The ink is now hitting the newsprint: Manhattan attorney Chaim Book has filed a lawsuit against the Northport-East Northport School District, alleging that his client's son was bullied with vicious antisemitic comments and that the school officials did nothing to stop it.
I have seen only the ink in the tabloids (paper and cyber, here, here and here), and have not yet read any official court documents. I know nothing about the student, a former freshman at Northport High School whose given name is not given but whose parents are Robert and Anita Slade, about whom I also know nothing more than what appears in the media. I do know a little about Northport High School. I know Chaim Book only by reputation, which is favorable (a number of years ago I did win a case against his law partner before he became his law partner).
Jews are definitely a minority at Northport High School, but not nearly as small a minority as were in the junior high school I once attended at the time I attended it (the Jewish population has since grown by leaps and bounds over the past 40-something years). When my family moved into the community, my sister and I added significantly to the junior high school's Jewish population, but it still could be counted on the fingers of both hands. And yes, I was the subject of a few antisemitic taunts. I say "a few" because word got out that I was willing to risk a suspension on my record for resorting to a physical response to such taunts.
Again, I do not know anything about the alleged victim. I do not know whether he has the physical and emotional wherewithal to effectively respond in a pugilistic manner. I do not know anything about his personality, and whether it is facilitative of the "bullying" alleged in the lawsuit (which, again, I have not yet read firsthand). I therefore take no position as to the propriety of the lawsuit.
Nevertheless, I cannot help but wonder whether this alleged victim ("alleged" in the strictly legal sense; there is no question in my mind that he was in fact subjected to the taunts, including the ones memorialized on the Internet) has adequately prepared himself for the environment at Northport High School. Has he engaged in some sort of martial arts training? And, at the risk of alienating the Jewish liberal hoplophobe contingent, did his father ever take him to the shooting range?
Yes, it has become more fashionable of late to bash Jewish people in America and elsewhere. Yes, the school officials can do far more to stop it and should be held to account. But I cannot help but wonder whether many in the Jewish community are being too pampering and overprotective of their offspring, and whether we are raising too many wimps in the younger generation.
Been busy with business, with teaching, with Dad's estate, and with looking after Mom (whose adjustment to widowhood is not coming about as orderly (if such is possible) as normal (whatever that may be). I saw what my wife's mother (she had not yet become my mother-in-law at the time) went through, and how she handled the loss of her husband. While my m-i-l was certainly bereaved, she did come to terms with the fact that life would be different, and she went about the business of dealing with her husband's estate (including the sale of his health care practice). My own Mom is not yet doing so well. I am concerned.
The demands upon my schedule will, in all likelihood, continue to affect the frequency and quality of postings on this Blog.
But I digress.
One matter which has concerned me for years is the law's tendency to facilitate (if not encourage) stupidity, and to discourage rational mental reasoning. What message does it send when landowners are compelled to pay stupid trespassers for their injuries?
And, of course, New York is one of the nanniest of the nanny states.
So it came as both a surprise and a reassurance to read the case of Wolfe v. Hatch, in which Branden Wolfe (or, rather, his mother as his not so vigilant guardian) was denied recovery for the loss of his hand, incurred while playing with illegal home-made fireworks. Because the then 14-year-old was engaged in a dangerous criminal act which was the direct cause of his injuries, he was unable to maintain a lawsuit against his playmate who had manufactured the fireworks.
The trial court decision was sustained on appeal. Reading the Appellate Division's opinion in the case, the stupidity of everyone involved is very apparent. And because Branden had a videocam which he gave to a friend to record the incident, there were few if any disputes of material facts.
If the law fails to protect enough people from the consequences of their stupid choices, then perhaps a few more individuals in the population will find that they are capable of making good decisions after all.