Posts Tagged ‘parody’

“The First Amendment does not depend on whether everyone is in on the joke.”

“…when it comes to parody, the law requires a reasonable reader standard, not a ‘most gullible person on Facebook’ standard. The First Amendment does not depend on whether everyone is in on the joke.” — Judge Amul Thapar, Sixth Circuit, writing on behalf of a unanimous panel that “an Ohio man who was acquitted of a felony after creating a parody Facebook page that mocked a suburban Cleveland police department can sue the city and two police officers over his arrest.” [Jonathan Stempel, Reuters]

Related: everyone has the right to call politicians idiots, and that goes for gun store owners too [Eugene Volokh; North Carolina gun store owner’s billboard likened by sitting member of Congress to “inciting violence”]

Free speech roundup

  • Florida “health coach” charges for nutrition advice, isn’t a licensed dietitian. Does she have a First Amendment defense? [Scott Shackford]
  • Results of Russian social-media manipulation episode could include foot in door for regulation of Internet speech [John Samples, Cato]
  • Some in Australia having trouble distinguishing “impersonation” of government from anti-government satire [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]
  • Before deep-pocket publications can report on sexual misconduct by persons in high places, gauntlet of legal review needs to be run with special attention to on-the-record sources [Mike Masnick, TechDirt]
  • Ohio lawmaker introduces anti-SLAPP bill that pioneers novel protections for anonymous speakers [John Samples, Cato]
  • “Nadine Strossen’s Next Book — ‘Hate: Why We Should Resist it With Free Speech, Not Censorship'” [Ronald K.L. Collins] “Sanford Ungar Heads New Free Speech Project at Georgetown University” [same]

Threatening blogger over satirical posts

Not a good idea for anyone, really, but an especially bad idea for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [Ken at Popehat; Paul Alan Levy (reminding that “the government itself cannot be defamed”)]

Down the same alley: when the mayor of Peoria seized on a misdemeanor law banning “impersonating a public official” as grounds for sending police after a clearly satirical Twitter account, he bit off more than he might be able to chew [Ars Technica, earlier]

“Totally Meghan McCain” parody columns

At RedState, Leon Wolf has been parodying the work of Senatorial daughter and talk-show personality Meghan McCain. McCain’s lawyer, Albin Gess of Snell & Wilmer, wrote RedState editor Erich Erichson to threaten litigation over the posts, which prompted this magnificent letter in response (PDF) from Georgia attorney Christopher Scott Badeaux, representing Wolf. It also guaranteed more critical attention to McCain herself and her work, including this cruel entry by Ken at Popehat.

What Ken calls “the use of money and power to achieve censorship” — particularly in jurisdictions where judges are averse to awarding sanctions and anti-SLAPP protections are weak — is a continuing problem long overdue for open public discussion.

California’s new online-impersonation ban

Liability is predicated on “intent to harm, intimidate, threaten, or defraud another person – not necessarily the person you are impersonating.” [Michael Arrington, TechCrunch] Despite talk of using the statute against stalkers, Choire Sicha predicts a somewhat different application: “harm as in ‘brand dilution’ — that is what will be prosecuted. Of course there is no carve-out for playful, political or non-murderous uses of online impersonation.” The bill’s text, notes Arrington, doesn’t address such free speech issues as satire and parody, though it does restrict itself to impersonations that are “credible.” Compare: much-demonized Koch Industries goes to court to identify originators (apparently political critics) of website imitating its own [Web Host Industry Review]