The nation of Nigeria is shocked that Sony is making fun of the country’s reputation as the haven for Internet fraud. The country is demanding an apology for this commercial — and the transfer of money to help release $10 million from the account of a deceased wealthy uncle.
I am often left cold by demands for such apologies from countries, like Brazil’s objections to an episode of The Simpson that referred to that country’s high crime and kidnapping rate. The country threatened to sue.
In this case, Nigeria has the well-earned reputation of one of the most corrupt places on Earth. The government has done little to shutdown the thousands of Internet scams that come that country and clog the mail of people around the world.
Yet, they are hurt and angry by an ad that includes the line: “You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Otherwise I’d be a Nigerian millionaire by now.”
Of course, true is a defense to defamation — putting aside the obvious protection for opinion. The safest legal advice for the rules of Nigeria is to enforce your anti-fraud laws so that your country is not viewed as a joke.
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