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Democracy

The Onion filed a Supreme Court brief. It's both hilariously serious and seriously hilarious.

Who else could call the judiciary 'total Latin dorks' while making a legitimate point?

the onion supreme court

The Onion's Supreme Court brief uses parody to defend parody.

Political satire and parody have been around for at least 2,400 years, as ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes satirized the way Athenian leaders conducted the Peloponnesian War and parodied the dramatic styles of his contemporaries, Aeschylus and Euripides.

Satire and parody are used to poke fun and highlight issues, using mimicry and sarcasm to create comedic biting commentary. No modern outlet has been more prolific on this front than The Onion, and the popular satirical news site is defending parody as a vital free speech issue in a legal filing with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The filing is, as one might expect from The Onion, as brilliantly hilarious as it is serious, using the same satirical style it's defending in the crafting of the brief itself.


The Onion filed its amicus brief in support of Anthony Novak, a man who was arrested for and prosecuted for parodying the Parma, Ohio, police department on Facebook. Citing a law against disrupting police operations, the police searched Novak's apartment, seized his electronics and put him in jail, where he spent four days before making bail. After a jury acquitted him of all criminal charges, he subsequently filed a civil lawsuit against the police for violating his First and Fourth Amendment rights. However, a federal appeals court threw out the lawsuit, ruling that the officers had "qualified immunity," which protects government officials from being sued for unconstitutional infringements.

The Onion is petitioning for a writ of certiorari, asking the Supreme Court to review the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to toss out Novak's civil rights suit. As NPR points out, one primary question in this case is whether people reasonably believed Novak's Facebook page, which used the department's real name and photo but had a satirical slogan ("We no crime."), to be the department's real page.

The Onion argues that such ambiguity and potential confusion is exactly the point of parody. But the way the argument is made—using satire and parody to defend satire and parody—is making headlines.

The 23-page amicus brief can be read in full here, but let's look at some of the highlights:

First, the description of The Onion itself:

"The Onion is the world’s leading news publication, offering highly acclaimed, universally revered coverage of breaking national, international, and local news events. Rising from its humble beginnings as a print newspaper in 1756, The Onion now enjoys a daily readership of 4.3 trillion and has grown into the single most powerful and influential organization in human history.

"In addition to maintaining a towering standard of excellence to which the rest of the industry aspires, The Onion supports more than 350,000 full- and parttime journalism jobs in its numerous news bureaus and manual labor camps stationed around the world, and members of its editorial board have served with distinction in an advisory capacity for such nations as China, Syria, Somalia, and the former Soviet Union. On top of its journalistic pursuits, The Onion also owns and operates the majority of the world’s transoceanic shipping lanes, stands on the nation’s leading edge on matters of deforestation and strip mining, and proudly conducts tests on millions of animals daily."

It's clear to a reasonable mind that they're not being serious here. And yet, this description is being filed in a real Supreme Court filing, setting the stage for the entire argument of how parody works.

"Put simply, for parody to work, it has to plausibly mimic the original," the brief states. "The Sixth Circuit’s decision in this case would condition the First Amendment’s protection for parody upon a requirement that parodists explicitly say, up-front, that their work is nothing more than an elaborate fiction. But that would strip parody of the very thing that makes it function. The Onion cannot stand idly by in the face of a ruling that threatens to disembowel a form of rhetoric that has existed for millennia, that is particularly potent in the realm of political debate, and that, purely incidentally, forms the basis of The Onion’s writers’ paychecks."

The writer of the brief clearly wasn't going to let the opportunity to demonstrate the comedic nature of satire to pass simply because this was an actual legal document being filed before the highest court in the land, nor was he going to spare the judiciary from being the object of said comedy.

It took some gumption to write this paragraph, but oh gracious is it perfection. While arguing that parody functions by tricking people into thinking it's real, the brief states:

"Tu stultus es. You are dumb. These three Latin words have been The Onion’s motto and guiding light since it was founded in 1988 as America’s Finest News Source, leading its writers toward the paper’s singular purpose of pointing out that its readers are deeply gullible people. The Onion’s motto is central to this brief for two important reasons. First, it’s Latin. And The Onion knows that the federal judiciary is staffed entirely by total Latin dorks: They quote Catullus in the original Latin in chambers. They sweetly whisper 'stare decisis' into their spouses’ ears. They mutter 'cui bono' under their breath while picking up after their neighbors’ dogs. So The Onion knew that, unless it pointed to a suitably Latin rallying cry, its brief would be operating far outside the Court’s vernacular."

Just jaw-droppingly irreverent, and yet immediately following is a totally cogent and reasoned argument about the nature of parody, complete with citations and footnotes:

"The second reason—perhaps mildly more important—is that the phrase 'you are dumb' captures the very heart of parody: tricking readers into believing that they’re seeing a serious rendering of some specific form—a pop song lyric, a newspaper article, a police beat—and then allowing them to laugh at their own gullibility when they realize that they’ve fallen victim to one of the oldest tricks in the history of rhetoric. See San Francisco Bay Guardian, Inc. v. Super. Ct., 21 Cal. Rptr. 2d 464, 466 (Ct. App. 1993) ('[T]he very nature of parody . . . is to catch the reader off guard at first glance, after which the ‘victim’ recognizes that the joke is on him to the extent that it caught him unaware.').

"It really is an old trick. The word 'parody' stretches back to the Hellenic world. It originates in the prefix para, meaning an alteration, and the suffix ode, referring to the poetry form known as an ode.3 One of its earliest practitioners was the first-century B.C. poet Horace, whose Satires would replicate the exact form known as an ode—mimicking its meter, its subject matter, even its self-serious tone—but tweaking it ever so slightly so that the form was able to mock its own idiocies."

The brief is a brilliant defense of parody wrapped up in perfect parodic packaging, which is even pointed out in the arguments to drive home the point, as on page 15:

"This is the fifteenth page of a convoluted legal filing intended to deconstruct the societal implications of parody, so the reader’s attention is almost certainly wandering. That’s understandable. So here is a paragraph of gripping legal analysis to ensure that every jurist who reads this brief is appropriately impressed by the logic of its argument and the lucidity of its prose: Bona vacantia. De bonis asportatis. Writ of certiorari. De minimis. Jus accrescendi. Forum non conveniens. Corpus juris. Ad hominem tu quoque. Post hoc ergo propter hoc. Quod est demonstrandum. Actus reus. Scandalum magnatum. Pactum reservati dominii.

"See what happened? This brief itself went from a discussion of parody’s function—and the quite serious historical and legal arguments in favor of strong protections for parodic speech—to a curveball mocking the way legalese can be both impenetrably boring and belie the hollowness of a legal position. That’s the setup and punchline idea again. It would not have worked quite as well if this brief had said the following: 'Hello there, reader, we are about to write an amicus brief about the value of parody. Buckle up, because we’re going to be doing some fairly outré things, including commenting on this text’s form itself!' Taking the latter route would have spoiled the joke and come off as more than a bit stodgy. But more importantly, it would have disarmed the power that comes with a form devouring itself. For millennia, this has been the rhythm of parody: The author convinces the readers that they’re reading the real thing, then pulls the rug out from under them with the joke. The heart of this form lies in that give and take between the serious setup and the ridiculous punchline."

The Onion has outdone itself many times, but this amicus brief may be its best work yet right up to the end.

"The Onion intends to continue its socially valuable role bringing the disinfectant of sunlight into the halls of power…," the argument section concludes. "And it would vastly prefer that sunlight not to be measured out to its writers in 15- minute increments in an exercise yard."

Definitely give the full brief a read. You'll certainly never read another Supreme Court filing like it.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Steve Martin's 2000 novella, "Shopgirl."


Over the past few years, book bans have been happening in public libraries and schools across America. In the 2022-2023 school year alone, over 3,300 books were banned in 182 school districts in 37 states.

Most books that have been banned deal with LGBTQ and racial themes. According to a report from PEN America, Florida has been the most aggressive state regarding book bans, accounting for about 40% of those taken off the shelves.

On November 5, Collier County, Florida, announced that it was banning 300 books from its school libraries out of an effort to comply with state law HB 1069, which says books that depict or describe “sexual content” can be challenged for removal.


Among the books banned by the school district was “Shopgirl,” a novella by author Steve Martin published in 2000. Martin is also the star of the hit Hulu show, “Only Murders in the Building,” featuring Martin Short and Selena Gomez.

Upon hearing about his book being banned, Martin responded with his iconic wit on Instagram, saying, “So proud to have my book Shopgirl banned in Collier County, Florida! Now, people who want to read it will have to buy a copy!"

“Shopgirl” is a story about a young woman who works in a luxury department store and has an affair with a wealthy older man. It was made into a movie in 2005 starring Claire Danes and Martin. It’s believed the book was banned for its mild sexual content. On Amazon, the book is recommended for readers ages 13 and up.


This article originally appeared on 11.11.23

Internet

Lawyer explains how and why she refuses to sign waivers of liability forms for her child

"I do not waive my child's rights when it comes to liability or catastrophic events."

Representative photos by RDNE Stock Project and João Rabelo via Canva

Lawyer refuses to sign waivers of liability for her child

Every parent is familiar with the standard liability waiver for children to do just about anything. Going on a school field trip, sign a liability waiver. Playing a sport, sign a liability waiver. Going to a birthday party at a trampoline park–you got it, sign a liability waiver. The form is so common that parents often sign it without thinking about what they're actually signing.

The assumption is that if you don't sign the form, whoever "they" are will know and your kid will be left out of whatever activity they wanted to do. But do you actually have to sign those things? Shannon Schott a mom, criminal defense and personal injury attorney says declining is an option.

The attorney took to TikTok to explain how she gets around signing the liability forms for her child and it's much simpler than one might think. According to Schott, she's never been questioned when she simply crosses out the things she doesn't agree with and writes decline next to that particular section. No secret liability waiver police jump out from behind the nearest bush, and her reasoning is quite simple.


Blindly signing on the dotted line essentially waives your child's rights to take legal action if an accident occurs that severely injures, maims or kills your child, Schott explains. The mom tells her audience that as a lawyer who handles personal injury, she would never agree to sign away the option to sue, reminding others that liability waivers are a mutual agreement. Keeping this in mind she only signs what she's comfortable with.

"First and foremost if people are not paying attention, I just don't do it. If someone says you have to go online and sign a waiver I say, 'okay thanks' and I don't do it and no one checks and that's not on me. That's me being smart and not waiving my child's rights," Schott reveals, immediately clarifying that she and her family are safe and not trying to trick someone into a lawsuit.

While many people didn't realize that you had the option to decline, some did and explained how they do it in the comments.

"On my first day of torts, my professor taught us to cross out all of the negligence/death clauses. 10 years later with 2 kids, I've never been questioned (no one noticed)," someone writes.

"I always wrote, 'unless under negligence.' No one ever rechecked my signature," another says.

"I always do this!! My mom did it when we were kids so it became a habit," one commenter shares.

@shannonschott.esq #jaxfl #jaxlawyer #floridalawyer #juvenilejustice #juveniledelinquency #juvenilelawexpert #personalinjury #personalinjurylawyer #personalinjuryattorney #personalinjurylaw #personalinjurytips #personalinjurylawyers #personalinjurylawyerflorida ♬ original sound - Shannon Schott

Schott makes it clear in her video that while she is particular about arbitrarily signing her child's rights away, she's not looking for litigation and she's fine with having her child sit out of an activity if needed. The attorney also reassures a commenter that parents always have the right to revoke a waiver and ask for a new form if they've signed thinking they didn't have a choice. Parents are thanking her for the information with some admitting they need to take a closer look at those forms in the future.

Screenshot WBRZ2|YouTube

Boy mistakes multimillionaire for homeless man forming friendship


Kids can be amazingly empathetic people, many of them doing what they can to help others in need unprompted. Homelessness has been an increasing issue across America and some kids have taken small steps to try to help when they can. Kids are seen doing things like volunteering at a soup kitchen with their family, handing out personal hygiene kits and even making sandwiches in their own kitchen to give out.

One kid has been noticing a growing homeless population and wanting to lend a helping hand, but every time he encountered someone without a home, he had no money. But Kelvin Ellis didn't stop the desire of wanting to help so the next time he came across a man that appeared homeless, he was excited that this time he had a dollar in his pocket.

Kelvin, who is 9-years-old spotted a houseless person standing in the corner of a restaurant and knew it was his chance. The boy approached the man who was standing with his eyes closed and held out the only money he had–a dollar bill. But to Kelvin's surprise, the man refused the kind gesture and instead bought him breakfast because it turned out the man wasn't homeless at all.


Matthew Busbice, the man standing in the corner, was simply doing his morning devotional prayer after having to leave his apartment in a rush when the building's fire alarm went off. The man stepped across the street to the coffee shop after it was confirmed to be a false alarm at his building. That's where Kelvin spotted him and attempted to give charity to Busbice, a multimillionaire.

Busbice launched and owns several brands and outdoor companies with his family. The multimillionaire also starred in two popular reality television shows with his family, Country Bucks on A&E and Wildgame Nation on Outdoor Channel. His money and niche fame didn't stop him from chatting with Kelvin over breakfast while the little boy's dad was at the eye doctor.

"You gave the only money in your pocket to me and thinking I was a homeless man, and that speaks volumes of your character and what this generation that's coming up. If their more like Kelvin and they're going to give, they're going to be filled with joy, they're going to be happy. They're going to change the community then change the parish and change the state, and they can change the world," Busbice tells WBRZ 2.

Kelvin didn't expect to make a friend that day, but he did. You can see how Busbice repaid the little boy's kind gesture below.

Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash (left) and Dan Renco on Unsplash (right)

The staring is part of the competition.

A video of kids waving a narrow rod in front of a pig while hunching like Dracula and giving someone a death stare has taken the internet by storm, leaving people scratching their heads.

"What did I just watch?" seems to be the primary response to the video shared on the @dadsonfarms TikTok page, followed by various versions of "Where am I?" and "What is happening?" and "How did I end up here?"

The befuddlement is only matched by the curiosity and confused laughter that naturally result from seeing something so…unbelievable? Unexpected? Unusual? Uncanny?


How else should one describe this?

@dadsonfarms

Krew and Karis at The Revival livestock Show! #showpigs #pigshow

"This is the weirdest thing 😂😂🤣 I have so many questions!!!" wrote one person.

"Why do I feel like this is a staring competition and the pigs are just a added difficulty 🤣," wrote another.

"Yay!!! I’m back on hunchback death stare competition while also showing pigs tiktok!" exclaimed another.

"Again. What did I react to, to end me up here?" asked another.

If you've ever stepped foot in the world of 4-H or FFA (Future Farmers of America), you likely recognize there's a livestock showing competition happening here. But if you're a city slicker with no rural or agricultural ties, you may not know that "showing" animals is even a thing.

Not only it it a thing, but it's a highly competitive endeavor with specific rules and guidelines and expectations. It does help to have the showmanship requirements explained, however, and thankfully the kids' dad explained in a separate video.

The kids showcased here are Karis and Krew, twins who compete in the 13 to 16-year-old category of pig showing. The pigs are Smack Down and Greta. The reason the competitors stare so intently is to show they are paying attention to the judge and also to show how much control they have. (And according to one commenter, they get extra points for keeping eye contact with the judge the whole time.)

More questions answered here:

@dadsonfarms

@Lawrence Johnson I tried to answer all your Questions about showing Pigs 😊! #showpigs #pigshow

People have been fascinated to learn about how much goes into these exhibitions. Who knew pig showing was this intense? And with judges being flown across the country—there's an official Livestock Judges' Association and everything—this is clearly serious business.

Except when you add the music to it, it just comes off as seriously strange hilarity.

@dadsonfarms

Great night to show at western regionals #showpigs #hogshowman

So what exactly is the point of all of this?

When livestock showing began in the 1800s, the primary purpose was to improve the quality of livestock. These days, it's more about helping young people developing character qualities through programs like 4-H and FFA while learning about farm animal care and preparation for selling. They learn about responsibility, self-discipline, hard work and professionalism through these competitions.

And they clearly master making eye contact as well. You can follow @dadsonfarms on TikTok for more.

Joy

'90s kid shares the 10 lies that everyone's parent told them

"Don't swallow that gum. If you do, it'll take 7 years to come out."

via 90sKidforLife/TikTok (used with permission)

90sKidforLife shares 10 lies everyone's parents told in the era.


Children believe everything their parents tell them. So when parents lie to prevent their kids to stop them from doing something dumb, the mistruth can take on a life of its own. The lie can get passed on from generation to generation until it becomes a zombie lie that has a life of its own.

Justin, known as 90sKidforLife on TikTok and Instagram, put together a list of 10 lies that parents told their kids in the ‘90s, and the Gen X kids in the comments thought it was spot on.


“Why was I told EVERY ONE of these?” Brittany, the most popular commenter, wrote. “I heard all of these plus the classic ‘If you keep making that face, it will get stuck like that,’” Amanda added. After just four days of being posted, it has already been seen 250,000 times.

Parents were always lying #90s #90skids #parenting

@90skid4lyfe

Parents were always lying #90s #90skids #parenting

Here are Justin’s 10 lies '90s parents told their kids:

1. "You can't drink coffee. It'll stunt your growth."

2. "If you pee in the pool, it's gonna turn blue."

3. "Chocolate milk comes from brown cows."

4. "If you eat those watermelon seeds, you'll grow a watermelon in your stomach."

5. "Don't swallow that gum. If you do, it'll take 7 years to come out."

6. "I told you we can't drive with the interior light on. ... It's illegal."

7. "Sitting that close to the TV is going to ruin your vision."

8. "If you keep cracking your knuckles, you're gonna get arthritis."

8. "You just ate, you gotta wait 30 minutes before you can swim."

10. "If you get a tattoo, you won't find a job."