Litigiously yours, CanWest
Recently, I reported on efforts by The Wall Street Journal to buy up copies of a parody version of their publication titled My Wall Street Journal. Despite the slightly sinister implications, the whole absurd fiasco was essentially found comedy. Not so hilarious is the lawsuit against a parody version of The Vancouver Sun brought by the Aspers, owners of media behemoth CanWest. The parody satirizes the Sun’s avowedly pro-Israel editorial bent. In addition to the folks who actually produced the thing, the Aspers are going after a Palestinian activist named Mordecai Briemberg. Here’s his description of his liability in the matter:
I have always been proud to publish anything I have to say under my own name, and to hold myself accountable for my words, ideas and actions. But, the fact is: I had nothing to do with the conception, creation, production or financing of this satire, and I do not know who did.
After the satire was produced, some copies were left on a table at a public meeting. It was only then that I learned of the existence of the satire. After perusing it I picked up a small handful, and later distributed them.
For that single democratic act, a media giant with unlimited financial resources and a big time grudge against any criticism of Israel has taken me to court.
Oy vey. And this isn’t the only suit on the Aspers’ docket. They’re also suing the west coast Web site Thetyee.ca, which is run by former CanWest editor David Beers, for reporting false information on some staff changes at The Vancouver Sun. Beers and the author—former west coast talk radio host Raif Mair—admitted there were errors in the piece; they pulled the offending article, published three retractions and arranged to have its link yanked off Google. For the moment, The Tyee has gone dark on the subject. Still, as of today, the suit remains outstanding.
This isn’t funny ha-ha, this is funny nuts. And the sooner the courts put paid to this nonsense, the better. The latest issue of Adbusters has a scathing take on the Aspers. The cover line reads “Media Bully: How Leonard is distorting our national discourse” (it’s not on the Web site yet but should be shortly). I hope they have good lawyers.
• Criticize CanWest, get sued [J-Source]• Tyee, Mair Sued by Canwest [Thetyee.ca]• A Journey from Satire to Legal Suit to Defense of Democratic Rights [Near East Cultural and Educational Foundation of Canada]• Seriously Free Speech• Adbusters“