When 20-year-old student Abdulrahman Alharbi was blown into the road by the second explosive device to go off at the Boston Marathon bombing, he likely did not imagine that he would be in court a year later defending his name. The Saudi national, who was studying English in Boston at the time of the attack, was investigated (as were many bystanders) and quickly cleared by law enforcement (who told the Boston Globe in no uncertain terms: “He is not involved. He is just a victim.”). But some people aren’t so easily convinced, some people demand a higher standard, and one of those people–well, the only one–is Glenn Beck. In the days after Alharbi was cleared, Beck went on a crusade on his show, accusing Obama of covering up Alharbi’s involvement as the operation’s money man and threatening to “expose” him live on TV. A choice example of Beck at work: “Let me send this message very clear….We know who this Saudi national is….We know who this man is and, listen to me carefully, we know he is a very bad, bad, bad man.”
The TV-and-radio pundit’s unfounded accusations came back to bite him this March when Alharbi sued him for defamation of character. But Beck bit back this week, filing a brief in which he accuses Alharbi of infringing upon his First Amendment rights in bringing the suit. That’s right, the falsely-demonized English student is impinging upon the wealthy TV personality who exploited the student’s proximity to the tragedy to boost ratings. The brief argues that Alharbi made himself a “limited purpose” and “involuntary” public figure “by behaving suspiciously at the Marathon finishing line when the bombs detonated, thereby causing his detention and a background check by law enforcement,” and that therefore Beck’s comments must be proven malicious in intent rather than, say, just moronic, ill-informed, and fear-mongering.