Skip to comments.20-Year-Old Republican Website Owner Sued by Former Democrat Senator
Posted on 07/31/2003 8:07:58 AM PDT by prairiebreeze
WASHINGTON (Talon News) -- In May, former Sen. James Abourezk (D-SD) filed a $5 million lawsuit against a website operator who included him among a group of "traitors." The website, www.ProBush.com, lampoons liberals from the entertainment industry and politics who have been vocal in their opposition to the war in Iraq or critical of President George W. Bush.
Some of the others on the list are Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as well as actors George Clooney, Susan Sarandon, and Janeane Garafalo and the country music group, the Dixie Chicks.
While the website disclaimer states that the list is a parody and is not to be taken seriously, Abourezk claims that he has been defamed. In his lawsuit he states that ProBush.com's statement "is intended to injure" his standing in the community.
The operator of the website is Mike Marino, a 20-year-old web designer from suburban Philadelphia. He believes that Abourezk's lawsuit against ProBush.com is without merit.
"This is clearly a first amendment issue," Marino told Talon News.
While Marino is concerned about the legal ramifications of the lawsuit, he feels the need to stand up for the constitutional principle of free speech.
"The Internet is a new medium, where ordinary individuals have the greatest opportunity to make their voices heard," Marino said. "Lawsuits like this will have a chilling effect on free expression."
The ProBush.com president said he created the website, because he "disagreed with the protestors and celebrities who were voicing opposition to the war in Iraq," and wanted "to make sport of their arguments."
"I also thought President Bush deserved to be defended against such criticism," Marino added.
When asked how Abourezk came to be on the "traitor" list, Marino explained, "These are the signers of the famous 'Not in Our Name' petition against the war. He was alphabetically at the top of the list."
ProBush.com also has a "patriot" list that includes actor James Woods, comedian Dennis Miller, and musician Toby Keith as well as talk show hosts Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O'Reilly.
This week, ProBush.com filed a motion in U.S. District Court to dismiss Abourezk's lawsuit. The motion cites a long line of federal court rulings protecting free speech.
Both Congress and the courts have affirmatively recognized the unique and growing importance of Internet speech.
In the Communications Decency Act, Congress recognized the "threat that tort-based lawsuits pose to freedom of speech in the new and burgeoning Internet medium" and sought to protect the "vast democratic forums of the Internet."
The argument to dismiss is based on first amendment precedents beginning with Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes' dissent in Abrams v. United States in which he objected to the imprisonment of individuals protesting American involvement in World War I.
Additionally, the Supreme Court has already held that use of words like "traitor" are "merely rhetorical hyperbole" and therefore not actionable.
Abourezk's libel suit brings more attention to the controversial former Senator.
"I don't care what they say about me as long as they spell my name right," Abourezk told a South Dakota newspaper.
Abourezk served only one term in the 1970s, but gained distinction for calling then-President Jimmy Carter a "liar" on the Senate floor in 1977. The Washington Post reported that after Vice President Walter Mondale broke a tie on a piece of legislation, the South Dakota senator, feeling betrayed, "immediately cried treason."
Abourezk left the Senate and later founded the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. He recently called on Arabs to "intensify their move to explain their points of view to the American public which is dominated by the Israeli media machine."
Abourezk holds himself out as a champion of free speech. In 1988, Abourezk criticized a member of a Washington, DC transit board for advocating removal of political advertising from the Metro system.
In his book, "Advise & Dissent: Memoirs of South Dakota and the U.S. Senate," Abourezk relates a controversy over attempts to disinvite him to a speech in Denver because he was not sufficiently pro-Israel. In his speech, according to Abourezk's book, he made a "blistering attack on the Israeli lobby for its efforts to stifle free speech."
Abourezk told the Denver press: "Well, I can see that there are some supporters of Israel out there. Now let's see if anybody in Denver supports the right of free speech."
The second-generation Lebanese-American seemingly has no problem exercising his first amendment rights. In 2002, Abourezk praised the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah and the "positive role it was playing in Lebanon."
"[Hezbollah] was like the tool that forced the 'Israelis' to withdraw," Abourezk said.
Also last year, Abourezk suggested that the solution to Israel's terrorism problem would be to "get the hell out of the occupied territories."
"It's not a wonder there are suicide bombers, it's a wonder there aren't many more," Abourezk said.
The former senator made a trip to Baghdad in September 2002 to meet Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz. Abourezk said that a U.S. attack on Iraq would be "immoral."
Abourezk maintains a friendly relationship with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, whom he describes as "a very smart, charming guy." He also represented Ayatollah Khomeni's Islamic Republic of Iran in a $56 billion lawsuit against the deposed Shah.
Abourezk sued National Geographic magazine claiming they improperly acquired his original photographs. He also filed a suit against the Reagan administration to allow the Sandanista Interior Minister into the United States. Abourezk took New York Air to court for false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress for not letting him off a plane that was delayed three hours on the tarmac.
and this: Abourezk maintains a friendly relationship with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, whom he describes as "a very smart, charming guy." He also represented Ayatollah Khomeni's Islamic Republic of Iran in a $56 billion lawsuit against the deposed Shah.
MM, do you know about this guy?
Plus he is a traitor.
I think the defendant and one other person should present formal testimony and have him brought up on charges of treason. Think about it.
More important to me, is just how or who has been paying his way for 30 years? Former senators are really not too inclined to work for a living.........
If you want on the new list, FReepmail me. This IS a high-volume PING list...
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