Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Scott Lawsuit Against Argus Goes To Court

Does this sound like sarcasm at first glance? Can you tell that it is parody?

Divisively arrogant: Dan Scott’s apology
By Randell Beck
email address redacted
Published: July 15, 2007

News item: Dan Scott of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, under fire for comments directed toward out-of-state lawmakers, has said his remarks were taken out of context.

Speaking at a June 15 breakfast, sponsored by the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce for lawmakers from across the state, Scott stressed the importance of helping Sioux Falls develop. If they don’t, Scott said, “Stay out of the way, will you? We’ve got a city to build!”

Some public officials across the state characterized the remark as divisive and arrogant. Seeking to mend fences, members of the foundation’s board asked Scott to write a letter of apology to lawmakers.

Scott’s letter, dated July 5, is available at argusleader.com. Or you can read a reasonable facsimile right here.

To: South Dakota Legislators

From: Dan Scott, Sioux Falls Development Foundation

You may have read an article in the Argus Leader blatantly misquoting my remarks at a recent Chamber of Commerce breakfast for out-of-state lawmakers.

You know how that newspaper is, so you won’t be surprised to learn that when I said, “Stay out of the way, will you? We’ve got a city to build,” I was, uh, let’s see, I was really talking about legislators in NORTH Dakota. Yeah, that’s it! North Dakota. That was obvious to everybody, and even though I am not admitting I said anything like that, leave it to the Argus Leader to put a negative spin on it.

Well, after the Argus Leader misquoted me saying what I’m not admitting I actually said, the whole thing blew up. Now my job is on the line. A few hicks from small towns with zero hope of ever having a strip mall or a river walk complained about what I said - even though I didn’t say it - and now the money boys in town are squeezing me hard. They told me I had to apologize to you, which I’m not officially doing in this letter, because I did nothing to apologize for, even though I’m hoping people are dumb enough to think I’m apologizing, which I’m not.

Here in the golden city of Sioux Falls, we’re pretty darn proud of our success. Let’s be honest: We have more money, better jobs and nicer houses than other towns. Even the governor, who lives in one of those towns, has called us the “economic engine” of the state. As I like to say, an engine doesn’t get very far without other important stuff - like, oh, the glove box or cup holders. If we didn’t think the small towns of South Dakota were important, we wouldn’t have launched our campaign to persuade young people to leave them and move to Sioux Falls so they can get better jobs, more money and nicer houses.

Here in the shining city of Sioux Falls, we’ve been bellyaching privately for a long time that the state Legislature is dominated by people like you from small towns who don’t care a whit about our little slice of paradise.

We finally got some of our guys into leadership positions in the Legislature, and so we think we’ve got a decent chance to take over. Our motto is: “What’s good for Sioux Falls is good for South Dakota.” If political muscle doesn’t work and you still vote against bills that give us a blank check to do anything we want, we may secede and move to Iowa.

Oh, I’m just kidding on that one.

In conclusion, I feel certain we are all on the same page when it comes to making this state a better place for our children and grandchildren - as long as you speak reverently of Sioux Falls and enthusiastically support everything we want. Because all of us are public servants selflessly devoted to the common good, we are bound to encounter an occasional disappointment along the way, such as being misquoted and taken entirely out of context when I was clearly talking trash about North Dakota lawmakers, not you. If I manage to keep my job, I intend to work even harder in the future to brag about our good fortune to live, work and play in a city like Sioux Falls.

Too bad you don’t.


Many readers of the article when it first appeared in the Argus Leader didn't think so and now a judge is reviewing the libel case brought forward by Sioux Falls Development Foundation president Dan Scott against the Argus and Executive Editor Randall Beck. Lawyers from both sides including ironically Scott attorney and no fan of the Argus Bill Janklow, made their cases today to Judge Kathleen Caldwell who must now determine whether the case should go forward.
Dan Scott is asking for $1 million in damages for the article written by Sioux Falls Argus Leader Executive Editor Randall Beck.

The lawyer for the newspaper asked the judge to dismiss Scott's lawsuit, claiming a reasonable reader would recognize the article as a parody, which is protected under the 1st amendment.
Parody is protected speech but is it really parody if no one gets the joke? We should know in 2 weeks whether the judge thinks the case has merits.

(Note: The above article is no longer available online nor it it still cached in Google but is taken from an earlier post that contains the article taken directly from Google's cached page before it was purged)

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