Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity


Coffee vs. Guns



In 1992, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck bought a cup of takeout coffee at a McDonald’s drive-thru in Albuquerque and spilled it on her lap. She sued McDonald’s and two years later, a jury awarded her nearly $3 million in punitive damages for the burns she suffered.

One of the jurors said over the course of the trial he came to realize the case was about “callous disregard for the safety of the people.”Another juror said “the facts were so overwhelmingly against the company.”

Since the lawsuit, McDonald’s – and most other places – no longer serve coffee very hot.

In September 2012, the school system in Cranston, R.I., announced it is banning traditional father-daughter and mother-son activities, saying they are a violation of the state’s gender discrimination law. It decision was in response to a complaint from the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) on behalf of a single mother who said her daughter was not able to attend a father-daughter-dance.

The Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence reports that an average of 268 people are shot every day in America. That’s 97,820 per year. Yet despite decades of efforts, no one can make the NRA budge a little to help protect Americans let alone sue it the way the coffee drinker did with McDonald’s.

I guess third degree burns on one’s inner thighs and a single woman’s anger over her daughter not going to the daddy-daughter dance are worthy of more instantaneous legal response.

Daddy Daughter Dance

Last year, a woman in Cranston, Rhode Island filed a complaint about the Daddy Daughter dance, feeling her daughter was being discriminated against since she did not have a male figure in her life. This was followed up with the local ACLU sending a letter to the superintendent of the school threatening a lawsuit, saying they [the school district] were in violation of the law – whatever law that is.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a non-profit oraganization whose stated mission is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” Founded in 1920, in the beginning its focus was on freedom of speech, primarily for anti-war protesters.

These days, it’s almost impossible to get innocent people out of prison or off death row, yet the ACLU has taken on an issue, raised by one single-mom, to ban the father/daughter and mother/son dance? This is mind-boggling, having just returned from a father/daughter dance which my husband and daughter attended, along with my brother and his girls. I had watched as they, and all the little girls who came out of that dance, floated with delight about their one-on-one experience with their fathers, almost every single one of them saying, “That was so much fun!”

Instead of taking such drastic actions, perhaps someone from the ACLU should’ve simply sat this single mom down and explained that rather than banning the joy of hundreds of other parents and children, she ought to find a way to fulfill her daughter’s emptiness – not necessarily through a male figure but through confidence, love, prayer and faith. But I guess that’s just too old fashioned a solution.