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nighttimer
In a political season passions run high and so do the opportunities for ridicule.

Public figures are always easy targets to be skewered over their latest misstep. Just Google the names of Amy Winehouse and Britney Spears today, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton yesterday and Pee Wee Herman and Michael Jackson even further back.

Now throw a political figure in the mix and it gets messy.

That's because fat and Mary Jo Kopechne killing old Teddy Kennedy is a liberal and a Democrat. Larry "Wide Stance" Craig and Mark "Ummm...boys" Foley are Republicans. And Dick "I shoot my friends in the face" Cheney is a Republican and the vice-president of the U.S. And Bill "I like chubby interns wearing thongs" Clinton is a Democrat.

And Barack Hussein Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Sidney McCain are among the possible contenders to be the next President of the United States.

So is it within the bounds of satire, sarcasm and good taste to talk about Obama's ears and middle name or Clinton's endless assortment of pantsuits that cover her fat ankles or McCain's tendency to say "my friends" a lot?

How far can you go before you're being racist about Obama, sexist about Hillary and ageist about McCain?

Who's a fair target for ridicule? The Rutgers woman basketball team as Don Imus thought or Condoleeza Rice as I think?

The board's Survival Guide reads: Only members can be personally attacked. Short of libel, public figures are fair game.

Libel is defined by Merriam-Webster as: 2 a: a written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression b (1): a statement or representation published without just cause and tending to expose another to public contempt (2): defamation of a person by written or representational means

My question is simple: At what point does a poster know they have libeled a public figure and violated The Survival Guide?
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Amlord
At what point does a poster know they have libeled a public figure and violated The Survival Guide?

Libel is exceptionally hard to prove because you must prove that the writer knew what they wrote was false and damaging.

Posting that Dick Cheney is a child pornographer without evidence might be subject to libel suit if it caught enough attention. Saying that Harry Reid looks like a scarecrow would not (it's an opinion).

The greater problem here, from my point of view, is the practice of calling a public figure a name just for the sake of disparaging them. There is no substance there, no message. It is simply a brutish rhetorical tactic and it lessens the perpetrator.

That's one man's opinion, of course, others may disagree.

I will say, for the record, that I regularly skip the posts of a few regular high-post-count members on both sides here on ad.gif. I know what they are going to say before they even hit the "Submit Reply" button. I have better things to do than to read drivel.

Some others seem to be falling into the same category recently.
BoF
QUOTE(Amlord @ Mar 6 2008, 07:13 PM) *
The greater problem here, from my point of view, is the practice of calling a public figure a name just for the sake of disparaging them. There is no substance there, no message. It is simply a brutish rhetorical tactic and it lessens the perpetrator.

That's one man's opinion, of course, others may disagree.

That's fine, but when opinion and practice differ...

QUOTE(Amlord from May 11 @ 2006)
The general feeling is that Congress is filled with do-nothing idiots (or worse!). But the general feeling is "MY Congressman is doing fine!"

(OK, for the record I personally disdain my Congressman Dennis Kookcinich).

http://www.americasdebate.com/forums/index...st&p=186815

Remember this? Perhaps you should practice what you preach. unsure.gif
Amlord
QUOTE(BoF @ Mar 6 2008, 08:20 PM) *
QUOTE
(OK, for the record I personally disdain my Congressman Dennis Kookcinich).

http://www.americasdebate.com/forums/index...st&p=186815

Remember this? Perhaps you should practice what you preach. unsure.gif

laugh.gif "Kookcinich" IS substantive. He's my Congressman! If you want me to prove that Dennis is a Kook, I'm more than prepared to do so... flowers.gif Seriously, if he wins my District again I think I will be running against him in 2010.

What I'm referring to is continuous disparagement of national figures. It has no substance and detracts from any credibility.

The way things are going, BoF, I'm gonna nominate you for Researcher of the Year!!
BoF
QUOTE(Amlord @ Mar 6 2008, 07:34 PM) *
laugh.gif "Kookcinich" IS substantive. He's my Congressman! If you want me to prove that Dennis is a Kook, I'm more than prepared to do so... flowers.gif Seriously, if he wins my District again I think I will be running against him in 2010.

On a lighter note, Amlord, flowers.gif I would gladly trade my congressperson, former Fort Worth Mayor, Kay Granger, who so badly represents the 12th Congressional District of Texas - once held by the great speaker Jim Wright - for either Dennis Kucinich or Dennis Kookcinich. laugh.gif I might even throw in my current state senator Jane Nelson and a couple of Republican draft picks.
Just Leave me Alone!
I really like that the word drivel has taken off at ad.gif.

Anyway, At what point does a poster know they have libeled a public figure and violated The Survival Guide? It's a personal thing. Sometimes you say stuff in the heat of the moment, but when you go back and reread it you know that you're being intellectually dishonest. The problem is that some of us on certain issues are pretty obstinant and have basically 'drunk the Kool Aid'. You lie to yourself enough and you start to believe it. Maybe we need a Most Respectful Debater category at the Year End Awards.

You hurt your own credibility as people won't read your posts if you do it too much. You also hurt whatever cause or candidate that you are trying to push. I think that this campaign can be one of the most respectful, intellectually honest that we've seen in a long time but it starts with us.
drewyorktimes
QUOTE(nighttimer @ Mar 6 2008, 08:51 PM) *
In a political season passions run high and so do the opportunities for ridicule.

Public figures are always easy targets to be skewered over their latest misstep. Just Google the names of Amy Winehouse and Britney Spears today, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton yesterday and Pee Wee Herman and Michael Jackson even further back.

Now throw a political figure in the mix and it gets messy.

That's because fat and Mary Jo Kopechne killing old Teddy Kennedy is a liberal and a Democrat. Larry "Wide Stance" Craig and Mark "Ummm...boys" Foley are Republicans. And Dick "I shoot my friends in the face" Cheney is a Republican and the vice-president of the U.S. And Bill "I like chubby interns wearing thongs" Clinton is a Democrat.

And Barack Hussein Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Sidney McCain are among the possible contenders to be the next President of the United States.

So is it within the bounds of satire, sarcasm and good taste to talk about Obama's ears and middle name or Clinton's endless assortment of pantsuits that cover her fat ankles or McCain's tendency to say "my friends" a lot?

How far can you go before you're being racist about Obama, sexist about Hillary and ageist about McCain?

Who's a fair target for ridicule? The Rutgers woman basketball team as Don Imus thought or Condoleeza Rice as I think?

The board's Survival Guide reads: Only members can be personally attacked. Short of libel, public figures are fair game.

Libel is defined by Merriam-Webster as: 2 a: a written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression b (1): a statement or representation published without just cause and tending to expose another to public contempt (2): defamation of a person by written or representational means

My question is simple: At what point does a poster know they have libeled a public figure and violated The Survival Guide?



Quick word on defamation law, as it relates to this...

A statement isn't libelous unless it...

1.) Causes its target ill-will in his or her community
2.) is repeated or published to the outside world
3.) is false

BUT, if your dealing with a public figure, the statement has to demonstrate actual malice, or "reckless disregard for the truth." There's a hook to this: Let's say you, nighttimer, are a celebrity because, you make movies. Unless my statements about you deal with your celebrity as a filmmaker, then for the purposes of that case, you are not a public figure. If I call Mel Brooks homosexual, then I think, reasonably, he could bring a case against me as a private individual because his life as a director has nothing to do with his sexual orientation. In that case he wouldn't have to prove actual malice, he'd just have to prove the above three conditions. But, if I said that Mel Brooks molested one of his actors, then he would be considered, for the purposes of that case, a public figure, meaning he would have to prove that I printed my comments with the full knowledge or reasonable suspicion that said comments were false. That is a very hard condition to prove.

But, for presidents...

Almost nothing in a presidential candidate's life is considered private. Politicians are as public as figures get, which means that, if Barack Obama wants to sue Fox News, he's going to have to prove that they printed or broadcasted their comments based on information that they knew or should have known were false. That's why talking heads on fox news can say he was "raised in a madrassa." Those rumors are widespread enough that a guest on Bill O'Reilly's show could waltz in and repeat them under the assumption that they were true.

If Bill O'Reilly said "my friend, NightTimer was raised in a Madrassa," that would be a totally different deal. For that case, all you'd have to prove is that a.) o'reilly's statements harmed your reputation in your community, b.) that he said them on national tv, c.) that you weren't raised in a madrassa.

But if you ran for president, you'd have to prove that Bill O'Reilly knew, or had absolutely no reason to believe that you'd been raised in a Madrassa.

What I'm getting at is that I can say whatever I want about Barack Obama's ears or Hillary Clintons ankles before I get anywhere close to the boundaries of libel law.
Aquilla
QUOTE(nighttimer @ Mar 6 2008, 04:51 PM) *
The board's Survival Guide reads: Only members can be personally attacked. Short of libel, public figures are fair game.


The board's Rules state the following as a prohibited item......

QUOTE
žB. Prohibited Items
I. Inflammatory or hateful comments related to race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or age.


Nothing in there differentiating between a public figure or a member of this forum.


Aquilla
Mike
Some of the Rules and Survival Guide are here, believe it or not, for the protection of the members and not of the site itself.

The fact is that here on ad.gif, or at any other forum or blog or website or gas station bulletin board or bathroom wall, those who submit content are ultimately responsible for the content that they submit. As a site, we enjoy safe harbor from prosecution, civilly or criminally, in the event that a member of the forum posts libelous content or any other type of content of questionable legality. The legal extent of our responsibility to address content of questionable legality basically hinges upon the actions we may or may not take in response to properly submitted notices of removal for questionably legal material. So long as we do not encourage posting of materials of a legally questionable nature, and that we respond in a timely fashion and in good faith to any request for content removal, when the removal of that content is warranted, or so long as we act in accordance with any court order properly served upon the site, ad.gif itself is in the clear.

If it were easy to define and make clear distinctions between what is libelous or what is not libelous, I suspect that there would not perpetually be libel suits in the courts. Beyond that, I think the other members have articulated certain aspects of what is and what is not libelous better than I ever could.

smile.gif

Mike
nighttimer
QUOTE(Aquilla @ Mar 6 2008, 11:14 PM) *
QUOTE(nighttimer @ Mar 6 2008, 04:51 PM) *
The board's Survival Guide reads: Only members can be personally attacked. Short of libel, public figures are fair game.


The board's Rules state the following as a prohibited item......

QUOTE
žB. Prohibited Items
I. Inflammatory or hateful comments related to race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or age.


Nothing in there differentiating between a public figure or a member of this forum.


Then it seems to me it becomes a purely subjective situation where it is left to the discretion of the Moderator to determine what is or is not a "inflammatory or hateful comment related to race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or age."

1.) Teddy Kennedy is really fat.
2.) Teddy Kennedy is really fat and a Catholic.
3.) Teddy Kennedy is really fat and a Catholic who got away with murder.

Which of these remarks are inflammatory and/or hateful? All of them? Two of them? None of them? What one person says is "on point" another reads the exact same thing and says it's "off the wall."

I'm not overly concerned if other members like what I say or even read what I say. Like Amlord, when I see posts from certain members, I scroll right past them because I know I'm wasting my time reading their contribution. Other posters make for consistently good reading. But popularity is fleeting and someone who enjoys what I post on one topic may be completely disinterested in what I post on another.

I'm striving for readability, not likability. If that undercuts my credibility, there's not much I can do about it.

I don't want it to be open season on any public figure who ticks me off and I thereby can question his sanity, fidelity to his wife, patriotism and suggest he has an inappropriate physical relationship with his mother. I don't want the board to become a virtual world version of a gas station's mens room either.

So I'll try to dial my righteous outrage down to a "5" or so and try to think before I submit, "Do I REALLY want to say this in this way or is there a better way to still get my point across?"

I am sure when I fall short of this goal there will be someone there to remind me.
Google
Aquilla
QUOTE(nighttimer @ Mar 7 2008, 12:33 AM) *
Then it seems to me it becomes a purely subjective situation where it is left to the discretion of the Moderator to determine what is or is not a "inflammatory or hateful comment related to race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or age."

1.) Teddy Kennedy is really fat.
2.) Teddy Kennedy is really fat and a Catholic.
3.) Teddy Kennedy is really fat and a Catholic who got away with murder.

Which of these remarks are inflammatory and/or hateful? All of them? Two of them? None of them? What one person says is "on point" another reads the exact same thing and says it's "off the wall."



First of all, all three of your statements above are factually correct. whistling.gif

But, you are right, it is a subjective call on the part of the AD staff as to what crosses the line. I don't know what their criteria is. Let me put up my own example.....

1. OJ Simpson is Black and got away with murder.

2. OJ Simpson is Black and because he is Black got away with murder.

The first statement could lead to a re-opening of the case here in this forum concerning the facts of the OJ case. The second statement could lead to a flame war over race rather than the facts of the case.


Aquilla
Julian
QUOTE
Then it seems to me it becomes a purely subjective situation where it is left to the discretion of the Moderator to determine what is or is not a "inflammatory or hateful comment related to race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or age."

1.) Teddy Kennedy is really fat.
2.) Teddy Kennedy is really fat and a Catholic.
3.) Teddy Kennedy is really fat and a Catholic who got away with murder.

Which of these remarks are inflammatory and/or hateful? All of them? Two of them? None of them? What one person says is "on point" another reads the exact same thing and says it's "off the wall."


Good example.

None of your examples above would count, because none of them are inflammatory or hateful under any of those criteria.

This rule does not say that you can't be inflammatory or hateful in your comments, just that you can't do it on the grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or age. Context is everthing, however.

Side noteFor example, asking if the application of the term "house negro" to the Secretary of State would be too much might (or might not) be construed as being inflammatory or hateful, but it certainly goes a lot further towards breaking the spirit, if not the letter, or rule I than anything you've written here about Teddy Kennedy. end of side note

The rule on profanity
QUOTE
III. The use of profanity at any time. This includes profanity look-alikes and intentionally using the banned words filter. If it would not be said on the evening news, it should not be posted on the forum. If a candidate in a presidential debate would not say it, it should not be posted on the forum.
might further inhibit any attempts to be inflammatory or hateful.

Only within those rules does the Survival Guide note on anything about someone in the public sphere being fair game come into play. Unless, of course, that someone in the public sphere happens to be an ad.gif member, in which case Rule II
QUOTE
II. Personal attacks, name-calling, or belittling another member. This includes telling other members to shut up or be quiet, as well as telling other members they are not qualified to post their opinions.
trumps the Survival Guide.

So if you want to protect your favourite public figures from any rule-compliant slurs, make sure that they join ad.gif and become members. (Which would be quite cool anyway.)
AuthorMusician
I would define slander on a debate board pretty broadly, but so what. It's not like someone big is going to complain that someone small made fun of them or lied about them on a debate board, especially this one where blatent slander is moderated. The other less controlled boards don't get dinked, or maybe they do and I just haven't heard about it.

Getting cute with names is pretty old. I guess some people still find it entertaining. I do like the acronyms that have developed like POTUS. It also gets rid of the capitalization rules for president and presidency, and it doesn't seem to have any disrespect to it.

And yes, I'm a scroll-by type when I know the positions of various members well enough. That's more from familiarity than ignoring viewpoints, and time is very precious right now . . . so, you won't get any royalties from me.

Oh that's right. Nobody gets royalties at all. Have to do Helium for that, or better, tech writing. Which reminds me, back on the head . . .
Trouble
At what point does a poster know they have libeled a public figure and violated The Survival Guide?

I'd say when they have made comments which were not supported by most of the board and could be countered from many different angles. I guess I'm looking for a mix of venomous intent combined with unrepentant attitude. Beyond that I really couldn't be bothered who says what.
carlitoswhey
To be honest, I edited one of my posts about a public figure after reading this topic. I do not want to run the risk of being supenoaed to confirm or deny what I posted here anonymously.
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