I suspect there’s a sad story behind this one that many a betrayed spouse can identify with. Did Paige Dunham stand shoulder to shoulder with her husband, Jeff Dunham in the lean years when he was struggling ventriloquist (and really, what could be worse, struggling accordion virtuoso?) only to have him toss her away like an old shoe once he hit the jackpot and became a rich and famous celebrity, as he sought and won a flashier spouse to match his flashier lifestyle? It sure looks like it.
Nevertheless, what Paige Dunham did to her ex-spouse’s Shiny New Model Audrey Dunham can’t be justified ethically. It is also apparently illegal.
From the complaint in the lawsuit [Audrey] Dunham v. [Paige] Dunham (C.D. Cal. Jan. 21, 2015):
7. In May, 1994, Defendant married Jeff Dunham, now a renowned ventriloquist, producer, and stand-up comedian. Due to irreconcilable differences, Defendant and Jeff Dunham subsequently divorced.
8. On or about December 25, 2011, Jeff Dunham and Plaintiff were engaged to be married. Defendant was aware of Plaintiff and Plaintiff’s engagement with Jeff Dunham at that time.
9. On or about January 3, 2012, Defendant, without notice to Plaintiff, registered the following domain names through Network Solutions, LLC, a domain name registering company: AudreyDunham.com, AudreyDunham.net, AudreyDunham.us, and AudreyDunham.biz (collectively “Accused Domains”). On information and belief, Defendant concealed her name as the registrant for AudreyDunham.com, AudreyDunham.net, and AudreyDunham.biz domains by employing the services of Perfect Privacy, LLC, a company that specializes in keeping the identities of domain name registrants private. Defendant knew at the time she registered the Accused Domains, that Plaintiff would soon change her name to AUDREY DUNHAM….
12. On or about January 4, 2013, Plaintiff asked Defendant, in writing, to transfer the Accused Domains to Plaintiff and offered to reimburse Defendant for any out-of-pocket expenses associated with transferring the Accused Domains. Defendant refused to transfer the Accused Domains. On or about January 18, 2013, Defendant, through her agent, offered to sell the Accused Domains to Plaintiff in exchange for a payment of tens of thousands of dollars, for each domain name….
Ugh. Hurt, spurned, angry and resentful, Dunham’s ex, who appears to be an otherwise generous and compassionate person, lost all ethics alarms and acted out of pure vengeance and spite…or, perhaps more likely, she knew what she was doing was wrong, and comforted herself with a bushel of rationalizations:
2. The “They’re Just as Bad” Excuse, or “They had it coming”
7. The “Tit for Tat” Excuse 11. (a) “I deserve this!” or “Just this once!”
13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”
14. Self-validating Virtue
17. Ethical Vigilantism
21. Ethics Accounting (“I’ve earned this”/ “I made up for that”)
22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”
28. The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times.”
32. The Unethical Role Model: “He/She would have done the same thing”
38. The Miscreant’s Mulligan or “Give him/her/them/me a break!”
…and maybe a few others. I sympathize, but she’s strayed into The Unethical Zone. Her conduct is only gratuitous harassment and nastiness that causes someone else inconvenience and harm without accomplishing anything productive.
Pointer and Source: Volokh