August 18, 2020

SO WHICH IS IT? I’ve asked this question of media law friends, and nobody wants to give a straight answer: “Is being called ‘racist’ defamatory“?

CNN tried (and failed) to convince the court that calling the Covington kid racist was “mere opinion.” (They ended up settling). At the same time, “RACIST!” is yelled often enough and with such vitriol, it must be defamatory. (It’s like cancer: There’s no “good” form of it).

Now a Cincinnati police officer is suing in libel for people who claimed his making an “OK” gesture was proof he is a racist because “That hand symbol has been associated with white power movements because it resembles the letters “W” and “P.”

FUN FACT: Once upon a time being called a “communist sympathizer” was defamatory under the law. Now it’ll get you elected to a mayor’s position. Or higher.


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