Back in 2003, a lawsuit against a city official was in the news, and it was a little ridiculous.
A relative of then mayor Sexton had been mentioned in an email between council members, and the word “shacked up” was used to describe a living arrangement. Somehow this email became public, and was the ignition point for a lawsuit against the council member. After the story of the lawsuit was printed in the This Week Grandview, I sent a letter to the editor, and made this post in my old blog.
“To the Editor:
I read with great interest the story in This Week Grandview about the lawsuit that the Mayor’s brother has filed against council member Kelley Finan.
I have always been happy living in my shack, and I never realized that using the term “shacked up” could be thought of as an insult. I’m proud of my shack – it has an indoor outhouse, the roof only leaks a little, and when I finish painting the outside it will be the pride of the neighborhood (but that’s what I’ve been saying for the last ten years).
I take great offense that the Mayor’s brother would insult shacks like mine – I think I have suffered harm, mental distress, and if I had a job it could cause a potential loss of income. In the great tradition of Americans who deserve to sue for every insult, I am considering a lawsuit for a MILLION dollars. If that is not possible, I would take a set of tires for my pickup truck. It’s been up on blocks for a while, and if I can get some tires – even used ones with a little tread left on them – I will consider this matter closed.
(Suggested music to play while reading this letter – Love Shack, by the B-52s.)”
Some points about this old post.
Yes, there really was a lawsuit because a council member used the words “shacked up”. Yes, the newpaper really did print my letter.
I’m not sure what the results of this lawsuit were. I know what the important result was, council members and school board members became paranoid about using their email to express any honest emotion, for fear of being sued. Most of them will not use email at all. That’s a loss for the community. There is taking a normal amount of care to be sensitive, and there is being terrified to say a word because you might get sued. We have gone way overboard with the lawsuits, and I don’t know what the solution to this is, but we have lost a lot in a litigation society.
I used to have a special icon for the funny posts on my old website. I thought it was needed, because no matter how ridiculous the topic of a post, there are always humor impaired people who need a big flashing sign that says “this is a joke”. You know what? The heck with those people. If you think I was serious when I suggested statues of Marx and Engels be placed in Grandview Yard, you just have a little fit over it.
This post is not a commentary of the lawsuit currently in litigation against superintendent O’Reilly. I’m sure all parties to that action are not seeing much to laugh about. Back in the old days, I think this sort of situation would have been resolved by people getting in each other’s faces and screaming for a while. Now we pay lawyers a lot of money and spend years in court.