An Ohio man's Supreme Court case is so serious, even the satirical comedy website The Onion is filing a brief to the highest court on the man's behalf.
Anthony Novak, who posted a 2016 mocking parody of his local police on Facebook, was jailed, prosecuted, and found innocent at trial, but he is now seeking damages for a violation of his civil rights. The Onion, one of the biggest purveyors of parodies on the internet, is seeking to protect its art, filing a brief to the Supreme Court in the case.
"Americans can be put in jail for poking fun at the government?" The Onion wrote in its brief to the court, The New York Times reported Tuesday. "This was a surprise to America's Finest News Source.
"The Onion cannot stand idly by in the face of a ruling that threatens to disembowel a form of rhetoric that has existed for millennia, that is particularly potent in the realm of political debate, and that, purely incidentally, forms the basis of The Onion's writers' paychecks," the brief added.
The Onion felt compelled to help the man protect his right to free speech, considering all the potential exposure to lawsuits it could face for its own mocking of America.
"They heard the story, and they were like, Oh, my God, this is something that could really put all of our people in the cross hairs if we rub someone the wrong way with one of our stories," one of Novak's lawyers, Patrick Jaicomo, told the Times.
Novak created a fake Facebook page of the police department modeled after the real one, albeit with the slogan: "We no crime."
Also, the page suggested the police department would ban feeding the homeless "to have the homeless population eventually leave our City due to starvation."
But, as The Onion wrote, "Indeed, 'Ohio Police Officers Arrest, Prosecute Man Who Made Fun of Them on Facebook' might sound like a headline ripped from the front pages of The Onion.
"This was only the latest occasion on which the absurdity of actual events managed to eclipse what The Onion's staff could make up," the brief added. "Much more of this, and the front page of The Onion, would be indistinguishable from The New York Times."
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