Posted February 12:
Regarding the case where a Canadian student was arrested for reading
a work of fiction he had composed about a violent student (Jan.
30), your linked
Christian Science Monitor account reports:
"Maurice Green, counsel for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation,
says it is 'simply not true' that the boy was arrested because of the monologue.
The drama teacher 'was an experienced enough teacher to sense that this
wasn't just acting. He felt ... that he was speaking from the heart. He
could feel the chill in his students' in the room as the piece was recited."
I guess it was lucky Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud didn't study
under this particular drama teacher. They'd have been sentenced to life.
John Steele Gordon, North Salem, N.Y.
Re: your Feb. 2 item
about the 8-year old boy who was suspended under his school's "zero-tolerance"
policy for pointing a chicken finger at his teacher like a gun: The most
frightening thing was the statement from the school principal who was trying
to justify the suspension (quoted in the linked Associated Press story)
that "It's not the object in the hand, it's the thought in the mind."
Is anyone else concerned that this sounds like punishment for a "thought
crime"? I believe the level of overreaction on this issue has
become irrational. Our schools should be encouraging open discussion
of issues that concern the students -- not implementing overly severe (even
Orwellian) knee-jerk responses to an 8-year old student's speech and "thought"
for which the administration had decided there will be "zero tolerance."
Regarding the federal lawsuit filed in Bay City, Mich. by Smucker's
over intellectual property rights to the crustless peanut butter and jelly
sandwich (Jan. 30): have
we produced so many lawyers that now they are left with no work but instituting
federal lawsuits over ownership rights to common food items that have been
in use for generations?
Two other recent cases of which your readers may not be aware: Burger
King has been sued in federal court in Atlanta by Chick-fil-A because Burger
King has advertised that it has "The Original Chicken Sandwich" when, according
to the lawsuit, Chick-fil-A developed the chicken breast sandwich about
forty years ago. (San Francisco Daily Journal, January 26, 2001,
p. 7). And a federal judge ruled against a claim by Monaco Baking
that a rival, Regal Baking Co., had infringed on Monaco's holiday cookie
designs (Gail Diane Cox, "Claim Crumbles in Cookie Design Battle", The
Recorder (S.F.), Feb.
7). The designs in question were pumpkin shaped orange cookies
and red and green traditionally shaped Christmas cookies. What's
worse is that this case called for a cookie by cookie review by the judge
if there was an impasse. What a waste of the court's time. The following
quote deserves special notice: "In a burst of admitted hyperbole, Regal
attorney William Levin, of Laguna Beach, Calif.'s Levin & Hawes, said
in a press release: 'Because we prevailed, grandmothers, pastry chefs and
even competitive baking companies can make cookies in the shape of Valentine's
Day hearts, St. Patrick's Day four-leaf clovers, or Christmas trees without
fear of reprisal.'"
Where did these companies find attorneys willing to clog the federal
courts with such frivolous suits? Enough is enough! The behavior
of my fellow attorneys makes me think about going back to an honorable
profession and digging ditches for a living -- as long as Caterpillar or
John Deere promises not to sue me for infringing on their patent for using
steel implements to remove soil or other miscellaneous debris from the
surface plane thereby creating a depression of variable dimensions for
a multitude of uses. -- William E. Davis, Esq.
While the lawsuit of the drunk Cincinnati man (Jan.
31) is clearly ludicrous, I do want to note that the proprietor of
the bar should lose his license for allowing somebody in his place of business
to get a .31 BAC. The whole idea of personal responsibility, a recurring
theme on your terrific site, does cut both ways. --
John Kingston, Carle Place, N.Y.
Re the Jan. 16 letter following up on
George Williams' suit concerning Louisiana racetrack bets: It might be
a good idea for Mr Williams to check on one thing. At quite a few
of the tracks, the prices listed on the screens show the $3 pay-offs which
is the standard minimum wager for that track. Most wagers in off-track
locations are made based on a $2 wager. So if the track says the pay off
is $121.20 for a $3 trifecta bet, the pay-off on a $2 bet would be 2/3
the amount or $80.80 which happens to be what he won. Likewise for
the Perfecta. -- Charles Clark
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