December 1, 2005

Rush Limbaugh’s Idea of a Joke

Posted by Eric Jaffa
August 16, 2005 @ 9:06 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Media Watch

Cindy Sheehan’s son Casey was a soldier. He was killed in Iraq.

She is camping in Crawford, TX, in an attempt to speak to George W. Bush about what the mission is in Iraq.

Rush Limbaugh made these remarks on his radio show, Aug. 16, 2005:

I’m weary, ladies and gentlemen, of even having to express sympathy. “Oh, she lost her son!” Yes, yes, yes, but (sigh) we all lose things.

(interruption) Snerdley thinks the red flags are going up and I should shut up now, right?

No, I’m serious about this. At some point… You know, people have been bending over backwards to understand her and give her the benefit of the doubt.

Now she’s starting to complain that the media has turned her act into a circus. I’m sure — to make this even funnier — I’m sure you’ve got some of these non-factor little liberal radio shows out there thinking they’re responsible for the crowd down there and they can’t wait to go down there and broadcast live from the place, to extract their pound of flesh and make it look like they’re the ones responsible for this.

It’s just a joke. It’s a flat-out joke, in practically every which way.


Lawsuit Against Blogger Who Wrote About Her Sex Life in Washington, DC

Posted by Eric Jaffa
August 16, 2005 @ 7:35 am
Filed under: Free Speech

From the Washington Post:

Kiss-and-tell is as old as love itself. Fortunately, most indiscreet paramours limit their blabbing to a few confidants. Not Jessica Cutler. In May 2004, she spilled out the graphic details of her sexual exploits on Capitol Hill on a blog accessible to hundreds of millions of Internet users. young woman in a white t-shirt

Now a federal lawsuit by one of her past lovers has set up a potentially high-stakes battle between privacy and speech rights and could give new meaning to the idea of safe sex in a wired world.

Cutler’s blog, written under the pseudonym Washingtonienne, was a daily diary of her sex life while working as a staffer for Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio). It recounted, entertainingly and in considerable — sometimes embarrassing — detail, her ongoing relationships with six men, including plaintiff Robert Steinbuch, a lawyer who also worked for DeWine. Although Cutler never used his full name, and usually referred to the plaintiff by his initials, Steinbuch alleges the blog revealed sufficient information, including his first name, physical description and where he worked, to identify him.

Fortunately, free speech will probably prevail:

The law, however, appears to be against him. This is because Steinbuch does not allege that any of the statements about him are untrue. False statements that damage one’s reputation can be actionable as defamation. The essence of Steinbuch’s claim is: You humiliated me by publicizing these true details about my private life.

His case hinges on a century-old privacy tort claim known as “public disclosure of private facts.” In theory, the tort provides a remedy when one publicizes private, embarrassing, non-newsworthy facts about a person in a manner that reasonable people would find highly offensive.

But while Cutler’s actions may meet this standard, courts have long been hostile to such lawsuits because of a fear of inhibiting free speech. The Supreme Court has never upheld punishment, based on a privacy theory, for the publication of true information.

It’s one thing if revealed information is specifically protected by law (like the identity of an undercover CIA employee*), but this lawsuit doesn’t meet that test.

* I’m ambivalent about CIA secrecy as well. If there is ever a lawsuit against a publication by an undercover CIA employee involved in torture-and-death-squads, I may take the free speech side in that case, too.