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Keep Your Satirical Giraffe Stories Out of Louisiana, or Else

Hammond Action News is a blog that puts out satirical posts lampooning and commenting on the state of affairs in Louisiana. Think The Onion with a local flavor.

HAN does not pretend to be a real news source. Its posts are blatantly satirical and the site even includes a disclaimer that reads, simply, "The content of Hammond Action News is purely satirical and for entertainment purposes only."

Clear enough, right? Wrong.

Giraffe "Ken," from the group law blog Popehat, wrote yesterday about an inane lawsuit filed against HAN demanding that they take down one of their stories about fictional killer giraffes. In a Feb. 25 post playing on the recent killer whale incident at Sea World (a post which can no longer be read thanks to a temporary restraining order granted against HAN by a Louisiana state judge), HAN wrote about the supposed fate of "veteran wildlife guide Dizzy Dimarco" who was said to have been thrown into the upper limbs of a tree while feeding giraffes at Global Wildlife. Zoo staff, HAN "reported," were unable to identify which of 12 giraffes was the "rogue giraffe" responsible because "after an incident, the animals all herd up together and it’s hard to tell which is which. Now with the help of the CSI unit we can name the guilty critter.”

Whether you find it funny or not, the post contains innumerable clues (e.g., an invitation to watch "an upcoming FPTV Channel 17 special. WHEN GOOD GIRAFFES GO BAD") that the post is a joke, beyond the clear disclaimer that the site is satirical.

Nonetheless, the Global Wildlife Center of Folsom, La., a wildlife preserve that is home to over 4,000 exotic, endangered and threatened animals from all over the world, promptly sued HAN and persuaded a Louisiana judge to issue a TRO requiring HAN to take the story down. Global Wildlife alleges that the story "defames Global Wildlife’s reputation as a safe, family-friendly destination." In addition, Popehat notes that Global Wildlife Foundation president Ken Matherne has subsequently "threatened to file criminal charges, FCC charges, fraud charges, an IRS complaint, a governor’s office complaint, and a federal lawsuit" against HAN.

Popehat, true to form, pulls no punches:

Let’s be clear: anyone who reads that article and thinks it is real is too stupid to be trusted around animals. Anyone who thinks that article is real is too stupid to have a driver’s license to drive to Global Wildlife Center. Global Wildlife Center apparently thinks that a lot of its guests -- both people from Louisiana and tourists -- are exactly that stupid....

Alternatively -- even if the Global Wildlife Center is wrong in its cruel assessment of the mental acuity of its prospective guests -- why in the world would you want to patronize a tourist spot that prides itself on litigation thuggery? Why would you want to give you money to a place that sues satirists?

As someone who is a card-carrying member of the "Don't Sue Satirists" movement, I will simply say to Popehat: Well said.

Posted by Bruce Carton on March 5, 2010 at 01:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

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