Jewlicious reports that Jackie Mason is suing Jews for Jesus in a $2 million lawsuit for using his name and likeness on a pamphlet aimed at converting Jews to Christianity.
According to the article, the lawsuit calls for the immediate destruction of the pamphlet that has been widely distributed in the streets of New York City. I wonder if this also includes the PDF version of the pamphlet, titled Jackie Mason ... a Jew for Jesus?, which is still available as a download on the Jews for Jesus website.
I suspect that this digital record of the offending material may soon be removed from their server, so I've converted the 3-page pamphlet (first page above) into the images here. Click on each to see a larger view.
I suppose I may be guilty of the same crime, having used the likeness of 50 Cent in my Seda' Club cartoon, in which he muses, "Yo, bros, it's all good ... I'm Jewish, yo!" Of course, I believe my work is just a parody, and I've never been contacted by 50 Cent's attorneys, so if he's seen it, I'm assuming 50 is cool with the cartoon. But if 50 ever decided to sue me, I wonder if he'd have a case?
This kind of nonsense just irritates me.
JfJ is protected under the First Amendment, or should be, no matter how stupid what they did was (or do in general is).
That's the condensed version of my blog on it. For the complete one, go to http://blog.myspace.com/radicalrabbi
Gary Baseman probably should sue, too. They've ripped off his cartooning style like proverbial whoa.
As I understand it, though parody is protected, this could be construed as using his name and likeness to sell a product or promote their agenda. Whereas 50 Cent appearing in Shabot is general silliness and parody of music style with obvious intent to be funny (not actively promote an agenda or convert anyone), it would be different had Mr. Baruch been running for Governor and using the likeness of 50 Cent (or Tony the Tiger, or Nelson Mandela) to encourage others to vote for him.
The Jews for Jesus pamphlet is simple promotion of their group; anonymous summarized the “free speech” issue at hand quite nicely. This campaign is not merely insulting, it does real damage to Mason’s commercial image.
The Jews for Zeus campaign (http://JewsForZeus.blogspot.com), on the other hand, is entirely parody and thus protected.
It is lawful to use a public figure's identity to promote an idea... like political views or religious beliefs. If Jackie Mason were a private individual, then a different set of laws would apply.
The JFT phamphlet does not actually ask for money. It only promotes an idea, and it does not claim that JM is a Jew for Jesus. In fact it says quite the opposite. So what's to sue about?
I like both JM and JFJ and wish them both well. It would be nice if both settled out of court and both garnered good publicity.
This is like Republicans publishing a booklet, "HILLARY CLINTON -- A Democrat for Bush!?"
There is no way she could sue for having to take the time to tell her supporters what she really is. :-)
Jackie Mason Charges Against Jews For Jesus Denied By U.S. District Court
A decision by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman was reached today in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York denying a preliminary injunction to Mr. Jackie Mason who sought to stop the distribution of one of the Jews for Jesus gospel pamphlets, entitled, "Jackie Mason, A Jew for Jesus?!"
In the eleven-page finding the Judge ruled that the pamphlet was protected speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Religious pamphlets with pop culture themes like the Mason one have been freely distributed by the organization for over 34 years and while this is a small win for Jews for Jesus, it is a big victory for gospel protected speech.
Judge Berman also addressed the two other contentions in the Mason injunction and could not find merit in them, ruling that a reader of the pamphlet could reasonably see that Jews for Jesus was not asserting that Jackie Mason was a Jew for Jesus and that the Jews for Jesus did not look to gain any commercial benefit from the pamphlet.
David Brickner, executive director of Jews for Jesus, said ‚"We never intended to hurt Jackie Mason's feelings. To many of us Jews for Jesus, Jackie Mason is an icon who reminds us of our Yiddish-speaking grandfathers. We appreciate his good-natured humor. We thought that he would appreciate ours and were surprised by this lawsuit. Nevertheless we felt we had to defend ourselves and are gratified by the court's decision upholding our 1st amendment rights. It is our hope that this can now be ended amicably." A further court date is scheduled for November 16th.
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