Monday, November 23, 2009

Cease and Desist This

This is a travesty. A German man, Wolfgang Werle, is suing the Wikimedia Foundation because the Wikipedia entry for the late actor Walter Sedlmayr contains his name.

That's because Werle and his half-brother, Manfred Lauber, murdered Sedlmayer in 1990. They tied him up in his apartment, beat him, and stabbed him to death. Werle served 15 years in prison for the murder. Now that he's out, he doesn't want anyone to mention his full name in connection with his victim ever again.

And the worst part of this ludicrous lawsuit? German law is on his side. Under laws designed to help ex-cons reintegrate into society, publications (including online archives) are restricted from printing the full names of convicted criminals in relation to their crimes.

Why not apply this to all criminals and all criminal acts, while we're at it? Why not amend all history books to read "In 194-, Adolph H. attacked an Eastern European country that shall remain nameless"? Or insist that Ripperologists always write "Jack the R. killed eight prostitutes"?

If you murder someone, you're going to have to live with that until the end of your days. Fair or unfair, that's life. I sincerely hope that society won't be foolish enough to snap its spine bending over backwards to make you more comfortable with your criminal past, at the expense of your victims.

Wolfgang Werle murdered Walter Sedlmayr. No amount of repressive legislation or draconian censorship is going to change that.


Captain Karen said...

Unless Wikipedia is based in Germany, I don't see how he's going to succeed. Even if it's just on the German language's not only people living in Germany who would be reading it.

SME said...

Sounds like a very weak case to me, too - hopefully it is. The lawyers are trying to censor the English-language version as well as the German. It's so bizarre.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

That's absolutely insane. Plus I think the facts of the murder should be loudly announced every day just because the murderer is now being such a dick.

The Zombieslayer said...

That's the dumbest thing I heard in a long time. WTF is wrong with Germany?

Hopefully Wikipedia will win this one. It's hands down the best site on the internet, and what the internet is supposed to be about.