Amicus briefs have a clear argumentative and informative purpose in legal proceedings, but leave it to Glengarry Glen Ross writer turned Trumper David Mamet to see a standard legal filing as a publication alternative.
Mamet’s latest literary work is a two-page short story titled Lessons from Aerial Navigation written within an amicus brief in support of a Texas law, HB 20, aimed at prohibiting moderation of conservatives on social media platforms. The law was blocked from implementation by a federal judge late last year, but the case is still awaiting a conclusion.
Mamet’s short story about a lost pilot trying to get his bearings is positioned as some form of legal argument in favor of limiting the First Amendment rights of private social media companies. After setting up his metaphor (the map is the internet or Twitter), Mamet removes any doubt about his position.
Navigating requires using tools correctly. The confused citizen has a map. But, if he worked from his observations back to it, he might discover that he can’t find his position pictured there.
Looking out he might, for example, see a free, prosperous, and good country, in which there was little actual poverty, scant racism, and no “systemic” racism, where minorities and women, rather than being discriminated against were treated preferentially. (This belief might be correct or incorrect, but unless we prefer a Ministry of Truth, the belief is his own and surely he’s entitled to it.)
Referring back, then, to his “information,” the citizen might not be able to correlate it with his observations. He knew where he was, as he’d just looked around. But he found no corresponding position on his map.
Even odder, Mamet apparently claimed a copyright on the contents of the brief, a move that Techdirt’s Mike Masnick points out is still a debated action in legal circles. “The courts seem to say that you can in some circumstances, though almost no one bothers to register their briefs because, really, why would you?” Masnick said.
As laughable as it is perplexing, the likelihood of Mamet’s short story argument factoring into the legal battle is slim to null. With no legal citations or arguments outside of his own skewed view of the relationship between the U.S. government and social media companies, this yarn should amount to nothing in the eyes of the court.