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Old December 6, 2012, 12:27 PM   #1
JimDandy
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What are the chances the NRA targets Whitlock for Libel and wins?

After claiming the NRA is the new KKK on a radio program, what are the chances the NRA could sue Jason Whitlock for Libel and win?
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Old December 6, 2012, 12:40 PM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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It would be Slander, since it was spoken word.

There are 4 basic standards for winning a Slander/Libel case.

1)Someone actually DID say/write it.
2)Someone other than the plaintiff heard/saw it.
3)It can be proved who said/wrote it.
4)The Plaintiff's finances/reputation were damaged by what was said/written.

The first 3, in this case, are a slam dunk.

Number 4 is tough to prove. Almost impossible in very many cases. You'd practically need someone to testify that, because of that statement, they didn't join or dropped membership from the NRA, or some similar action, to prove it. Tough to do. It's like proving that the reason I've never met a person is because the person doesn't like me, but I don't even know the person exists because I've never met them.
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Old December 6, 2012, 12:51 PM   #3
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I was under the impression that because it was published by a news outlet it was libel, and slander was for the everyday Joe running his mouth? At least what I picked up from reading the Wikipedia article on the thing...
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Old December 6, 2012, 12:57 PM   #4
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Maybe, I'm no lawyer. My layman's understanding is that Libel is written word (or visual) and Slander is spoken.
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Old December 6, 2012, 01:13 PM   #5
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Yeah, and I'm not sure if it is a slam dunk (and the legitimate defenses listed on the wikipedia article make me wonder) I'm not sure the NRA would bother with the suit, preferring he and his opinion fade away... but part of me would really like to see Fox and Mr. Whitlock called on the carpet for this.
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Old December 6, 2012, 02:54 PM   #6
Aguila Blanca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Pfleuger
There are 4 basic standards for winning a Slander/Libel case.

1)Someone actually DID say/write it.
2)Someone other than the plaintiff heard/saw it.
3)It can be proved who said/wrote it.
4)The Plaintiff's finances/reputation were damaged by what was said/written.

The first 3, in this case, are a slam dunk.
You missed one: The statement must be false or incorrect, and the person making the statement must either have known it to be false or incorrect, or have failed to make any "reasonable" effort to determine the veracity of the statement before making it. ["Reckless disregard for truth"]

As to your #4, I'm not sure that actual damages have to be proven in order to win a lawsuit for libel or slander, but the amount of monetary loss the subject might have incurred or is likely to incur would no doubt affect the amount of any damages awarded. I think another factor is that it must be proven that the person making the statement did so with the intention of damaging the subject's reputation or income.

However, IANAL either.

JimDandy, Whitlock initially made the statement orally, on a broadcast. That makes it slander. The fact that the story was later reported in print media doesn't change that.
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Old December 6, 2012, 03:05 PM   #7
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Add actual malice since the NRA is a public figure or organisation.

The statement is stupid and misleading and seems to contain ample malice, but people are also entitled to speak with some poetic latitude.

"My mother-in-law is worse than Hitler" is certainly untrue and defamatory, but hyperbole is an accepted device.

Contrast that with falsely accusing a private citizen of murder in your local paper, knowing it is false, and causing him the loss of his livelihood. That's the sort of fat pattern in which litigation might result in a judgment for the plaintiff.
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Old December 6, 2012, 03:17 PM   #8
Glenn E. Meyer
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Given the last election - wouldn't both sides be suing each other constantly?

This should be handled by reasoned rhetoric as compared to the courts.

Suing over hyperbole in opinion isn't really the way to go, IMHO.

BTW, not being a lawyer - you would be suing for damages. What monetary damages did the NRA suffer in the compensatory realm? Punitive damages?

Probably wouldn't happen.
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Old December 6, 2012, 03:22 PM   #9
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Yeah, I know it wouldn't happen, but given the last few things he's put out and been famous for, it sure would be nice if he was too busy talking to his legal department to say anything else for a while.
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Old December 6, 2012, 03:46 PM   #10
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At a practical level, a defamation suit is a terrible remedy.

If I say "JimDandy is a stinker!", and you sue me over it, then we get to have a big public trial in which a central question is "Is JimDandy a stinker?". Someone probably writes an article about how interesting my position on JimDandy is, and what else I think. I get free advertising. I get to put on witnesses who list why you are a stinker, and you get to argue that you are not a stinker.

When it is all over, when people hear your name, they think "stinker".

Last edited by zukiphile; December 7, 2012 at 08:10 AM.
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Old December 6, 2012, 07:46 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zukiphile
At a practical level, a defamation suit is a terrible remedy...
And that is exactly right. Among other things, most slurs, like the one here, fade away quickly. In a week very few people will remember any of this, and in a couple of months it will most likely completely disappear from the public consciousness.

But if a defamation suit is brought, the slur will continue to pop up in public sources as long as the litigation is around to be reported on.
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Old December 6, 2012, 08:29 PM   #12
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It is slander, things broadcast are "published", you have to prove intent as well as malice and it's really tough when the victim is a public person (hey Supreme court says corporations are people).
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Old December 6, 2012, 11:27 PM   #13
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And on top of the malice requirement for public persons (which the NRA cerainly is), there is the requirement that the statement be false, not merely an expression of opinion. What Whitlock said is that, in his view, the NRA is full of a bunch of racist OFWGs, just like the KKK. And it is undoubtedly true that the vast majority of the membership of the NRA qualify as OFWGs. The racist part of the equation is the opinion part--neither provably rue or flase, as Whitlock is of the opinion that the prurpose of the NRA is to allow the injection firearms into the ghettos in order to kill young black males. [As an aside, a lot of black urban inner city voters are anit-gun because all they see is that guns bring death and misery to their neighborhoods.] This is not slander. It is legitimate discourse in the public sector, an opinion which you are free to disagree with and argue against.
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Old December 6, 2012, 11:38 PM   #14
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in his view, the NRA is full of a bunch of racist OFWGs, just like the KKK.
Right, and therein lies the difference. If he'd said, "the NRA is controlled and funded by the KKK," that would qualify. To say "the NRA is like the KKK" would not. The first is a blatantly untrue statement; the second is an expression of opinion.

Just because something is hurtful or ignorant doesn't mean it qualifies as defamation. If it did, I'd truly fear for the 1st Amendment.

Dumb people have the right to say dumb things so the rest of us have the right to say ain't dumb things.
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Old December 7, 2012, 09:49 AM   #15
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Does the NRA not accept and represent members of all races, creeds, sexual preferences, et cetera?

Last I knew, the Klan was pretty.....erm....selective about who they let into the "club" And everyone knows that hate groups are soooo last century

I seriously doubt they would time, energy, or money suing for slander - why bother? Let buffoons be buffoons, sooner or later the public figures it out
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Old December 7, 2012, 04:35 PM   #16
JimDandy
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On the bright side, he's printed what must qualify as a retraction and apology. Of course, if I'd ever issued an apology such as that one, my momma woulda tanned my bottom and made me do it right.
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Old December 7, 2012, 10:05 PM   #17
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On the bright side, he's printed what must qualify as a retraction and apology.
Can you provide a link?
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Old December 8, 2012, 01:38 AM   #18
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Well there's another issue here: the "public figure" rule.

The NRA as a group would probably qualify, and if so the standards for how much opinion you can throw at them is broader.

You can actually say much worse things about, say, Donald Trump and get away with it than you can saying stuff about your neighbor down the street. The courts basically say "Donald has put himself in the public arena, he's going to have to toughen up".

Very likely the same would be said about the NRA.
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Old December 8, 2012, 12:39 PM   #19
JimDandy
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http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/j...tragedy-120612

Given how unapologetic the apology is, I believe Fox told him to apologize and locked him in a conference room with Legal until they extracted enough of an apology to cover their bases.
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