It only took 100 years, but high school students in Purdy, Missouri, finally get to boogie. The school board, under pressure from fundamentalist ministers worried that dancing leads to immoral conduct, had banned school dances in the century-old Ozarks town. Several students and their parents took the issue to court, and a federal judge ordered the school to hold a dance. "Go, cats, go," was the refrain of a song about the ban recorded by a rock group. But the students didn't go on a wild rampage following their gyrations on the dance floor.
Free the Lobsters! That was the battle cry of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The animal rights group spent $240—$40 for the lobsters and $200 for air fare—to reclaim seven live lobsters from a suburban Maryland restaurant and fly them to a new home off the coast of Maine. The restaurant owner agreed to dump his lobster tank, and PETA dumped the lobsters in the Atlantic. Maybe they can do it again next year, when the lobsters have gotten caught again.
Jack Stahl thought he was performing a public service. Someone had painted a swastika and an anti-Semitic slur in an elevator of his public housing complex in Union City, New Jersey. Tenants complained to the Housing Authority, but the hateful graffiti remained. So Stahl painted over the swastika—whereupon the Housing Authority charged him with vandalism. Now Stahl faces a fine of up to $250 for "purposely and knowingly damaging property." How did the Housing Authority know? He was turned in by the same maintenance worker who had ignored Stahl's request that the swastika be painted over.
Open can, consume contents, hand car keys to companion, pass out. Ray Malek apparently thinks that slogan should be printed on every can of beer. Angry when a drunken driver crashed into his car, he not only sued the driver but sued the brewery that produced the beer on which the driver got drunk. The brewery, complained Malek, failed to warn consumers about the dangers of excessive beer consumption while driving a car and failed to instruct consumers on the safe use of its product. The case went all the way to the Texas Supreme Court, which had the gumption to rule that breweries are under no legal obligation to affix warning labels about the well-known dangers of intoxication.
Do you wanna open a restaurant in New York City? You'll get a quick soup-to-nuts course in city bureaucracy. In order to meet the city's handicapped-persons law, a new restaurant had to delay its opening and increase its construction costs by $100,000. The city demanded the addition of an elevator as an alternative to an existing flight of stairs, a ramp for two raised dining areas, a lower than standard bar top, and much more. And since the wheelchair ramp involved alteration of a landmark portico, the owners had to get an alteration permit from the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Anyone for pickling bureaucrats?
New York State Controller Edward Regan is being investigated by a city and federal grand jury because big campaign contributors seem to receive lucrative contracts from his office. Naturally, Regan figures he's entitled to the best defense money can buy—the taxpayers' money, that is. The state has a $1-billion budget gap, but Regan says taxpayers should foot the $250,000 bill because of the vast number of subpoenas slapped on the controller's office.
No wonder Canadians think the U.S. welfare state compares unfavorably with their own. Get this—the Parliament engaged shrinks for M.P.s who lost their seats in the November elections, to get them through the trauma. The service was on call 24 hours a day, too.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".