An Australian man, Ali Ziggi Mosslmani, is suing three news outlets alleging their stories about his shaved mullet hairstyle were defamatory. Mosslmani filed lawsuits against the Daily Mail, the Australian Daily Telegraph and Australian Radio Network, claiming they “exposed him to ridicule by the public,” the UK Telegraph reported. The front of Mosslmani’s head is shaved and the back is covered with long hair.
Mosslmani made the news last year when a profile photo of him at a party went viral because of his haircut. Here’s the Mail‘s story.
“Mosslmani’s lawyers claimed to court that he was subjected to ridicule as a result of the coverage and that he had been defamed as ‘hideously ugly,'” the Guardian reported. District court judge Judith Gibson’s ruling on the matter thus far is here.
According to the Huffington Post, the Telegraph “Photoshopped images of his hair as a skunk and as a version of pin the tail on the donkey.”
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The Sydney Morning Herald noted that Mosslmani’s picture turned into a meme, and the judge pointed out it was largely “humorous” uses of Mosslmani’s image. “The closest any such picture gets to suggesting there is anything unattractive (as opposed to ridiculous) in the plaintiff’s appearance is the photograph where a skunk has been added to the plaintiff’s head,” Judge Gibson said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Gibson also invoked the Streisand effect when referring to the attention around the lawsuit. (The Streisand Effect refers to when Barbra Streisand sued to prevent her mansion from being included in an online archive because she said it invaded her privacy, but the suit brought more publicity to what she was trying to keep private.)
Mosslmani’s lawyer declined to comment to iMediaEthics because the case is before the courts. An Australian Radio Network spokesperson told iMediaEthics, “As this is an ongoing matter before the courts, ARN are unable to comment.” iMediaEthics has written to the Telegraph and Mail for comment as well.