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It’s never the women, is it? Always the pigs.

April 22, 2009

The New Yorker is in some hot water over Jared Diamond’s article last year,about Papua New Guinea. Diamond, you may recall, is a Pulitzer- and MacArthur winner, the man behind the tome that is Guns, Germs and Steel. I haven’t read the story, but Forbes summarizes it like this:

…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.

Wemp is suing the New Yorker for $10 million, claiming all this is false. He’s had help from a media watchdog that Forbes says sent 40 anthropologists to Papua New Guinea to fact-check Diamond’s story. None of it, they say, checks out. (The New Yorker, of course, has a renowned fact-checking department, to understate a little.)

But Wemp, apparently, told said watchdog org that it was all true (says Forbes). Oops.

Wemp friend and lawyer Mako John Kuwimb tries to get him out of it like this:

“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.”

Certainly.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 22, 2009 10:09 am

    Hi, I thought I should clarify a couple of points…first of all you wrote: “But Wemp, apparently, told said watchdog org that it was all true (says Forbes). Oops” This is incorrect. Forbes made an error and are correcting it as all interviews were conducted in English.

    The problem for Daniel is that the names are true and he and others are falsely identified as criminals. It is a danger for him and the others to use real names– as Diamond’s article itself makes clear—please read my report that explains more http://www.stinkyjournalism.org/latest-journalism-news-updates-149.php

    Secondly, Forbes did not say we sent 40 anthropologists to PNG–just that we talked to 40 in the course of our research.

    Bottom line–New Yorker went to press accusing indigenous people –who they named –of crimes they did not commit–rape, murder, theft–without even attempting to contact them to give them an opportunity to respond before publication. Diamond or The New Yorker had no idea if the people they mentioned were real people or if the charges of criminality were real…this is just plain wrong.

    Thanks for hearing me out…

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