By DEBRA LEMOINE
Advocate Florida parishes bureau
Published: Mar 4, 2010 - Page: 1B
HAMMOND — A state judge ordered a Web site to pull a story about a fictional giraffe attack at Global Wildlife Center in Folsom.
District Judge Brenda Bedsole Ricks signed the temporary restraining order Tuesday and scheduled a hearing for March 15 in 21st Judicial District Court in Amite on whether to make the injunction permanent, court records show.
The case has been assigned to state District Judge Beth Wolfe.
The Web site, Hammond Action News, posted a story Feb. 25 reporting a giraffe attacked and killed a tour guide, the lawsuit said.
Global Wildlife Center is a nonprofit wildlife sanctuary that offers tours of its preserve in Tangipahoa Parish where patrons can feed and pet exotic animals, such as kangaroos, giraffes and camels.
The story is “malicious and untrue,” asserted Christina Cooper, Global’s education and development director, in a written statement.
“I have received calls from concerned friends and citizens who took the story to be truth,” she said.
Global Wildlife officials maintain the Hammond Action News site does not label itself as a source of satire, and its readers can mistake its content for genuine news, court records show.
Hammond Action News also used a copyrighted photograph from Global Wildlife, lending the story credibility, the lawsuit said.
Global Wildlife asked Nicholas Brilleaux, the owner of the site, to remove the story and filed suit when Brilleaux refused.
Alleging the story defames Global Wildlife’s reputation as a safe, family-friendly destination, the center seeks only to have the story permanently removed from the site and to prevent Hammond Action News from ever distributing it, said Robert McComiskey, Global Widlife’s attorney.
Brilleaux’s attorney, Parker Layrisson, said his client’s work is satire and is considered protected speech.
“Very few rights are important to Americans as freedom of speech,” Layrisson said in a written statement.
“Artistic expressions, like parody and satire, are protected from censorship by the First Amendment,” he said.
Brilleaux, a senior majoring in history at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, started the blog-style site in September 2008 and began regularly posting stories in May 2009, Layrisson said.
He also posts stories to a Facebook.com fan page.
“One day some funny ideas just popped into my head, and so I decided to post it on a ‘blog-style’ Web site to share with friends and co-workers,” Brilleaux said in an e-mailed response sent through his attorney.
“The site is and always has been for entertainment only. We don’t make money off the site,” he said.
Brilleaux said he took one journalism class in college, but decided against a journalism career. He said he aspires to become a documentary filmmaker.
Brilleaux said a “close family friend” also is a contributor to the site, and he gets his ideas from relatives and friends.
Brilleaux’s stories mostly poke fun at the newsmakers of Tangipahoa Parish, including Hammond Mayor Mayson Foster, Tangipahoa Parish President Gordon Burgess and SLU President John Crain.
For example, the site ran a story saying Crain vowed to live off of the cheap college staple, Ramen noodle soup, to save money after the university’s two rounds of layoffs in the past eight months.
“I have very fond memories of visiting Global Wildlife as a kid, and it saddens me that their foundation has failed to see the humor in our Web site,” Brilleaux said in the written statement.
Click to view image: '24430c2f6ae3-20090616_giraffe_neck.jpg'
Tags: giraffe, attack, satire, humor, global wildlife center, judge, Florida
Location: Hammond, Florida, United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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