Satire 8, Libel 0

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A while back, some officials in Texas decided to sue the Dallas Observer for libel because it didn't label a satire as a satire. Today the state Supreme Court ruled 8-0 that the plaintiffs didn't have a case.

NEXT: Bush vs. the Anti-Bushes

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  1. Imagine Jonathan Swift publishing A Modest Proposal with a big red government stamp on it:
    THIS IS NOT SERIOUS
    Or a pages long disclaimer in Catch-22. God help Kurt Vonnegut.

    I’m sure there are plenty of drooling, barely functional morons out there who don’t understand satire. They can avoid it.

    I live in America, where I have the opportunity to prove that I am a puerile imbecile. I don’t like being assumed to be one.

  2. Gary Gunnels, you should have sued everyone who accused you of being Jean Bart while it was still libel. It’s just plain ol’ stupidity now.

  3. This reminds me of the Dilbert strip where they were going around labelling things “Coffee Maker,” “Doorknob,” etc., in order to meet ISO-9000 requirements.

  4. Maybe we should help them out with some labels that say “Shit,” “Shinola,” “Ass,” “Hole in the Ground,” and so forth.

  5. Anybody notice the small print in Burger King’s “Angus Diet” TV commercials? At the bottom of the screen they print “The Angus Diet is not an actual diet.” Duh. That’s got to be the most cowardly ass-covering-in-case-of-lawsuit I’ve ever seen.

  6. Yes, jean bart was much smarter, eh?

  7. Some links.

    The Texas Supreme Court opinion:
    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/texasstatecases/sc/030019.pdf

    The satirical article, as reprinted in an Appendix to the opinion:

    http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/historical/2004/sep/030019app.pdf

  8. Several years ago, while I was editing the opinion section of my college’s rag, I ran a satire purporting to be a letter from a public school student taking me to task for advocating a voucher system. The ‘letter’ was full of mistakes and grotesque flaws in logic. My mistake was modeling it after letters from school children published in the Chicago Tribune.

    I thought that it was clear that the article was satiric. I was wrong. Over the next several weeks, I received several letters lambasting me for embarrasing the fictional child by publishing his letter uncorrected.

    Letters from college students. At a moderately selective school.

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