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This Coal Baron's Lawsut Against John Oliver Is Plain Nuts

Author: Jamie Lynn Crofts, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of West Virginia (USA), Published on: 2 August 2017

...Murray, the CEO of the Ohio-based Murray Energy Corporation...has a history of suing journalists, media outlets, and activists who call out his unethical practices... 

On June 18, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”...took aim at the practices of many in the coal industry, including...Murray[.]...Murray responded by suing John Oliver and HBO for defamation over what he insists are false claims...His lawsuit also references hurt feelings over the personal insults... 

...Satire, hyperbole, offensive speech, and comedy are all protected by the First Amendment — that’s especially true with regards to speech about public figures on matters of public concern...Courts should never be used as a sword... 

Unfortunately, Murray is not the only one unleashing frivolous lawsuits to silence this kind of speech. This past February, ACLU clients...reached a successful settlement with the local landfill that sued them...for speaking up about the environmental harms that landfill was causing their community... 

Both cases demonstrate how critical free speech is to the defense of matters as important as environmental justice and workplace safety. It’s a basic constitutional principle...that you don’t get to sue media organizations because you don’t like their coverage...

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Related companies: Murray Energy