Some of you might have caught Jared Diamond’s recent report in the New Yorker about the Handa clan of Papua New Guinea highlands and their penchant for revenge killing. The story profiled tribesman Daniel Wemp and his six-year quest to avenge the death of his uncle.
Well, the Handa tribe is pissed: They say the story unfairly portrays them as bloodthirsty animals bent on rape and murder.
Wemp is now availing himself of the great American pastime: Taking the New Yorker to court.
He is suing the magazine for $10 million, having filed a lawsuit in New York Supreme Court earlier this week.
How does a New Guinea tribesman come to sue in New York court? I’m a little unclear of that too (though clearly the Handa clan has a bit more contact with the outside world compared to, say, some tribes in Irian Jaya). It appears he has help in the form of the New York City-based Art Science Research Lab, which recently sent a team to New Guinea to closely fact check every one of Diamond’s assertions in the story. They claim Diamond was duped by many of the people he interviewed.
The group is preparing a 40,000 word report — 40,000 words! — refuting the New Yorker story (which strikes me as overkill given how little Americans likely care about this story).
Right now, the New Yorker is standing behind Diamond.
I’d personally like to know how the Handa tribe figures it was wronged to the tune of $10 million. I mean, the tribespeople live in New Guinea’s highlands, for heaven’s sake.