I just wanted to give the American Civil Liberties Union a round of applause for the following lines in their amicus brief calling for Dan Snyder's lawsuit against the Washington City Paper to be dismissed. The chutzpah the brief shows is hilarious, and I now see why 14 organizations signed on.
Here are our five favorite lines of the brief.
5. It is unlikely that any reader visualized the plaintiff in a HAZMAT suit spraying toxic defoliant around his back yard.
This is in response to Dave McKenna's line about Snyder going "Agent Orange" on federally-protected lands. Brownie points to the first person to photoshop Snyder in a HAZMAT suit.
4. Plaintiff's only hope of scaling this cliff lies in persuading this Court to apply a requirement of literal exactness - that readers would understand the statements to mean that he personally forged signatures, personally sprayed Agent Orange on trees in his backyard, and was literally removed from the Board of Six Flags. But literal exactness is not the proper standard for this Court to apply. Unhappily for the plaintiff, but happily for freedom of speech, a showing of material falsity requires a showing of departure from the truth that would matter to a reader - not a departure that would matter to a cite-checker or a copy editor, but to the readers in whose opinion the plaintiff alleges he has been harmed.
Because Dan Snyder hates free speech, and this needs to be pointed out.
3. It is altogether common for the actions of agents to be recounted in the name of their boss; if a headline said, "MURDOCH HACKED CELL PHONES OF YOUNG MURDER VICTIM AND BRITISH TROOPS KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN," no sensible reader would visualize Rupert Murdoch sitting at a keyboard with earphones on his head, typing computer code.
A timely reference: well done.
2. "While the plaintiff has not yet had an opportunity to make his case, and it would therefore be premature for amici to express an unqualified conclusion on the merits, the facts on the public record suggest that he is as likely to prevail on the merits here as Voldemort is to prevail over Harry Potter in their final battle."
Another timely reference, well done. Though let's be honest: Voldemort didn't have to trot out John Beck as his quarterback.
1. Absent exceptionally dramatic and unexpected revelations by the plaintiff, his ability to demonstrate a likelihood of prevailing on the merits appears to be of the same order of magnitude as the likelihood of the Redskins winning this year’s Super Bowl.
BUT WE HAVE JOHN BECK! THIS IS OUR YEAR, REDSKINS NATION! WE'RE GOING 12-4 BABY!