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