I’m not a lawyer, so a celebrity bear** is going to explain* former gubernatorial candidate Ray McBerry‘s lawsuit against Linda Pittman, Jeff Sexton and Thomas Knighton. Mrs. Pittman is the woman who accused McBerry of having an improper relationship with her 16-year-old daughter, Sexton and Knighton operate a blog called SWGA Politics. According to the AJC the suit charges that “Mrs. Pittman “stated falsely, with actual malice, that [McBerry] had committed the crime of child molestation” on a Facebook page.”
MH: Mr. McBeary, how can that be?
McBeary: I’m glad you asked! Libel is a legal term grown ups use when somebody calls somebody else a a really bad thing and that really bad thing isn’t true. But they can’t just say it, they have to write it and publish it. If it’s not true, and it hurts somebody, and they write it in a book or a newspaper or on the Internet, then it’s called libel. There’s a special kind of libel called libel per se, which means that the thing that was said was SOOOO bad you know somebody got hurt, and that somebody can collect damages from the somebody who wrote it.
MH: Can the somebody who wrote the bad thing just write “sorry” and take it back?
McBeary: No. The person who wrote the bad thing can say that they were telling truth, which is an “absolute defense” against libel, like a ‘get out of jail free’ card. Or they can say they were offering their opinion, or commenting on a “matter of public interest.” But truth is the best defense.
MH: So if the guy running for governor really was kissing and hugging and holding hands with Mrs. Pittman’s 16-year-old daughter, that would be child molestation and she and the blogger guys would be off the hook, right?
McBeary: No, dummy! In Georgia, the age of consent is 16. So all those things he did with that young woman were legal. McBerry can’t have committed child molestation with her, because she was
MH: What about if he was famous, like a public figure? Isn’t that a defense?
McBeary: Dude, he got 2.5% of the vote in a Republican primary! That ain’t famous.
MH: He carried Schley County.
McBeary: Do they have any Chuck E. Cheese’s there?
MH: I don’t think so. Look, are you telling me that McBerry might actually win a lawsuit against this woman and these bloggers?
McBeary: He might.
MH: What kind of sick, manipulative, vindictive, emotional bully would want to put an entire family through the whole mess again?
McBeary: Sounds like my kind of guy.
*There is no legal advice contained anywhere here. If you have legal questions, you should consult an attorney, not a blog.
**Not a real celebrity bear either.