First Amendment protected opinion?

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Bill B.
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2004/08/23 15:01:17 (permalink)

First Amendment protected opinion?

This is interesting. A restauranteur in Texas is suing the Dallas Morning News food critic over a review:

http://www.dallasobserver.com/issues/2004-08-12/news.html

I can't imagine this not getting tossed out up front.
#1

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    Michael Stern
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/08/23 15:12:03 (permalink)
    There was a group of restaurateurs in Connecticut several years ago who wanted to make it mandatory for a food critic to have formally studied food. We said that would make perfect sense if the same requirement was demanded of all paying customers. On the other hand, the excerpts quoted from the review in the newspaper article do indeed sound pretty lame.
    #2
    meowzart
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/08/23 15:26:02 (permalink)
    Gee...his suing of a reviewer--THAT makes me want to go to his restaurant.
    #3
    aleswench
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/08/23 15:46:02 (permalink)
    Isn't that Steve Martin??
    #4
    seafarer john
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/08/23 15:55:22 (permalink)
    That's what I'd call a "pissing contest between skunks" !!

    Cheers, John
    #5
    Cakes
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/08/23 15:58:38 (permalink)
    I absolutely agree that the resturaunt should not be able to sue due to a bad review. However, apparently the critic made several material statements that are contested.

    If the critic said that something tasted like it had gorganzola in it it could not be contested. If the critic said a dish had gorganzola in it and it didn't I say sue'em.

    Sounds like the newspaper has a really stupid critic on its staff and needs to do something.

    Cakes

    PS; I am very seldom on the side of the suer.
    #6
    1bbqboy
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/08/23 16:01:40 (permalink)
    I'm afraid we would lose plenty of roadfood places if the formal food training rule was applied to the chefs and owners of our beloved roadfood joints.
    One rule of mine is not to eat at places with another city or state in the title of the restuarant, like Il Mulino New York, located in Dallas. It brings to mind Calvin Trillin's passage about the
    french restaruant that the locals always want the out of town guests to eat at.
    #7
    Maynerd
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/08/23 16:49:49 (permalink)
    Disclaimer: I've never met either party involved...

    It's pretty well known that Phil Ramano is a bit of a trend setter when it comes to restaurants. I like some of what he has done (especially "Eatzi's"). He's also known to be a bit of a firebrand and will walk from a deal that is not to his liking. In other words he's used to "calling the shots".

    Dotty Griffith has payed her dues at the DMN as far as I know, worked her way up to be food critic. She used to do the "market report" which was a blurb in the DMN stating each week what produce and fish were in season.

    I've been to a few of the places that she has reviewed in the past and have thought her reviews were fair and truthful.

    I find it hard to believe that Phil would know exactly what ingredients were in the dishes Dotty ate at any particular time. Maybe the chef substituted an ingredient or two when she was served.

    The restaurant / reviewer relationship is a difficult marriage at best. Obviously a poor review can kill a restaurant . I believe reviews are conducted over the course of several meals and an average is reached about the food, service, atmosphere, etc. not from just one experience but two as a minimum, with a dining companion to alleviate the chance of an "off night" . How many of us have gone back to a restaurant after a bad experience? Sometimes never, sometimes we give them one more try.

    I believe his beef with the review is that she gave the restaurant in question 3.5 stars not the 4 stars Phil thought it deserved.
    #8
    Jennifer_4
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/08/23 17:09:53 (permalink)
    My take is, I certainly don't think the newspaper should print anything that isn't factual, opinion of food is another thing, as long as her facts are correct, if not, the paper owes a retraction or at least a correction of facts.
    #9
    Kristi S.
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/08/23 17:31:25 (permalink)
    It's obvious this Romano guy is hypersensitive and doesn't know how to take a few lumps. From the silly comments in the review, I can't see what he's so upset about.

    On the other side, just reading the brief "descriptions" by the reviewer it's also obvious that she enjoys utilizing overwrought wordplay to make it sound as if she and her sensitive palate are the high authorities. What's wrong with a little Gorgonzola? And how do you mess up a Bolognese sauce, anyway?

    Bad things get written about good people all the time, every day, around the world. I'll bet this gets thrown out of court - if it even makes it there - after the presiding judge laughs his keister off.
    #10
    fcbaldwin
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/08/23 19:34:57 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by aleswench

    Isn't that Steve Martin??


    Sho' nuff looks likem..
    #11
    BigGlenn
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/08/23 20:20:54 (permalink)
    Just think of all the people who are going to try his
    restaurant to see what the fuss is all about. 1/2 star he's mad about? Hell, I have eaten at restaurants that only have 1/2 of a star! LOL.
    #12
    Bushie
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/08/23 20:34:17 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by BigGlenn

    Just think of all the people who are going to try his
    restaurant to see what the fuss is all about. 1/2 star he's mad about? Hell, I have eaten at restaurants that only have 1/2 of a star! LOL.

    BG, I sure wish you'd post more than you do. I always thought you were funny, and from talking to other Roadfood members who've met you, I hear you're a great guy.

    Semper Fi
    #13
    renfrew
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/08/24 10:16:48 (permalink)
    At least this reviewer is better than the one we have at the Boston Globe. She never met a restuarant she didnt like.

    Even if the facts were wrong I dont think that is should be grounds to sue. Print a retraction in the column and apoligize. Instead everyone wants to sue.

    #14
    Tedbear
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/09/04 17:50:23 (permalink)


    I think that this reviewer is indeed in trouble. Doesn't she know that the First Amendment was repealed in Texas several years ago?
    #15
    BigGlenn
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/09/04 21:18:36 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Bushie

    quote:
    Originally posted by BigGlenn

    Just think of all the people who are going to try his
    restaurant to see what the fuss is all about. 1/2 star he's mad about? Hell, I have eaten at restaurants that only have 1/2 of a star! LOL.

    BG, I sure wish you'd post more than you do. I always thought you were funny, and from talking to other Roadfood members who've met you, I hear you're a great guy.

    Semper Fi

    Well, I was falling in love with you right up to the point you said Semper Fi! I was in the Air Force and you Marines thought you had it bad? Once, I even had to share a bathroom with the girls in the room next to mine at the Air Base Billeting. And our food at the chow hall was always hot. We always seem to be chasing away the Marines from our chow hall in Okinawa. LOL No seriously, thanks for the kind words. I really enjoy this site. If I am lucky enough to say something funny it probably took every brain cell I had. It takes a few days for me to come up with something funny again. Mainly, I usually see what I want to say already by time I get to the thread. I just wish we could have a National Roadfood Convention where we all could get together for a few days to "Meet Greet and Eat." I just know it would be fun. Thanks again! Big Glenn
    #16
    UncleVic
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/09/04 22:17:50 (permalink)
    I never pay attention to either food or movie reviews... How can one person say what I will or wont like? I listen to others and their experiences before I'll listen to someone in the paper or on the news... Maybe the restraunt suing has bad enough food that they didnt need the extra press! ha ha.. Have to blame someone I guess...
    #17
    rwarn17588
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/09/06 00:15:09 (permalink)
    As someone who works in the newspaper industry and has considerable knowledge of libel law, I make these observations:

    -- Opinion is fully protected by the First Amendment. Whether you disagree with the opinion is immaterial. Such speech is protected by the Bill of Rights.

    -- Reporters who make factual errors -- if the said errors are libelous -- are not liable for damages, unless it's proven that the reporter made the error on purpose, or was reckless in his reporting practices. In other words, you can't collect damages over an honest mistake.

    It's really hard to win a libel suit -- and rightly so. You don't want a newspaper to not do its job because it's intimidated by every Tom, Dick and Harry who yells "I'll sue!"
    #18
    mr chips
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/09/07 23:06:24 (permalink)
    What type or arrogant egomaniac sues over half a star? Owner Romano ought to get a life. It sounds to me that he has an ego that needs deflation. If you are in public life, you will face some slings and arrows and you nneed yo get used to it.
    #19
    Rick F.
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/09/08 00:40:42 (permalink)
    Oh, for Christ's sweet sake! We live in the world. The world is not always nice and comfy. If we can learn to deal with the world as it impinges on our notions of sacrosanctity we might be more able to live fulfilled, if not always perfect, lives! (Sorry if this sounds sacrilegious; Wasn't meant that way at all.)
    #20
    seafarer john
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/09/08 09:10:14 (permalink)
    One of the ironies of Secular Humanism is that we find ourselves needing to use religious terms and phrases to express our belief in certain man- made documents. Thus we consider the Bill of Rights to be "sacrosanct" (preserving the snactity of the sacrament) when we really mean it is merely invoiable. If mankind created the idea of our liberties, then surely mankind can undo those liberties. And that is the fight that will never be won, the contest that will always be in doubt, and the cause we must support every day against those who would trample on our freedoms. A food fight between a reporter and a restauranteur would hardly seem worthy of our attention, but it is just such mundane everyday events that either build or erode our rights, and we need to pay attention.

    As much as I disdain reporters (A lifeform that I truly believe just recently crawled out from under a rock) I must side with the reporter over the restauranteur. Any action that tends to erode our First Amendment right to freely express our opinions is dangerous to all of our rights and must be opposed.

    Thanks for the opportunity to sermonize...

    Cheers, John
    #21
    Rex Allen
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/09/08 09:34:12 (permalink)
    Thank the gods for reporters who have the guts to check things out and then tell the rest of us what is really going on. Rex in Hot, Humid, expensive San Diego
    #22
    meowzart
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/09/08 11:27:07 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Rex Allen

    Thank the gods for reporters who have the guts to check things out and then tell the rest of us what is really going on. Rex in Hot, Humid, expensive San Diego


    You said it Rex! And thank their editors, too! Usually the reporter will have the guts to write it, but the editors won't have the guts to run it.

    There are many in the media whose "news" is all about selling ad space or ratings. But then there are are those that report the real news: pieces that highlight corruption or point out failings or report on health or science advances. These pieces can bring about real change. And that is why I will always treasure the freedom of the press.

    Knowledge is power! And I love it!!
    #23
    Bushie
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/09/08 20:32:48 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Rick F.

    Oh, for Christ's sweet sake! We live in the world. The world is not always nice and comfy. If we can learn to deal with the world as it impinges on our notions of sacrosanctity we might be more able to live fulfilled, if not always perfect, lives! (Sorry if this sounds sacrilegious; Wasn't meant that way at all.)

    Settle down, my friend. Take another drink of whatever libation you're enjoying and reflect on the goodness in your life. (I agree with you, but no reason to get yourself riled up!! LOL! )

    I honestly can't think of any case where an opinion about a restaurant could be considered liable, so scr*w the restaurateur.

    Seafarer:

    Realizing that you are a secular humanist explains a lot of our differences.

    Your argument was brilliant, although your premise is wrong.
    #24
    seafarer john
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/09/08 20:51:19 (permalink)
    Bushie: I'll take that as a compliment - thanks.

    Cheers, John
    #25
    Bushie
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/09/08 21:13:58 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by BigGlenn

    quote:
    Originally posted by Bushie

    quote:
    Originally posted by BigGlenn

    Just think of all the people who are going to try his
    restaurant to see what the fuss is all about. 1/2 star he's mad about? Hell, I have eaten at restaurants that only have 1/2 of a star! LOL.

    BG, I sure wish you'd post more than you do. I always thought you were funny, and from talking to other Roadfood members who've met you, I hear you're a great guy.

    Semper Fi

    Well, I was falling in love with you right up to the point you said Semper Fi! I was in the Air Force and you Marines thought you had it bad? Once, I even had to share a bathroom with the girls in the room next to mine at the Air Base Billeting. And our food at the chow hall was always hot. We always seem to be chasing away the Marines from our chow hall in Okinawa. LOL No seriously, thanks for the kind words. I really enjoy this site. If I am lucky enough to say something funny it probably took every brain cell I had. It takes a few days for me to come up with something funny again. Mainly, I usually see what I want to say already by time I get to the thread. I just wish we could have a National Roadfood Convention where we all could get together for a few days to "Meet Greet and Eat." I just know it would be fun. Thanks again! Big Glenn



    Glenn, I have to respond, not because I think you're pissed or anything, but I don't want anyone to get a wrong impression about my flippant remark, and I especially don't want YOU to get the wrong impression.

    The night I posted this, I was in one of my frequently silly moods. For whatever reason, I chose to sign off with "Semper Fi".

    I've been contacted by more than one person suggesting that I shouldn't have used that phrase, since only true Marines say that.

    I should have known that, and I'm really sorry that I used it in jest. I was NOT a Marine, and I didn't even serve our country in the military. The Vietnam war ended JUST before my number came up, and I've always been grateful.

    I have tremendous respect for you, BigGlenn, and for ALL those who have served our country.

    Please forgive my stupidity.

    #26
    Redskin204
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/10/15 15:41:59 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Tedbear



    I think that this reviewer is indeed in trouble. Doesn't she know that the First Amendment was repealed in Texas several years ago?



    Not in MY part of Texas it wasn't. Never has been, never will be!

    Redskin204
    #27
    michaelgemmell
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/10/15 18:32:43 (permalink)
    Sorry, Redskin, but is Ann Richards still Governor in your part of Texas?
    #28
    Redskin204
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/10/15 19:06:45 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by michaelgemmell

    Sorry, Redskin, but is Ann Richards still Governor in your part of Texas?


    No need to be sorry. No, I'm happy to say that Ann's been out of office for several years now. Last I heard she was making the rounds on the 3rd rung lecture circuit.

    Redskin204
    #29
    michaelgemmell
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    RE: First Amendment protected opinion? 2004/10/15 19:14:04 (permalink)
    Telling the truth in your area, then, is not a money-making proposition?
    #30
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