Judge Won't Dismiss Love Field Guard's Defamation Suit Against Radio Host
Back in May, we directed your attention to the legal woes of Henry Robinson, a former Love Field security guard who claimed in Dallas federal court that The Beat-97.9 host Rickey Smiley cost him his job when he went questioned his heterosexuality. The whole thing stemmed from an incident at the airport one year ago: Smiley was getting off a plane, and folks who recognized him -- including Robinson -- asked for photos. Robinson, though, says that when he asked for a second snapshot with Smiley, the host called him, among other things, "the gay security guard" -- first in the terminal, then on the radio.
Robinson's initial complaint "expressly denies" he's gay and says that when Smiley called him out on the air -- in a poem called, brilliantly, "Henry, Henry" -- his job performance went south: "Robinson was an exemplary worker and did not have any work related problems until after the radio transmission." Smiley's attorneys have been trying to get the case dismissed by insisting, look, the host didn't mean anything by it, he wasn't trying to defame the poor fella ... and ... um ... satire!
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor ruled that he ain't buying it. Regarding Smiley's outing a straight man on the radio, the judge writes that "at a minimum ... judicial caution requires the Court to acknowledge that the imputation of homosexuality might as
a matter of fact expose a person to public hatred, contempt or ridicule." And regarding the satire defense -- which included a reference to a way-super-hilarious 11-year-old Observer piece that prompted a Texas Supreme Court ruling -- O'Connor says, Nunh-unh.
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