Sunday, June 12, 2011

Three More Cups of Trouble for Mortenson

Greg Mortenson shows just how many
big lies he's told in just the last few minutes. 
A few months ago I posted this about Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea. It was an article about a "60 Minutes" interview in which Mortenson was being accused of pulling a James Frey and lying through his pearly white teeth. Now, I have no problem with Mortenson getting some slack about not being entirely truthful, but I found this article that states the charge being brought against him in a Chicago court. Mortenson is being charged with "captur[ing] the hearts and minds of Plaintiff and book lovers nationwide, duping them into buying Three Cups of Tea."

I'm with the author of the article--this seems to be a really ridiculous charge. In fact, I find the idea of a lawsuit against him because of this book to be stupid. Yes, he should face consequences for his actions, but, if we're going to start suing authors who don't tell the truth, then no author is safe. Even the most honest of memorists and auto-biographers stretch the truth. Obviously not all of them bring mountain villages and philanthropy into the mix, but everyone tells little white lies in their life story. The focus of this case should be the damage he has done to the Afghani people, not the lies he told to the American public.

We are so fracking sue-happy in this country that it's absolutely ridiculous. The fact that Mortenson is now the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit when there was no real personal injury committed makes me think that the prosecuting attorney should be ashamed. Readers aren't emotionally or physically scarred because someone lied to them in a book. There are far more important issues at stake here and this is just a money grab by some pathetic, greedy people who are simply trying to get in on the current "hot topic."



  1. Absolutely agree with you. This lawsuit is frivolous and embarrassing.

  2. When I heard about this I was outraged. Now, I remember when you posted about the 60 minutes situation, and I was heart broken. I was sincerely heart broken because I truly loved and believed in the work that Mortensen was doing. However, i'm not about to sue him over being lured into buying the book. To be honest, I borrowed both books from ye old library, so it was free. But I digress.
    People are exceptionally sue-happy in this country. Why? Because everyone feels a sense of entitlement to EVERYTHING, and feels that if someone can get a buck out of another's misfortune, then do it. What the hell? Why not?
    Ugh, i need a drink, and I can't because 1. Muslim, and 2. It's not noon.
    Though my grandfather always said, it's noon somewhere in the world.


  3. Satia: Exactly. It's like that woman who sued McDonald's because her coffee was too hot. Just another ridiculous lawsuit.

    MA: I agree about people feeling entitled. It's like law has become about settling imaginary scores rather than about upholding the law. I joke around that I'll sue this person or that person but I mean it as a joke. There are sad people out there who WOULD sue people for dumb reasons. That this is actually a court case just proves to me that even when you think you've seen it all, something surprises you.

    I'd drink for you but I'm pretty sure that beer's been in my fridge since January. :)

  4. Haha, I was just about to bring up the McDonald's hot coffee suit when I read this post, but you'd beaten me too it Gabe! It is insane the kind of lawsuits you guys in America actually have reach a courtroom, I mean frivolous lawsuits are everywhere but Americans do seem to have a special ability for creating ones that are borderline insane.

    I completely agree that this suit is insane but I have to say it really pisses me off when I hear that a memoir/non-fiction book has been faked. I know people stretch the truth (the fish was thiiiiiiis big) in most memoirs but it's completely inexcusable to pass off an event as something that has happened when it didn't simply to tug at a few heartstrings and make you seem like a more amazing and incredible human being. If the truth isn't interesting enough to write about then start writing fiction. That said, obviously I'd never actually sue the people but you can be sure as hell I won't buy their books

  5. America seems to have a penchant for stupidity, I'll give us that. I heard that I woman once sued K-mart after she broke her leg...because she had tripped over her own child. Not sure if it's an urban legend or not, but it seems plausible in a country where people put severed fingers in their chili and then blame the restaurant. There's a terrible work ethic in this country that has "infected" quite a bit of the population--people will work but only until they win the lottery or get tons of money in a tort. It's re-fracking-diculous.

    I do agree that Mortenson was in the wrong, obviously. He shouldn't have lied, especially about a charity organization and especially not about the people he met in Afghanistan. I can see his being sued for libel by the tribe he met in the mountains. I can even see his being accused of misrepresenting facts/being dishonest about his work. But for readers to say that they were essentially traumatized by his lies is insane.

  6. That should be "a woman" not "I woman."

  7. I know that in Australia people are allowed to sue you if they get hurt on your property, makes sense I guess, but the case that alerted me to that particular law was a criminal who tripped over a window sill as he was breaking into a house and broke his leg and sued the house owner for damages. I mean what the what!! It was when I heard that case in year 8 that I decided the law was not the career for me!

    Also traumatised is wayyyyy over-reacting. I love books, but seriously, I've never come across a book that had the ability to traumatise me!

  8. I'm pretty sure we had a case like that here in the States, although I think it was about an icy front porch or something. The idea that someone who is robbing you can sue you is ludicrous.

    I've never been traumatized either. People just want to get their hands on other people's money.