Civil Liberties



? Charlene McCormack has filed a lawsuit against the automotive plant that once employed her. The Tennessee woman is a Pentecostal Christian who thinks that God doesn't want her to wear pants. The problem is that the automotive plant says dresses are a safety hazard, since they can get caught in machinery. When McCormack refused to stop wearing them, she lost her job. She says her firing violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

? Is the Drug Enforcement Administration winning the war on drugs? The DEA's own books don't help its case. An independent audit found the agency can't "accurately and completely account" for the property it owns, the money it has seized from alleged drug traffickers, or the seized drugs it possesses. The hazards of this poor bookkeeping were highlighted in recent months by the arrests of two DEA workers accused of embezzling millions from the agency.

? Hou-Lin Li and Luying Deng were angry when they found their 8-year-old daughter had forged their signatures on a teacher's note and that she had lied to cover it up. They were also miffed when she admitted that she'd lied about losing a ring. So they slapped her once on the face and several times on the arms and legs. A policeman saw the crying girl, asked what had happened, and arrested the parents for domestic battery. Over the objection of child welfare advocates, Chicago authorities decided to prosecute the couple.

? The Patent and Trademark Office currently occupies about 1.7 million square feet of offices. This space must not be sufficient, as the agency will soon approve the construction of a 2.4-million-square-foot building that will cost taxpayers some $1.6 billion. But don't worry; the new building will have everything necessary for approving patents: plazas, sculptures, decorative fountains, and state-of-the-art fitness centers.

? Did you hear the one about the scientist who got people to watch the film Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? while he told them ethnic and sexual jokes? No? Well, you must not keep up with grants awarded by the National Science Foundation. The NSF gave that professor $107,000 of tax money to conduct that experiment. Maybe it could pay a researcher to find out why the government funds such wacky experiments.

? George Goodwin knew just what to call it when he was ordered to pay $153 for three parking tickets. The Morristown, New Jersey, man wrote "Legal Extortion" on the memo line of his check. A judge found that remark contemptuous and issued a bench warrant for Goodwin's arrest. That was five years ago, but Goodwin just found out about the warrant this June, when he went to pay another parking ticket. When he did, a check of his record found the outstanding warrant. To avoid jail, Goodwin had to pay $250 bail.

–Charles Oliver