Read the Beforeitsnews.com story here. Advertise at Before It's News here.
Profile image
By Reason Magazine (Reporter)
Contributor profile | More stories
Story Views
Now:
Last hour:
Last 24 hours:
Total:

N.Y. Police Officer Sues Protester Over Anti-Asian Insults, Alleged Spitting

% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.


The case is Cheung v. Harper, and the video of the interaction is apparently this:

The audio isn’t great, but it sounds like a lot of personal insults (“motherfucker,” “suck my dick,” etc.) coupled with allusions to Cheung’s being Asian (“soy sauce,” “fucking Asian marts last week, how they treat dogs there, motherfuckers,” “dog food eater,” “cat eater” [?]). As is common with many such taunts, they don’t make much sense on their own terms, but just seem like attempts to get Cheung mad.

The New York Times (Jonah E. Bromwich) has a long story on the case, which includes these items:

Mr. Harper said … the protest … was a weekly demonstration for transgender rights and “in solidarity with end Asian hate.” …

In interviews, [Terrell] Harper, 39, apologized for what he acknowledged were racist comments. He said the video had been taken out of context, and that he typically uses racist remarks as part of a broader explanatory monologue to demonstrate what racism looks and feels like.

“I’ve got to change my method, and I came out and apologized for that,” he said.

Obviously the lawsuit is primarily a political statement by the plaintiff; but of course that is not uncommon in similar lawsuits; so I thought I’d offer a bit of tentative legal analysis.

[1.] These sorts of personally targeted face-to-face insults generally fit within the “fighting words” exception to the First Amendment, whether they are bigoted or otherwise. New York courts do take the view that “[t]he ‘fighting words’ doctrine under the First Amendment is even more narrowly applied in cases involving police officers than in cases between ordinary citizens ‘because a properly trained officer may reasonably be expected to exercise a higher degree of restraint than the average citizen.’” But they don’t  seem to categorically preclude fighting words claims for face-to-face insults of police officers (or limit them to situations where the police officer responds by fighting). It may well be that a sustained rant such as this would qualify as fighting words even when said to an officer.

[2.] But the defendant is apparently not being prosecuted for this, and there’s no “fighting words” civil tort cause of action. Instead, the claim is that this constitutes “intentional infliction of emotional distress,” a notoriously vague (though generally narrow) cause of action:

Intentional infliction of emotional distress has the following elements: extreme and outrageous conduct; intent to cause, or disregard of a substantial probability of causing, severe emotional distress; a causal connection between the conduct and injury; and severe emotional distress. Liability for the tort is found only where the conduct has been so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community (see Howell v. New York Post Co., 81 N.Y.2d 115 [1993]). And, courts are reluctant to allow recovery under the banner of intentional infliction of emotional distress absent a deliberate, systematic and malicious campaign of harassment, intimidation, humiliation and abuse of plaintiff.

Some recent cases (such as the one I just quoted) do allow intentional-infliction-of-emotional-distress lawsuits over bigoted insults that would likely qualify as fighting words in criminal cases, at least when they are said by a business employee about a patron or by an employer about an employee. It’s not clear to me, though, whether the same would be as “so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community” outside this sort of business context.

[3.] If Cheung loses, on the grounds that this doesn’t fit within the emotional distress tort (or that it doesn’t qualify as fighting words, when said to a police officer), would he—or perhaps the police union, which appears to be backing this lawsuit—have to pay Harper’s legal fees? I’m glad you asked! The New York anti-SLAPP statute allows such recovery of fees by defendants for speech “in connection with an issue of public interest.” Query whether these sort of largely substance-free face-to-face personal insults, even if viewed as an expression of a political view (hostility to Asians) would be seen as sufficiently in connection with an issue of public interest; I doubt it, though the matter isn’t open and shut.

[4.] Cheung is also claiming that Terrell spit on him, “negligently, recklessly and carelessly, spit his saliva on the Plaintiff’s face and into the Plaintiff’s eyes”; I set that question (which I suspect is facially contested) aside in this post.



Source: https://reason.com/volokh/2021/04/30/n-y-police-officer-sues-protester-over-anti-asian-insults-alleged-spitting/


Before It’s News® is a community of individuals who report on what’s going on around them, from all around the world.

Anyone can join.
Anyone can contribute.
Anyone can become informed about their world.

"United We Stand" Click Here To Create Your Personal Citizen Journalist Account Today, Be Sure To Invite Your Friends.

Please Help Support BeforeitsNews by trying our Natural Health Products below!


Order by Phone at 888-809-8385 or online at https://mitocopper.com M - F 9am to 5pm EST


Order by Phone at 888-809-8385 or online at https://www.herbanomic.com M - F 9am to 5pm EST


Humic & Fulvic Trace Minerals Complex - Nature's most important supplement! Vivid Dreams again!

HNEX HydroNano EXtracellular Water - Improve immune system health and reduce inflammation

Ultimate Clinical Potency Curcumin - Natural pain relief, reduce inflammation and so much more.

MitoCopper - Bioavailable Copper destroys pathogens and gives you more energy. (See Blood Video)
Oxy Powder - Natural Colon Cleanser!  Cleans out toxic buildup with oxygen! 
Nascent Iodine - Promotes detoxification, mental focus and thyroid health.
Smart Meter Cover -  Reduces Smart Meter radiation by 96%!  (See Video)

Immusist Beverage Concentrate - Proprietary blend, formulated to reduce inflammation while hydrating and oxygenating the cells.

Report abuse
Loading...

Comments

Your Comments
Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

MOST RECENT
Load more ...

SignUp

Login

Newsletter

Email this story
Email this story

If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.