Defamation and libel are two areas of law where clarity is frequently lacking. Because of the potential for legal action, authors must exercise caution when developing fictional characters “inspired” by real individuals. However, the little penis rule is available for writers who are unconcerned with that.
The small penis rule states that one can escape a libel claim by making fun of the libelous character’s penis size. Few guys would be ready to take legal action if it meant proving that the novel’s character, who has severe deficiencies in his nether regions, is based on them, right? That’s the basic premise.
Dinitia Smith of the New York Times first mentioned the rule in a 1998 article, but libel lawyer Leon Friedman is credited with describing it as a “sly trick” used by writers to avoid being sued for basing a character on someone who portrays them unflatteringly by giving them an undesirable trait.
A person’s lack of manhood is just one example of an undesirable quality; other strategies for evading libel accusations may include:
- Assigning a repulsive smell, or other unsavory personal flaw, to the character.
- Making derogatory comments about the character’s weight or appearance.
- The character becomes objectively repulsive when they are portrayed as racist or homophobic.
- Going to great lengths to convey the character’s kink-filled bedroom interests to the audience.
All of these strategies boil down to the same fundamental idea: make the figure have a horrible quality that no one wants to be linked with them, and the target of the pastiche, parody, or ridicule will be less likely to sue. So long as you refrain from using the person’s actual name, you should be right.
The most challenging trial of Alex Burnet’s career got underway in Malibu, a rape case involving the sexual abuse of a two-year-old boy. A thirty-year-old political columnist from Washington, Mick Crowley had an intense desire to have anal intercourse with his sister-in-law’s infant kid while visiting her. A privileged Yale alum and heir to a pharmaceutical dynasty, Crowley lived the high life.
It was revealed that Crowley’s taste in love objects was widely known in Washington, but [his lawyer]—as was his habit—vigorously pushed the case in the press months before the trial, accusing Alex and the child’s mother on multiple occasions of being ideologically extreme feminists who had concocted the whole thing in their twisted minds. Regardless, there was a recorded medical evaluation of the kid. (Despite Crowley’s little penis, he managed to rip the toddler’s rectum to shreds.)
Later in the book, this character—who plays almost little role in the main plot—is referred to as a “dickhead” as well.
It turns out that Michael Crowley, a journalist and Yale graduate, was the intended target of Mick Crowley’s blistering critique of Crichton, which is no longer accessible online. Since Crowley refrained from suing, it’s possible that the “small penis rule” applied. What he did was write an article where he said stuff like,
Regarding my slim chance at literary immortality, I must admit that I have conflicting emotions. The disturbing sight of a smoking Crichton, alone in his dimly lit study, fantasizing about the sexual abuse of a young child, is sure to terrify everyone who watches it.
The fact that Next’s sales have been underwhelming compared to Crichtons’ expectations is encouraging, albeit it does echo what an industry magazine has called Crichtons’ recent trend of decline. As for the inspiration for Mick Crowley, I can’t wait for Crichton to decide between an embarrassingly dishonest denial and a surprising admission of his wickedness when questioned about it.
I can almost smell the embarrassment on Crichton’s face as he hid behind the little penis rule to unleash his foul assault. During my article’s research, I came across a man who has always wished for a level of intelligence higher than that of talking monkeys and vicious dinosaurs. Furthermore, Crichton is well aware that his cause will not be advanced by transforming a critic into a child rapist with few resources.
In the end, I was pleasantly surprised. To illustrate my point, I will offer an extension of the little penis rule. This is known as the “small man rule”: when an author takes criticism personally and hits back, it’s a sign that he’s giving the critic the upper hand.
- Wes Craven claims that the name Freddy Krueger was inspired by a bully named Fred Krueger who tormented him while he was a student and while he was on his paper route.
- Concerning the persona, he drew inspiration from a childhood meeting with a homeless man. According to Craven, he saw a man who looked a lot like Freddy strolling along the pavement. He paused and locked eyes with me as if he could feel my gaze on him. I dove back into the safety of the darkness because he frightened me to death.
- As I waited, I listened for the sound of his departure. By the time I realized he had probably left, I made my way back to the window. It was as if he were saying, “Yes, I am still looking at you,” because the man was not only staring at me but also forced his head forward. The guy made his way to the front door of the apartment complex. As soon as he stepped foot in our building from the basement, I bolted through the apartment and raced to the front door. Starting to climb the stairs, I could hear him. Even though he’s ten years my senior, my brother never returned from fetching a baseball bat and delivering it to the hallway.
- In a song he wrote, Eminem used racially motivated words to publicly shame a bully from his past, calling him a “fat kid” who had abused him. Judge Deborah Servitto dismissed the case via rap when the victim turned-bully sued; Mr. Bailey is suing for monetary damages because he thinks his music is bad. Bailey feels he should get some money since Eminem exploited his name without his permission. No one would believe the stories presented in the songs; they’re only an exaggeration of something silly. Eminem is entitled to summary disposal, according to this court’s final position.
- Another incident included a CSI writer who, after meeting two real estate agents, used one of them in an episode, drawing attention to the fact that he was pornographically addicted and may have killed his wife after an especially kinky sex session. There was some name-changing in the final screenplay utilized for the show, although it was minimal compared to the draft.
Within the realm of literature, the terrain of legal protection often necessitates inventive maneuvers. The utilization of the ‘small penis rule’ underscores the art of evading potential defamation claims by embedding uncomplimentary traits in characters. This unique technique stands as a testament to the inventive methods employed by authors, offering a subtle yet intriguing layer of defense within the creative sphere.