The holidays are a time when loved ones gather around fires with hot cocoa; grandma and grandpa nestle beneath blankets as children roll fire trucks on the living room floor; and friends toast to the memories they’ve made and to a prosperous year to come. It’s also a time when crazy people have the tendency to be a little more crazy than usual. The holidays provide no shortage of humorous legal disputes — here are a few for you to ponder as you’re sipping egg nog and opening presents this holiday season.
A Festivus for the Rest of Us
In Florida, a nativity scene is allowed to adorn the state Capitol building’s rotunda because the area has been designated a public forum so that there is no violation of the requirement that church and state be kept separate. One infuriated Floridian atheist was so fed up with the religious display on public property that he applied to put up his own holiday display and received permission to do so. The holiday that he chose to celebrate — Festivus — was made famous on the sitcom Seinfeld, which is why there is now a six-foot pole made from empty beer cans in the Capitol building in Tallahassee. It could be worse for offended Florida citizens, as other atheist protest displays around the country have featured depictions such as a crucified Santa Claus and the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
The Dark Side of the Holidays
During the last 36 years, an awful lot of Star Wars toys have been purchased as Christmas presents, but rare is the case in which one is used to fend off other holiday shoppers. And yet that was exactly the scene at a Toys ‘R Us in Portland, Oregon, a few days before Christmas in 2011 when a shopper’s inner Sith Lord got the better of him. Like Luke Skywalker cutting his way through a platoon of Stormtroopers, this Jedi wannabe batted at his fellow customers with a toy light saber. He even deflected a Taser wire shot by a police officer who arrived on the scene, in the fashion of Obi-Wan Kenobi blocking a laser blast from a bounty hunter assailant. In the end, his antics proved more worthy of Jar Jar Binks than Darth Maul, as police arrested him, while none of the victims required the healing powers of a bacta tank or any other medical attention.
Tossing Back a Cold One
I was always taught to leave out milk and cookies for Santa, but according to the makers of Santa’s Butt Winter Porter, what the big man from up north is really looking for is a cold brewskie. And, really, who can blame him after putting in so much work in a single night? The Shelton Brothers, who brew the beer, sued the Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement for censoring their label (which showed St. Nick drinking it) because of its potential appeal to children. Eventually, the board relented and allowed the brewers to use the label, but they waited until three days before Christmas to do so. I’m sure there was still a big market for Santa’s Butt well into January, though, right?