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Emma Cline’s plagiarism suit – just another story of a man acting terribly

Just when you think you’ve reached the limits on toxic masculinity, along comes another story of a man acting terribly and a lot of men around him encouraging him in his terribleness. Emma Cline is the young novelist who wrote The Girls, one of my favourite books of the past five years. She has an ex-boyfriend with the unforgettable name of Chaz Reetz-Laiolo, which I assumed initially was a joke as it sounds so much like the name of a bad stoner boyfriend in a Tarantino movie. Reetz-Laiolo claims that Cline plagiarised fragments of her novel from him by installing spyware in his computer and reading his emails. As it happens, The Girls is loosely based on the Charles Manson story and the really ironic thing about Reetz-Laiolo’s (can we just call him Chaz? Yes, let’s do that) Chaz’s suit is, in its aggression and apparent loopiness, that it doesn’t sound a million miles from the kind of conspiracies Manson used to share with his followers about how Dennis Wilson or Terry Melcher had “betrayed” him and were preventing the world from seeing his genius.

Anyway, one of Chaz’s lawyers is a certain David Boies, who worked briefly for Harvey Weinstein. Last summer, Boies sent Cline’s lawyers dozens of screenshots of intimate online conversations Cline had had with various men in the past because this proved, according to Boies, that Cline is “not the innocent or naif she portrayed herself to be”, as though that has anything to do with writing a book. Boies insisted this was in response to Cline describing Chaz as “abusive” (he has denied accusations of physical abuse), as though, again, Cline having previous relationships does anything to disprove that allegation. One of the lawyers representing Cline, Carrie Goldberg, told the New Yorker last week that what Chaz’s lawyers were saying was, “Hey, if you don’t give us what our client wants, we’re going to put this very personal information out into the open, and the whole world is going to know the inner workings of your sex life and your sexual history and every proclivity that you have.” Boies’s firm responded by saying that Cline’s lawyers were the first to raise aspects of the parties’ sexual history

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