Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

Welcome to Portland!

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Intern Rebecca here, with embarrassing news from my hometown…

oregongThis case reads a bit like a bad episode of any daytime soap, so I’ll try to break it down for you.

Way out West in Portland, OR, a twenty-year-old man-child by the name of Zachary Driver was caught pimping out girls via the Internet – a business venture made possible by sites such as MySpace and Craigslist. One of Zachary’s “employees” was a fifteen-year-old girl, and Zachary was soon exposed for selling underage girls as prostitutes and was sent to prison.

Distraught by the idea that her son would be returning (that’s right, returning) to prison, Shelia Montgomery, Zachary’s mother, decided to show the world that this particular fifteen-year-old was already a slut before dear Zachary turned her into an underage prostitute. How did Ms. Montgomery do this? She posted naked pictures of the fifteen-year-old on her own MySpace page – ostensibly taken before the girl met her son – to prove the girl lacked a moral code. Because posting naked photos of minors is child pornography, Shelia was charged with assisting in human trafficking over the Internet and is now serving time herself.

A little research unfortunately shows that human trafficking via sites like MySpace and Craigslist is apparently the hip new thing in Portland, along with avoiding gluten and wearing unnecessary glasses.

According to the Portland Police Bureau, an average of five cases of human trafficking via the Internet occur each week in my fair city, with an average of two cases a week being juveniles.

Portland police estimate a pimp earns $800 to $1,000 a day from each juvenile victim.

Really, Portland? Is this what it’s come to? I know we’re known for harboring insane amounts of pot, and more recently meth, and I know our only professional sports team is nicknamed the “Jail-Blazers,” and I also recognize the unemployment rate is uncomfortably high, but using MySpace to pimp out children? Or try to defend your child after they’ve used the Internet to pimp out even younger children?

As an Oregonian, I’m embarrassed. As a US citizen, I’m in shock. Human trafficking is clearly illegal. How can it happen via a forum as public as the Internet?? And we’re not even talking hidden black market websites here. We’re talking MySpace, Facebook’s ever publically embarrassing unwanted uncle.

Human trafficking is happening through the exact same medium you’re using to read this article. Are you disgusted yet?

Why hasn’t MySpace been shut down? Or Craigslist? How can this go on, legally, in a country that prides itself on being safer and all around better than the rest?


I had no idea that Oregonians had such strong feelings. Or so many problems, really.  But I’ll be sure to keep my meth lab out of your state.  I think you correctly point out the horror of human trafficking, but I have to take issue with your solution here. First, there’s actually a law that protects websites from liability based on the third party content posted on them. In other words, if I have a website that carries content written and posted by outsiders (MySpace, for example), and someone posts something really stupid or criminal on it, by law as the website owner or internet service provider I can’t be held liable.

Secondly, I think we’ve got a public policy issue if we shut down sites that host content that we think is horrific (even where, as here, it really truly is).  The first amendment guarantees that the government shall not abridge the freedom of the press and while internet laws are still somewhat up for grabs, I think it strikes fear into the hearts of federalists everywhere that the police would be able to just shut down sites that post content that they hate.

Finally, I think that we misuse the justice system when we create a nanny state that, rather than punishing the scum-sucking slime that commit crimes like human trafficking, we simply shut down any possible sites that might allow them to do so.  Instead of shutting down Myspace, I propose instead that we snap pictures as these two idiots are doing the perp walk to the courthouse in handcuffs, and post those on myspace for the world to see.

Right in Our Backyard!

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Pot smoking? Check. Wire tapping? Check. Cyber stalking? Check! This story has it all AND incredibly it’s taking place in the high school that educated both Amy and me…

Wait for it…

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

ugg-bootsYou’ve been on tenterhooks wondering how we’d respond to Worried Jewish Mother, haven’t you? Would we tell her and her Ugg-boot shod daughter to vote with their feet and walk away from a campus where students have a derogatory term for young ladies who consume vast quantities of Starbucks while shopping, texting and wearing puffy coats and furry footwear (and no, the term is not “Olsen Twin”)? Would we tell her she needed to chill out and realize that the girls who dress this way might actually deserve some ridicule? Would we find some happy medium where we remain diplomatic for fear of offending someone?  (That seems unlikely, doesn’t it?)

Well, the time has come to satisfy you! Click on over here for the answer, and then let us know what you think…

What’s a Coastie?

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Though our response has yet to be posted to the Forward website, we wanted to let our dear readers and spammers know that we’ve not forsaken you! So we’ll give you an advanced peek at the question that we’ve answered for our Bintel Brief guest column.

But first, a bit of a disclaimer (and second, a video fyi): The question, submitted by a reader of the Forward, contains no legal issue and therefore our answer will also be law-free. Granted we realize this takes us a bit out of our depth since we rarely have strong opinions on anything but the law. Yet considering tis the season and all, we think it’s okay for people to take a break from their regularly litigious behavior, including us.

Now, here’s the video you should watch before you read the question:

Okay, now you’re ready for the question…

Dear Editor:
My 18-year-old daughter is applying to
the University of Wisconsin.  We are
Jewish and I understand that approximately
14% of the university’s roughly 30,000
undergraduate students are Jewish.

Our daughter is not a “J.A.P.” (Jewish
American Princess), however, she does
wear Ugg boots and North Face outerwear.

I read on the internet that the University
of Wisconsin students are using a new slang
word, “Coastie.”  It represents an out-of-state student who wears East Coast fashion and is a “rich Jewish girl.”  I dislike this term–social label.  There’s nothing funny
about these putdowns of Jewish women.

Should I suggest that my daughter apply
elsewhere?  My choice:  Brandeis.

Worried Jewish Mother

Check back tomorrow for our answer!

AMY on CNN at 10:30 AM!

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Tune in momentarily and catch Amy on CNN LIVE at 10:30!


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tricks and Treats

Friday, October 30th, 2009

halloweenyAs one half of Team “Jackass” was still trying to figure out her costume for tomorrow night’s festivities, Amy was all over the radio this AM — the Metro Networks, The Wall Street Journal Radio Network and CBS Radio Networks – talking about the various legal pitfalls associated with the holiday we call “gay Christmas” here in New York.

Here are some of the highlights:

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk drivers kill more than three times as many people during Halloween than on New Year’s Eve. Are you liable if your costumed guests drink too much and then get into a car accident? (In a word: YES!)

Emily, your eight-year-old neighbor cuts across your front lawn and trips – maybe on leaves, your plastic skeleton or her own feet.  It’s unclear, but she falls and breaks her arm. Are trick or treaters trespassers or are you liable if a child hurts him/herself on your property?  (You betcha!)

You didn’t realize that some of the candy in your trick or treat dish contained peanuts and a child has a severe allergic reaction, requiring hospitalization. Are you liable? (Not so much, but you’ll probably feel really bad.)

Costumes these days are often crossing the lines in terms of poor taste and indecency. Can you be sued for indecent exposure or costumes that might offend people on racial, moral or ethical grounds? (You can’t be sued, but you could potentially be fired – Happy Halloween!)

Your child plans a Halloween ding, dong, ditch trick on an aging neighbor and jumps out to scare them, resulting in a heart attack. Is your child liable? (No, but remember the Edgar Allen Poe story, “The Telltale Heart”?… The cost of the kid’s therapy is likely going to be greater than any summary judgment.)

Are you liable for your kids’ mischief on mischief night? (You could be! Isn’t parenting fun?!)

Happy Halloweeeeeeeen!

Exactly the Reaction You Want From the Man You’ve Been Sleeping With…

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Yesterday the humor site, Holy Taco, posted a fantastic collection of the 7 Best Maury Povich Paternity Result Reactions, truly a high water mark of man’s humanity to man… Or, more accurately, man’s inhumanity to woman after said woman claimed he was her baby daddy and Maury called bullshit.

Never have you seen the face of pure glee until you have witnessed Andrew’s reaction to the news that he is not some child’s father:

Let’s momentarily put aside our HORROR for the poor little one in question, because though his mother is clearly a slut with exceedingly poor judgment, at least this jackass is not his father.

Let’s think instead of the legal ramifications, and, more specifically what you should do if you were to find yourself in this position (and just to clarify, we mean the position of contested paternity, not jumping for joy on the Mo Po Show.)

In our chapter on Kids, “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby… And Other Things You Might Not Want to Admit to Your Child’s Arresting Officer,” we discuss this issue in detail on page 133 — so go buy yourself a copy, Suspected Daddy — because the law says that though paternity can be disavowed, there are time restrictions. In other words, wait too long to contest the paternity, and even M.J.’s  “Billie Jean” defense won’t prevent you from being forced to pay child support.

Amy Curses Balloon Dad on TV…

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

(And check out that Sarah Palin impression — now that’s rogue, baby!)

Kids Do the Darndest Things!

Monday, October 19th, 2009
Yo ho ho and a bottle of...

Yo ho ho and a bottle of...

From guilt-barfing on live TV to getting you in trouble with the law if junior throws Kegfest ’09 in your living room, ya just never know how your spawn will unwittingly cross the legal line for you!

That’s why today we focus on another story from the annals of parenthood and its vicissitudes, the tale of Jessica Watson, the 16-year-old Australian girl who is trying to become the youngest person to sail solo and unassisted around the world.

Interestingly, Jessica’s mom, Julie Watson, thinks allowing her minor child to sail the world’s seas alone for approximately 8 months, is a great idea. Others, citing the incident a few weeks back when Jess was making final preparations for her trip, and her yacht collided with a cargo ship, think it’s maybe not the wisest decision and seek to have mama’s head examined.

This recalls the case of Laura Dekker, the 13-year-old Dutch girl who wants to do the same thing. The difference, though, is that Laura’s mother, Babs Muller, quoted in the newspaper, Volkskrant, feels her daughter shouldn’t do it. She said that though she believes her daughter is one helluva sailor and is technically capable of completing the journey, she “was not mature enough to deal with the psychological challenges of two years of being on her own.” Muller goes on to say, “If it were up to me, Laura wouldn’t go.”

Why isn’t it up to Ms. Muller to decide what’s best for her daughter? Because, according to the NYT, on August 29th, “a court ordered Laura placed in the custody of child-care authorities for two months, and appointed a child psychologist to report on her capacity to cope with the risks of the voyage and lengthy isolation.”

These cases raise an interesting question, beyond the obvious (who knew Australians were more permissive parents than the Dutch?): Would this fly in the U.S.? Would we applaud the efforts of a minor to sail unassisted around the globe for 8 months, or would we call the parents jackasses for putting them in harm’s way and seek to have them locked up?

Thoughts? Comments? Let us know…

A punishment that fits the crime

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Here’s my thinking: You can’t be a participant on Wife Swap and not expect the universe to strike back at you in some way.

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If my parents had pulled a stunt like that, I would have hidden in a box in my garage, too. And that this six-year-old’s actions inspired an OJ-esque balloon chase–complete with white Broncos!–was brilliant.

Well played Falcon Heene, well played!