Brickbats: March 2023

News of politicians, police, and bureaucrats behaving badly from around the world.


Juniors at New York City's Edward R. Murrow High School told the New York Post they were told to read "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and "The Tortoise and the Hare" for their American literature course. They were asked to answer basic questions and write a one-sentence summary of each work. A Department of Education spokesman declined to answer questions about it, but he tweeted that the assignment was preparing students for tougher work, to read Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and answer similar questions. Students in the class told the newspaper they didn't actually read The Scarlet Letter but a seven-page summary of the novel.

While attorney Matt Tucker was in a hospital bed recovering from a stroke, Clayton County, Georgia, Judge Shana Rooks Malone was attacking him on national TV on the Law & Crime network, saying she was going to hold him in contempt for missing court. Tucker was representing a woman in a murder case. He had a stroke two days before jury selection was supposed to begin. Tucker claims his office emailed the judge to let her know. His client told the judge in court about Tucker's medical emergency, and Tucker said he doesn't understand why Malone didn't believe the client.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed and other elected officials have criticized the city Elections Commission's decision not to renew the contract of Elections Director John Arntz. By their account, he took over a troubled department 20 years ago and turned it around, running smooth and fair elections. "Our decision wasn't about your performance, but after twenty years we wanted to take action on the City's racial equity plan and give people an opportunity to compete for a leadership position," said commission President Chris Jerdonek in an email to Arntz, who is white. The commission eventually changed course and is set to vote in January on a five-year renewal for Arntz.

A court in Fiji has found attorney Richard Naidu guilty of contempt of court for a Facebook post in which he pointed out a misspelling in a court decision. Naidu had been tapped by the National Federation Party, an opposition party, as a candidate for the December 14 election for the legislature. But the conviction barred him from running.

City officials in Des Moines, Iowa, have agreed to pay $125,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by Daniel Robbins, who was detained for filming police officers who were illegally parked. They did not arrest him, but they did seize his phone and camera and only returned them two weeks later after his lawyer demanded it.

A Nigerian court has sentenced Mubarak Isa Muhammed and Muhammed Bula to 20 lashes each, fined them $25 each, and ordered them to clean the court building for 30 days after they pleaded guilty to mocking a government official. The duo made a TikTok video making fun of Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, governor of Kano State, for alleged corruption and sleeping on the job.

Christine Gauthier, a paraplegic former member of the Canadian Army, told members of the House of Commons in December that she contacted Veterans Affairs Canada trying to find out why it was taking so long to get a wheelchair ramp in her home. She said she got a letter back offering her assisted suicide instead. "I have a letter saying that if you're so desperate, madam, we can offer you MAID, medical assistance in dying," said Gauthier. Gauthier said she has been trying to get the ramp for five years.