Never Speak Ill of the Dead?

With the sad passing of Johnny Cochran, most famous as O.J. Simpson’s lead defense attorney, the US Supreme Court faces a quandry. Some years ago, one of Cochran’s unhappy former clients began picketing his law office and generally harrassing him. Cochran sued and won. (In an act of overreaching pride, the client acted as his own counsel against Cochran.) The former client, Ulysses Tory, was enjoined from further harrassment with the additional priviso that never speak about him or his firm publicly, presumably even on the Internet. (I respect Mr Cochran, I really do.)

However, you cannot defame the dead, so normally, Tory would be free to say anyhing he wants now about the late Mr. Cochran. Except for that one stipulation that he “never” speak the Cochran matters publicly gain.

So it becomes a First Amendment question: is Tory’s speech being unreasonably limited?

By the way, Johnnie Cochran used one of the most memorable marketing themelines (“slogan” outside of the advertisng business) ever. If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.* What was that copy line marketing? Why his client’s innocence.

In fact, as a marketing catch phrase it’s right up there with that hear-it-in-your-sleep copywriting tagline borrowed from a Wendy’s advertising campaign: Where’s the beef? which Walter Mondale used in his failed 1984 Presidential campaign. The Wendy’s copy line is from Dancer-Fitzgerald-Sample in 1984. (I say that to jog the memory of whoever it is out there who wrote it. I was just going to credit to Bill Bernbach, but frankly, I can’t do that.)

Maybe this proves the adage: nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising?

*Note: Internet rumor has it that “fit … acquit” was actually coined by the redoubtable F. Lee Bailey.