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But Your Honor, he IS an idiot!

By maxwell edison ·
I suppose this might be somewhat of an addendum discussion to that "freedom of anonymous speech" thread, but what do you think will and/or should come of this:

http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2006/Bills/A1500/1327_I1.HTM

What if I call somebody an idiot in one of the occasional "flame sessions", and they want me to be arrested and/or be held libel for defamation. How can I prove that person really is an idiot? Or would that person have to prove he's not an idiot? Is there an idiot test that could be applied? Will I have to refrain from using my favorite idiot link? Will I be subjected to a cyber restraining order, and be forced to stay at least 100 Web pages away from the alleged idiot? Would this only apply to the idiots in New Jersey? Would I be the idiot extradited to New Jersey? Only an idiot would be in favor of a law like this. Or would only an idiot be opposed?

(Yes, I am being sarcastic, but with an obviously serious issue.)

And how about a libel suit for this:

http://www.thisislondon.com/showbiz/articles/21**3422?source=PA

If Google can be held libel for that, where might it stop? I mean, really. What Yahoo would hold Google libel for that?

What about politicians? Would all those people have to PROVE that President Bush or John Kerry really is an idiot or a liar if they post a message stating as much on the Internet? And what about the international nature of the Internet? (There are international idiots, you know.)

Personally speaking, I'm getting sick and tired of people trying to make a new law to cover any little thing that bothers them; and people are obviously sue-happy. We already have too many stupid laws. Let's start repealing some of these laws, not make new ones. It used to be said that ignorance of the law is no excuse. In fact, it still is, I suppose. But there are so many laws that we ALL are ignorant, even if we tried not to be.

On a somewhat related note (related as it applies to too many laws), I was listening to a talk radio show some time ago, a show hosted by a lawyer. He takes calls answering legal questions and discusses the legal issues of the day. A caller relayed the following story.

This caller walked his young child to the bus stop to wait for the school bus. While he was waiting there with his daughter, a couple of other girls started fighting. The way he described it, a bigger girl was literally pummeling a younger and smaller girl with punches and kicks. He said that he just stood there watching, not wanting to get involved. Another parent (a mom) soon arrived at the same bus stop and saw the fighting, but this parent broke it up. She then went on to chastise the first parent (a guy) for not doing anything, and said that he should be arrested for allowing it to happen.

The gist of the call was to ask this lawyer if he could indeed be arrested for standing by and allowing a smaller child to get beat up be a bigger one. Absolutely, the lawyer answered. He then cited some law that covered that sort of thing. The caller went on to say that he thought about getting involved, and decided that if he did try to break it up, which might even take some physical contact to do so (and did take such contact for the "mom" to hold the bigger girl back), he might be accused of inappropriate touching, or some other thing like that, so he thought it best to NOT get involved. The lawyer went on to admit that if that bigger girl had indeed charged him with doing such a thing, he could have been arrested for that as well.

That sure sounded like a case of damned if you do and damned if you don't -- an example of TOO MANY friggin' laws.

So, tying-in my little story with the opening comments, would this guy have been an idiot to break-up that fight, or was he an idiot for not breaking it up? (We're obviously a nation of idiots, if this guy found himself being one regardless of what he did.)

I suppose my rambling caused a tangent to the original discussion intent without even creating a tangent thread. How idiotic is that? But don't call me an idiot. I'll sue!

This conversation is currently closed to new comments.

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Fantastic!

by oneamazingwriter In reply to Google has a sense of hum ...

That certainly started my weekend off with great humor...thanks!

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PERFECT !!!!!!

by jarizonatech In reply to Google has a sense of hum ...

Thanks for the post. I'm a registered Repubican and proud of it..... EXCECPT for bungling Bush. Who I did not vote for in the election.

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Not Getting Involved

by BFilmFan In reply to But Your Honor, he IS an ...

A better question the talk show host could have asked is why didn't the parent call the police when they observed an assault taking place, even if they didn't want to get involved physically?

I swear things haven't gotten any better since Kitty Genovese was murdered in '64. Ellison's Whimper of Whipped Dogs is even more relevant today.

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THIS IS NOT CORRECT!!

by richtrini In reply to Not Getting Involved

I have read this thread and I am suprised there are no lawyers reading it. At common law, a person who witnesses a harm being done to someone else owes NO duty to aid or help the victim. Of course this can be changed by statute but this is the general rule. See Restatement 2d of Torts s. 314. Now there are exceptions but I see none based on the bare facts of the example given.

There is a difference between non-feasance and malfeasance. Non-feasance is just doing nothing and it is no crime to do nothing (unless state changes this by statute). Now if you do come to the aid of another and screw it up (malfeasance) you can be sued.

In the situation discussed, the father may have been in a state that has such a "yu must come to the aid of others" law. I did a quick search to find such a statute and found none. That doesn't mean there is none. I really didn't try that hard.

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. Just legal information. Consult a licensed attorney in your state if you need advice.

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Stuff the law

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to THIS IS NOT CORRECT!!

If I see a wrong, I'll make sure it is one, right it and then deal with the consequences. If the law chooses to punish me for this, just proves how how much of an *** it is.
I'd rather take my chance with a jury of my peers, than read on the news the following day that the kid I saw yesterday is dead.

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Nothing to stuff. It is not the law that will choose to punish you.

by richtrini In reply to Stuff the law

I think you've misunderstood what I wrote. First, this isn't a codified law. It was brought over with the English common law and further refined through the years.

Second, this "common law" says that you are under no OBLIGATION to aid another in need. If you do aid someone in need, and you do it negligently, than you have to face the consequences.

This is not a criminal case. I don't think any state will be crazy enough to prosecute someone criminally for coming to the aid of someone. This is civil. This is the person who you just helped suing you for helping and 1) screwing it up so that he got hurt even more due to your help or 2) he didn't want your help in the first place.

In this case it could be the parents of the kid being beat up. It's not the law that is the ***, it is the people.

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I don't think calling someone an idiot

by TonytheTiger In reply to But Your Honor, he IS an ...

qualifies as bona fide defamation. I think in order to qualify, the term has to accuse or imply that the subject performed a specific act of negative connotation. Calling someone a wife-beater or child molester would be examples. That's not to say that calling them an idiot couldn't be charged under harassment law however.

Per the second part. You are absolutely required to stop, try to stop, or report any crime you see taking place. If, through good faith effort to do so, you inadvertently break another law, you would most likely be acquitted.

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Not in this case

by jdclyde In reply to I don't think calling som ...

being ACCUSED of a sex crime, especially against a child, stays with you FOREVER.

This is NOT a case where "innocent until proven guilty". The hyper sensitive nature that is abound today will have you marked for LIFE, and even if you are found innocent you are an ACCUSED offender and will be watched. This also stays on your record which can and WILL hinder your future job searches.

There is no way I would have done more than "tut tut" the bigger girl, and then called the police. Also as a rule of thumb, NEVER be left alone so an angry child could LIE about abuse.

I have seen others burned on this, and don't need to stick my hand out to see if the fire is hot. I learn from other peoples misfortunes.

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The "Sex Offenders Register"

by neilb@uk In reply to Not in this case

Anyone convicted of a "sex cime" in the UK goes on a register and is barred from a lot of jobs, working with children, etc. Seems highly worthwhile, doesn't it.

Then there is the poor chap who was caught short on his way home from the pub one night. No public toilets so he climbed over a wall, into some trees to have a pee. Unfortunately, he was spotted by the police, charged, accepts a "caution" and is now on the register for ten years. Or the youngster who got his girlfriend pregnant while she was just short of 16. Her parents were not very amused, took him to court and he, too, is on the register for ten years.

It's not only in the US that PC goes mad.

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time to start slapping some people

by jdclyde In reply to The "Sex Offenders Regist ...

as this is taking a good idea and destroying it.

Is there a reason to intentionally dillute the list, making it impossible to tell who the real threats are?

Is this an attempt by enforcement to get the list revoked so they don't have to maintain it?

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