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Rahm Emanuel Missing in Action
December 15, 2008

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

The president-elect's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, failed to show up as expected at the Chicago presidential transition offices.

Reporters, who had wanted to ask questions about contacts with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, immediately set out on a search for him but to no avail.

According to an unsubstantiated report, a MSBBC News cameraman was in the Green Room and saw Emanuel double dipping the meatballs into the sweet and sour sauce. After a few rounds, he thought the congressman looked a bit pekid.

He even imagined that he heard the Obama appointee mumble, “Why, why, why?”

In the mean time, reporters have supposedly decided to launch a “Where’s Rahmbo?” Web site in hopes of spreading the word about Emanuel’s sudden exit from the public stage.

As an additional effort, Emanuel’s picture will purportedly appear on milk cartons in the greater Chicago and D.C. vicinities.

The public is being encouraged to help locate Emanuel, too.

A toll-free number has been set up. Anyone who knows anything about the whereabouts of the president-elect’s chief of staff is being asked to call 1-800-0-CHANGE.

Elton John Loses in Court

In an intriguing real-life case, legendary rocker Elton John was recently involved in a lawsuit and ended up on the losing side.

It all happened in a British court. John lost a case that put free expression and journalism in the spotlight.

Justice Tugendhat’s precedent setting U.K. ruling concluded that “irony” and “teasing” are not sufficiently defamatory for a lawsuit.

The star must pay the defendant’s costs, which in this case are those of the U.K. Guardian. He was also denied permission to appeal.

The decision should provide comfort for British writers of parody, satire and humor.

John brought the lawsuit after an article titled “A peek at the diary of Sir Elton John” was published in the Guardian Weekend magazine. The piece purported to quote John’s diary “entries” about his annual White Tie and Tiara Ball, which, incidentally, raises millions for the Elton John Aids Foundation.

“Naturally, everyone could afford just to hand over the money if they gave that much of a toss about Aids research — as could the sponsors,” the faux entry read, “but we like to give guests a preposterously lavish evening because they're the kind of people who wouldn't turn up for anything less.”

John was miffed and claimed the article made him look insincere about his own charity and made it appear as though he uses the event “as an occasion for meeting celebrities and/or self-promotion.”

The Guardian’s lawyers took the position that no reasonable reader would have believed the words were meant to be taken seriously.

The judge referred to “irony” as “a figure of speech in which the intended meaning is the opposite of that expressed by the words used.”

“The attribution is literally false but no reasonable reader could be misled by it,” the judge wrote.

Unreliable sources indicate that the judge was not in any way swayed by the plaintiff’s lawyer’s bejeweled eyeshades and feather boa.

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Copyright © 2008
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
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