Sacha Baron Cohen is a brilliant prankster and comedian, but perhaps his greatest talent is making Republicans look foolish. Or, rather, more foolish. If there’s an antediluvian sentiment or three sloshing about in a MAGA mite’s rancid paella of a brain, Baron Cohen will most likely dislodge it. And the results will be both uniquely hilarious and cringeworthy (aka, “unhingeworthy”).
Best known for his iconic characters Borat (the Kazakhstani roving reporter) and Ali G (a fatuous, supposedly streetwise TV host), Baron Cohen regularly pushes the envelope, and sometimes his unwitting subjects lash out after the fact. One of these after-lashers is Republican Roy Moore, the alleged serial pedophile whom Donald Trump endorsed for the Senate in 2017 (though not solely because he appeared to have gotten away with creeping on teen girls for decades).
Moore sued Baron Cohen for defamation following a segment in which Baron Cohen used a state-of-the-art, Israeli-developed “pedophile detector” on Moore (spoiler: it scored a hit), and now the verdict is in: You’re still allowed to brutally satirize irredeemable shitheels in this country.
Sacha Baron Cohen on Thursday defeated an appeal by former Alabama judge Roy Moore accusing the British comedian of defamation for falsely portraying him as a pedophile in an interview for the show “Who Is America?”
In a 3-0 vote, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the interview was constitutionally protected speech, agreeing with a lower court judge that it was “clearly comedy and that no reasonable viewer would conclude otherwise.”The court also said Moore waived his right to pursue his $95 million lawsuit by signing a standard consent agreement before the interview, which he knew would be televised. It also dismissed related claims by Moore’s wife Kayla.
The segment is embedded below and is well worth a look:
Of course, the one invincible defense against defamation is that the allegations you made are true. Based on widely reported claims from his alleged victims, it’s likely that Baron Cohen could have ultimately fallen back on that defense—but he didn’t need to, because “no reasonable viewer” would conclude that this was anything other than over-the-top parody. I mean, even Moore figured it out, so how much more obvious could it have been?
Ironically, Moore actually came out of his interview relatively unscathed compared to other right-wing Nutter Butters who engaged with Baron Cohen’s characters.
You may have seen some of these clips already, but even if you have, they’re worth another look.
For instance, there was Georgia General Assembly member Jason Spencer, who thought it would be a good idea to scream the n-word, do an awkward impression of a Chinese person, and attack Baron Cohen with his bare bottom on camera …
And there was this group of befuddled Arizona residents, who were not pleased with a proposal to build a $385 million mosque—partly funded by the Clinton Foundation—in their town …
And somehow, Baron Cohen convinced several high-profile Republicans to shoot segments promoting gun-friendly policies for young children (though, oddly enough, Rep. Matt Gaetz didn’t bite) …
Unfortunately, Baron Cohen has become so popular that, these days, he needs to discard his characters shortly after debuting them, because too many people get wise to his shtick.
But if nothing else, he’s won another victory for free speech—real free speech, not the goofy kind Republicans whine about. And whether you think he’s funny or not, that’s something we can all be grateful for.
Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.
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