In a previous post
, we looked at the long-swirling rumors that Rick Perry, the primate who somehow became governor of Texas, has had gay affairs. You may recall that, at one time, Perry was favored to become the GOP presidential nominee, until the electorate became concerned by his prehensile tail and predilection for bananas.
Turns out a Huffington Post writer named Jason Cherkis became obsessed with the "Gay Perry" story
. HuffPo editor Arianna Huffington would not publish the results, citing a lack of evidence. Given Arianna's own history -- she had once tried to "Lady MacBeth" her way into the White House via her closeted Republican husband -- I'm not surprised by her decision to steer clear of the Perry story.
Here's the part that intrigues me.
In the following, from a new ebook by Jay Root, "Ted" refers to a Perry aide named Ted Delisi:
Ted said Huffington Post reporter Jason Cherkis had e-mailed the campaign a list of questions about alleged gay liaisons. He said the reporter was going to name names, but there were serious questions as to the veracity of the allegations. Ted said that if the guy did publish something, Perry would sue. He said Perry would be owning a big chunk of AOL, the publicly traded company that owns HuffPo, if this came out. Ted seemed kind of pissed off at the media in general, saying that standards had obviously declined if this is what passes for news these days.
Can't say that many of my readers would disagree with Ted. But I'm wondering -- would Perry have grounds
for a lawsuit? Libel is hard to prove, especially if the allegedly libeled party is a public figure. These days, does an accusation of homosexuality count as libel?
There are several ways a person must go about proving that libel has taken place. For example, in the United States, first, the person must prove that the statement was false. Second, the person must prove that the statement caused harm. Third, the person must prove that the statement was made without adequate research into the truthfulness of the statement. These steps are for an ordinary citizen. For a celebrity or a public official, the person must prove the first three steps and that the statement was made with the intent to do harm or with reckless disregard for the truth. Usually specifically referred to as "proving malice".
Presuming that Cherkis intended to write his story in a more-or-less circumspect fashion, I just don't see any grounds for a case here. In our current climate, many American citizens wouldn't see an accusation of homosexuality -- even if false -- as particularly injurious.
Of course, the situation might be different in Texas.
Perry has also been rumored to be an aficionado of strip clubs and well-chested bimbos. Whether that accusation conflicts with the gay accusation is for each reader to decide. I note that Perry's staffers have never made lawsuit noises against anyone who says that he likes B-girls.