a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

F___in’ A!

Posted by Thomas Nephew on July 30th, 2003

Eric Vanatta, Colorado Deputy State Legal Defender, is a new Hero Of The Realm for authoring a 7-page, 24-point legal brief on why charges against a student who called his principal “a fucker, a fag, and a fucking fag” should be dismissed.

Like any good defender would, Vanatta saw infringement of free speech, ignored the use of the incendiary word “fag,”* and drafted a soaring legal document that, after a brief exposition of the facts, begins its legal reasoning as follows:

In order to present a context for the alleged crime, we must first examine the history of Fuck and its evolution in society.

and concludes,

Fuck is certainly a controversial word that may be appropriate in certain venues and locales (Florida Elections Commission, speed eating contests, public defender offices) and may be inappropriate in others (weddings, Chuck-E-Cheese pizza parlors, district attorney offices). Some people may believe it is always inappropriate. But in all but a very few circumstances, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits our government from making that determination. This case falls outside of those very limited circumstances and as such, no conviction can result from Mr. X’s alleged statements.

…bookending what is possibly the funniest legal document ever produced in the United States. Via Kevin Drum and the Smoking Gun, who awards the Vanatta brief the prestigious “2003 Legal Document of the Year,” and reports

Sadly, Vanatta never got the chance to argue his motion before a judge. Because ten days ago he cut a plea deal that deferred prosecution of his client for four months–if the kid stays out of trouble during that period, the charge gets dismissed.


* At the risk of seeming humorless and PC, I don’t mean to make light of the use of the word “fag”; in principle it’s homophobic, but it was probably “just” the derogatory word at the top of this kid’s limited verbal menu.

UPDATE, 7/30: got embarrassed and cleaned up the title a bit. Also, happened to notice Matt Welch pointing out that if you say “f__k” on radio, it’s a felony and you could lose your right to vote. Good thing I wasn’t on the air when I read that.

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