A close friend reports he could not use the drive-thru at his local Dunkin the other day. It was being blockaded by an angry kook who had called in a massive order which the DD crew refused to fill.
Cue the lawsuits! The only suspense is over who will get to court first, the store owner, the inconvenienced customers or the lunatic.
If there’s any dispute, no matter how small, that can’t trigger litigation in our bilious culture these days, we haven’t found it. Maybe because we’re prepared to go on living this way?
The failure to control the proliferation of guns should have been a tip off. Lip service is paid to the days when street beefs were settled with idle threats or fists (or, in certain neighborhoods, by a quiet but firm word from the local don), but nothing is ever done to return to them.
A 2018 Pew Research Center survey of “Trust and Distrust in America” found large majorities craving a rebirth of “interpersonal trust” when it comes to solving community disputes. Some respondents offered specific ideas: “muffle political partisanship and group-centered tribalism, refocus news coverage away from insult-ridden talk shows and sensationalist stories, stop giving so much attention to digital screens and spend more time with people, and practice empathy.”
Fat chance? A bill filed by State Sen. Julian Cyr establishing a process for the removal of “objectionable” books from your local school library might be a bellwether.
Cyr wants librarians to approve books for display “based on their professional training and not on political or personal views,” and thinks their decisions should stand unless the school committee determines it’s “devoid of any educational, literary, artistic or social value or is not age appropriate for any children who attend the school.” If they nix a book, any student, parent or guardian can challenge them to show it was based on “clear and convincing evidence.”
Paging all lawyers! Ambulance alert!
While Cyr’s bill may seem a reasonable response to a surge in nasty controversies over books that deal with controversial topics, its vague language amounts to a full-employment act for attorneys. How will you prove there was nothing political about approving a political book? Short of hardcore porn or a Wall Street Journal editorial, what could possibly contain zero “educational, literary, artistic or social value”? Your “clear and convincing evidence” might be another man’s b.s.
It’s quaint to think reasonable people should be able to work out a small matter like this among themselves. The art of compromise is dying, if not already dead, replaced by what some call a “demand for total justice.” For extremists who see a book with LGBTQ themes as part of a global crusade to exploit children and undermine civilization – and for those who think a parent’s honest discomfort with unwanted encroachment on their parenting is a vile threat to free speech – there can be no middle ground.
A less-partisan political culture might be a vehicle for moderating disputes. But that’s not what we have. As attorney general, Gov. Maura Healey sued the daylights out of the Trump administration. These days, conservatives return the favor, aided by a right-wing Supreme Court majority.
The legal system was never supposed to be a legislative body. But the balance of power is out of balance. Next thing you know, democracy takes a header and breaks a hip.
And, of course, sues.
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