An Open Letter to Lingerie Football League Commissioner Mitch Mortaza
on Jan 26, 2011
Yesterday afternoon we published a very short article on theheckler.com about your league. It wasn’t serious (rarely do we publish anything that is). It really wasn’t even all that funny but it was clearly a parody and most reasonable people would gather based on the name of our site alone that most of what we do is all in good fun.
However, a lawyer claiming to represent your league promptly sent us a cease and desist letter (click the link to view a PDF) alleging that The Heckler’s “attempts to spread libelous and defamatory material about [the Lingerie Football League] have caused serious and irreparable injury to it, its reputation, and its business.”
Hmmm. Really? I strongly doubt that any parody The Heckler has ever published has caused serious injury to anyone’s reputation or business, especially that of your fledgling league of scantily clad women playing football.
We’ve had numerous struggling teams and leagues approach us in the past, practically begging that we cover them, even if it’s completely in jest. That’s because they know a basic rule of publicity is “Love me. Hate me. Just don’t ignore me.” Unfortunately your lawyer clearly doesn’t agree with that sentiment. The email he sent could have just as easily read “Hey, thanks for mentioning the LFL. We don’t really agree with what you’ve written or find it all that humorous, but if you ever want to check out a game sometime and write about what are games are actually like, please let me know.” That would be the sort of reply that could perhaps endear you to bloggers and website publishers like myself and might actually create a positive buzz for your endeavor.
Lastly, I’m not going to wrap myself in the freedom of the press or point exclusively to Supreme Court decisions that afford publications like The Heckler a lot of leeway when it comes to material that is clearly parody or satire. And I’m not going to play the “You exploit young women and that’s worse than anything we could have written about your football league that once suspended players for wearing too much clothing” -card, though I certainly could. Instead I’m just going to politely decline your request to remove the article and I’m going to promise you that I will never attend a Lingerie Football League game or encourage any of our readers to ever attend one. Surely they have better things to do with their time, just like your lawyer surely must have better things to do with his time than harass independent Internet publishers like myself.
Founder of The Heckler