On the night of Halloween 2012 Wilton Manors mayoral candidate Boyd Corbin got into an altercation with Dame Edna, a local drag queen. That incident would lead to Corbin’s arrest, but two years later he was cleared of all charges. SFGN wrote about those incidents.
Now Corbin has accused SFGN of libel, demanded a retraction and apology, and is threatening to sue.
“His complaint fails to meet the minimum threshold requirements of a libel can claim. We are rejecting it summarily,” said Norm Kent, publisher of SFGN and a noted First Amendment lawyer. “He is a candidate for public office – if he can't stand the heat he should get out of the sunlight.”
Corbin has taken issue with an opinion piece written by Sal Torre of SFGN’s twice monthly supplement, The Wilton Manors Gazette. In the story Torre writes:
“Perhaps an easy win, but with Boyd Corbin as your opponent, there’s sure to be plenty of drama and excitement along the way. I’ve always had an underdog appreciation for Boyd, listening to his speeches at City Commission Meetings on how he was treated unfairly by Police and city officials dating back to an incident one Halloween when his tiki torch set fire to a drag queen’s wig. Yes, accidents do happen. However, wearing a KKK outfit and carrying a lit torch around drag queens with big hairdos is probably not the best choice one could make.”
“We are hereby formally requesting a full and unequivocal apology and retraction for this false and defamatory statement,” the complaint reads. “I am sure you are also very well aware that my client is running for Mayor of Wilton Manors and the damages from this inaccurate article being published in your newspaper can have devastating affects to the residents of Wilton Manors in their decision as to who to vote for.”
Corbin claims the above tongue-in-cheek paragraph is untrue.
“The offending paragraph was clearly meant to be funny. But dissecting it further there is nothing in it that we know to be untrue,” Kent said. “Most of the paragraph is Torre’s opinion, which is clearly protected under the First Amendment. The part of about setting the drag queen’s wig on fire, we cannot independently verify that one way or the other.”
What is true, is Corbin was cleared of all criminal charges resulting from the altercation. What is also true, is that an actual altercation did happen while Corbin was carrying a lit tiki torch while dressed in a KKK outfit. In the video that surfaced after Corbin’s arrest it clearly showed Dame Edna arguing with Boyd, her trying to pull the torch out of his hand, her wig coming off, and finally either her falling off or jumping off of the stage into Boyd.
SFGN does not know what happened to the wig in question.
Corbin also demanded SFGN remove another story from 2012, which detailed the incident and included a quote from his lawyer at the time, because there are facts in the story have since changed or been proven false.
“To ask that we remove a legitimate news story from 2012 because the facts later changed is without legal merit,” said Russell Cormican, Kent’s law partner. “Can you imagine if every newspaper had to update old stories when new facts emerged? Often times those outlets will write new stories but they won’t delete the old ones. It’s preposterous to expect us to do so.”