After students at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville used Facebook to post pictures of themselves in Hallowe’en “Three Blind Mice” costumes, a member of the school’s “Bias Incident Team” turned them in herself to the team, which decided that there was a risk the costume idea “makes fun of a disability.” The pictures have been taken down. “The University of Washington produced a six-minute video last year decrying ‘cultural appropriation’ around Halloween. Off-limits costumes included hula skirts, [straitjackets], sombreros, fake mustaches and martial-arts attire.” [Jillian Kay Melchior, Heat Street] No mention of possible offense to the tail-amputee community. More on bias response teams here.
- Do lawyers find ways to litigate over the effects of the leap day, Feb. 29, that is inserted into the calendar every four years? Glad you asked [Kyle White, Abnormal Use]
- Weren’t regulations supposed to have fixed this, or is it that accommodation rules for air transport are legally separate from those for ordinary commerce? “More flights seeing odd animals as emotional support companions” [WHIO]
- Tiny desk and art magnets: Zen Magnets wins partial but important legal victory against Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) [Zen Magnets, Nancy Nord, earlier]
- Federal government, which has passed no law on private-sector LGBT bias, considers withholding funds to punish North Carolina for declining to have one [New York Times; earlier on Obama EEOC’s wishful effort to generate such coverage through reinterpretation of other law]
- Spirit of trade barriers: Nevada workers walk off job to protest use of workers from other U.S. states [Alex Tabarrok] Expansion of foreign trade “has revealed, not created, problems in the American economy” [Scott Lincicome] More: “Limiting trade with low-wage countries as severely as Sanders wants to would hurt the very poorest people on Earth. A lot.” [Zack Beauchamp, Vox; related Jordan Weissmann, Slate (what Sanders told NYDN “should be absolutely chilling to the developing world… inhumane”)]
- Latest ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) cause célèbre is over 6-year-old Lexi, whose world is getting upended because of her 1.5% Choctaw descent (a great-great-great-great grandparent on her father’s side) [Christina Sandefur/Federalist Society blog, Naomi Schaefer Riley, New York Post earlier generally on ICWA and in my writing at Reason and Cato on the Adoptive Couple case]
“Great news for those of you who have been paying royalties every time you sing ‘Happy Birthday’ – assuming the judge approves a proposed settlement, he will declare that the song is in the public domain, making it free for everyone.” Warner will make some refunds for royalties paid, and plaintiff’s lawyers will ask for $4.62 million — “an awful lot of money for freeing ‘Happy Birthday.'” [Lowering the Bar; earlier here, etc.]
“Beware: sled may develop high speed under certain snow conditions,” Christmas trees “not for human consumption,” and more holiday warnings. [Bob Dorigo Jones]
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg reprints a column from 2000 about a lawsuit that ensued after he exchanged words with a young man waiting in line at the drugstore. The process dragged on through the Christmas season until just before the holiday itself: “It is days in a windowless, airless room, somehow both too big and claustrophobic, waiting for your case to be called, staring dully at tiles on the ceiling, hearing the headachy murmur of legalisms just out of earshot, noting the starched exhaustion of lawyers, the unease of regular folk. There are motions and counter-motions. Many times I recalled that Hamlet, listing reasons to kill himself in his famous ‘To Be or Not to Be’ soliloquy, puts ‘the law’s delay’ up high, right after the pangs of despriz’d love.”
Merry Christmas to all! Our posts will be slowing down, though not disappearing, over the next week or so. You can read some highlights from past Overlawyered coverage of the holiday here.
Those “most dangerous” toys lists are an easy way for news editors to fill space before the holidays, but could a note of strain be creeping in? One of the ten on this year’s list from Massachusetts-based W.A.T.C.H. (World Against Toys Causing Harm) is a recreational art dough that contains wheat (and warns of that fact for allergy sufferers). [AP]
“For anyone planning to terrorize unsuspecting trick-or-treaters, you may want to ask yourself: Is it worth a potential lawsuit?” [Eric Mandel, KIRO/MyNorthwest.com]
Punkin Chunkin, a ballistic pumpkin-launching event, had developed into a beloved Delaware event until a 2013 accident where an ATV overturned on a farmer’s field, leading to an injury claim. “On Oct. 8…organizers pulled the plug for a second year, saying liability insurance for the event had proven unobtainable. Even supporters of Punkin Chunkin were left wondering: Is it over for good?” [Wilmington News-Journal, our coverage last year] More: Bob Dorigo Jones.
“The world’s most popular English language song is potentially free from copyright after a federal judge ruled on Tuesday that filmmakers challenging Warner/Chappell Music’s hold on “Happy Birthday to You” should be granted summary judgment.” [Eriq Gardner, Hollywood Reporter/Billboard] We’ve covered the saga a number of times previously. More: Lowering the Bar.