Judge Decides That Calling Someone A Douchebag Is Okay... So Long As It's Funny

from the laugh,-people dept

Last year, a series of lawsuits were filed over the publishing of a book based on the hit website Hot Chicks with Douchebags. Some of the "hot chicks" and at least one of the "douchebags" claimed it was libelous. However, in a rather entertaining ruling, a judge has dismissed the case filed by three of the women, noting that after he "carefully scrutinized" the book, he determined that the use of the term "douchebag" along with the various photographs was "used for humorous social commentary" -- making it perfectly legal. So, kids, remember when calling someone names, make sure to do so in a way that is funny and used for social commentary. Otherwise you might not only look like a douchebag, but you might end up in court.


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    Phillip, Feb 11th, 2009 @ 10:39am

    HA-larious

    That's great.

    Humor about humor...

     

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    Jesse, Feb 11th, 2009 @ 10:47am

    Mike, you sir, are a bag of douche. And I mean that in a purely socially commentarily humourly kind of way.

     

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    Ima Fish, Feb 11th, 2009 @ 10:47am

    The opinion was certainly well written, well supported, and easy to understand. But it's a stretch to call it entertaining.

     

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    Pitabred, Feb 11th, 2009 @ 11:12am

    Seems ok to me

    Free speech rights are protected in a social commentary sense while still allowing specific, directed attacks to be prosecuted as libel when fitting. I can't really say I'm upset with the ruling.

     

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      ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Feb 11th, 2009 @ 5:37pm

      Re: Seems ok to me

      "Free speech rights are protected in a social commentary sense while still allowing specific, directed attacks to be prosecuted as libel when fitting. I can't really say I'm upset with the ruling."

      The realization that parody/critiques/etc. were considered 'fair use' while homage/tribute/etc. were not was my first clue that the laws were fundamentally broken.

       

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    Gabe, Feb 11th, 2009 @ 11:23am

    I don't understand...

    What I don't understand is how calling anyone a "hot chick" or a "douchebag" can be considered libel. Clearly a "hot chick" and "douchebag" are descriptive of personal feelings with no standard for judgment. To be libel I would expect a phrase that is a fully realized evaluation of personality to be used. i.e. He is a fraudster. Now, either "he" is or is not a fraudster and has lied about something. Anyone can look at evidence and see if the person lied or did not lie. However in this case, what makes a person a "hot chick?" What to me maybe a "hot chick" to my best friend would not. There is no clear definition of "hot chick" to base wither this is libel or not. If the woman in question truly is a "hot chick" then this is not libel, it is fact. Who gets to merit if she qualifies as a "hot chick?"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2009 @ 11:24am

    Well, since to be libel, it has to be false, wouldn't in each of the cases either a) the chick need to prove that she's not hot, or b) the guys have to prove that they're not douchebags?

    Having seen the site I can see A being very possible, but B being a nearly insurmountable obstacle.

     

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      miyna, Feb 11th, 2009 @ 2:47pm

      Re:

      I agree; the very act of filing the lawsuit and expecting not to be labeled a douchebag instantly qualifies one for the title. It's a catch-22 of the highest caliber.

       

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    Lint, Feb 11th, 2009 @ 12:30pm

    correct ruling

    This is a perfectly correct ruling. To be libel, the alleged slander has to be believable. It is not believable that the dudes mentioned are *literally* douchebags.

    This is similar to the Hustler lampoon which suggested humorously that a preacher had sex in an outhouse; or the cartoons that said Reagan had no brain. They are not literally believable, and are therefore not libelous.

    - Lint

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 7:39am

      Re: correct ruling

      This is a perfectly correct ruling. To be libel, the alleged slander has to be believable. It is not believable that the dudes mentioned are *literally* douchebags.

      I see. So if , for example, you were "straight" (not *literally*) and objected to being called homosexual, I could still publish a book calling you a "cock smoker" because, obviously, one cannot *literally* smoke a cock. That's an interesting legal theory you have there but I'm doubting that you're an actual lawyer.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 7:45am

    am I the only one

    that thinks all the people involved in this case are duechbags

     

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    Stephen, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 9:56am

    a disappointing ruling

    How much better would it have been if the judge had ruled against the plaintiffs by saying they had no standing in the case because the guy was, in fact, a douchebag and the chicks were hot.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 2:12pm

    Now that is some funny stuff

     

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