Satire in Defamation Law: Toward a Critical Understanding
25 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2020
Date Written: March 16, 2016
Though defamation, with its blend of common law and Constitutional overlay, is already a complex area of law, when the subject of litigation involves satire, the confusion multiplies. Courts and commentators offer an array of definitions of satire and how it differs — or not — from parody and humor. The literary devices that satire employs receive only surface treatment or are considered as isolated figures and tropes. A variety of different tests have emerged to deal with satire and its devices, leaving satirists in a difficult position of trying to defend a work that has an uncertain place in the law. This essay discusses a suit filed by science writer Paul Brodeur against the makers of the Academy-Award-nominated film American Hustle as a frame to highlight the problems of satire in defamation and to suggest further avenues of study, including some of the practical benefits of additional scholarship.
Keywords: Satire, Parody, Humor, Literary Devices, Rhetoric, Defamation, SLAPP
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