On Top of Everything Else, Jim Carrey Doesn't Know the Law on Slander
Commentators have rightly condemned Jim Carrey on the heels of revealing himself as an ill-mannered and malicious left-wing activist after his ridiculous anti-gun video. Now Carrey is threatening to sue Fox News for criticizing him, revealing that knows as little about the First Amendment as he does the Second.
Carrey posted a video confirming that he has lost whatever comedic talent he once had (though most of it was always low-brow and coarse). He vilifies the iconic Charlton Heston, the late president of the NRA. In his parody video, he says no one watches Heston’s movies (which is such an odd attack--given that Heston is one of the most award-winning actors in the history of film), makes sexually degrading comments about Heston, and the end of the video shows Heston shooting his foot off because he doesn’t know how to use the shotgun he’s holding. He tops it off by suggesting that Heston went to hell. It was bizarre and disgraceful. And it epitomizes how Hollywood is degrading American culture and standards of decency.
Not surprisingly, commentators concerned about public decency went after Carrey. And no one gave Carrey the scorn he so richly deserves more than Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld. Greg gave voice to the indignation of millions of Americans by unloading on Carrey. In a TV segment, Gutfeld lampooned Carrey with his usual style, which admittedly included a bit of satirical exaggeration.
In his press release, Carrey goes on a shameful, screaming rant where he misspells Fox News’ name to make it profane, calls them a “colostomy bag,” denies their professional credentials as journalists, makes a gross joke, and calls them buffoons. This is ironic, since if one word characterizes Carrey at the moment, it’s “buffoon.”
But Carrey then threatens to sue Fox News, presumably for defamation. Just to set the record straight (and reaffirm that Carrey is ridiculous), you slander someone when you publicly make (1) a false statement, (2) of fact (not opinion, which can never be proven false even if it’s absurd), (3) that harms a person’s reputation. (You generally have to prove the damages caused by the statement.)
Not only that, if you’re a public figure (such as Carrey), under the Supreme Court case New York Times v. Sullivan, the false statement must be made with actual malice--meaning you were intending to cause that person harm through destroying their reputation with falsehoods--or with reckless disregard for the truth. It’s hard to slander a public figure because the First Amendment generally protects speech, and with its core purpose of enabling unfettered speech on public issues someone has to really go over the line when speaking about public personalities before the law penalizes them.
The bottom line is that Carrey wouldn’t have a chance at getting Gutfeld or Fox News on a defamation claim. All he would get is a hefty legal bill, and yet another humiliating news cycle went he lost in court.
So evidently Carrey doesn’t know the law. But we already knew that because he thinks the Second Amendment allows the government to ban large classes of commonly-owned firearms.
Tip to Jim Carrey: When you show the nation you’re a buffoon, you don’t do yourself any favors by then proving you’re an ignorant buffoon. And for the sake of decency, don’t make vile videos about people, especially someone as beloved as Charlton Heston.
Ken Klukowski is legal columnist for Breitbart News.