Howard and DollyThis is a gem:

“Dolly Parton is threatening to sue The Howard Stern Show for manipulating recordings from one of her audio books last week into seemingly racist and sexually graphic sound bites.

‘I have never been so shocked, hurt and humiliated in all my life,’ Parton says in the statement. ‘I cannot believe what Howard Stern has done to me. In a blue million years, I would never have such vulgar things come out of my mouth. They have done editing or some sort of trickery to make this horrible, horrible thing. Please accept my apology for them and certainly know I had nothing to do with this.'”

She’s reportedly going to sue for $500,000, although there’s some discussion as to whether or not a lawsuit is possible. I’ve attached the audio so you can listen for yourself – it’s NSFW (not safe for work) – as a good libertarian I haven’t censored it whatsoever from the original broadcast. Click the play button at the bottom to listen.

Wanna know what I think?

I think Dolly doesn’t understand the Stern show or the type of humour involved. I think she doesn’t understand that there’s no malice – merely entertainment – in the cutting up of her voice to make her say ridiculous and offensive things.

The story finishes by saying:

“…the Stern show regularly uses altered clips from Star Trek actor George Takei, William Shatner, Oprah Winfrey and others.”

This is true. I heard the Dolly bits on the morning Howard played them and they were clearly parody; to me as a fan they were just the latest in a long-running Stern tradition. Some have suggested that there could be defamation of character. But for that to be the case, people would have to believe Dolly really said those things. The very reason they’re funny is that everyone knows Dolly Parton would never say the things in the clips, meaning not only that the comedy lacked defamation of character but that the humour actually relies on the audience’s knowledge that it’s not Dolly! (Moreover, it’s obvious to anyone listening that Parton didn’t say those things; Howard jokes “You try cutting these things up” when Robin doesn’t understand part of the clip.)

As yet more proof of the benign nature of this parody and its frequent use on the show, William Shatner – whose audiobook was also ‘hacked’ by the Stern show – was a guest in Howard’s studio yesterday morning, a segment during which Howard treated the listeners to clips from Shatner’s own audiobook which made him sound as though he was a pedophile. It’s adult humour, for sure – maybe juvenile – but only humour nonetheless. Shatner himself laughed quite hard and appeared to find it funny yesterday; he seemed to understand that no malice was involved, that the listeners would simply find it hilarious to hear Captain Kirk say such ridiculous and offensive things.

I like Dolly. Who doesn’t? But parody is a staple of comedic broadcasting. I’d venture to guess that if Dolly Parton decides to sue Howard Stern, she’ll lose spectacularly.