By Bruce Walker
November 19, 2007
The depressing and dishonest films about American troops in the Middle East, like the odious Redacted produced by Mark Cuban, seem to be immune to pressure from patriotic Americans. Although the films lose huge amounts of money, the billionaire producers of the films do not care. Hollywood and the coastal elites love bashing America and the financial bottom line in these films simply do not matter to anti-Americans with billions of dollars of personal wealth.
What can we do? Well, to the extent that the films deliberately portray an inaccurate and defamatory picture of our troops in combat, there is at least one approach we could take: sue the producers. The mother, father, wife or husband of a soldier killed in Iraq after Redacted came out should bring a defamation action for ten million dollars or so against Mark Cuban. Ten million dollars is reasonable compensation for the wrongful death of an American citizen.
Although defamation, or libel, is almost impossible for a public figure to prove in court today, those brave men and women who fight in Iraq today are not public figures. The hundreds of thousands of privates, corporals and sergeants who are risking their lives to protect our freedoms cannot be considered "public figures" unless all of us are considered public figures.
Consider a lawsuit brought by a mother who had lost a son in Iraq after Redacted came out, and consider that American forces found DVD copies of Redacted in the hands of al-Qaeda or other terrorists killing American troops in Iraq. Now consider that in a civil lawsuit, Cuban could be compelled to state what sources he relied upon in producing his nauseating film. Is there any doubt that Cuban would come across as an arrogant, reckless or negligent billionaire who did not really care if his defamatory cinematography endangered innocent American lives?
Would a jury be sympathetic to such a lawsuit? Contrary to what anti-Americans like Cuban think, the overwhelming majority of Americans strongly support our military forces (even if they do not necessarily support the mission or the president.) Moreover, the military is an all volunteer force and it is as diverse a group ethnically and racially as any group in America. Most members of the jury probably have relatives serving in the military. Most juries would be deeply offended at the defamation of their own relatives in films like Redacted.
Moreover, there are thousands of plaintiffs in this sort of lawsuit for every Cindy Sheehan in America. Cuban and like-minded billionaires safe in their palaces could find themselves facing hundreds or thousands of lawsuits in hundreds of different venues.
Tobacco companies, merely for seeming to mislead Americans, paid many billions of dollars and were compelled to take measures to inform the public that what tobacco companies had told the American people was not entirely true. Films like Redacted are much more blatantly defamatory, not merely misleading but outright lying. The damages should be comparably greater.
A few dozen such lawsuits could do much more than Bill O'Reilly holding up a sign saying "Support Our Troops." One is free to support or not to support our troops. But defaming them in time of war, giving aid and comfort to our sworn enemies, is another thing entirely. It is treason, but then, in America, the whole notion of treason seems to have disappeared. So let us replace treason with defamation, and in so doing, let us protect those who are protecting us.
Bruce Walker is a long-time conservative writer whose work is published regularly at popular conservative sites such as American Thinker.