Monday, September 04, 2006

Sharon Keller on MySpace

Check out the Sharon Keller profile on MySpace before Sharon Keller has it deleted again.

The address is As someone wrote in a posting on Burntorangereport, "Anyone interested in the Texas tradition of arbitrarily applying the death penalty and JR Molina's campaign to bring justice to Texas' highest criminal court has got to check out this hilarious blog." Read the Sharon Killer blog.

Sharon Keller is the presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. She is running for re-election against J.R. Molina. Keller was challenged in the Republican primary last March by one of the other Republican judges on the CCA – Tom Price. He said she had lost the confidence of the court and once accused her of making the CCA a "national laughingstock", according to Texas Monthly.

A few months ago, Rupert Murdoch bought Murdoch also owns Fox News. So, it is not surprising that MySpace is starting to be a total "control freak" as Kyra Phillips of CNN would say, to which Dick Cheney might respond, "yeah, big time."

A few days ago, a Sharon Keller profile on MySpace was deleted by the MySpace authorities. Apparently, someone complained to MySpace that it was not an authorized profile, but was instead a "fake profile", so MySpace canceled it. It wasn’t a fake, it was a parody. MySpace only cancels parody profiles if they get a complaint from the person being parodied/satirized, so we assume Sharon Keller emailed MySpace and complained. According to our sources, one email the complainer sent read, "Very Funny. Hope you are amusing yourself. Enjoy it while you can". Shortly afterwards, the profile was deleted by MySpace.

As you would expect a judge to know, parodies of public officials are protected free speech under the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution. Parody and satire have long served as means of criticizing public figures and exposing political injustice. It is true that parodies against unknown people can sometimes be regulated and prohibited. For instance, a student who publishes a parody of a school teacher might be subject to punishment, because the teacher is not a public figure. However, parodies of public figures are protected free speech. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a famous parody that Hustler magazine did of Jerry Falwell back in the 80’s was constitutionally protected free speech. It had portrayed Falwell as having had a drunken sexual encounter with his mother in an outhouse. Parodies and satire directed at governmental officials in order to criticize the actions of the government are given the greatest protection under U.S. legal precedent, as seen in the Supreme Court case "New York Times Co. v. Sullivan".

Satire and parody seem to be gaining in popularity these days as forms of political discourse, especially among younger people. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report are two fake news programs that are often listed as top sources of daily news for some people. Of course, Saturday Night Live, has been presenting satirical skits of public officials for three decades. Anyone remember that old SNL skit that mocked three Texas politicians’ over-eagerness for the death penalty - Ann Richards, Jim Mattox and Mark White. The Onion and The Swift Report are other examples of satirical sites that use fake news.

The Sharon Keller profile on MySpace is a clear example of protected political speech. Anyone who reads it closely can tell that it is a satire. Just look at the name of the URL, which uses the words Sharon Killer, or does Sharon Keller call herself Sharon Killer? Maybe she does.

We suggest Sharon Killer gets over it. We hope that after the November election, Texas gets over Sharon Keller.

Cross-posted on TMN blog

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