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Friday, November 10, 2006

searching for a crim angle

My students will tell you that I have a propensity towards (or a weakness for) working current events into my course materials, and that, like an organic grocer, I prefer to keep things local.  I am traumatized by the fact that I cannot come up with a way to work this story into either my criminal law or my bail-to-jail class.  Fraternity brothers from South Carolina suing the Borat producers for liquoring them up, convincing them that only foreigners would view their footage, and thus lulling them into a false sense of complacency such that they made racist, sexist comments that they of course never would otherwise have said?  Shades of Mel Gibson's DUI arrest, to be sure.  But unless "stupid" is legislated into a crime, I'm afraid I can't shoehorn this lawsuit into my classes.  May a gentle reader who teaches contracts have more luck.

Posted by Deb Ahrens on November 10, 2006 at 05:18 PM in Criminal Law, Film | Permalink


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To slip in another reference to another one of my favorite musicians, here's a line from James McMurtry's song, "Too Long in the Wasteland":

"I hadn't intended to break the rules
But whiskey don't make liars, it just makes fools
So I didn't mean to say it, but I meant what I said
Too long in the wasteland, must have gone to my head."

Posted by: Joseph Slater | Nov 11, 2006 1:36:35 PM

You could ask about those "foreigners" and why "only foreigners" makes it OK. Would it be OK if they did this as soldiers in Iraq? What about with foreign prisoners in Gitmo or the county jail? What is it about the "who/where the viewer is" that moves the burden from the frat boy to Borat? If Borat were a white reporter for the Washington Post they'd have acted differently, huh?

I had a similiar discussion recently with my 13 year old son making cavalier and disparaging use of the term "gay". He knows better but he was not using his empathy. With practice, he will lose his empathy and better knowledge and act just like those frat boys.

You're the teacher, ask the students what it is about this that disturbs them. Me, this kind of client or employee I fire. That's what the organic grocer would do, too.

Posted by: chris miller | Nov 11, 2006 1:12:39 AM

Prof. Ahrens,

There was some indication in the civil complaint that one of the fraternity members was not 21 when Borat's producers took the trio to a bar to get them "prepared" for the shoot. See http://cdn.digitalcity.com/tmz_documents/110906_borat_wm.pdf at para. 13.That would allow for a criminal "angle" based on accomplice liability (underage consumption) and maybe even some type of conspiracy to contribute to delinquency among the various persons involved in the movie's production.

Then again, you could just bring it up because it's pretty damn funny. The frat guys are suing because they got really hammered and then made fools of themselves. Sure, because frat guys don't ever do that on their own.

Posted by: Anon | Nov 10, 2006 6:13:05 PM

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