The Jury Talks Back

12/27/2008

Bias against mothers and others? Oh brother!

Filed under: Uncategorized — aunursa @ 10:29 pm

Michael Cohn and Heather Farley are two people with far too much time on their hands.

Cohn went to a Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball game on Mother’s Day in 2005 and demanded one of the free tote bags the Angels were giving to women fans.  After he was denied, Cohn left the game and contacted his lawyer, who wrote a letter to the Angels.  The team responded by sending tote bags to Cohn, his lawyer, and two friends who also complained.  Nevertheless, Cohn filed a lawsuit against the Angels, claiming that the promotion was illegal sex discrimination.  Cohn argued that the giveaway was a violation of the Unruh act, which prohibits California businesses from discriminating on the basis of sex and other protected categories.

The state appeals court ruled in favor of the Angels, stating that the team intended to honor all mothers.  Since it would be impractical for the team to verify that each woman who received a tote bag was a mother, the Angels were entitled to provide tote bags to all adult women.  The gift of a tote bag is distinguished from a discounted admission price (such as ladies day), which would violate Unruh.  According to the court ruling, Cohn deliberately went to the game with the intent to sue, and he and his friends had been involved in a number of previous “shakedown” lawsuits.

Farley, meanwhile, complained in October when Facebook removed photos showing her breastfeeding her baby from her personal page.  Facebook’s policy prohibits photos that show the areola around the nipple.  When she posted another breastfeeding photo, Facebook sent Farley a letter threatening to delete her account. Whereupon the Provo, Utah mother sent out an email that generated support from other breastfeeding moms and lactation advocates.  A Facebook group site has already garnered over 70,000 members, who have posted nearly 3,000 photos of breastfeeding.  According to the San Jose Mercury News, however, a rally called for Saturday at Facebook’s headquarters in Palo Alto drew only a few protestors, who bore signs reading “Hey Facebook, Breastfeeding is not Obscene.”  Company executives did not appear to be at work.

There’s nothing I could add to the court ruling on the Mother’s Day promotion except that, with fans like Cohn, teams may be less likely to offer such promotions.  As for the breastfeeding protest, while I support the rights of mothers to breastfeed in public when done discreetly, Facebook has every right to determine its own standards and terms of service.  If the protesters disagree, they are free to join a different social network website.  They are free to develop their own social network website.  They are free to exchange photos the old-fashioned way — by email.  Or they are free to get a life.

34 Comments

  1. I actually have very little problem with the Facebook story. As you said, the company is free to determine its own terms of service.

    However, from what I understand in the story, all that is occurring is a peaceful, legal, (and mostly unattended) protest, plus the online activity. None of this is costing the taxpayers a dime, or clogging up the legal system. As long as they are not interfering with Facebook’s operations, I don’t see any problem.

    (For about five years I worked at a place that had a lone protester regularly appear by the gate with a his sign. Very rarely he would have a few friends. We all accepted it as a harmless consequence of free speech, as long as they stayed out of traffic and didn’t harrass anyone. Which they never did while I was there.)

    Now the online picture posting does merit a bit of disapproval fom me, since they are deliberately flouting Facebooks terms of service, rather than merely protesting them in an attempt to get the policy changed.

    Comment by Dan D — 12/27/2008 @ 11:14 pm

  2. Shorter Cohn v. Corinthian Colleges ruling:

    “Why are you wasting our time with this?”

    Comment by Paul (creator of "Staunch Brayer") — 12/28/2008 @ 12:36 am

  3. “Why are you wasting our time with this?”

    Because the system allows them to.
    It is well past time for loser-pays!

    Comment by Another Drew (wwbkaADitcy) — 12/28/2008 @ 8:25 am

  4. Mr. Cohn showed up on Patterico’s post when the fracas started to give us the benefit of his misogyny. Let’s see if he shows up here.

    Comment by nk — 12/28/2008 @ 10:45 am

  5. “Why are you wasting our time with this?”

    Because, and I’m one of them, put bluntly, Lawyers are assholes! I’ve actually started documenting instances of lawyers being assholes. I hope to turn it into a book one day. There are sections on Defense Lawyers, Politician Lawyers, Judge Lawyers, Divorce Lawyers, Civil Plaintiff’s Lawyers, Insurance Defense Lawyers, ACLU Lawyers, Class Action lawyers, oh yeah, we can’t forget that even some prosecutors can be asshole lawyers too who abuse their power, ala DuKe rape case. I think it could be a good seller, especially among the legal profession, law school students, and any person who has ever had a bad experience with an attorney. (Big Market.)

    Cohn’s lawyers just gave me a new category: Bullshit civil rights lawyer assholes.

    Comment by J. Raymond Wright — 12/28/2008 @ 10:50 am

  6. Shorter Cohn v. Corinthian Colleges ruling:

    “Why are you wasting our time with this?”

    My point was this: Only lawyers can take an eight-word sentence and spread it over eleven pages.

    Comment by Paul (creator of "Staunch Brayer") — 12/28/2008 @ 11:04 am

  7. J.R.W.,

    You publish that book and I’m suing you and your publisher for every penny you’ve got for defamation. And don’t think that jury nullification will save you. Judges are lawyers too and ours will grant me a directed verdict. Pick a publisher with deep pockets and I’ll dismiss you out and kick you back half the award (amount collected minus costs and 33% for my attorney’s fee, of course).

    Comment by nk — 12/28/2008 @ 11:10 am

  8. #4 nk: Thanks for pointing that out. I have updated the post to include the link.

    Comment by aunursa — 12/28/2008 @ 11:13 am

  9. Another Drew #3- Amen. To the lawyers in the room,isn’t there some way to stop this foolish use of the courts to make societal commentary? And frankly, I am embarassed at how, all too often, there is a lansman at the heart of this type of crap.

    Comment by pitchforksntorches — 12/28/2008 @ 11:57 am

  10. Besides, the real discrimination against Men occurs in Divorce Court and Family Law. Why doesn’t Cohen take his dog and pony show of there?

    Comment by pitchforksntorches — 12/28/2008 @ 12:25 pm

  11. yeeesh, can’t talk to the grandchildren and type at the same time… “…Why doesn’t Cohen take his dog and pony show over there?”

    Comment by pitchforksntorches — 12/28/2008 @ 12:28 pm

  12. Besides, the real discrimination against Men occurs in Divorce Court and Family Law. Why doesn’t Cohen take his dog and pony show of there?

    Because that would be a real battle, not a enrichment scheme.

    Comment by Paul (creator of "Staunch Brayer") — 12/28/2008 @ 12:30 pm

  13. And frankly, I am embarassed at how, all too often, there is a lansman at the heart of this type of crap.

    I would not call Mr. Cohn a landsman. Maybe a “lance up the ___ man”?

    Comment by nk — 12/28/2008 @ 12:55 pm

  14. “#

    J.R.W.,

    You publish that book and I’m suing you and your publisher for every penny you’ve got for defamation. And don’t think that jury nullification will save you. Judges are lawyers too and ours will grant me a directed verdict. Pick a publisher with deep pockets and I’ll dismiss you out and kick you back half the award (amount collected minus costs and 33% for my attorney’s fee, of course).

    Comment by nk — 12/28/2008 @ 11:10 am

    See how big and dangerous “The Club” has become?

    No other industry is as dangerous or has demonstrably done as much damage to the entire world as has the legal profession!

    Comment by TC — 12/28/2008 @ 2:08 pm

  15. No other industry is as dangerous or has demonstrably done as much damage to the entire world as has the legal profession!

    When I have the Imperium, I will bring back The Rule Of Two. There will always be two Sith Lords lawyers at any one time. Master and apprentice. Never more, never less.

    Comment by nk — 12/29/2008 @ 2:05 am

  16. Comment by nk — 12/29/2008 @ 2:05 am
    Please also consider the “Rule of HST”,
    ie, all economists should be one-armed, so they may never say “on the other hand”.

    Comment by Another Drew (wwbkaADitcy) — 12/29/2008 @ 12:09 pm

  17. 10, pitchfork, GOD! could I agree with you. I’m feeding the Divorce Mill myself right now.

    Comment by PCD — 12/29/2008 @ 12:59 pm

  18. PCD,
    I have watched so many guys get raped by this system it makes me crazy-and my marriage is a happy one! Don’t even get me started on paternity fraud! yeeeesh!

    Comment by pitchforksntorches — 12/29/2008 @ 1:37 pm

  19. 18, I don’t even have to go there to get you going. How about being forced to pay child support (Taken from your bank account by the Clerk of Court) but have no recourse when you aren’t granted the visitation ordered for said child support. It costs roughly $10,000 in legal fees to get your ex dragged in before a judge to answer to a contempt of court charge. I haven’t had a visit from my son in over 2 years.

    Comment by PCD — 12/29/2008 @ 2:33 pm

  20. “As for the breastfeeding protest, while I support the rights of mothers to breastfeed in public when done discreetly, Facebook has every right to determine its own standards and terms of service. If the protesters disagree, they are free to join a different social network website. They are free to develop their own social network website. They are free to exchange photos the old-fashioned way — by email. ”

    I’m guessing they’re also free to do exactly what they’re doing…?

    Comment by imdw — 12/30/2008 @ 5:55 am

  21. They are certainly free … to petition Facebook to change its standards. They are free to plan additional protests that generate little, if any, interest. They are free to violate Facebook’s terms of service by posting 3000 additional photos. And they are free to bitch and moan when Facebook deletes their accounts.

    Comment by aunursa — 12/30/2008 @ 8:12 am

  22. PCD et al,
    I’d love to hear erudite lawyers hold forth on family and divorce law. As I said I am happily married, but watching my son get f ‘ed over by this system. I am undereducated in this area. I’d love to see a post about it here.

    Comment by pitchforksntorches — 12/30/2008 @ 1:45 pm

  23. “They are free to violate Facebook’s terms of service by posting 3000 additional photos. ”

    Just because facebook says they’re violations, don’t mean they are. Seems to me that breastfeeding isn’t “obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit.”

    Comment by imdw — 12/30/2008 @ 4:44 pm

  24. imdw: Just because facebook says they’re violations, don’t mean they are.

    According to Facebook’s Terms of Use, to which every user must agree, it does:

    You understand and agree that the Company may, but is not obligated to, review the Site and may delete or remove (without notice) any Site Content or User Content in its sole discretion, for any reason or no reason, including User Content that in the sole judgment of the Company violates this Agreement or the Facebook Code of Conduct, or which might be offensive, illegal, or that might violate the rights, harm, or threaten the safety of users or others.

    Comment by aunursa — 12/30/2008 @ 5:18 pm

  25. Looks like they won’t win in court then. So what do you think, you think they’re violations of the TOS?

    Comment by imdw — 12/30/2008 @ 5:39 pm

  26. So what do you think, you think they’re violations of the TOS?

    In the public arena, our opinions may matter.

    But on the Facebook website, only Facebook’s opinion is relevant. A photo of a mother breastfeeding that shows the areola is in violation of TOS if Facebook says it is.

    Comment by aunursa — 12/30/2008 @ 9:05 pm

  27. It is obvious that this needs to be referred to the local USA for prosecution.

    Comment by Another Drew (wwbkaADitcy) — 12/30/2008 @ 9:42 pm

  28. “A photo of a mother breastfeeding that shows the areola is in violation of TOS if Facebook says it is.”

    You called them violations. You think Facebook is correct or not? It’s a rather simple question. For me I think the answer is clearly no, which is why I’m so sympathetic with the people protesting this ridiculous reaction by Facebook.

    Comment by imdw — 12/31/2008 @ 5:54 am

  29. That’s entirely up to Facebook. If they say no nipple pictures, then that’s their rule and they’re entitled to enforce it. There are plenty of places on the internet where breasts are acceptable in all their glory. If you’re going to use Facebook’s services, you agree to do so under their terms.

    Comment by Pablo — 12/31/2008 @ 6:16 am

  30. So what do you think, you think they’re violations of the TOS?

    Actually, the complaining is more of a TOS violation.

    You understand and agree that the Company may, but is not obligated to, review the Site and may delete or remove (without notice) any Site Content or User Content…

    Comment by Pablo — 12/31/2008 @ 6:19 am

  31. I’m all for breastfeeding but some of these tit-Nazis turn it into a religion. They wear their breasts like a cross. “Yes ma’am, that’s a beautiful baby and you are a wonderful mother. Now would you like to see what my daughter left in her diaper? Ain’t it just the cutest thing?”

    Comment by nk — 12/31/2008 @ 6:55 am

  32. imdw: You called them violations. You think Facebook is correct or not? It’s a rather simple question. For me I think the answer is clearly no, which is why I’m so sympathetic with the people protesting this ridiculous reaction by Facebook.

    I don’t call them violations — Facebook calls them violations. That makes them violations … not my opinion and not your opinion. The Terms of Use, to which every Facebook user agrees, doesn’t just give Facebook legal protection. The Terms explictly state that Facebook and Facebook alone determines what is a violation.

    If the protestors disagree, then they should not have agreed to the Terms of Service in the first place.

    By clicking Sign Up, you are indicating that you have read and agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    Comment by aunursa — 12/31/2008 @ 8:54 am

  33. Facebook…MySpace…YouTube…

    Just who gives a shit?

    Comment by Another Drew (wwbkaADitcy) — 12/31/2008 @ 9:18 am

  34. […] the Cohn case, a state appeals court ruled in favor of the Angels, noting that Cohn deliberately went to the game with the intent to sue.  […]

    Pingback by The Jury Talks Back » Another MLB Mother’s Day Lawsuit — 7/21/2009 @ 5:55 pm

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