First interesting case of the new year, I’d say, about Defamation.
The Ninth, not unanimously, found for the defendants “as a matter of law”.
ESPN is a subsidiary of Walt Disney, Inc., and Knievel sued in State court in Montana, where he lives, and the case was later transferred to Federal court there.
Seems that ESPN took pictures of Evel with his arms around his wife, and another woman, not identified. Then they ran the picture, and others, on their website, and captioned it “Evel Knievel proves that you’re never too old to be a pimp.”
The justices looked at all of the pictures, and the captions. They found that some others made somewhat less objectionable fun of the subjects. One showed a woman in a black dress, and it said that she was “lookin’ sexy, even though we all know she is hardcore.” Another showed a man wearing shades “…so the ladies can’t see him scoping.”
The court backed the federal judge in Montana.
I found it interesting, because it deals with the division between funny and serious.
We’ve all been in situations where we straddle the fence of this divide, hoping to get the best of both worlds. But there is no bright line.
We say something in a kidding fashion, and the target decides to treat the remark as serious. And sometimes we say the funny bit in order to be taken seriously, and get ignored. And we actors know it is much harder to do comedy, every time – but I digress.
For this court, context was all.