Tuesday, January 26, 2010


NYLJ 5/21/07


3. "Say what you will, you can say what you will...as long as it isn't slander." It's always a good idea to try out your rulings in the mirror first. That one's close. Certainly not as quotable as Judge Carcarterra of Bronx Supreme, I'll grant. I mean, Lorenzo actually gets movie deals, not to mention regular Law & Order scripts. Again, though, may not be as sage as, say, Learned Hand or wise as Thurgood Marshall, or even as witty as Potter Stewart, there's a turn to it. Anyways--why bother pretending you're not after the star turn? Jurisprudence be damned; I'm on cram-it camera.

It is not vanity to make sure the robe's been brushed; this is one of those one's that draws the papparrazi swarms. The movie star who brought the suit was bound to attract that crowd. And the strobes on her entrances and exits, blinding. Nobody cares about the law, then why bother with citations? The important part is the verdict; you want something that resonates...and gives the press a little zinger to include in the local roundup.

More, there's nothing wrong with this part of the craft either; it goes to the very heart of the matter. The Bill of Rights, no less, and then some; its all about words. The usual Big One is: Freedom. That's the one that sells everything, democracy to magazine subscriptions. Not here, though. How free is free speech? But not this time, no; it must be “are unsolicited comments unwelcome?”—no, that’s still not it. Too many negatives; try to shape what it is instead.

Well, the first one cost postage, to start. The secret admirer may have thought he was Cyrano de Bergerac, granted, but how many suitors believe that? Love makes you blind, and also a lousy editor. As for the rest though, this was hardly a case for cash prizes. Whatever threat she alleges, any intent to “harass, threaten, annoy or harm”, a restraining order is about all the freight it will bear. The US Mail can't be seen as stalking, by any stretch of the imagination. As for his letter-writing skill? Little more than the wild ravings of a lunatic—which is, we are told, frequently indistinguishable from the ardors of the smitten. Yet, when vulgarity comes into play, the matter of offense has to be weighed, even if one man’s “sweet nothings” are the intended’s perverted proposals.

And then there’s the particular of the billet-doux deuxieme. Having clearly stated that non-response would be construed as a rebuff, he could scarcely have missed the popular version of a summary judgment—she just isn’t that into you. Touting his initials, initially, and their symbolism for all good things associated with them, along with techniques in foot massage as auguries of Nirvana, could not be considered any more sinister than “Advertisements For Myself”…if of a lesser literary provenance. And so, ineptitude and simple bad taste are insufficient grounds to support the charges.

Now, take that and tack on, "...at least until McKinney’s has a section on Plying Troth and Unlawful Suitors." Ok. too square for the room?

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