ProfessorMelissa A. Hale
CaseCast™ – "What you need to know"
Brief Fact Summary. A magazine published a sexual parody, which poked fun at a well- known evangelist and attacked his morals.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Public figures can recover for intentional infliction of emotional distress if they can show false statement of fact and actual malice.
Indeed, if it is the speaker's opinion that gives offense, that consequence is a reason for according it constitutional protection.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Can a public figure recover damages for emotional harm caused by a parody?
Held. No. The New York Times standard for public figure defamation must be applied in this situation.
Discussion. Parody is a form of communication that purposefully pokes fun. It does not express a malicious falsehood. Instead, it takes a component of one’s character and exaggerates it to the point of distortion. This type of speech is protected.