WATERY GRAVE. When WKRP dropped turkeys from the sky, nobody got hurt. When DJ's at KDND in Sacramento, CA sponsored a contest requiring people to hold it in for a Nintendo Wii, a woman died. The aftermath: ten people fired, a wrongful death suit pending, and criminal charges possible.
From the Sacramento Bee:
[Sacramento County] Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Tim Curran said there was public outcry over the department's initial decision not to investigate Strange's death.And then they would die!
But, he said, the pressure did not spur the sheriff to seek charges. Instead, the audio recording changed the landscape.
Discussion during the Friday morning show indicates that disc jockeys were aware of the dangers of water intoxication.
"Can't you get water poisoning and, like, die?" a female disc jockey asked 16 minutes into the show.
Later in the broadcast, Judith Linder, a nurse practitioner, and co-worker Eva Brooks called KDND warning of the dangers of the contest. Disc jockeys rebuffed Brooks, saying the contestants would throw up before they die.
Maybe prosecutors should force the fired DJ's to... no. We've already been through that in Abu Ghraib. Better to take them to court.
Also from the Bee:
McGeorge School of Law civil torts professor Lawrence Levine said previously that a civil suit likely would be successful, since there are indications that the disc jockeys knew of the dangers of water intoxication while they goaded competitors to keep drinking. He said the jury also will be asked to consider the social value of the contest -- which he characterized as low.Once again we expect to see rumblings and grumblings about media misbehavior. But let us also remember this outrage involved a willing participant who decided her health took a back seat to winning a new toy for the kids. Sacrificing for your children is standard parental operating procedure, but not when it involves the bladder. Print us a button: Just Say No to Radio Stunts.
KEEPING SECRETS. President Bush quietly decided not to reauthoritize the so-called Domestic Spying Program, the one giving the feds the power to eavesdrop on e-mails and phone calls without a warrant if they suspect terrorist activity.
"Any electronic surveillance that was occurring as part of the Terrorist Surveillance Program will now be conducted subject to the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court," [Attorney General Alberto] Gonzales said.However, according to the Washington Post:
Gonzales said a judge on the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on January 10 approved a government proposal allowing it to target communications into and out of the United States when probable cause exists that one person is a member of al Qaeda or an associated terrorist organization.The question now -- did anything really change?
WANTING IT ALL, BUT THANKFUL FOR IT. A new poll finds teenagers are more materialistic.
A survey by market researcher Harris Interactive found the majority of U.S children were materialistic with 71 percent of people aged between eight and 18 saying they would be happier if they had more money to spend on themselves.The numbers get worse as you get older:
Teens, meanwhile, were less likely (81 percent) to say "I like to help kids who are new to our school" than younger children (91 percent).Despite those bothersome numbers, we still note the high percentages of thanksgiving and family value -- at least 75 percent or better. Hope springs eternal.
The age difference showed up again in response to questions on gratitude, with 92 percent of preteens having "a lot to be thankful for" but only 86 of teens feeling the same way.
But despite the desire for more money for themselves, families rated higher than money with "mom" important to 84 percent of those surveyed.
GET OVER IT! Virginia lawmaker Frank Hargrove is in a mess after saying blacks should "get over" slavery -- on Martin Luther King Day, too.
In an interview with the Daily Progress of Charlottesville, Hargrove explained his opposition to an official apology for slavery by suggesting that it's time for blacks to move on. Goodness, he said, if Virginia expressed regret over slavery, next thing you know, people would insist that Jews atone for killing Jesus.Once in the hole, Delegate Hargrove kept digging:
When Del. David Englin, a Democrat from Alexandria, held up a photo of his 7-year-old son so his colleagues could see the face of a Jewish boy who, because of Hargrove's comment about Christ-killers, is now "that much more likely to be verbally attacked or physically attacked," Hargrove displayed all the empathy of a doorknob:We admit Hargrove's honest, at least. Ill-mannered, ignorant, undignified, unsympathetic, coarse and curmudgeonly -- but honest. And we'll get over slavery when the rest of the world gets over racism. It's going to take awhile.
"I didn't know you were Jewish," the delegate said, patting Englin's arm. "And I really don't care." And this about Englin's response to the Christ-killer remark: "I think your skin was a little too thin." This brought gasps even from Hargrove's Republican colleagues.
FOOTLOOSE AND FINED. Keep your feet firmly on the ground at the San Tan Flat Saloon & Grill in Queen Creek, Arizona. If you dance there, you'll cost the estabishment $5,000. Immediately comparisons to Footloose spring to mind. Visions of backward, joyless Puritans cavort through our heads.
But hold everything. The establishment has gotten noise complaints in the past -- which didn't hold. As East Valley Tribune columnist Slim Smith notes, this is really about juking the system.
Officials will say they are just responding to complaints. But we expect these officials to discern which complaints are legitimate or frivolous. The county should have dropped the matter after finding the noise ordinance hadn't been violated. Anything else is thinly veiled harassment.And if The Powers That Be can't take the right stand on getting down, you have no choice to wonder how they handle the tough issues, of which dancing is certainly not. Or will they just dance around those, too?
Unfortunately, I can see why County Supervisor Sandie Smith, whose district includes the restaurant, has pursued the matter. The people complaining are the ones who put her in office. The path of least resistance is to go along with their demands. It would take character and courage to do otherwise.