Monday, June 04, 2012

Court finally tosses out WND’s birther parody lawsuit [updated]

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Joseph Farah (editor-in-chief, WND)
Joseph Farah

Remember how WorldNetDaily head kook Joseph Farah filed suit against Esquire last year over a satirical piece that poked some fun at his birther lunacy stronghold? Well, okay, I didn’t either – that’s how credible his chances were at reaching any conclusion other than getting laughed out of court. It appears the court almost forgot as well, as they’ve only just now decided to finally relieve Farah of any lingering hope of avoiding embarrassment:

A federal judge has tossed a lawsuit filed by the “birther” website WND against Esquire magazine over a satirical post that claimed the website formerly known as WorldNetDaily was no longer standing behind a book claiming President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States.

WND founder Joseph Farah told TPM he was considering suing shortly after the publication of a post claiming WND was withdrawing the book after Obama released a copy of his long form birth certificate.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer dismissed the suit, calling the Esquire post a “satirical comment on an issue of public concern.” WND and the co-plaintiffs named in the suit had been seeking $120 million in damages — $100 million in compensatory damages and $20 million in punitive damages plus legal costs.

“Having become such well-known proponents of one position on the issue, Plaintiffs cannot complain that the very intensity of their advocacy also became part of the public debate,” wrote Collyer. “Those who speak with loud voices cannot be surprised if they become part of the story.”

The only people in the world who might not have seen this one coming from miles away are those who were stupid and delusional enough to think they stood any chance at all of winning a lawsuit over such a blatant parody to begin with. The First Amendment and decades of judicial precedent have made satire all but untouchable and allowed it to flourish into one of the richest veins of expression and commentary in Western society. Whatever one may think of the U.S.’s broken justice system, freedom of speech has generally been one area where the courts have done a very good job thus far. It’s perplexing why even crème du crackpots like Farah & co. figured they could challenge that kind of standing, least of all under the comically Orwellian guise of “polic[ing] and guard[ing]” “First-Amendment-guaranteed protections”.

It all brings a whole new level of irony to Farah’s original condemnation of the Esquire article as “one of the most egregious abuses of freedom of the press” he’s ever seen. As usual, he just got it all backwards.

UPDATE: 06/04/12 7:55 PM ET —

Apparently of the opinion that they haven’t yet been humiliated enough, the site’s famously terrible attorney, Larry Klayman, chose to opine on the outcome (from the same article):

“It looks to me like Judge Collyer is kowtowing to the Washington establishment, which doesn’t want to touch any of these issues, to simply dump the case,” Klayman said, adding they planned to appeal.

“We’re disappointed that it’s going to take us so long to get it back into federal court, but back into federal court it surely will come,” Klayman said.

The court agreed that a transparently obvious piece of satire was, in fact, satire, and was thus protected under the First Amendment. So, naturally, they’re in cahoots with Big Washington. Duh.

One might think these self-defeating clowns were undercover liberals secretly trying to make the birthers look bad – well, even worse – if they weren’t so utterly oblivious.

(via Right Wing Watch)