2002?

    Media outllets simply cannot write about criminal activities of named parties when they don’t have a clue if they are real people, or if they are truly criminals or not.

    New Yorker will not be able to spin doctor their way out of this one. The facts–and their negligence–speak loudly for themselves.

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