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Did a Question by Volokh About Lesbos Trigger a Lawsuit?

Did an innocent hypothetical by Eugene Volokh give rise to this lawsuit by three residents of the Aegean Sea island of Lesbos, asking an Athens court to block the Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece from using the term "lesbian" in its name?  Seems that Lesbos citizens are known as lesbians, and the Lesbos plaintiffs have taken umbrage that their "geographical designation has been usurped by certain ladies who have no connection whatsoever with Lesbos."  The plaintiffs also claim that use of the term lesbian by a gay organization "insults the identity" of the people of Lesbos.

So what's Volokh got to do with any of this?  Turns out that back in July, Volokh asked his readers:

Can anyone who knows something about modern Greece tell me what (if anything) the inhabitants of Lesbos — Lesvos in modern Greek, I believe — think about the term "lesbian"? Do they perceive it as annoying? Offensive? Amusing? Is there no dominant view on the subject?

A separate question, which might make some point, but which I stress is analytically distinct from the empirical questions I ask above: Say that the inhabitants of Lesbos find the term offensive. Should others, including lesbians, try to shift to a different term? Or should they go ahead with the term that they've used for a long time?

Did Volokh's post inspire the Lesbos plaintiffs' claims?  Or is the lawsuit merely a coincidence?  In any event, Volokh's question will finally be answered; the court is due to hear the case on June 10.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 30, 2008 at 03:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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