? After being pulled over while driving in Abington, Massachusetts, Michael Hyde landed in court–on charges of wiretapping. Hyde thought he was being harassed because he had long hair and drove a fancy Porsche. The officers told Hyde his license plate wasn't properly illuminated and that his exhaust was too loud. The stop led to no traffic charges, but Hyde says he taped the police officer harassing him, asking if Hyde had drugs. And that's where the wiretap charge comes in. The police claim Hyde illegally violated the officer's privacy by taping the traffic stop. "Police officers have the same rights as other citizens," said prosecutor Paul Dawley, adding that if the tables were turned and police were caught taping someone without permission, people would be outraged. That seems to ignore the fact that traffic stops are recorded all the time by videotapes mounted in police cruisers. The people stopped are rarely informed that they are being taped.
? Want a hunting or fishing license? Well, give us your Social Security number. That's what states are telling people, thanks to federal law. The feds hope to catch deadbeat parents when they come in for licenses. But critics say it's just one more way of keeping tabs on law-abiding citizens.
? Gun owners in Massachusetts have challenged a new law banning practice shooting at targets with human images. The practice outrages lawyers for the state. "By shooting at [human-shaped targets], they're practicing shooting at people," said Assistant Attorney General Edward DeAngelo. Leaving aside the question of why that is necessarily a bad thing, gun owners say the ban violates their free speech rights. For instance, many shooters aim at targets with a photo of Adolf Hitler. "People express disapproval by shooting," said Stephen Halbrook, an attorney for gun owners.
? It began with Neil Simon's The Gingerbread Lady. It has grown to include William Shakespeare's Macbeth. Craig and Cheryl Morgan objected when they found their daughter was exposed to the plays in an elective class at Campus High School in Haysville, Kansas. The parents are being backed by the conservative group Project Educate. It isn't about censorship, says Cindy Duckett, a spokesperson for the group. "It has more to do with what's appropriate and what's quality. And this isn't quality. There are so many other better materials. "
? Along with all of the other virtues, one Canadian minister is preaching "the joy of paying taxes." The Rev. Bill Phipps heads the United Church of Canada, the nation's largest Protestant organization. He says Canucks should stop grumbling about their high tax rates. Instead, they "should be joyful" that they are helping to support the nation's social welfare system.
? A group of students has sued Southern Methodist University, seeking damages because a computer course was too hard. All 12 students who took the class failed. SMU offered them all the chance to take the course again, but the students want their money back, and some who claim to have taken time off work for the class want further compensation. Said SMU spokesman Bob Wright, "That's how it is these days. You fail the class, you sue the school."
? Police in Manatee County, Florida, aren't too fond of a new law they have to enforce. The county has made it illegal for women to expose more than 75 percent of their breasts in public, and for anyone to show more than two-thirds of his buttocks. Now police are trying to figure out how to measure compliance. "I don't think we'll be tape-measuring," said the sheriff's spokesman. Until they come up with an answer, cops say they will cite only those who are completely uncovered.