Sunday, February 19, 2012

How Do People Write This With a Straight Face?

I was researching legal challenges to knife possession, and I ran into Getz v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (Penn. Commonwealth Court 2009).  Getz was on parole for "aggravated indecent assault" involving a minor female, and there were a number of restrictions imposed on him:
A special parole condition was also imposed that prohibited him to possess photographs of anyone under the age of 18 years or child-oriented videos without prior written permission of Probation/Parole Supervision Staff.
Okay, that's reasonable enough.  He got in trouble when his parole agent found a locking, folding 7" blade knife, a camera with a perfectly innocent picture of a 10 year old girl, and some videos.  He did not get off on the knife possession charge; the court decided that was a weapon, and therefore in violation of his parole.  Even though the picture was innocent, and Getz claimed to have not taken the picture, he was in violation of his probation.  The videos?  The parole board's claim was:
It is obvious and notorious to an American of common intelligence that DVDs of the films Shrek, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause and Superman: Doomsday are child-oriented videos, standard tools for grooming children for molestation. Therefore, the Board properly took official notice of the fact that those DVDs are child-oriented videos and found that Getz violated a special condition of his parole that proscribed possession of child-oriented videos by possessing those DVDs.[emphasis added]
You know, I think very little of a lot of what comes out of Hollyweird, but this is way over the top.  Fortunately, the court overruled them:
The problem with the Board's argument is that there were no facts that made it "obvious and notorious" that those films were directed at children. At the revocation hearing, no evidence was presented regarding each movie's content, its rating, and whether the movie was marketed to young children. Simply placing the three movies into evidence and now saying that it was "obvious and notorious" that they were used as tools for grooming children for molestation alone is insufficient for the Board to make out a violation of Special Condition #7 (Count 2).


  1. Superman: Doomsday is rated PG-13 and has a pretty high body count.

  2. I can't speak for the latter two, but many adults I know quite enjoyed the Shrek films...

  3. Aren't a lot of the jokes in the Shrek series adult-oriented and not suitable for children under ten? Particularly the jokes uttered by the character voiced by Eddie Murphy? I know some parents who don't let their children watch Shrek, which might disprove the prosecutor's thesis, or it might prove it through the double-reverse-inverse concept of forbidden fruit.