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Discuss a Legal/Ethical Issue - Essay Example

A court case, Hustler Magazine V. Falwell will also be discussed to clarify the concept of libel and its application in real life. Libel and its implication on Journalism Libel can loosely be defined as defamation of a person done through a public forum so that the image of the person is tarnished in the minds of the public. The US court defines the tort in the following words ‘words that tend to expose one to public hatred, shame, obloquy, contumely, odium, contempt, ridicule, aversion, ostracism, degradation or disgrace, or to induce an evil opinion of one in the minds of the right thinking persons, and to deprive one of their confidence and friendly intercourse in society’ (Sanford, 4-4). Since the print media has the power to reach the public and their minds through words, they have increased chances of being implicated for Libel. There is however a thin line between Libel and freedom of the press. It is the duty and right of the press to report all kinds of cases and often this involves a negative image of the concerned person. However, the concerned person has the right to file for libel if he believes that his image is being wrongly tarnished and he deserves a better treatment at the hands of both the media and the public. Hustler Magazine V. ...
In the parody created by Hustler Magazine, Jerry Falwell was parodied recounting his first time with his mother in an outhouse. Though, the piece at the end clearly mentioned that it was a parody and was not to be taken seriously, Falwell

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was offended and filed a case against Hustler Magazine (Lively and Weaver, 79). Discussion Falwell filed a case of libel citing that since he was a public figure, his image was impacted and he had suffered emotional distress. Hustler Magazine defended them on the basis of First Amendment Act and claimed that the ad was not meant to be taken seriously. Falwell argued that this ad was not covered in the First Amendment Act and he should be compensated for damages. The court ruled in favor of Hustler Magazine citing that ruling in favor of Falwell would prevent the media from freely using the medium to express new ideas and opinions. Though the tort was intentional, the magazine did not intend to spread malice about the public figure. They had clearly mentioned that the ad was a fictional piece of writing and was not to be taken seriously. The magazine had the right under the First Amendment for freedom of speech and public figures could not file for emotional distress or libel for such ads. In this case, there was no case of libel. Public figures such as Falwell should realize the importance of freedom of the speech. The piece was meant to be a joke and it should have been taken lightly. The ad did not spread malice about the concerned figure. The public viewing the ad understand it to be what it was- a humorous parody. They did not start developing a negative image about the personality. However, if I consider myself to be in the same situation, I would have been incensed also. There are always limits to how media can


[Name of Student] [Name of Professor] [Course] [Date] Introduction Journalists and Newspapers, in today’s era, have been granted a special position in society so that they could recount stories, opinions and experiences of the entire world without having to care about being held accountable for their published pieces…
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Discuss a Legal/Ethical Issue
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