Saturday, February 05, 2005

Punish the Generous

This event happened very close to (one of) my homes, and so is more meaningful.

A good many judges are reported to fear for their lives, scuttling like frightened rabbits from their secure courtrooms to the “safety” of their alarmed cars to rush home anonymously to houses in gated communities with elaborate security systems. This judge should be taking all those precautions, together with this woman, who will very likely need protection from the justified anger of their neighbors and community. If the two girls (one a minor at the time) had spray-painted hate messages on her house, they would have been punished less than they were for leaving cookies one evening. A court system that allows this kind of travesty of justice deserves nothing but contempt.

As a long-time fan of Archie comics (, these two remind me of a not-untypical Betty and Veronica story, but no B&V story ever ended so depressingly as this one has (at least so far).
At least one libertarian, Ari Armstrong, the Publisher/editor of Colorado Freedom Report ( has donated money to the two girls to pay part of their fine and legal costs. I hope more of us will follow suit. I'm including his letter at the end of this post.

Original story: Gift of Cookies Crumbles; Girls Told to Pay $900
A Colorado judge ordered two teen-age girls to pay about $900 for the distress a neighbor said they caused by giving her home-made cookies adorned with paper hearts. The pair were ordered to pay $871.70 plus $39 in court costs after neighbor Wanita Renea Young, 49, filed a lawsuit complaining that the unsolicited cookies, left at her house after the girls knocked on her door, had triggered an anxiety attack that sent her to the hospital the next day.

Ari's letter:
February 4, 2005

Dear Mrs. Ostergaard,

I was saddened, dismayed, and outraged to learn from the Denver Post that your daughter, Taylor, and her friend Lindsey Jo Zellitti, were successfully sued for being nice.

Quite obviously, a knock on the door in the evening is not sufficient to send somebody to the hospital. Ms. Young obviously suffered from unrelated problems, for which she scape-goated your daughter and her friend. Unfortunately, the court system assisted Ms. Young in perpetrating a grave injustice.

Please, please, girls, do not let one cynical woman and a callous court system dampen your benevolent spirit. Many of us appreciate your kindness and condemn the overly-litigious judicial system that too often punishes people for their virtues.

Please accept a modest contribution from my wife and me to offset your legal expenses. (Please split the funds between the two families.) I will also ask readers of my web page,, and other friends of mine, to join in helping to defray those costs. If you receive funds in excess of the legal bills, I ask that you split the money evenly between the girls to be used for college expenses.

Though Ms. Young and the idiot judge who awarded her damages seem to think of the girls as cookie monsters, the girls are properly regarded as kind and creative thinkers. If the judge had had a lick of common sense, he would have given the girls a medal, not a fine.

Rather than follow the crowd, the girls exercised independent thinking and came up with a constructive, original project. I wish them well as they pursue their goals and values. Please tell them that they did the right thing, and their benevolent fellow Coloradans applaud them for it.

Ari Armstrong
Editor, Colorado Freedom Report

The addresses for the girl's parents (from the telephone directory) are:
Ostergaard, Richard and Jill, 415 Co Rd 307, Durango CO 81303
Zellitti, Gary and Rhonda 781 Co Rd 302, Durango CO 81303
(Ms. Young's phone number and address is apparently unlisted. No surprise.)

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