Martyrology 101—an elective course

What's happening in our readers' forum.
Aug. 14 2006 3:15 AM

Martyrology 101

It's an elective course.

(Continued from Page 5)

HLS2003, in a free-wheeling reflection on sex, blogs, and self-control, invokes the Fourth Amendment to reason that "if a person can have his deepest secrets recorded, turned over to the government, and used to convict him of a crime because he chose his confidants unwisely, then it only seems reasonable that some dumbass who decided to arrange booty calls with a girl he barely knew should have to take the risk that she's the type to screw-and-tell."

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CaLawyer worries more broadly about creating a tort of gossip:

Everyone believes in 'the right of privacy', but everyone has a different concept of it. Everyone has secrets, and we view it as a violation of our own personal autonomy when these secrets are revealed to people we'd rather not have know about them, or revealed indiscriminately…

Yes, there is such thing as a tort of "Public Disclosure of Private Facts". It is ill-defined, largely because we're not sure what constitutes "Private facts", and we're not sure at what point a prohibition against the disclosure of private facts intrudes on my right to speak…if you read Supreme Court cases, they talk about political speech receiving the highest level of protection, but I think that idea has not been thought through fully. Most people's lives are not consumed with talk of politics. Most people's everyday conversations revolve around themselves, their friends, their family, and what's going on in their lives. In other words, gossip. If I had to worry about being sued every time I let something slip that a friend of mine told me but which they considered "private", I would be reluctant to talk at all, except about politics. And I don't want to live in a country where the only way I can avoid being sued is to sound like a C-SPAN groupie.

Contribute your thoughts in Jurisprudence. AC6:30pm PDT

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Using one school's attempt to ban chocolate as a case study in the futility of "market suppression," Tim Harford's article opened up a classic conservative/liberal divide, with questions of personal choice vs. government intervention dominating The Undercover Economist Fray.

FBH echoes many readers in calling for more parental involvement. Father of two daughters, Ripley bemoans the bad nutritional choices induced by government-subsized lunch programs. Also a frustrated parent, Dayenu laments how "schools peddle this junk and then demand that we control our children if we don't want them to eat it… Meanwhile, they're suggesting that young kids, whose impulse-control skills when it comes to eating should hardly be expected to rival those of adults, should walk past junk food… How about paying a bit more, charging a bit more, and serving good, healthful hot lunches?"

Wary of yet more regulation headed her way, katbsd promises "during the next school year to take even more time away from teaching math to check lunches, snacks, and lockers for contraband candy!"

Of banning chocolate, AshleyMiller says "if the school systems are smart, they will focus more on nutritional education rather than ban sweets…just because candy is available does not mean that a person has to eat it."

As a matter of precision, RPC points out that there is a difference "between 'banning' something and not selling something. Should schools ban chocolate? I don't think so. If parents choose to send their kids in with chocolate, so be it. Should schools sell chocolate? No. But that is not a 'ban.' "

For his part, run75441 questions the implicit equivalence between the commodities Snickers = Chuckles = Heroin??? discussed in Harford's article.

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