Wired News Report
12:33 PM Jul. 24, 2003 PT
The parents of the infamous "Star Wars Kid" are suing classmates who posted a humiliating video of their son on the Net, according to Canada's Globe and Mail.
Quebec teenager Ghyslian Raza was the target of worldwide mockery when a private video he made of himself practicing his lightsaber moves was uploaded to the Net by kids at his school. Now his parents are claiming damages of $160,000 from the families of the four classmates who digitized and published the video. Ghyslain's parents claim their son was so humiliated, he is undergoing psychiatric care and may be marked for life by the experience.
Ghyslain's video was posted to the Kazaa file-sharing network in the spring. The two-minute video shows an overweight teenager fighting a mock battle with a golf-ball retriever doubling as a lightsaber. The teenager twirls the "lightsaber" ever more energetically while generating his own sound effects. It is obviously not for public consumption.
Ghyslain was so teased about the video, he dropped out of school and finished the semester at a children's psychiatric ward, according to a lawsuit filed in the Raza's hometown of Trois-Rivičres, Quebec. According to the suit, "Ghyslain had to endure, and still endures today, harassment and derision from his high-school mates and the public at large." He "will be under psychiatric care for an indefinite amount of time." The suit suggests that the ordeal may cause Ghyslain to be labeled as "mentally ill," and the stigma could make it difficult for him to enroll in school or get a job, and may force him to change his name.
Ghyslain's story was reported by media outlets internationally. Angered at the cruel remarks made about Ghyslain online, a pair of webloggers raised money to buy the teenager an Apple iPod.
Andy Baio of Waxy.org and Jish Mukerji of Jish.nu raised more than $4,300 from 421 separate donations.
"The outpouring of support has been staggering, far beyond what I ever expected," wrote Baio on his site. "Geeks like us need to stick together." A petition to get Ghyslain a part in the next Star Wars movie has been signed by more than 16,000 people. None of the parties involved in the suit are speaking to reporters, according to the Globe and Mail. Wired News was unable to contact the Razas' lawyer for comment.
Geez, and I actually thought it was Fish!