By Ephrat Livni
1 August 2017

(Quartz) – The American Civil Liberties Union isn’t exactly known for its sense of humor. But on 1 August 2017, the defenders of free speech filed a jocular amicus brief in perhaps the most comical case of 2017, a year that’s proving pretty amusing for US courts.

Still, the organization warns it’s serious about what’s at stake in The Marshall County Coal Company v. John Oliver. In June, a group of coal companies filed a defamation claim in a West Virginia court after unflattering coverage of the industry on an episode of HBO’s weekly show Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.

The June 18 episode covered coal and the industry’s promises to workers. The comedian called coal “basically cocaine for Thomas the Tank Engine” and began by laughing at US president Donald Trump’s pledges that his policies would lead to otherwise under- or unemployed coal miners working their “asses off” during his administration. Oliver soon moved on to mocking industry insiders, like Bob Murray, the CEO of Murray Energy Corporation. The comedian said he’d have to tread carefully with Murray, as the mining baron’s company had already sent him a cease and desist letter.

Screenshot from the 18 June 2017 episode of 'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver' (HBO), featuring a segment on coal. In June, a group of coal companies filed a defamation claim in a West Virginia court after unflattering coverage by Oliver. Photo: Last Week Tonight

When Oliver insisted on “being mean” to Murray anyway—in the ACLU’s words—the coal companies filed suit (Murray was named as a plaintiff on the suit). [more]

The ACLU filed a comical brief in defense of free speech and John Oliver’s satire

1 comments :

  1. Anonymous said...

    Thanks Des. This should be mandatory watching by every American.  

 

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