Dilbert author Scott Adams is on the legal warpath. The creator of the once wildly popular satire of cubicle culture, who, in recent years, has achieved perhaps greater notoriety as an online gainsayer, political prognosticator, and controversy magnet, has set his sites — or at least the sites of a future legal team — on fellow controversial pundit/cartoonist Bill Garrison following the latter’s publication of a cartoon mocking Adams and his alleged views on vaccination. Or at least what Garrison perceives as Adam’s views.

The original cartoon by Garrison, who is one of the furthest to the right among contemporary political cartoonists, shows a “scientist,” likely intended to resemble Doctor Anthony Fauci, “hypnotizing” a person who certainly bears a fair resemblance to Adams — and who also sports a bent out of shape necktie like the title character of Dilbert — into taking a triple injection of some substance and then later succumbing to a fit of “buyer’s remorse” after anti-vaxxer positions have been somehow justified (Garrison neglects to provide any proof of this “justification”). The last panel features a very obvious parody of the Adams’ Dogbert character as well.

Adams took to his own Twitter account to poll his followers and ask whether or not their purchase or lack thereof of Dilbert merch was influenced by a belief that he was “pro-mask and pro-vaccination.” Adams maintains that he is neither for nor against masks or vaccinations per se but is merely anti-mandates. He has elaborated on his stances on vaccines and masking in a publicly available Google doc. The poll, now closed, found 44% of those who took it stopped following him due to said belief (though the fact that they were taking the poll in the first place must lend a certain skepticism to those results).

Scott then outlined “5 Elements Of Defamation” (sic) including * Publication Of Information. * The Person Being Defamed Was Identified By The Statement. * The Remarks Had A Negative Impact On The Person’s Reputation. * The Published Information Is Demonstrably False. * The Defendant Is At Fault.

Whether this is necessarily an official definition or not, Adams doesn’t seem to take into account that he is himself a public figure and that Dilbert is subject to the same standard for parody and satire as any other intellectual property. Defamation cases can be some of the hardest cases to win in the United States where the onus of proving malice is on the side of the plaintiff. And opinion, satire, and parody are as a matter of course, not actionable. He might do well to consult a lawyer before polling his following whether he should head to court.

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