April 2, 2010

Shock Jocks' Homosexual Inferences on New Jersey radio station Not Defamatory, Judge Rules

Does Rickey Smiley know about this?

It's OK to call someone "gay" on the radio in New Jersey. These radio hosts called the photographer of this photo "gay."

Wait a second, did he make them take their clothes off for this New Jersey magazine cover?

Listeners were encouraged to alter this photo that appeared on "New Jersey 101.5" radio station's website. When listeners photo shopped it with bikinis and called them "Calendar Girls", that's when the station was told to take it down by the photographer Peter Murphy. From there the hosts, Craig Carton and Ray Rossi did what they do best: The "shock jocks" shocked their radio listeners with tirades against the photographer. More details further down the page... Were listeners not suppose to cover up the boys?

Since the on-air incident, Carton has moved on to the high-paying and high-profile position as morning host on CBS sports station 660 WFAN in New York City replacing the controversial Don Imus.

Rickey Smiley might be real interested in this ruling. Smiley made "gay" references to a security officer at a Dallas airport on his radio show and said he was going to put him "on blast", which he proceeded to do. The man filed a defamation of character lawsuit. Rickey Smiley and Radio One, owner of 97.9 “The Beat” in Dallas, moved to dismiss the defamation claim, saying the show was not defamatory because it was satire and could not be taken as fact.

A Texas judge ruled against them back in February and allowed the defamation case to proceed. The case has yet to go to trial. The security guard, Henry Robinson, had apparently irked Smiley by trying to take a picture with him twice. Robinson claimed that on his second request, Smiley began calling him “the gay security guard” and “faggot” which apparently interfered with Robinson's ability to conduct personal security searches.

Here's more on the New Jersey ruling:

-Mary Pat Gallagher New Jersey Law Journal In today's society, at least in New Jersey, homosexuality has lost its stigma, so a false statement that someone is gay isn't slanderous, a federal judge in Trenton said Wednesday in dismissing a suit against two radio shock jocks.

U.S. District Judge Joel Pisano predicted the state Supreme Court, which insisted on equal protection for same-sex couples in 2006, would be unlikely to "legitimize discrimination against gays and lesbians" by treating a homosexual reference as a slur.

The ruling, in Murphy v. Millenium Radio Group, 08-cv-1743, is a loss for freelance photographer Peter Murphy, who complained that Craig Carton and Ray Rossi, hosts of the "Jersey Guys" show on WKXW 101.5 FM, "derogatorily inferred" he was a homosexual during a 45-minute segment.

The on-air lambasting arose from a photograph of Carton and Rossi that Murphy had taken for New Jersey Monthly magazine, which named the pair the state's top shock jocks for a "Best of 2006" issue. Murphy posed them standing side by side and apparently naked except for a placard, with the station's name, covering their midsections.

The photo was posted on 101.5 FM's Web site and on the hosts' myspacetv.com page, without a copyright notice in either place. The station invited Web site visitors to send in altered versions and many did. One put bikini tops on Carton and Rossi and changed the placard to read "2007 Jersey Girls Calendar." Others added images like Michael Jackson and Gov. Richard Codey.

The station posted the altered pictures but removed them after Murphy's lawyer sent a cease-and-desist letter in June 2007, claiming copyright infringement and demanding compensation.

Shortly afterward, Murphy alleged, Carton and Rossi spent about 45 minutes bashing him on their show, talking about how he had them pose for the photo and suggesting he was homosexual.

Read more on this article from Law.com

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