On a busy news day on the political front, it was easy to lose sight of the fact that America’s favorite sleazeball attorney was out there making a fool of himself yet again.
Michael Avenatti, lawyer to the porn stars, was dealt a bit of a setback Monday. His most famous client, Stormy Daniels, had her libel lawsuit against President Donald Trump tossed out of court on the grounds that the tweet behind it was part of his exercise of free speech.
However, Avenatti managed to insert a bit of unintentional humor into the proceedings by making a fool of himself yet again — this time inadvertently slamming his own client, or at least her profession.
First, the ruling. According to Insurance Journal, U.S. District Judge S. James Otero said that the tweet from the president — in which he called Daniels’ claim that she was accosted by an unknown man in a Las Vegas parking lot after coming forward with her allegations of a sexual encounter with him “a total con job” — was protected under the Constitution.
A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)! https://t.co/9Is7mHBFda
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2018
“The court agrees with Mr. Trump’s argument because the tweet in question constitutes ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ normally associated with politics and public discourse in the U.S.,” Judge Otero wrote in his ruling.
“The First Amendment protects this type of rhetorical statement.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, the judge also ordered Daniels to pay Trump’s legal fees in connection with the case.
JUST IN: JUDGE DISMISSES Stormy Daniels Lawsuit…Adds Insult to Injury…Tells Her To Pay Up [Video] pic.twitter.com/Q5JJyKoouM
— republocratist (@republocratist) October 16, 2018
Avenatti was upset, as you would obviously expect him to be. However, he could have perhaps picked his words a little better.
“We will appeal the dismissal of the defamation cause of action and are confident in a reversal,” Avenatti said in a statement after the ruling.
“There is something really rich in Trump relying on the First Amendment to justify defaming a woman.”
Now, I wonder if we asked Mr. Avenatti whether he thought his client’s profession is protected under the First Amendment. I’d venture he’d probably give a qualified yes — and qualified it is, as we’ll discuss in a moment. However, few forms of media have done more to defame, degrade and dehumanize women than the pornography industry has. There’s something truly rich in that.
Before we go forward, I’d like to cut your emails off at the pass. Yes, First Amendment law in regards to pornography is (pardon the pun) hardly explicit. The closest thing to a definition of pornography the high court has ever given is the case of Miller v. California in 1973.
In that case, Chief Justice Warren Burger stated obscenity isn’t protected by the First Amendment and established a three-prong test to decide whether something was obscene, which ThoughtCompany’s Tom Head handily reduced from legalese to this: “1. Is it pornography? 2. Does it actually show sex? 3. Is it otherwise useless?”
In Jacobillis v. Ohio, Justice Potter Stewart defined pornography even more simply, declaring: “I know it when I see it.” Suffice it to say, established case law is a bit hazy on the fact and federal, state and local governments can obviously heavily qualify where pornography is displayed and who it’s sold to, which is to say it doesn’t rate absolute First Amendment protection.
The great irony, however, is that liberals would generally say that pornography should enjoy a fairly wide First Amendment protection. (There’s a reason Hustler publisher Larry Flynt doesn’t like Republicans.)
And, like Michael Avenatti, liberals also claim to care deeply about women.
Few industries are as misogynist as the modern industrial porn industry. Not only is it misogynist, but it also creates misogynists. It teaches men to treat women as chattel in real life by treating women like chattel on camera.
I have genuine sympathy for Stormy Daniels for having been through the wringer of sleaze she’s endured during a career in “adult” entertainment.
While acknowledging she made her own choices, it’s still hard for any human being to fully grasp the changes that the skin trade can wreak on an individual. As for Michael Avenatti, he’s vigorously defended the whole milieu. His go-to response when anyone questions the industry is to accuse them of watching porn, which isn’t really a response so much as a deflection.
The fact that Daniels is a porn star has raised Avenatti’s profile considerably. Without that angle, it’s unlikely that the media would have maintained interest in this story. As for the negative side of pornography, he doesn’t want to talk about that. That’s OK for him, because the media doesn’t want to talk about it either. However, his client used the First Amendment and free speech absolutism to participate in an industry that helps reduce women to nothing more than their sexual organs.
There is something really rich in Avenatti talking about an abuse of the First Amendment when it comes to the debasing of women. By saying what he did, he ended up slamming his client — and her former industry as a whole — more than he did Donald Trump.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.