Judge Orders Satirical Site To Remove Joke Story About Fictional Giraffe Attack

from the there-goes-the-onion dept

There are tons of "satirical" news websites out there (pretty much all of them are following -- not nearly as well -- in the trail blazed by The Onion) and every so often it is true that someone gets "fooled" by one of those sites. But it usually doesn't take long for the fooled party to set things straight. But apparently the Global Wildlife Center in Louisiana thinks that a satire about itself is illegal... and somehow has convinced a judge of that as well. Romenesko points us to the news that a judge has issued an injunction forcing a blog to pull down its satirical story about a supposed "giraffe attack" at the Center. The story was a play on the usual stories of tiger or bear attacks. Who knows if it was actually funny or not, but the Center's director is upset that "it's malicious and untrue." It's satire. It wasn't malicious, but the whole point is that it's untrue. It's pretty sad that the judge agreed to shut it down, and the Center's argument that it can't be satire because "the site isn't labeled as satire" is pretty ridiculous as well. Should everyone writing satire be forced to label it as such?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    icon
    Rose M. Welch (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 2:22pm

    SarcMarc!

    See, Mike? A clear need for the SarcMarc.

    Oh, wait, I might need one now...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 3:01pm

    If the Only TRUE Satire is marked as such...

    We should begin to eat babies!

    It is so clear now! Johnathan Swift was a baby eating cannibal and he convinced us all he was really writing satire! We should have known for the lack of a full disclaimer that makes it clear!

    (... Do I even need to say it?)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 3:03pm

      Re: If the Only TRUE Satire is marked as such...

      Thank you. I had been trying to figure out how to cram a Jonathan Swift reference into the post and couldn't come up with a way to do so... So I'm glad that someone figured out how to do so by the second comment!

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Jamie Y, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 3:03pm

    Um.

    Can someone clarify how this doesn't violate a right to freedom of speech?

    I'm not understanding.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Marcus Carab (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 3:47pm

      Re: Um.

      Freedom of speech is variable, and dependent on how good a lawyer you can afford.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        Fred McTaker (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 5:15pm

        Re: Re: Um.

        Actually the Supreme Court, through Citizens United and other cases, has made finding out how much "free" speech you have very simple. Here's the equation they set have up now:

        Money = Speech

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Tiffany, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 4:26pm

      Re: Um.

      There are exceptions to freedom of speech, one of which has been carved out for defamatory material. While it's certainly arguable that this WASN'T defamatory because no one would take it as fact, I have to believe that's what the decision was based on.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 4:41pm

        Re: Re: Um.

        "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

        The first five words leave absolutely ZERO leeway for your so-called exceptions. Individual states, however can add clauses such as defamatory material.

        10th Ammendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      btr1701 (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 7:42am

      Re: Um.

      > Can someone clarify how this doesn't violate
      > a right to freedom of speech?

      It clearly does. Based on the 200+ years of jurisdprudence illuminating the 1st Amendment, this judge's order was illegal.

      Shouldn't be too hard to have it overturned on appeal, if the site owner has the desire and funding to continue to defend the case.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 3:07pm

    "The Global Wildlife Center is fucking retarded!" - Stephen Colbert

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    CrushU, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 3:21pm

    Just put

    a ¡ at the end of your satirical post, and all is well!

    TA-DAAAAAAA!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      zcat (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 3:56pm

      Re: Just put

      That's apparently called the 'Temherte Slaqî'

      And there's also the reverse question mark '⸮' for a rhetorical question (¿ is for asking questions in Spanish!)

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    NAMELESS.ONE, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 3:30pm

    Stephen Colbert and his provider are fucking retarded

    its like calling the kettle black if ya know what i mean.
    THEY'LL sue you for a comment but DONT touch him doing it to you

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Fred McTaker (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 5:27pm

      Re: Stephen Colbert and his provider are fucking retarded

      I wonder sometimes if Fox News is really meant to be a satirical channel 24/7 and I'm just missing the jokes. I mean, having your head that far up your butt just can't be real, can it? Can any living conscious person really be as consistently hypocritical as that lot? I read that article about how Republicans think Stephen Colbert is really a conservative, and I laugh at those idiots just like everybody. But could it be that Fox itself is just even more subtle in its satire, so extremely subtle that even educated people don't find it funny?

      Then I watch Republicans on CSPAN, realize that they aren't doing it for ratings, and I'm relieved. It's all a joke, just not intentionally.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Seumas Hyslop (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 3:47pm

    No where on The Onion actually marks that site as satire. Instead, it proudly proclaims that it is "America's Finest News Source".

    Is the judge going to order that the entire Onion site be removed now?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Andrew F (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 3:54pm

    I popped on over to the site and found stories like this:

    -----

    Local officials have been preparing a list of area-specific questions to include in the national census which will be arriving in mail boxes this month.

    The extra information will enable the Tangipahoa government to better serve locals by tailoring resources and services to our particular needs.

    HAN was able to get a preview of the new “Tangi Census” that residents can expect to receive.

    UNITED STATES CENSUS - Tangipahoa Parish (SAMPLE)

    Residents are under no legal obligation to complete the amended forms.

    1. Where do you and your family prefer to worship?
    A. Catholic church
    B. Galvalume church
    C. Wal-Mart

    2. What most concerns your family?
    A. Afghan troops in Independence
    B. Suicide golf cart attacks in Hammond
    C. The legal confiscation of body parts

    3. What is your vote worth to you?
    A. As a passionate believer in our democracy, my vote is vitally important.
    B. $20
    If you answered B, please enter your name and address below.

    4. Do you miss Arden Wells’ election commercials?
    A. Yes, very much
    B. Oh yes
    C. Absolutely

    5. How far will you drive for a bottle of wine on Sundays?
    A. 20 miles or less
    B. More than 20 miles
    C. The Piggly Wiggly in Springfield

    -----

    http://www.hammondactionnews.com/post/421121088/2010census

    If you don't recognize that as satire, then you're a moron in a hurry.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    John Duncan Yoyo (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 4:00pm

    In a related story

    District Judge Brenda Bedsole Ricks was mauled by thousands of lemmings. The lemmings apparently mistook her robes for a cliff and swarmed up the legal reinements.

    Fortunately none of the lemmings were harmed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Avatar28 (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 4:21pm

    change the name?

    I wonder, if they took down the story, replaced the name of the center with something almost, but not quite, the Global Wildlife Center and then put it back up if they would get into trouble.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Tiffany (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 4:33pm

      Re: change the name?

      I would think not. It was probably a significant miscalculation for the site to use the name of a real facility.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 7:27pm

        Re: Re: change the name?

        "I would think not. It was probably a significant miscalculation for the site to use the name of a real facility."

        Yes, because satire works so much better when you have to encode the subject of it.

        Are you British, perchance?

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          vivaelamor (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 5:04am

          Re: Re: Re: change the name?

          "Are you British, perchance?"

          What would being British have to do with your point? I don't think The Guardian encoded anything when they titled a piece "A peek at the diary of Sir Elton John".

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            icon
            ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 8:42am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: change the name?

            "What would being British have to do with your point?"

            They have much stricter libel laws, to the point where even truth is not a defense.

            That they also have a lot of satire and exposé confuses me, but they're a jurisdiction-shopping destination for a reason.

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              icon
              Almost Anonymous (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 9:51am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: change the name?

              Truth is no longer a pure defense for libel in the US either...

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              •  
                icon
                ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 10:57am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: change the name?

                "Truth is no longer a pure defense for libel in the US either..."

                [Citation Needed]

                 

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                •  
                  icon
                  vivaelamor (profile), Mar 6th, 2010 @ 1:40pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: change the name?

                  "[Citation Needed]"

                  He is presumably referring to Noonan v. Staples, Inc. but Wikipedia points out that the first amendment was not invoked and casts doubt on the decision effecting future cases significantly.

                   

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              icon
              vivaelamor (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 10:17am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: change the name?

              "They have much stricter libel laws, to the point where even truth is not a defense.

              I hate our idiotic laws as much as anyone but as someone who is expected to abide by them I have to point out that this statement is false. Truth might not be an absolute defence but it is certainly still a valid defence.

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              •  
                icon
                ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 10:56am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: change the name?

                "Truth might not be an absolute defence but it is certainly still a valid defence."

                I feel for you, but I can't wrap my head around the concept of speaking the truth, but being found guilty of libel.

                 

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        melissa, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 9:07am

        Re: Re: change the name?

        It is certainly a horrible miscalculation to use the real name of Global Wildlife Center. While true, this kid's site is clearly meant to be satirical, the media in louisiana is clearly NOT educated enough to realize that fact. Several news crews were publishing the story as if it were true, which is a catastrophic blow to a non-profit organization whose foundation is "learning through touch". I have been taking my kids to Global Wildlife for years and absolutely love and truly respect their organization. It is a real shame to see them in such poor light of the media.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        melissa, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 9:17am

        Re: Re: change the name?

        It is certainly a horrible miscalculation to use the real name of Global Wildlife Center. While true, this kid's site is clearly meant to be satirical, the media in louisiana is clearly NOT educated enough to realize that fact. Several news crews were publishing the story as if it were true, which is a catastrophic blow to a non-profit organization whose foundation is "learning through touch". I have been taking my kids to Global Wildlife for years and absolutely love and truly respect their organization. It is a real shame to see them in such poor light of the media.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    masterymistery, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 5:13pm

    giraffe attack

    Scary, very scary. Not the Giraffe, the Judge. Not the story, the judgement. I've long said that the US is an irony free zone. Looks as if it's moving into negative terrain, ie, not only irony free or irony neutral, but irony negative---so that even if irony were permitted the US would need vast unimaginably vaST quantities of it just to reach irony neutral or irony zero if you prefer. masterymistery at cosmic rapture

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      TW Burger (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 7:15pm

      Re: giraffe attack

      The judge should be commended. Someone had to stop the unending, invasive Giraffe coverage. Someone has to stand up to the needless damage that the gossip, innuendo, satire, irony, and even (gasp) sarcasm contained in the media's endless daily coverage has inflicted on poor Giraffe.

      Oh, I meant Tiger.

      The American culture that allows a human to be tortured by mainstream media but rules against satire of institutions and animals by a fringe comedy writers consists of very warped values.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Giraffobic, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 5:23pm

    Fiction based on fact

    I have been terrified of giraffes and okapi since I was a wee child when one of the reticulated variety licked me face at the zoo. I believe this qualifies as a "attack". Giraffe attacks are real and seeing stories like this cause me great emotional distress, nightmares and PTSD. I believe that since I experienced a true giraffe attack that the story in question could be real and therefore is not satire but fiction based on a real event. By the way ... I'm suing because I think the story must be based on me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    wallow-T, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 5:37pm

    Hmm, how long until the original story spreads from fark.com across the globe, forever?

    Meanwhile, the original web site gets its digs in:

    'DAMAGED' ALLIGATOR THREATENS LEGAL ACTION

    http://www.hammondactionnews.com/post/415592247/gatorlawsuit0210

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 5:56pm

    So in other words: "Judge censors speech, contrary to the laws of the nation."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    bob, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 6:25pm

    Offensive Satire

    The only offensive satire I could think of involved a preacher, a mother, alcohol, and some guy from Kentucky named Flint.

    Swift is more illustrative.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    indeciSEAN (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 7:30pm

    Anyone been following the Amanda Palmer/Evelyn Evelyn drama?

    Before I even read this piece, I was wondering how closely it'd parallell to what recently happened to songwriter Amanda Palmer, and the Evelyn Evelyn album that she's been working on.

    To quickly summarize:
    * An album produced by Amanda
    * By "conjoined twins" (with a full backstory that's later going to be put into comic book form via Dark Horse)
    * Without hearing the record/getting most of the contest, people freak out
    * There becomes a war of "This is offensive" vs "you fucking thought this was REAL? You're DUMB!" type comments

    Amanda's response is available at:
    http://blog.amandapalmer.net/post/396762227/evelyn-evelyn-drama-drama
    (One of my other favorite/most interesting responses to the whole thing was at http://amuchmoreexotic.livejournal.com/408855.html)

    While I can see both sides of the argument (a lot more than in the case of the giraffe), it's definitely very bizarre to see stuff like this go down at all........

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 8:57pm

      Re: Anyone been following the Amanda Palmer/Evelyn Evelyn drama?

      I'm more offended at the person who sold her a keyboard with a broken shift key.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    G Thompson (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 8:12pm

    OOps I just found the page using Google Cache ( http://74.125.153.132/search?q=cache:TcAmvllXvi4J:www.hammondactionnews.com/post/411762027/giraffe02 10+hammondactionnews&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=au ) and copied and made a screenshot of it.

    ¿ Aint technology grand ¿

    (see I made it sarcastic by the use of ¿ ..LOL)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      BearGriz72 (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 12:07pm

      ROFL

      "Guidry's camcorder evidence from the attack can be seen in an upcoming FPTV Channel 17 special. WHEN GOOD GIRAFFES GO BAD will premier March 12 at 10pm after re-runs of the 2001 spectacular BILL HOOD CATCHES MORE FISH."

      Tune In

      (May the gods of Irony, Sarcasm, & Satire defecate upon the Judge and Plaintiffs in this ridiculous farce of supreme stupidity.)

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    angelica, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 5:21am

    Love the site

    I'm liking that site the more I read it.
    They got their digs in with this story as well:

    http://www.hammondactionnews.com/post/413333550/missingace

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Alan (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 9:43am

    Napoleon

    Maybe this has something to do with it: http://www.slate.com/id/2126126/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    The Infamous Joe (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 10:15am

    Uh.

    Now, I know these things can be inserted after the fact and all, but click the disclaimer at the bottom of the page?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Yermom (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 10:27am

    Please join the casue to prevent these horrible events from ever happening again!

    I was saddedned to hear about the horrible giraffe massacre, and hope that my contribution will provide additional giraffe security and pay your legal bills for those bastards that dared make fun of your precious bestiality sanctuary. I will be cancelling my birthdy party immediately for fear of future bestly incidents. Enclosed please find my utter disgust, a large amoutn of condecension, and fourteen ROFLs to send to the families of those that sacrificed their lives to this horrible, mean event. I truly hope your business does not suffer due to the fact that you take free publicity and spend my hard earned money on lawyers instead of giraffe training classes.

    Dumbasses.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 9:15am

      Re: Please join the casue to prevent these horrible events from ever happening again!

      Global Wildlife Center is a non-profit organization, any funding for cases such as these come straight out of pocket of a third party.

      get your facts straight kid.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        wilson2981, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 10:32am

        Re: Re: Please join the casue to prevent these horrible events from ever happening again!

        anonymous coward,

        "Global Wildlife Center is a non-profit organization, any funding for cases such as these come straight out of pocket of a third party.

        get your facts straight kid."


        i believe nonprofit organizations have an amount of funding for representation in court, after all it is in the interest of the organization to pay to represent themselves, as is the premise of a non-profit. it is a question of whether or not their decision actually was beneficial. the wildlife organization obviously saw this as a large enough threat to their well being to take action. the site is certainly satirical, though.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 9:17am

      Re: Please join the casue to prevent these horrible events from ever happening again!

      Global Wildlife Center is a non-profit organization, any funding for cases such as these come straight out of pocket of a third party.

      get your facts straight kid.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Dr. Jochen L. Leidner, Mar 6th, 2010 @ 1:00am

    Giraffe attack documented

    If freedom of speech isn't upheld anymore, maybe a proof
    that the story was true could help :-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    enrolled agent exam (profile), Mar 6th, 2010 @ 9:13pm

    Our court system

    This just in, Giraffe goes to Kangaroo court-- story at 11. Seriously, why even take the case?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This