Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dear Glenn Beck: You are not a rapist but you are a public figure

I just heard this tidbit, that a website's been started with a domain name aka URL that offends Fox conservative talk show host Glenn Beck. Yes, it's accusing him of horrible deeds without proof and suggesting it must be true because there's no denial. Sound familiar?
Now, the website's content makes no direct claim that Glenn Beck raped murdered anyone. In fact, its author writes in an intentionally Beckian fashion that:
    We're not accusing Glenn Beck of raping and murdering a young girl in 1990 - in fact, we think he didn't! But we can't help but wonder, since he has failed to deny these horrible allegations. Why won't he deny that he raped and killed a young girl in 1990?
But Beck has a pretty good claim that the domain name itself is defamatory - so says Paul Levy of Public Citizen, writes Ars Technica: (Read more at Citizen Media)
Levy's saying that the domain name, glennbeckrapedandmurderedayounggirlin1990.com, should have a question mark after it. That won't work for coding reasons, I think; however, I'd say if the site wanted to play it more safely, then the domain could be www.glennbeckrapedandmurderedayoungirlin1990satire.com or better www.glennbeckrapedandmurderdayounggirlin1890.com, the kicker being that anyone who takes the website seriously doesn't read well or may be unreasonable since Glenn Beck can't possibly have done anything in the 1800s.

The inability to read and comprehend is a consistent problem with right-wing extremists; however, and so, I'm sure using the year 1890 instead of 1990 would not stop Glenn Beck from playing wounded here. So ...

My Letter to Glenn Beck

Dear Mr. Beck: You, like the people who you target in your show, are a public figure. In fact, you are even more of a public figure than Van Jones, the man who you chased around with the word "communist." The website with the nasty joke about you can hide behind the word "parody" under right to freedom of speech, just as you can hide behind the phrase "freedom of the press" under the right to freedom of speech, when you declare "Barack Obama is a racist."

Parody. If you are unfamiliar with these satire or parody cases and freedom of speech, please refer to the infamous Jerry Falwell vs. Hustler Magazine SCOTUS case.
Facts of the Case: A lead story in the November 1983 issue of Hustler Magazine featured a "parody" of an advertisement, modeled after an actual ad campaign, claiming that Falwell, a Fundamentalist minister and political leader, had a drunken incestuous relationship with his mother in an outhouse. Falwell sued to recover damages for libel, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Falwell won a jury verdict on the emotional distress claim and was awarded a total of $150,000 in damages. Hustler Magazine appealed.

Question: Does the First Amendment's freedom of speech protection extend to the making of patently offensive statements about public figures, resulting perhaps in their suffering emotional distress?

Conclusion: Yes. In a unanimous opinion the Court held that public figures, such as Jerry Falwell, may not recover for the intentional infliction of emotional distress without showing that the offending publication contained a false statement of fact which was made with "actual malice." The Court added that the interest of protecting free speech, under the First Amendment, surpassed the state's interest in protecting public figures from patently offensive speech, so long as such speech could not reasonably be construed to state actual facts about its subject.

Decisions (on Hustler case): 8 votes for Hustler Magazine, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 1: Speech, Press, and Assembly (Oyez)
You can't get much more offensive than saying a preacher had a drunken, incestuous affair with his own mother," and the SCOTUS let that slide because it was "a joke." A tasteless, crass, unforgivable joke in the minds of some members of the public, including me, but a joke nonetheless.

And while I'm pretty sure the website about you, Mr. Beck, has malicious intent, the same kind of malicious intent you had when you went after Van Jones in revenge for ColorofChange.org going after you for injecting racist rhetoric into the health care reform debate, I'm also sure you may have a problem getting the courts to see you as severely injured by the "Beck is a rapist" parody website. Consider this SCOTUS reasoning from Falwell's case: "... so long as such speech could not reasonably be construed to state actual facts about its subject" it is protected speech. Sadly for you, the very fact that your supporters will shout on your behalf that the website is a lie goes against you. They prove that they don't believe the site's content.

Hmm. The offensive website's title code, the name people see when they Google the information, is "DidGlennBeckRapeandMurderaYoungGirlin1990.com." It is not a declarative statement but an interrogatory. The name of the URL is secondary; it's an address. For instance, most people don't know my blog by its URL but by its title, "Whose Shoes are These Anyway."

Finally, now that the website has added a huge disclaimer declaring its content to be parody, then well ... sorry, Glenn. For the record, I think it's horrible what that website is doing to you because it's possible somebody who doesn't know the meaning of parody and who is willing to believe you're a no-good, shady character may believe the rumor. However, I also thought the way you went after Van Jones and some of the statements you've made about health care reform, such as health care is reparations for slavery, are pretty darn horrible too.

Perhaps you'll see that sometimes, in our quest to exert power over others, we start a chain of events that we can't stop. Karma's a bitch on crack, Glenn, and when she shoots pool the balls fly where they will. That's life. Have a nice day.

Sincrely,
Verite Parlant


I think the website lampooning Beck is horrible. Just horrible. But, honestly, I won't lose any sleep over Beck's discomfort.

5 comments:

underOvr (aka The U) said...

Nordette,

I take no comfort in the just desserts of slander. People like Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs, Dick Chaney, Sarah Palin and Joe Wilson are part of a group of conservatives who believe that if others do not think like them, you attack them. They have successfully employed this philosophy by spreading hate and fear.

Karma isn't responsible for this web site, a human being made the decision to do this.

When an Iraqi threw a shoe at President Bush, some Americans laughed and applauded the act. When a Republican congressman called the President, a liar last week, those same Americans were outraged.

Evil produces evil but we each have a choice on our behavior.

I don't know Glen Beck but he is someone's son; pehaps even a brother, husband and father.

Perhaps he will see that his words were wrong; perhaps he won't, I don't know. I only know I cannot enter the arena of hate and fear without being stained by it.

U

Vérité Parlant is Nordette Adams said...

As I sad at the end of the post, U. I think the website is horrible, but I won't lose sleep over it. Yes, a person did this to Beck, but his own actions and lifestyle brought those people to his door.

Vérité Parlant is Nordette Adams said...

One more thing, whether a person is behind Beck's reaping what he's sown or some cosmic force, I think he'd be better off remembering that there's always a consequence for his actions. We'd probably all be better off if people treated others the way we want to be treated, but I don't think the Becks of this world ever get those memos.

I'm not going to take the politically correct spiritual route on this one. The truth is I don't care what happens to Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh either for that matter. They incite people to evil with little care for the results of their deeds. Beck may be somebody's son, but he behaves like he was raised by a pack of wolves.

underOvr (aka The U) said...

Nordette,

You're right, Glen Beck opened this door himself, he's a big boy so he understands the reality of consequences. If he doesn't then he shouldn't play with matches.

The sadness I feel is that Glen Beck and those who behave like him, have opened a door now. Opening that door damages all of us in some way. To some it implies open and acceptable access to behavior that hurts. To others it inflicts resulting pain directly and indirectly.

I don't know Glen Beck's mother or father; perhaps they raised him to believe in the concept of doing whatever it takes. I only know if I did what he did, it would shame my Mother.

I wasn't attempting to defend his acts. I'm saying that evil has the propensitity to produce greater evil. I hope that when that kind of evil knocks at my door, I don't welcome it in.

The truth is that people like Beck, Limbaugh and Dobbs aren't political figures; they're entertainers. They've found a niche in the American society that loves the medicine they peddle.

Fear and hate are dangerous tools and I genuinely believe the damage they inflict will ignite the powder keg of hate that becomes more and more visible each day.

U

Vérité Parlant is Nordette Adams said...

Hey, U. I thought about you today. (I'm taking a brief training and so was rushing last night to go to bed). I kept thinking, when I get home, I have to tell the U that I forgot o say thank you for commenting, etc.. I was too abrupt and also annoyed with Beck and his ilk. I apologize for that. I always appreciate your visits.