Radio-borne opinion pornstar and dementia performance artist Michael Savage (true name Michael Weiner) has thrown down the hairy-palmed gauntlet by suing CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a frequent foe. This is not a fight where I am rooting for either side. Savage is either a vicious and contemptible demagogue or getting rich playing one. CAIR has questionable ties to terrorist groups, is an apologist for some terrorism, and has used litigation in bad faith to intimidate critics. Whoever wins, we lose.
But in this instance, Savage appears to be full of shit.
First of all, his lawsuit reads like one of his rambling, self-aggrandizing, frothing rants. Seriously, assuming that what is on the website is a reasonable representation of what was filed (and I'll check on PACER as soon as it is available), I can't believe any attorney put his name to it. It's incredibly unprofessional, particularly for federal court. And the Northern District of California is not known for having United States District Court judges who are fond of hijinks. I hope one of them hands this attorney his ass via Rule 11 sanctions.
Savage sues CAIR for copyright infringement. The gravamen of his suit is that CAIR took a clip of Savage's radio show, cruelly stripped it of context, and then used it to fund-raise from the faithful by saying "look at what prominent thuggish douchebags are saying about Islam." But most of the complaint is a rant about how CAIR is an evil terrorist front, which is utterly irrelevant to the supposed claim. That's part of why the complaint reads more like the pre-fight press release by a particularly truculent professional wrestler than like a legal document. Moreover, it's got all sort of allegations which are (a) completely irrelevant to copyright and (b) legally ridiculous:
Just as all religions are free to practice in the United States, Michael Savage is free to exercise his beliefs without having someone in the opposition steal his property and convert it for their own use. The violation of the copyright and the desecration of that copyright material is a violation of the freedoms of Michael Savage to express his views.
Michael Savage has analogized his statements on the radio to those made by Winston Churchill when he warned of the rise of the Nazis. Michael Savage has pointed out that all Germans were not Nazi’s and Churchill’s words if heeded would have protected the German public as well as the rest of the world. To steal his words and repackage them is to steal the intellectual and emotional property of Michael Savage and those who support his positions.
Michael Savage’s right to speech is protected by both the First Amendment and in Savage’s view is also biblically required. “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:7-8). It is essence of freedom that voices can be raised strongly and without fear of illegal retaliation. CAIR attempted to silence Michael Savage by stealing his work, misrepresenting it and then seeking to have advertisers drop his show. This is a violation of Michael Savage’s rights to speech and to his religious beliefs.
Uh, no, Michael, copyright violation by CAIR is not a violation of your free speech rights, and no rational lawyer would tell you it does. Also, you are not like Winston Churchill.
Savage's attempts to dance around and justify his anti-Muslim comments are pathetic. He explains that his show is all about something called "psychological nudity," a phrase that combined with his picture and the image of his average listener threatens to induce vomiting. Savage tells us that he actually LOVES people of all religions. Apparently when he says stuff like this, he's just expressing the average American's rage:
You know, when I see a woman walking around with a burqa, I see a Nazi. That's what I see — how do you like that? — a hateful Nazi who would like to cut your throat and kill your children. Don't give me this crap that they're doing it out of a sacred ritual or rite. It's not required by the Quran that a woman walk around in a seventh-century drape. She's doing it to spit in your face. She's saying, "You white moron, you, I'm going to kill you if I can." That's how I see it! What do you want me to do, mince words with you? I'm not going to mince words. We're too far gone in this country.
The Islamists smell weakness in the West and are attacking us on several fronts at once: one, through outright war; two, through immigration; three, through their propaganda disseminated through the liberal media and four, through the liberal courts. Only a devastating military blow against the hearts of Islamic terror coupled with an outright ban on Muslim immigration, laws making the dissemination of enemy propaganda illegal, and the uncoupling of the liberal ACLU can save the United States. I would also make the construction of mosques illegal in America and the speaking of English only in the streets of the United States the law.
Even more comical is when Savage attempts to spin his past anti-Muslim words as being a result of outrage against the oppression of women and gays:
Savage’s outrage and strong language objecting to the murder of homosexuals and the mutilation and oppression of women under the guise of religion makes much more sense than the CAIR packaged spin that Savage who has repeatedly taken pro-faith views was somehow against a particular religious group in its entirety.
In fact, Savage has a long record of saying freakishly hateful and disturbed things about gays and women.
As to the substance (what little there is) of the copyright claim, though I'm not a copyright lawyer, I'm not sure how he's going to get around the fair use doctrine. If CAIR is using Savage's words for criticism, as part of a political discussion, or to show the faithful why vigilance is necessary, that sounds like classic fair use. It's no different than any number of Christian organizations do to raise funds to help fight the evils of Hollywood. The notion that the use will harm Savage's "product" is lunatic — none of Savage's listeners are going to be reading CAIR mailings, and none of CAIR's donors are likely to be Savage consumers.
Again, I'm aghast that a lawyer would sign this lunatic pleading. I wonder if this is a situation like Bill O'Reilly's fatuous claim against Al Franken — a case of an attorney with no client control whatsoever. Whatever the case, he should be ashamed of himself. I won't say that of Savage; either he lacks the capacity for reason or he's too busy counting his money.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- A Response To Marc: Institutions, Agendas, and the "Culture War" - January 13th, 2016
- Lawyering Is About Service, Not Self-Actualization - January 11th, 2016
- Lawsplainer: Was FAU Prof. James Tracy Fired in Violation of His First Amendment Rights? - January 7th, 2016
- Defy, Defy, Defy. - January 7th, 2016
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