Saturday, October 20, 2007

My Kid is an Angel + I'm an Idiot = Lawsuit!



I'm learning that nowadays, most Americans do two things better than any other class of people. First off, most are loud, rude and obnoxious beyond belief at home or abroad. Second, to paraphrase William Shakespeare, "all the world's a courtroom and the men and women are merely plaintiffs." I grew up in a household that didn't suffer fools lightly. If one of us kids did something wrong, it soon became apparent that a parent would be addressing the issue with you. There was NEVER any talk of initiating legal action against the egregious actions of the offending party. There was only talk of what our part in the alleged dispute was, and what remedies we would be obliged to offer as a settlement. One thing I have learned about disputes within the United States justice system, is that the overwhelming majority of cases that come to trial are totally frivolous and completely without merit. Rarely a week goes by anymore, that you don't read about or see on the news a relatively inconsequential matter often involving children. Usually an overly bombastic parent or parents are in a state of rage, as they're contemplating tortious legal action as the only possible means available to resolve a minor dispute involving Jr and someone they perceive to have access to vast amounts of money.

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Allow me to give you an example that illustrates this point. Recently a 15 year old African-American girl from Ft. Pierce, Florida was stopped by a police officer at 1:30 AM for being in violation of a city mandated ordinance prohibiting minors under 16 years of age from being out in the streets after 12:00 midnight. Not only was 15 year old Shelwanda Riley knowingly breaking curfew, she did everything in her power to resist being taken into custody and tried to basically fight the cop. A squad car's dashboard camera captured the arrest on tape, and has been replayed across the nation. Officer Daniel Gilroy asked the girl to stop resisting 17 separate times as she screamed and twisted. When Riley bit Gilroy, the officer smacked her face and sprayed her with mace before taking her to the juvenile detention center.

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The girl's aunt, Gloria Smith got wind there was a video recording the incident. Well, let the games begin. Hey 15 year old curfew violator, come on down, you're the next contestant on "The Price of a Lawsuit." To begin, notify the media, get a bunch of ministers, get Al Sharpton and/or Jesse Jackson, maybe a psychologist or two, a media expert, a carefully orchestrated press conference, make some demands, make some threats, start crying about the emotional toll of 200 years of persecution and for good measure, throw in a kitchen sink. All the players are now assembled on the stage and ACTION.

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Reverend William F. Richardson opened the production by stating Officer Gilroy used excessive force in his July 15 arrest of 15-year-old Shelwanda Riley for a curfew violation. He watched the video I assume, everybody else has. Who is Rev. Richardson you ask, he's a local guy who claimed to be speaking on behalf of Rev. Sharpton, whom he said is closely following the case but could not be at the press conference because Sharpton is in the Bahamas on other business. Hmmm, I've been to the Bahamas and I've been to Ft. Pierce. Not the hardest decision Al ever had to make. The Rev insists the cop be suspended immediately. He went on to state how the cops need better training too. He was speaking on behalf of a 15 year old curfew violator and her still traumatized aunt. Never mind the incident is already three months old.

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The family and their spokespeople are now awaiting a police department internal review of the matter before they plan to publicly announce their next course of action. Something tells me the next course will feature a civil lawsuit on the menu. I'm sure the claims will include severe mental trauma, inability to perform school work, the root cause of current behavioral problems, withdrawal from society and an elevated fear of authoritarian figures. Did I forget anything, Messrs. Jacoby and Meyers? This kid may simply be too traumatized to ever break curfew again. Who knows, she may not want to commit any illegal acts or act in an anti-social manner for the rest of her life. That would be horrible. She should collect $10 million in 20's right away.

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PHOTO OF MY FATHER WALKING TO SCHOOL DURING THE ICE AGE

This is just one example amongst thousands of these types of cases a year. We've all heard stories from parents and grandparents back in the "olden days." You know, when they used to walk to school in 20 feet of snow in July. If they broke curfew or were suspended from school, there was no talk of a lawsuit, there was no talk at all. The boys got rapped in the mouth and the girls got their asses smacked red in a way they didn't enjoy. I'm not defending hitting a kid no matter how appealing that sounds sometimes, but don't go to the other extreme either. Growing up I got in trouble all the time. My parents never sued anybody and I never got rapped in the mouth. Look how amazing I turned out. Am I right people?????????




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