If you're obese, should you be compelled to buy TWO plane tickets when you take a commercial flight? That's an issue behind Nadine Thompson's lawsuit against Southwest Airlines (search).
At 5'8" and 280 pounds, she sat down in her seat one morning for a flight to Chicago. A Southwest employee asked to speak with her, informing her it was company policy that, for her safety and comfort, she had to buy a ticket for a second seat. Nadine refused, pointing out that she could sit comfortably with the armrest down and without needing a seatbelt extender. After a heated discussion, she finally got off the plane and was escorted from the airport by sheriff's deputies.
Now Nadine is suing Southwest for discrimination based on weight, race and gender (she is, clearly, female — and black). Does she have a case? Southwest's policy on overweight passengers is, if you can't put the armrest down, you have to pay for a second seat.
Let me know what you think: Nadine will be on DaySide with me on Monday. E-mail your comments to me at: email@example.com.
I'm also tracking the case of a beloved school band teacher in Illinois, who's just been indicted for sexually abusing some of his female students. The indictment mentions five girls, but since it was filed, there are now 93 charges against Robert Sperlik (search). We're talking 10-year-olds. It's reported that Sperlik bound and gagged many of them while molesting them during band lessons. Now the attorney for some of the alleged victims is saying that school officials were aware as early as 1999 that something was going on: According to attorney Jon Loevy, at least three of Sperlik's students wrote to their school principal in 1999, telling in graphic detail what was being done to them repeatedly by their teacher. If the girls' accounts are true, well, let's just say it's a good thing I'm not a parent in that town. I might have to be restrained.
Also, some feedback on today's show — and the lawsuit against the makers of "Grand Theft Auto" (as well as certain stores that sell it), in the case of a teenager who played the game then blew away two policemen. While several of you said you think GTA is violent and a bad influence, no one said it was right to sue the manufacturer.
Here are some other comments:
"Where are the parents while this kid is playing this game .... Someone should include his parents in this suit."
— Carl Achtert
Drexel Hill, Penn.
"I am a gamer and have played GTA for a very long time .... What's so great about GTA is whenever I'm mad, I can just 'jack-in' to fantasy and do whatever I want. But it's wrong trying to sue the makers of a game just because some kid kills someone ...."
"After 30 years in law enforcement, I find blaming video games, guns, ball bats, tire irons and Twinkies for a human being's misbehavior little more than voodoo. That is, blaming an inanimate object for their commission of a crime ...."
— Joe Horn
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept., retired
I'll tell you, as a former crime reporter (and now a mom/step mom), I'm not convinced that kids can play games like "Grand Theft Auto" with no negative consequences whatsoever. Granted, the values we lay out as parents are the most important — and yes, we ought to monitor what games our kids are playing. But I wonder, when kids repeatedly play games that glorify violence and lawbreaking — never seeing negative consequences like grief, broken families, etc. — do they become at least somewhat desensitized? Also, I do think that when you're a teen, the part of your brain focused on judgment is still not well developed. I know brilliant adolescents who just don't have the same judgment as a 25- or 35-year-old.
Have a great weekend,
Watch "DaySide with Linda Vester" weekdays at 1 p.m. ET and send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org