Since when does calling your headmaster gay, and coming up with a cutesy rhyme to go with the Photoshopped image you concocted, constitute defamation? Welcome to South African high school!
Four years ago teens Hennie le Roux, snapped pictures of headmaster Christo Bekker and his deputy, Louis Dey, superimposed their faces onto “naked gay bodybuilders,” showed the image to his friend Christiaan Gildenhuys, and then classmate Reinhardt van Rensburg slapped it on the school’s public notice board. Bekker and Dey were not happy about what the then-teenagers did, especially the part where the whole school learned the chant “Dey is gay,” because hey, this is school and kids like to rhyme.
But the laughing is over: South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal just upheld the Pretoria High Court’s ruling, which says the three boys did defame their administrators and owe about USD$6,100.
The boys’ attorneys argued it was just childish humor, which is protected speech, and nobody who saw the falsified image could actually think it was either the headmaster or his deputy. (How everyone knew the naked bodybuilders were gay is, well, unknown to this blogger.) Dey’s attorney countered: “When he gets up on the [school] podium, they don’t see him. They see this picture.” And all anyone can think of is Dey being as “gay, homosexual and masturbating.”
Well, that’s all we can think of now.