Suing Seinfeld

When it comes to defamation lawsuits, there would be no better unofficial capital for them than Hollywood, California. Perhaps it’s the money, or the hundreds of celebrities, or maybe just a little too much sun, but the reality is that Hollywood has been the point of origin for almost every famous defamation case of the past century. A great example of one such case would be a recent one involving a plaintiff Missy Chase Lapine, who claimed her cookbook was plagiarized by Jessica Seinfeld, wife of Jerry Seinfeld, and that Jerry Seinfeld proceeded to defame her on national television on The Tonight Show with David Letterman when he allegedly suggested Ms. Lapine’s insanity.

            As a disclaimer; the case remains undecided to this point. However, if one were to judge by nothing but the words said by Mr. Seinfeld to Mr. Letterman, then this would be an open and shut case of defamation on the part of Mr. Seinfeld. Why then, are people calling this suit ridiculous? Well, it all comes back to perception. You see, if a random person makes statements to another random person about the insanity of a third party, while that party is, in fact, not insane, then you have a clear cut case of libel. However, it is Mr. Seinfeld’s job to make jokes, or, to put it in better lines with interpreting it through law, it is Mr. Seinfeld’s job to be joking in most everything he says in public. With this key detail taken into account, it becomes very clear that this man did not actually intend for the public to take his assertions of Ms. Lapine’s insanity as a legitimate warning of the dangers she might hypothetically pose, but rather, they were to laugh at the joke he made pertaining, in this case, to his legal adversary’s “insanity.”

            This entire debate comes down, ultimately, to Mr. Seinfeld’s first amendment rights as an American citizen. While he might be a comedian with a great deal of public spotlight, he is a comedian nonetheless, and that should be the first thing taken into account when reviewing his public statements. Include with that the fact that every American has the right to make jesting comments about whosoever they may please, to whichever audience they so choose, and the reality of this situation becomes painfully clear to a judge and jury: Mr. Seinfeld did claim Ms. Lapine to be insane, however he did so as a man who tells jokes for a living telling a joke, not as a man who diagnoses people’s sanity diagnosing an individuals sanity. Because of this, Ms. Lapine’s allegations of defamation should be dismissed. 

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