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The Onion files Supreme Court brief defending man arrested for parody

The Onion filed a Supreme Court brief on Monday, in support of a man who was arrested for a parody Facebook page. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/fa4711b81c03135dc8025e102069f4f2/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
The Onion filed a Supreme Court brief on Monday, in support of a man who was arrested for a parody Facebook page. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 4 (UPI) -- The satirical publication The Onion took an uncharacteristic dive into a serious issue by filing an amicus brief at the U.S. Supreme Court in support of an Ohio man who faced criminal charges over a parody Facebook page.

Anthony Novak, an amateur comic from the Cleveland suburb of Parma, was arrested and briefly jailed after creating a fake Facebook page that was styled after the Parma Police Department's Facebook page, according to the Washington Post.

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His lawyers argued it was a parody and he was acquitted at trial.

Now Novak is suing the city, saying his civil rights were violated. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit earlier this year on the grounds that the police had qualified immunity. That decision was upheld by an appeals court. Now the high court is deciding whether to take his case.

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After one of Novak's lawyers, Patrick Jaicomo contacted Jordan LaFlure, the managing editor of The Onion, LaFlure expressed interest in supporting Novak.

"They heard the story, and they were like, 'Oh my god, this is something that could really put all of our people in the crosshairs if we rub someone the wrong way with one of our stories,'" Mr. Jaicomo said, according to the New York Times.

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The Onion's brief on Monday was a mixture of satire and straight arguments in defense of parody. Some of their chapter headings included "Parody Functions By Tricking People Into Thinking That It Is Real" and "It Should Be Obvious That Parodists Cannot Be Prosecuted For Telling A Joke With A Straight Face."

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While some of the chapter headlines were jokes, Jaicomo said that the brief was important because it demonstrated that parody can be used to make a point.

"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 brief said.

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