Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Annals of the self-defeating, vol. 56: You're trying to keep some of your private affairs private, and keep your name out of the papers. So, threaten to file a lawsuit against someone who's described the story without revealing actual names -- even though the mere act of filing suit couldn't help but reveal, at the very least, the identity of the parties. And then comes discovery.

In slightly more detail: This concerns an anonymous blog offering a story which sounds vaguely like a twist on Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin -- it's purportedly written by an heiress from a wealthy European family, calling herself "Isabella v.", now on the lam to avoid an arranged marriage, an overbearing father who reminds her of Michael Corleone, the detectives he hired to track her down, and presumably other family tsorres. (It helps to remember while reading this that "normal family" is a contradiction in terms).

Complicating the story still further is Sean-Paul Kelly's The Agonist, recipient of the above-mentioned lawyerly love note, which has been publishing occasional updates attributed to anonymous sources inside the family.

There has been all sorts of speculation about this -- that Kelly's faking it all himself (with sotto voce murmurs about his earlier "anonymous tipsters" that turned out to be published Stratfor briefings), or that the blog is written by pranksters who also faked up the letters, simply because the story is so outlandish. To which we might add that the legal threat itself seems a bit out of character, not so much because it's overbearing as being... well, kinda dumb. Why do it at all?

But wheels within wheels, there is one concerned party for whom legal tactics are never self-defeating: the lawyers. No matter what happens, they get to bill for it. So who knows? Some rich European family may in fact be missing an heiress.

Then again, "Isabella" herself, while taking extreme technical measures to conceal her identity, has revealed enough about some of the people and places in her past that a little gumshoe work could conceivably run them to ground -- in some ways more than I'd do, and I have a whole lot less at stake. But then again, she recently said that she still hasn't dyed her bright red hair...


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