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A New York judge is about the explore the lines between a mean joke and defamation. The issue arises out of Missy Chase Lapine’s lawsuit against Jerry Seinfeld for slander and his wife Jessica for plagiarizing a cookbook.
On David Letterman’s show last year, Jerry Seinfeld joked about Lapine, including this zinger: “If you read history, many of the three-name people do become assassins. Mark David Chapman and, you know, James Earl Ray. So, that’s my concern.”
In papers filed in Manhattan Federal Court, Seinfeld’s lawyers are arguing that his comments were only made in the midst of being a funny comedian and thus, he’s protected by the First Amendment.
“No reasonable viewer could have thought that Seinfeld really meant that Lapine – the author of children’s books emphasizing the use of pureed vegetables – might become an assassin simply because she has three names,” the lawyers argue.
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