Federal Judge Rules NAACP Parody Not Funny

Federal Judge Rules NAACP Parody Not Funny

A federal judge has ordered Ryan Bomberger to stop making fun of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The Court effectively ruled that Bomberger and his group, The Radiance Foundation, are not very funny.

Bomberger, who founded The Radiance Foundation, created a series of ads for billboards and websites calling attention to what he sees as the support of the NAACP for abortion. In them Bomberger referred to the NAACP as the “National Association for the Abortion of Colored People.”

Himself African-American, Bomberger and many other pro-life campaigners have called attention to the inordinate percentage of abortions performed on African-American babies and have wondered why the NAACP not only does not campaign to stop it, but is cozy with pro-abortion initiatives including endorsing the massive abortion march in Washington, D.C., in 2004.

Writing at LifeNews.com last year Bomberger charged, “The NAACP would rather sleep with Planned Parenthood, the urban staple of sexual irresponsibility, regardless of what people say. The affair has been going on for decades. The NAACP, despite denials, has publicly supported Planned Parenthood numerous times. It’s fought to prevent the abortion chain from being defunded while simultaneously [fighting] to ensure a msssive influx of funding for its beloved ally through Obamacare.”

After the campaign started running in late 2012, Bomberger received a cease and desist letter from the NAACP. His response was immediately to file suit in US District Court asking for relief from the NAACP legal threat. The NAACP counter-sued a year ago claiming that Bomberger had violated trademark law by confusing the public about the nature of the “National Association for the Abortion of Colored People” and, in essence, accusing Bomberger of not being funny enough.

Bomberger claimed both fair use and that his work was clearly a parody. The Court went against Bomberger in a decision released two weeks ago asserting that he had misused the NAACP trademark, had confused the public, and had failed in his attempt at parody.

The federal courts have actually defined parody. It is “a simple form of entertainment conveyed by juxtaposing the irreverent representation of the trademark with the idealized image created by the mark’s owner.” Moreover, “The keystone of parody is imitation, but must convey two simultaneous–and contradictory–messages: ‘that it is the original, but also that it is not the original and is instead a parody.'” The Fourth Circuit Court “was not persuaded” that Bomberger’s work met the parody test.

The Court also found that Bomberger was using the NAACP trademark to raise money, because there is a “donate” button on his website. In court, the NAACP used a survey company to show that many of their supporters and donors were confused and actually thought the National Association for the Abortion of Colored People was an initiative of the actual NAACP.

The Court also decided that it would sully the reputation of the NAACP to be known as supportive of abortion. NAACP CEO Benjamin Jealous issued a statement that the NAACP does not support abortion but only a “woman’s right to choose.” He did not comment on the fact that upwards of 30% of abortions are done on African-Americans, who make up only 12% of the population.

Bomberger, who came to the pro-life movement from a career in advertising, is thoroughly unrepentant.

He stands by his assertion that the NAACP supports abortion, pointing to a 2004 resolution at the NAACP national convention supporting the “March for Women’s Lives” which drew several hundred thousand to Washington, D.C., in support of abortion. Then NAACP board chairman Julian Bond told the crowd that reproductive rights were as fundamental as “the right to sit at a lunch counter.” He points also to a 2004 resolution from the NAACP national convention endorsing the pro-abortion march, as well as NAACP chapter presidents, including recently resigned NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, speaking at and being honored at Planned Parenthood fundraisers.

Bomberger told Breitbart News that the court “completely ignored many of the facts we submitted” supporting the claim in his parody ads that the NAACP supports abortion. His group is considering an appeal to the Fourth Circuit, and one legal expert told Breitbart News the chances for a successful appeal are very good for a whole host of reasons including the fact that the judge in the Bomberger case has been overturned “many times.”

The Court ordered a permanent injunction against Bomberger and The Radiance Foundation and enjoined him and his group from “engaging in any course of conduct with respect to the NAACP” trademark. Bomberger has until this Friday “to deliver up for destruction all goods, advertisements, labels, signs, prints, packages, wrappers, receptacles, computer memory, data, computer programs, software, or any other media, and all other materials in its possession or under its control bearing the NAACP Marks or any other mark containing the terms ‘NAACP’ or ‘The National Association for the Abortion of Colored People.'”

After May 24th, Bomberger may never again publicly use the phrase “National Association for the Abortion of Colored People.”