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In Memory of Gore Vidal – “Smiling through the Apocalypse” with William F. Buckley, Jr

August 1, 2012

ZombieLaw was originally intended to blog about “zombie” in court opinions, but as readers are aware I’ve expanded (/digressed) to cover “zombie” all over the news and also some other related words in the courts. For example, ZombieLaw has already told you about some court opinion mentions of “undead“, “walking dead” and “apocalypse” (recall History: First “Apocalypse” in a Federal Court opinion). As mentioned, there are 50 federal court opinions with the word “apocalypse” – one notable case is the 1972 opinion in Buckley v. Esquire, 344 F. Supp. 1133 :

This is a motion by defendant Esquire, Inc. (“Esquire”) for summary judgment dismissing a complaint of plaintiff William F. Buckley, Jr. for libel.

Plaintiff seeks $1,000,000 damages based on an allegedly libelous and defamatory article written by Gore Vidal which was published in the September 1969 issue of Esquire magazine and republished in December 1969 in an anthology of Esquire articles entitled “Smiling Through the Apocalypse.” The complaint in this action was filed on August 13, 1969 and was based solely on the September 1969 Esquire article.

smiling through apocalypse

In this opinion, District Court Judge Levet refused to apply the rule of New York Times v Sullivan and denied Esquire’s motion for summary judgment. See also Judge Levet’s prior decision in the related case Buckley v Vidal, 327 F.Supp. 1051 (1971)

For much more information about this dispute between William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal, see the wonderful summary from The Gore Vidal Index entitled “Political Animals: Vidal, Buckley and the ’68 Conventions“. The page includes links to audio files of the debates about Vietnam that started this exchange between the two intellectuals (in which Vidal called Buckley a “crypto-nazi” and Buckley called Vidal “queer” and his novels (particularly “Myra Breckinridge“) “pornography”). Also included is link to the Gore Vidal article that Buckley alleged was libelous. A Distasteful Encounter with William F. Buckley Jr. by Gore Vidal . And according to the Gore Vidal Index, the case was settled with an apology by Esquire and payment of Buckley’s attorney fees – but then in 2003, Esquire published the article in another anthology and again had to pay settlement to Buckley.

Gore Vidal died today, aged 86. He joins Buckley in afterlife. Praise be upon both of them.
zombie gore vidal zombie william buckley


From → free expression, nazi

  1. Very nice of you to praise both. But take note Vidal wouldn’t have approved. Upon Buckley’s death, he announced, “WFB, RIP, in hell.” This is the measure of the man — vitriolic, mean-spirited, eaten up with envy and resentments right up to the end.

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