Dear Doc:

I have always heard the maxim that the pen is mightier than the sword. But is it mightier than a loaded AR15?

Just Asking For A Friend in St. Louis

Dear “Friend”:

The maxim that you cite is hoary, indeed, dating in English from Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s 1839 play, “Cardinal Richelieu”. The thought, however, is much older, and the first written record of it dates to around 500 BCE and attributed to Ahiqar the Assyrian, the phrase, ”The word is mightier than the sword.”  Neither of these gentlemen, however, would have been familiar with the type of assault weapon that you mention. But I digress…

The “Doc” is familiar with a pair of lawyer-spouses who reside in the vicinity of St. Louis, Missouri, who go by the names Mark and Patricia McClosskey. These two members of the bar are, it seems, quite familiar with both assault weapons and handguns, and on at least one occasion, they seem to have displayed their weaponry outside their upscale home, handling these firearms in a manner not recommended by any NRA safety instructor that the Doc has ever encountered. They admit that they did this in response to demonstrators in the street (which, the Doc notes, is a private street that was being used by the crowd as it was on its way to the nearby home of the mayor of St. Louis.) During this display of firepower, a photographer by the name of William D. Greenblatt took several photos of the McClosskeys and their weapons.

Since this incident on June 28, 2020, the McClosskeys have become internationally famous. The Greenblatt photos were reproduced by United Press International (UPI) and published in newspapers, television and internet stories world-wide. The McClosskeys were invited speakers at the Republican National Convention, and appeared on behalf of candidates running for office, including one house candidate in Pennsylvania, near where the Doc lives. Both McClosskeys have even been charged with crimes in connection with the event.

On November 6, 2020, the McClosskeys filed a federal law suit against Mr. Greenblatt, his company, UPI, and a company that is selling one of Greenblatt’s photographs reproduced on T-shirts, coffee mugs and other items. The lawsuit claims, among other things, that the McClosskey’s privacy was invaded, that their right of publicity has been misappropriated, and that they have suffered emotional distress. They have demanded a jury trial. Each of these rights arises under state law, which differs widely around the nation, and because the Doc is not a Missouri attorney, he will not venture an opinion about their likelihood of success. 

The Doc is extremely pleased that the St. Louis protests for racial justice on June 28 and this dispute are not being resolved at the end of gun, but rather, using words, written and spoken, in a Court of Law. In that respect, Ahiqar has again been proven correct. May it always be so.

Do you have a dispute? Would you rather not be photographed in a way that makes you look like a fool to the entire civilized world? Give the attorneys at LW&H a call. They will be pleased to represent you to achieve a favorable outcome without bloodshed.

Until next month,

The “Doc”

— Lawrence A. Husick, Esq.