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Sidebar: No laughing matter

What the legal system finds funny might not be what cracks your uncle up on Facebook. From social media posts to trademark spats and the impact of comic Lenny Bruce on the First Amendment, we bring you a dose of humor with some legal history.

A note: this episode contains language that might make you or your nana blush.

Pull up a chair as we bring you into the comedy club and beyond. Laughter may be the best medicine, but how does it hold up in court? Over the decades, courts carved out clear First Amendment protections for comics facing criminal obscenity and parodists taken a little too seriously. While the past informs the present, the rare joker can still find himself at the wrong end of the law over a Facebook post.

In our fifth episode this season, we break down how certain words are OK under the eyes of the law, courtesy of the infamous Lenny Bruce obscenity trials. We also delve into cases like Jerry Falwell's defamation lawsuit against Hustler magazine and the challenges of navigating social media and free speech. Spoiler alert: the First Amendment is not always so cut and dry, causing some parodists to find out the hard way that it does not protect all speech, funny or not.

Join us as we navigate the often amusing and sometimes controversial world of jokes and their legal consequences.

Special guests:

Sidebar tackles the top stories you need to know from the legal world. Join reporters Hillel Aron, Kirk McDaniel, Amanda Pampuro and Nina Pullano as they take you in and out of courtrooms in the U.S. and beyond and break down developments to help you understand how they affect your day-to-day life.

Kirk McDaniel produced this episode. Intro music by The Dead Pens. A transcript of this episode is available.

Editorial staff is Bill Dotinga, Sean Duffy and Jamie Ross.

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Categories:Appeals, Civil Rights, Podcast

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