Popular Culture

Making Fun of In-Laws Still Protected Speech…For Now

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Sunda Croonquist.

A federal judge in New Jersey has thrown out a slander suit brought by the in-laws of a standup comedian who was making fun of them in her routines.

Sunda Croonquist's act describes her life as a half-black, half-Swedish woman married into a Jewish family. In 2008 she was sued by her mother-in-law, sister-in-law and brother-in-law, who claimed among other things that Croonquist's jokes made the mother-in-law look like a racist and described the sister-in-law's voice as sounding "like a cat in heat." (In compliance with the Seinfeld rule, Croonquist converted and attends a synagogue in Los Angeles.)

U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper of New Jersey ruled last week that the material was protected speech, and that the cat-in-heat joke was, as described in a previous ruling, "colorful, figurative rhetoric that reasonable minds would not take to be factual."

Cooper's 21-page ruling comes out as jibberish at justia.com, but more coverage of the case is available here, here and here.

Comedy is not pretty, and usually it's not even funny. Does Croonquist's act meet the highest standard in the land? See for yourself: Some of the mother-in-law gags are available on her site, and she'll be appearing at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood Saturday.

With all due respect to both Croonquist and Yaphet Kotto, Sammy was the greatest of the black Jews, and the true talent of the Rat Pack:

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  1. Sammy was great.

    The case will be thrown out due to the fact that cats in heat don’t talk. Cats don’t have the mental or vocal capacity for speech.

    1. LMAO

  2. Wait, some Jews sued someone? Huh.

    1. way to go reinforcing stereotypes

  3. I can’t watch a man sing a song.

  4. Does anyone else only hear Sheila Broflovski when jewish women speak?

    1. I hear Joy Behar, and she’s Italian!

    2. I hear Susie Essman.

    3. I guess you don’t know many jews, but go fuck yourself anyway.

  5. Most comedy isn’t funny? How about libertarian dogmas? They’re pretty funny.

  6. Just a matter of time until comedy is regulated by the Department of Jocularity.

    1. We need a National Laughter Czar

  7. Starving trolls is pretty funny.

    1. It kinda grows on you, doesn’t it.

      1. Eh, they probably get food stamps.

        1. But you can’t buy full-length mirrors with food stamps.

          1. There’s always flea markets and garage sales…

  8. Until the attorneys who bring these obviously, facially invalid lawsuits are sanctioned, they’ll just keep coming.

    I mean, c’mon. Suing a comedian for slander?

    Although I was kinda hoping that the case would be thrown out based on the notion that “truth is a defense to slander”. I’d love to read an opinion from the judge that her sister-in-law does, in fact, have a voice like a cat in heat, and her mother-in-law is, in fact, a racist.

    1. I’m not sure that being a comedian means that you suddenly are exempt from slander/libel laws.

      Also, the standards for what you can say about public figures and private people are different.

      I tend to agree that what is in question here doesn’t really seem to be slanderous, but it does remain true that somebody who has a large forum should not be able to ruin the reputation of someone who does not have the same opportunity to rebut.

      1. I’ve never heard of her, so I’m not really sure she has that large of a forum.

    1. is that a juice commercial?

    2. That’s the worst Husqvarna commercial ever.

  9. But you can’t buy full-length mirrors with food stamps.

    Food stamps are fungible.

    1. Not directly, but I once witnessed a transaction where a large pile of “food stamps” was exchanged for a much smaller pile of greenbacks.

  10. Also, Sammy married a Swede! Talk about your cosmic convergence! The Sam Man wins every time.

    1. Shut up, Vanneman.

    2. Let’s hear it for Alan “Herpes” Vanneman, ladies and gents!

    3. VANNEMAN DELENDA EST

    4. Don’t you have a Steinbeck novel to write or something?

  11. Sunda Croonquist’s smokin. Never heard of her – but she’s smokin.

    What was the topic of this article?

    1. The joys of miscegenation, I think.

      1. We all mixed together down in the Bayou. We two probably cuzes. It’s all good, hybrid vigor and all.

    2. You can tell the woman in the picture is hot when Cavanaugh can’t think of an alt-text other than her name. As a sentence fragment, natch.

  12. Not that I disagree with the ruling but;

    16 >> stream ? ??r>??????????O???` H~MediaBox [0 0 612 792] /TrimBox [0

    directly contradicts this;

    66 17 0000000017 00000 n 0000000669 00000 n 0000001541 00000 n 0000001780 00000 n 0000003120 00000 n 000000332

    If you are going to rule in a speech case it is good to be on firm judicial footing, otherwise you open yourself up for appeal.

    1. If you are going to rule in a speech case it is good to be on firm judicial footing, otherwise you open yourself up for appeal. post some shit, at least make it legible.

      FIFY

      1. I know that legalese can be kind of dense, but this seems pretty obvious.

        1. Actually, “16 >> stream ? ??r>” is a term of art in comedy law. I can see how, taken literally, it would seem to contradict the judge’s later statement, but in this context it is essentially synonymous to “1r??gc?U??????.” Does that make sense?

          1. Yeah, seeing as my specialty is action/suspense liability I shouldn’t have tried to play the armchair comedy lawyer.

            I did take Precedents in Tomfoolery for a semester in law school but that was a long time ago.

            1. Well, Judge Kozinski’s landmark opinion in People v. Gallagher, 989 F.2d 1512 (9th Cir. 1993) (en banc), pretty much changed the landscape of comedy law but even if you went to law school in the early 2000s there have been a lot of developments to note. Looking back on things, I’m sure glad I went into comedy law instead of my first interest, which was bird law.

              1. Okay, I give.

                People v. Gallagher

                bird law

                For the win.

                1. If only I could bill for any of that…

              2. could you give us a synopsis of the case and ruling? I would especially appriciate anthing regarding any findings of fact dealing with watermelons as accessories.

  13. 16 >> stream ? ??r>??????????O???` H~MediaBox [0 0 612 792] /TrimBox [0

    directly contradicts this;

    66 17 0000000017 00000 n 0000000669 00000 n 0000001541 00000 n 0000001780 00000 n 0000003120 00000 n 000000332

    I’m convinced.

    1. Now who can argue with that?

      1. The sheriff is nDING!

  14. Or you could just try this RECAP link. Btw, opinions are always free on PACER, though you do need a login.

    1. Then they’re not really free, are they.

  15. Sammy was the greatest of the black Jews

    His mother was Dominican, I believe, making him the greatest of the black Hispanic Jews, ever.

    Why isn’t HE on our currency? (‘Course, that may not be such an honor for long…)

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