Two chicks making out…

September 26, 2011

…is apparently not allowed on Southwest Airlines. (Source)

It is allowed, and encouraged, on The Legal Satyricon.


Student Suspended for Saying Homosexuality is Wrong

September 26, 2011

A Texas teenager expressed his opinion that, since he is a “christian,” he believes that homosexuality is wrong. Makes sense. This magic space zombie jew created heaven and earth, but the thing that really makes him mad is if two guys’ dicks touch.

His teacher wrote him up for expressing his opinion, and the school suspended him.

I’m all for giving the kid a smackdown, but like his speech or not, it was his First Amendment right to express his opinion. As long as he wasn’t being disruptive in class (and nothing in the story indicates that he was), then it seems pretty clear that the school stepped over the line. There is a report that the kid often brings up the issue, any chance he gets, in an effort to harass his teacher (who he seems to think is gay). But, even then, suspending him for frequently expressing his opinion is troubling.

Unfortunately, the Dallas Voice, a LGBT website has jumped in on the side of the teacher. (source) I find it most unfortunate that the Dallas Voice is jumping in on the side of “its tribe,” instead of the greater principle of freedom of expression.

The cause of equality would be far better served by gay rights groups standing up in favor of the kid’s right to express himself.


Email to an asshat about a free speech issue

September 24, 2011

I’m on a few list servs. I won’t say which one this originated on. But, lets just jump to what I said:

11 muslim students stood up to heckle the Israeli ambassador. Orange county prosecutor charged them with disrupting an event. While they may not have a right to disrupt the speech without being dragged out of the place, a criminal conviction for political speech is bullshit.

And if it had been 11 Yeshiva students disrupting a speech by a Palestinian, they’d get the medal of freedom.

I agree with all the nice things that have been said about Chemerinsky here, but his balls shriveled up into raisins over this event. (It took place at UC Irvine).

The response: It is “bullshit,” and “anti-semitic.”

Lets unpack that…

Bullshit? Maybe. He, you, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I might even change mine, and one day repudiate my own opinion as bullshit.

Anti Semitic?

Don’t you love that one?

Since I’ve been a bit off my game blogging lately, I thought I’d mail one in here and just straight up share what I wrote in response to that.

Dear ______________,

Today, 11 men were convicted of a “crime.” The “crime” was “disrupting a speech.” The speech they disrupted was that of the Israeli ambassador. (source)

The “disruption” lasted about 8 seconds per “criminal.” In total, it was about a minute.

Interrupting him might not have been the most constructive way of making their point, but we cant lose sight of what they did. Why they did it. This was political speech. This was the most sacred kind of speech. And, this target was the least deserving of the law’s protection when speech is concerned — a public figure.

The Israeli ambassador was inconvenienced for less time than it takes to boil an egg.

And yet, for that inconvenience. That indignity. That quasi lese majeste. Eleven men were convicted of a crime.
The men were Muslims… The place is the most shocking part – Orange County, California, USA.

Although I despise the “what next?” rhetorical device… I just so need it here.

What next?

Hecklers at comedy clubs could be dragged out and thrown in the back of a cruiser where a drunk just puked? At least one lawyer would have to go to jail after every hearing. Fox news would essentially be illegal in California. My poor wife and I would probably each be witnesses in criminal trials against each other (privilege be damned!!!)

Criminally prosecuted for interrupting a speech.

We could all be arrested, every day, for this “crime.”

No we couldn’t.

Don’t insult my, or your own, intellect by thinking that this could have happened to anyone. Imagine if this had been a member of the Cuban government up there and some exilos from Miami showed up to yell. Do you think for a minute they would be charged, let alone convicted of a crime? Koreans showing up to voice their displeasure at a dignitary from the Hermit Kingdom? Jews in Skokie shouting down a nazi? Hell, nazis coming to Bensonhurst shouting down a Jew.

No, not even nazis get charged with a crime for merely interrupting a speaker.

And yet, for taking the position that these men were selectively prosecuted. For taking the position that this was all about their ethnicity and the content of their speech, some asshole thinks that I’m being “anti semitic.”

It is unfortunate. Because it is that kind of mentality that is at the root of the very reason these men were at odds with the man on the stage. Both of them have thrown in with their tribe rather than with their species. Like crabs in a pot, needing no lid, they would rather gouge out their own eyes than see through those of the other.

And it is that mentality that makes Palestinians unable to listen to Israelis. It is why Israelis can’t possibly back down to any criticism. It is why there are those who are so blind to their tribe, rather than to their entire human family, who decide that anyone who speaks against their interests in any way must be branded. He must be marked with the label of “anti-semite.”

I don’t really think it is my place to judge, but I’m gonna do it anyway. You reverse the polarity on that position, you don’t get a pretty philosophy. So, perhaps these guys did try and win the debate by shouting down the other speaker. That kind of conduct deserves a flag on the play. But what do you think trying to brand someone as something so abhorrent is? What do you call that, when you know it is a lie, you don’t care that it is a lie, but you say it because you know that it will score nice, cheap, points, and more than half the people who see it as bullshit will be afraid to call your ass out.

What do you call that?

I call that a pussy asshat move. So fuck you sir. Fuck you very much.

And really it is — for two reasons. One, to call oneself a First Amendment attorney and to think it is just that these 11 men were convicted of a crime — not merely removed from the room — and they were convicted not for resisting. Not for doing anything that hurt anyone else.

They.
Interrupted.
A.
Speech.
For.
A.
Minute.

In order to express their opinion on a matter of public concern.

And they were convicted of a crime.

It is sad enough that one would argue against the notion that this is wrong. But, like I said up top, everyone is entitled to their opinion on that. You know where I stand.

But, what a pussy asshat move to try and throw the “big bad bigot” card.

I have tried to think that I was wrong for taking that position. I’ve tried to see it through someone else’s eyes, and the only person I can see with eyes like that is a small minded and fearful person. Someone so insecure, so tepid, so small, that their only defense is to try and lob a bomb. Wanna play rhetoric like that? Here: It is rhetorical terrorism! It strikes at a target that should not be hit, for a reason that doesn’t deserve the energy, and he who employs it has already lost the high ground when they resort to it.

Of course, this is an equal opportunity beta trait. There’s the black guy that screams “racist” to do the same thing. The feminist who whines “sexist” if you disagree with her. You know what, jerkoff?

Those words MEAN SOMETHING.

If you just throw them against anything with which you disagree, you wind up pounding them thin to the point that they don’t mean anything anymore. You can even numb the alarm to those who really are those dangerous things. You create muck in which those dangerous things thrive.

So, I should have added to the end, “not only is a pussy asshat move, but it is anti semitic.”

But, I refrained.


Newark, NJ learns a little something about the First Amendment

July 20, 2011

The City of Newark, NJ, will be shelling out more than $50,000 for violating a journalist’s First Amendment rights:

Roberto Lima, editor of Newark’s Brazilian Voice newspaper, was awarded $55,000 plus legal fees in response to a civil suit he filed for wrongful arrest in 2008. Lima claimed Samuel DeMaio asked Gerald Carlos, a photographer for the newspaper, if he had a “green card” after Carlos discovered a body in the East Ward in 2007.

Lima also claimed DeMaio ordered officers at the scene to seize Carlos’ camera and later handcuff him at a police precinct to stop him from publishing photos of the body in the newspaper. (source)

The offense is compounded by the fact that DeMaio is the acting police director in Newark. Despite the fact that every cop takes an oath to uphold the law, shockingly few understand that the First Amendment is part of that “law” they swear to uphold.

DeMaio is going to be attending a confirmation hearing next month. With any luck, Newark’s leaders will realize that someone like this should not even be the security guard at Wal-Mart, let alone in charge of a large metro police department.


As if you needed more evidence that Herman Cain doesn’t belong in office

July 20, 2011

Naturally, his candidacy is no more serious than Sarah Palin’s nomination for a Rhodes Scholarship, but this guy is a constitutional train wreck.

He claims that any community has a right to ban a mosque in their community. Fuck the First Amendment, Boo Boo!

No, Herman, No. No you can’t. While I personally would like to see mosques, synagogues, and churches all banned from every community as a blight causing adverse secondary effects, I accept that the First Amendment stands in the way of that. Herman isn’t bright enough to know that.


GOD HATES ALITO! Westboro Baptist Church Wins – First Amendment is Preserved

March 2, 2011

Just so you understand, according to Sam Alito, corporations have free speech rights, but people do not.

The Supreme Court handed down its decision in Snyder v. Phelps, otherwise known as the “God Hates Fags” case.

To understand this case, you must unplug your emotional reaction to the speech that brought about the case in the first place. The fact is, nobody likes the Westboro Baptist Church. Or, more to the point, nobody worth a damn does. If you are one of the three people in America who does not know about Westboro, here it is: Westboro is a “church” made up of some lowlives from Kansas. These lowlives believe that there is a magic zombie who lives in space. By the way, the space zombie is Jewish. They think that the space zombie, and his father, who is the same person as the zombie, wrote a book. They also believe that this book says that homosexuals are bad. (mmmkay?).

As if that isn’t nutty enough, they also believe that the United States is too nice to homosexuals, and therefore this magic space zombie jew and his father (who is the same person as the magic space zombie jew) do bad things to America and Americans to punish us all for not killing homosexuals. To demonstrate this belief, the Westboro members go to funerals for soldiers killed in combat, and they hold up signs that say “GOD HATES FAGS” and “THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS”.

Naturally, this chaps the ass of the families of the dead soldiers. It chaps my ass too. Were I the benevolent dictator of this country, I might very well have the Westboro followers rounded up, shoved into a wood chipper, and we would all live happily ever after. Of course, once I was done with that, my taste for blood would be unquenchable, and next thing you know, 100 million people would be run through the wood chipper before I got to half the people who piss me off.

Which is why I shouldn’t be the dictator… nor should anyone else… Which is one of the reasons we have a First Amendment. If we have free speech, we have our greatest check on tyranny. It is the cornerstone of American liberty. And, as abhorrent as the Westboro asshats are, it is more abhorrent to take a chip out of that cornerstone.

At least that is what I believe.

Fortunately, eight justices on the United States Supreme Court agree with me.

Today’s decision is a warming reaffirmation of the First Amendment — from a Court that isn’t exactly made up of some of the most free-speech friendly legal minds we’ve ever had.

In this case, poor Mr. Snyder lost his son. The Westboro asshats protested at his funeral, although Mr. Snyder could not see them at the time.

Although Snyder testified that he could see the tops of the picket signs as he drove to the funeral, he did not see what was written on the signs until later that night, while watching a news broadcast covering the event. (Op. at 3)

So lets keep this fact in mind. As a commenter noted (before this addition), most Americans think that Westboro interrupted or disrupted the funeral. This is not the case. (And if it were, I think the case would have come out differently). The Westboro asshats had a right to be where they were, and they had a right to say what they said.

Nevertheless, Mr. Snyder sued for defamation, publicity given to private life, intentional infliction of emotional distress, intrusion upon seclusion, and civil conspiracy. The defamation claim and publicity given to private life claims were squashed at the trial court level on summary judgment. Snyder v. Phelps, 533 F. Supp. 2d 567, 570 (D.Md. 2008)

A jury found for Snyder on the intentional infliction of emotional distress, intrusion upon seclusion, and civil conspiracy claims, and held Westboro liable for $2.9 mil- lion in compensatory damages and $8 million in punitive damages. Westboro filed several post-trial motions, in- cluding a motion contending that the jury verdict was grossly excessive and a motion seeking judgment as a matter of law on all claims on First Amendment grounds. The District Court remitted the punitive damages award to $2.1 million, but left the jury verdict otherwise intact. Id., at 597.

In the Court of Appeals, Westboro’’s primary argument was that the church was entitled to judgment as a matter of law because the First Amendment fully protected West- boro’’s speech. The Court of Appeals agreed. 580 F. 3d 206, 221 (CA4 2009). The court reviewed the picket signs and concluded that Westboro’’s statements were entitled to First Amendment protection because those statements were on matters of public concern, were not provably false, and were expressed solely through hyperbolic rhetoric. Id., at 222––224. (Op. at 4)

Speech on a matter of public concern

The Supreme Court’s opinion begins with a discussion of the public vs. private concern distinction — because speech on a matter of public concern is entitled to the highest degree of First Amendment protection.

Whether the First Amendment prohibits holding West- boro liable for its speech in this case turns largely on whether that speech is of public or private concern, as determined by all the circumstances of the case. ““[S]peech on ‘‘matters of public concern’’ . . . is ‘‘at the heart of the First Amendment’’s protection.’’”” Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. v. Greenmoss Builders, Inc., 472 U. S. 749, 758––759 (1985) (opinion of Powell, J.) (quoting First Nat. Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, 435 U. S. 765, 776 (1978)). The First Amend- ment reflects ““a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibi- ted, robust, and wide-open.”” New York Times Co. v. Sulli- van, 376 U. S. 254, 270 (1964). That is because ““speech concerning public affairs is more than self-expression; it is the essence of self-government.”” Garrison v. Louisiana, 379 U. S. 64, 74––75 (1964). Accordingly, ““speech on public issues occupies the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values, and is entitled to special protection.”” Connick v. Myers, 461 U. S. 138, 145 (1983) (internal quotation marks omitted). (Op. at 5-6)

The Court noted that while discerning private concern from public concern is often a difficult task, there are general guidelines for a court to follow. “Deciding whether speech is of public or private concern requires us to examine the ““‘‘content, form, and context’’”” of that speech, ““‘‘as revealed by the whole record.’’”” (Op. at 7). However, the vitriolic nature of the speech, or its offensiveness does not factor in to the equation.

Speech deals with matters of public concern when it can ““be fairly considered as relating to any matter of politi- cal, social, or other concern to the community,”” Connick, supra, at 146, or when it ““is a subject of legitimate news interest; that is, a subject of general interest and of value and concern to the public,”” San Diego, supra, at 83––84. See Cox Broadcasting Corp. v. Cohn, 420 U.S. 469, 492––494 (1975); Time, Inc. v. Hill, 385 U. S. 374, 387–– 388 (1967). The arguably ““inappropriate or controversial character of a statement is irrelevant to the question whether it deals with a matter of public concern.”” Rankin v. McPherson, 483 U. S. 378, 387 (1987). (Op. at 6-7)

The Court held that Westboro’s speech was on matters of public concern, and this is one of the more reassuring portions of the opinion. In the future, this will be used by defendants in free speech cases to demonstrate just how broad the definition of “matter of public concern” truly is.

The ““content”” of Westboro’’s signs plainly relates to broad issues of interest to society at large, rather than matters of ““purely private concern.”” Dun & Bradstreet, supra, at 759. The placards read ““God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11,”” ““America is Doomed,”” ““Don’’t Pray for the USA,”” ““Thank God for IEDs,”” ““Fag Troops,”” ““Semper Fi Fags,”” ““God Hates Fags,”” ““Maryland Taliban,”” ““Fags Doom Nations,”” ““Not Blessed Just Cursed,”” ““Thank God for Dead Soldiers,”” ““Pope in Hell,”” ““Priests Rape Boys,”” ““You’’re Going to Hell,”” and ““God Hates You.”” App. 3781––3787. While these messages may fall short of refined social or political commentary, the issues they highlight——the political and moral conduct of the United States and its citizens, the fate of our Nation, homosexual- ity in the military, and scandals involving the Catholic clergy——are matters of public import. The signs certainly convey Westboro’’s position on those issues, in a manner designed, unlike the private speech in Dun & Bradstreet, to reach as broad a public audience as possible. And even if a few of the signs——such as ““You’’re Going to Hell”” and ““God Hates You””——were viewed as containing messages related to Matthew Snyder or the Snyders specifically, that would not change the fact that the overall thrust and dominant theme of Westboro’’s demonstration spoke to broader public issues. (Op. at 8)

Outrageousness of Speech is no impediment to its protection

This part of the opinion is heartening too, although it has a bit of a sour note in it. Although it affirms some strong First Amendment principles, it also seems to unnecessarily go out of its way to make it clear that this is a fact-based ruling, and that it should not be broadly interpreted.

But, lets dwell on the good part first:

Simply put, the church members had the right to be where they were. Westboro alerted local authorities to its funeral protest and fully complied with police guidance on where the picketing could be staged. The picketing was conducted under police supervision some 1,000 feet from the church, out of the sight of those at the church. The protest was not unruly; there was no shouting, profanity, or violence.

The record confirms that any distress occasioned by Westboro’s picketing turned on the content and viewpoint of the message conveyed, rather than any interference with the funeral itself. A group of parishioners standing at the very spot where Westboro stood, holding signs that said “God Bless America” and “God Loves You,” would not have been subjected to liability. It was what Westboro said that exposed it to tort damages. (Op. at 11-12)

And after setting up that “viewpoint discrimination ball,” the court tees it off hard here:

Given that Westboro’s speech was at a public place on a matter of public concern, that speech is entitled to “special protection” under the First Amendment. Such speech cannot be restricted simply because it is upsetting or arouses contempt. “If there is a bedrock principle underly- ing the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” Texas v. Johnson, 491 U. S. 397, 414 (1989). Indeed, “the point of all speech protection . . . is to shield just those choices of content that in someone’s eyes are misguided, or even hurtful.” Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, Inc., 515 U. S. 557, 574 (1995).

The jury here was instructed that it could hold Westboro liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress based on a finding that Westboro’s picketing was “outrageous.” “Outrageousness,” however, is a highly malleable standard with “an inherent subjectiveness about it which would allow a jury to impose liability on the basis of the jurors’ tastes or views, or perhaps on the basis of their dislike of a particular expression.” Hustler, 485 U. S., at 55 (internal quotation marks omitted). In a case such as this, a jury is “unlikely to be neutral with respect to the content of [the] speech,” posing “a real danger of becoming an instrument for the suppression of . . . ‘vehement, caustic, and some- times unpleasan[t]’ ” expression. Bose Corp., 466 U. S., at 510 (quoting New York Times, 376 U. S., at 270). Such a risk is unacceptable; “in public debate [we] must tolerate insulting, and even outrageous, speech in order to provide adequate ‘breathing space’ to the freedoms protected by the First Amendment.” Boos v. Barry, 485 U. S. 312, 322 (1988) (some internal quotation marks omitted). What Westboro said, in the whole context of how and where it chose to say it, is entitled to “special protection” under the First Amendment, and that protection cannot be overcome by a jury finding that the picketing was outrageous.

For all these reasons, the jury verdict imposing tort liability on Westboro for intentional infliction of emotional distress must be set aside. (Op. at 12-13)

This is a hell of a victory for free speech. We live in a political environment where the Right wing wants to limit all speech that criticizes the war and the Left wants to limit all speech that hurts anyone’s feelings. With that backdrop, this decision will make very few people happy. Veterans and Republicans will go all Walter Sobchak about Vietnam and 9/11. The PC crowd and the Democrats will whine into their tofu and lentils as they piss and moan that the First Amendment should not protect speech that makes someone feel bad. Most average Americans will say, “that just doesn’t seem right.”

But then, there will be a few of us who recognize that without free speech, we are not America. A few of us realize that freedom means having to tolerate opinions that you despise. I hope that a few of my readers are among that group, and that you go out and evangelize the good word that came down today, and you realize that Westboro Baptist Church and its merry band of asshats just did more for the cause of freedom than every man and woman who died in any American military adventure since 1953.

For that reason, the Westboro Baptist Church is the first entity to receive both the First Amendment Bad Ass award and the Asshat award in a single blog post. May their members choke to death on both.


Dan Snyder is butthurt, SLAPP suit ensues, Irony meter pegged

February 6, 2011

By Marc J. Randazza

Washington Redskins owner, Dan Snyder, seems to have awfully thin skin for a guy who owns a sports team named after a racial insult.

Snyder filed a frivolous defamation suit against the Washington City Paper (“WCP”) based upon an article “The Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder.”

Snyder accuses the WCP of spreading “lies, half-truths, innuendo, and anti-Semitic imagery” to defame him, seeking $2 million in damages.  The amount is split between two claims, the first for defamation and the second for false light.  The “anti-semitic imagery” he complains of is a crude addition of horns, a unibrow and Anton LaVey-esque goatee to Snyder’s photograph in the WCP, which can be seen here.

No, your irony meter is not broken. It is actually reading 11. A guy who owns the Washington Redskins is complaining that someone created an allegedly racist drawing of him. And, anyone who thinks that “Washington Redskins” isn’t a bigoted term, I used to think the same thing. In law school, I was in a debate with a guy I’ll identify as “Steve B.” I was armed with my free-speech bona fides, and ready to pwn Steve in front of the whole class for being overly politically correct. With his opening shot, Steve looked at me and said “what would you think if they were called the ‘Washington Jigaboos?’ Because the way black people would feel about that is how Native Americans feel about ‘Redskins.’”

I immediately conceded. Steve was right. The debate was over.

Please re-calibrate your irony meters -- Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington *Redskins*; complains that this drawing is racist.

So, the owner of the Washington Jigaboos Redskins is pissy about someone supposedly using racist imagery.

On behalf of Native Americans, up yours, Dan Snyder. Up yours with a cactus grown in the driest part of the Navajo reservation.

But lets get back to the issue at hand:

Dave McKenna’s comprehensive compendium on Snyder’s questionable reputation, which gave rise to this lawsuit, is not the first time he offended Snyder’s sensibilities.  Snyder paints a paranoid picture of McKenna as a conspirator, evidenced in his November 24, 2010 letter to the WCP – sent less than a week after McKenna’s article hit the streets.  Because McKenna mentioned Snyder within the WCP and its blog 15 times in as many months, Snyder believed McKenna was attacking him to please his new bosses at Atalaya Capital, which acquired Creative Loafing and the WCP in August 2009. (source.)

Even so, it appears McKenna gave Snyder a fair shake.  Before McKenna’s article was published, Snyder’s wife went to the local media to defend her husband.  In an interview, she said her husband was now surrounded by ‘better people,’ and that he had ‘grown and he’s evolved.’ (source.)  The offending article even begins with the words “[w]e’ve been told a New Dan Snyder walks among us”!

Nevertheless, lets not forget that Dan Snyder is a wealthy man. He is a fabulously wealthy man. And we all know that the fabulously wealthy often believe that they are above being criticized by the rabble — and when the rabble forgets it, they need only spread their ass cheeks, let a few filthy pieces of silver fall from their milk-fed buttholes, and some swine of a lawyer will be lying underneath, mouth agape, happy to catch what might dribble from the sphincter of privilege — their oath, their ethics, and free speech be damned.

In nicer words, this is a classic SLAPP suit — not filed because it has a chance of success — but filed because the cost of defending it will be punitive enough to remind the little people that people who can afford to use helicopters as personal transportation vehicles do not like to be made fun of or criticized.

The first sign that this is a SLAPP suit? You need go no further than paragraph 1. The complaint states “Mr. Snyder is a public figure. As such, he accepts the right of the public and the press to criticize him or to express personal dislike, whether or not such expressions are justified by the facts.”

Precisely.

In other words, Mr. Snyder is going to need to leap over the “actual malice” standard laid down in New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964). In that case, the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment required that a public official libel plaintiff must establish, through clear and convincing evidence, that the defendant acted out of “actual malice.” That doesn’t mean that the writer must have acted out of malicious intent, but rather that the defendant published his words “with knowledge that it was actually false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.” Later cases expanded this to encompass defamation suits by public figures, as well as public officials. See, e.g, Curtis Publishing Company v. Butts, 388 U.S. 130 (1967); Gertz v. Robert Welch, 418 U.S. 323, 351 (1974).

Public figures can, occasionally, prevail under this standard. However, the bar is so high that unless the case is flawless, it is unlikely to go anywhere except down the “expensive to defend” highway. Snyder knows this. His attorneys know this. But Snyder is a wealthy man, and his lawyers don’t mind the taste of feces in their mouths, as long as they are licking the foul substance off of Snyder’s coins.

Lets take a look at Snyder’s claims under New York law. New York is very protective of free speech — especially where the news media is concerned. What constitutes a statement of opinion is broad, and can even embrace language that in other states may be defamation per se, such as calling another person “unprofessional.”  See Amodei v. New York State Chiropractic Association, 160 A.D.2d 279, 280 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. App. Div. 2d Dept. 1990), aff’d 571 N.E.2d 79 (N.Y. 1991); Halegoua v. Doyle, 171 Misc. 2d 986, 991 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1997); Wait v. Beck’s North America, Incorporated, 241 F. Supp 2d 172, 183 (N.D.N.Y. 2003). (“Statements that someone has acted unprofessionally or unethically generally are constitutionally protected statements of opinion.”).

Despite Snyder’s melodramatic whining about McKenna’s negative opinion of him, even incendiary and inflammatory criticism of a subject is protected rhetorical hyperbole. See Greenbelt Coop. Pub. Ass’n v. Bresler, 893 U.S. 6, 14 (1970); Gross v. N.Y. Times Co., 623 N.E.2d 1163, 1167 and 1169 (N.Y. 1993). Even heavily caustic attacks on public figures are afforded the highest level of Constitutional protection. Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46, 52 (1988).

The second cause of action is a bit trickier.  While the language reads like a false light claim, there’s a wrinkle here: According to the Citizen Media Law Project, New York doesn’t recognize the tort of false light. Costanza v. Seinfeld, 27 Media L. Rep. 2177 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1999), aff’d, 719 N.Y.S.2d 29 (N.Y. App. Div. 2001); Howell v. New York Post Co., 21 Media L. Rep. 1273 (N.Y. 1993)  That leaves Snyder with the tort of defamation by implication, which remains a form of defamation and thus subject to the same attacks set forth in the preceding paragraph.

Nonetheless, as the owner of the Redskins, Snyder has access to lawyers and the money to pay for them, and can inflict quite a lot of pain onto the defendants. Furthermore, even if the WCP fends off these claims, Snyder has made it clear that anyone smaller than the WCP had better be worried — criticizing him is not without its significant costs.

Mr. Snyder has more than sufficient means to protect his reputation. We presume that defending such litigation would not be a rational strategy for an investment fund such as yours. Indeed, the cost of litigation would presumably quickly outstrip the asset value of the Washington City Paper.” (source)

Snyder appears more butthurt than genuinely wronged. Unfortunately for him, or fortunately for us all, there still is no cause of action in the United States for intentionally butthurting a rich dude. Unfortunately for us all, win or lose, Snyder and his legal team just turned blew a cold wind across the free expression fruited plain.

J. Malcom DeVoy contributed to this post. Hat tip to Johnny Utah.


Zach Wahls pwns the Iowa bigot caucus

February 2, 2011

Now go get your fuckin shine box, magic space zombie jew eaters.


As Goes Iowa…

January 5, 2011

By Chad Belville, Guest Satyriconista

Iowa, a square state in the Heartland, is one of the few states in the US that allows any two adults of legal age to marry, regardless of gender. Unlike every other state where Supreme Courts found that government should legally recognize the unions of two same-sex adults, the Iowa decision was unanimous and shot down all arguments against limiting legal recognition, including those of tradition, religious bias, and the red herring argument that removing the gender restriction of two adults to enter into a bi-lateral contract will lead to allowing persons to enter into contracts with plants, animals, or upend the entire bi-lateral nature of the marriage license and allow polygamous marriages. The decision was well-written and should be a foundation for all other states to follow.

Immediately following the decision, the usual right-wing activists vowed to reverse it and take those rights away with an amendment to the Iowa Constitution. This requires approval by both House and Senate in two consecutive sessions of the Legislature followed by a popular vote. Democrats in control of both chambers refused to bring the issue to the floor, thus maintaining the equal rights of all adult citizens.
This past November, Republicans took control of the Iowa House of Representatives, who vowed to pass a bill that could eventually send the issue to the voters. The Iowa Senate remained in control of the Democrats and the Leader of the Senate, Mike Gronstal, has vowed not to bring this discriminatory amendment for a vote. Senator Gronstal can effectively keep such an insidious vote at bay for this legislative term but what happens beyond 2012 remains a mystery. His position is that civil rights of minorities should never be subject to approval by a popular vote, and he is absolutely correct.

As more time passes, more people realize gay people are not imported from far-away lands to indoctrinate kindergarteners but instead are their friends, neighbors, and relatives. Attitudes change and the urgency to take away the legal right to not testify against a same-sex spouse fades. These right-wing wackos know that time is not on their side; they know that if they do not pass constitutional amendments right now their battles will be lost as public opinion turns against them. Massachusetts has a similar system of amendment; after passing once and failing the second time through both Houses the issue died off. The fanatics moved on to take away or prevent establishment of rights for gay couples in other states where their shrieking could be effective.

In the State of Iowa, one man really stands in their way. Senator Gronstal’s position on equality and civil rights has painted a target on his back for the social conservatives who wish to turn back time. The National Organization for Marriage will expend millions of dollars to unseat him as punishment for opposing their bigoted beliefs, regardless of whether or not they can ever succeed in passing an amendment through both Houses in consecutive sessions. They led a successful campaign to remove 3 of the 7 Justices from the bench of the Iowa Supreme Court so their threats must be taken seriously.

Over the next two years, tremendous pressure will be put on Senator Gronstal to allow a vote on the floor of the Iowa Senate. Groups that are friendly only to Ozzie and Harriet-style families but not any others will pour money into anti-gay campaigns in an attempt to roll back the rights of a very small minority for the sake of their religious purity. Iowa is a small state, and the money from outside organizations will have a serious effect on the outcome. For now, equality in marriage is the law of the land in Iowa, but it is extremely vulnerable. The old saying is that “So goes Iowa, so goes the country” which used to apply to Presidential primaries but applies here and now to the issue of equal rights in the eyes of government. I have donated directly to Senator Gronstal’s campaign and to OneIowa, the umbrella civil rights organization that is countering NOM’s campaign of bigotry. I will continue to donate all of my equal rights contributions to Iowa organizations because the battle there is so acute and my donation dollars can do the most good. While I support things like the Employment Non Discrimination Act, the outcome of national equal rights activism is not on such a tiny fulcrum as in Iowa. I am asking anyone that will listen to join me in donating to the campaign of Senator Gronstal and OneIowa where small donations WILL make a difference.

http://www.oneiowa.org/

http://mikegronstal.com/


Good News; Racism Solved

January 4, 2011

by Jason Fischer

Regular readers of the LS know how we feel about thought control through the implementation of Newspeak.  (We think it is retarded).

Apparently, there are at least a few out there who have a hard-on for eradicating crimethink.  In their latest effort, a newly sanitized edition of Mark Twain’s classic, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, will be published as part of a collection that is more suitable for classroom consumption, i.e., sans all uses of the “n-word.”  In its place, the publishers, NewSouth Books, have inserted the word “slave.”  Also deemed too offensive for print: “injun”

H/T Evren Seven


Preach it, Brother Mike…

September 9, 2010

Support the Iowa Supreme Court

August 27, 2010

Back in April, the Iowa Supreme Court issued an inspiring ruling, which struck down Iowa’s ban on same sex marriage. (earlier post). Whether you give a shit if gays get married or not, the court’s decision was well-reasoned and upheld the principle that “equal” means “equal.”

In response, Bob Vander Plaats, a Republican candidate for Iowa Governor called for an “executive order” overturning the decision. We mocked him in this post.

Now Vander Plaats is at it again – trying to organize a campaign to remove the justices from the Iowa Supreme Court in their next retention election. (source) Of course, this is part of the democratic process, and he has a right to campaign to remove the justices from the court.

But, if justices are removed from a state supreme court for supporting civil rights for one minority group, that will be one of the ugliest days in American history.

He is well funded, apparently enough that he has six full time employees working on his little witch hunt. I don’t know of any organized resistance to Vander Plaats’ efforts. If anyone out there knows of one, please put their info in the comments.


Paging Captain Obvious!

August 25, 2010

Ken Mehlman finally came out of the closet. (source)

I will give him some credit. At least he came out in a classy way – not in a typical Republican way, like after being caught snorting meth off a pool boy’s dick in a public restroom.


Fox News PWNED (again) over the “Terror Mosque”

August 24, 2010

By Marc J. Randazza

Pwned, Pwned, Pwned.


The “Mosque at Ground Zero”

August 21, 2010

Nuff said.


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