Defamation laws are tricky. You can state that Lee Daniels’ dad beat the shit out of him with an electric cord when he found Daniels trying on his mom’s high heels. Daniels himself noted that on his application for a prime time LGBT award. You can’t suggest Sean Penn beat his wife because Penn carries a signed letter from Madonna in his coat pocket that states Penn never physically abused her. It’s a game changer. Last fall Daniels suggested that the star of his show, Empire, Terence Howard, was receiving undue criticism for beating his wife while white guys like Sean Penn and Marlon Brando skated public outcry on similar offenses. You have to give Daniels credit for weaving a tale of racial oppression out of the threads of Terence Howard’s punching his wife in the face in front of his children.
Sean Penn sued Lee Daniels for ten million dollars for implying that Penn beat Madonna. Daniels’ defense attorneys pulled up a shit ton of Google searches and news articles that all suggested Sean Penn had cracked a bat over Madonna’s head in 1989. They attempted to prove that Daniels was misled by common perception. The judge didn’t buy the excuse. Daniels accepted Penn’s demands for a public apology and a fat check to Haitian relief charities in exchange for dropping the suit.
Daniels strapped on his mom’s best pumps and proffered an over the top lamentation:
I am so sorry that I have hurt you, Sean, and I apologize and retract my reckless statements about you. How thoughtless of me. You are someone I consider a friend, a brilliant actor and true Hollywood legend and humanitarian.
Followed by the obligatory, not really my fault, because I’m black, I’m gay and my soap opera is the last dying gasp of network television:
I too have been the subject of false attacks by others, like those made here. My most important role is as a father, and it is important to me that my children learn that it is wrong to reference gossip as fact, as I did here. That can be very damaging and hurtful. Domestic violence is a very serious issue. My comments were cavalier; it was not my intention to diminish the severity of the issue, but rather to express a view regarding the disparate treatment of men of color in our national conversation. I apologize again for the distress that this has caused you and your family.
Penn accepted the apology and clocked six of the live Korean girls he bought to serve as human punching bags. He’s got a laminated statement from them too. You can get anything on the Internet if you’re angry enough.
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