It’s Tool Time At The Supreme Court

JANUARY 31, 2013

“Know what time it is at the Supreme Court? It’s tool time!”

James Lileks , Star Tribune

 Image-Tool-Time

 So I’m standing on Marshall Avenue in St. Paul during morning rush hour, the car in a snowbank, tire blown. The AAA guy can’t get the wheel off, so he goes to the truck and brings back a block of wood. Wham! Off goes the wheel. He holds up the wood. “Swedish impact wrench,” he says.

I am appalled. He’s equated Sweden, and hence people of Swedish descent, with crude technology. It’s particularly hurtful because a Swedish relative of my wife patented the modern crescent wrench, a technological contribution of which he was obviously unaware. I should go online and say the guy was a total tool.  I did not, for good reasons:

  • When it comes to slights about my diverse Northern European heritage, my skin is not 0.001 millimeter thick.
  •  It was funny.
  • Most important, he was changing my tire in the snow with good cheer while I stood there useless. I scribble and yammer for a living, and these guys fix things. Solve problems. Get you on your way. There’s not one Triple-A guy who ever finds himself in need of a metaphor, and thinks “if only there was someone I could call to provide a figure of speech.”

But let’s say I was a jerk, and went online to complain about the tool. Would that be defamatory? If only there were a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling on the matter! There is. The court has spoken. But first, rewind this a bit.

Image-Tool-Academy

You go to law school: a long, hard, dry slog through case law and statutes, your youthful idealism withered by the realization that truth, in the legal sense, can be a slender reed battered by the gales of rhetoric. After graduation, there’s private law, lucrative, but you work horrible hours and never see your family. You’re a bee that excretes gold, nothing more.

So you go into the public sector, and defend murderers for the same amount of money as an Applebee’s manager, but someone has to, right? It’s America. Someone has to rearrange the schedule so there’s always enough servers on the nights when the Vikings play. What? Oh, right, defending murderers. That’s important, too.

Then you’re a judge, steering the balky cart of justice down its rutted path. For a few, the honor of the Supreme Court Justice. You’ve arrived. Then one day you look at the case you have to decide. Some guy called another guy a “tool” on the Internet. Is that OK?

The Supreme Court has declined to condemn tool talk. To be specific, “a real tool.” The comment was made on a rate-a-doctor website, and the doctor took the poster to court. The Supremes dismissed the case.

Too bad there’s no trial; it would be fun to hear the defendant say it was meant as a compliment.

Image-Doctor-With-Tool

Caption: The doctor was the very definition of a useful implement. Like a drain snake or a plunger, he solved my problems; like a hammer, he connected the crossbeam of my questions to the 2-by-4 of my doubts. Five stars.

Other terms, however, remain in limbo. Dork, Dorkenhemier, Spaz (including Total Spaz), Jerk, Twanch, Dillweed, and of course Blathering Idiot in the Newspaper Who Just Goes On and On.

The last one is probably legal, but hey, go ahead, file suit. We need clarification on these matters. You’d hate to think that people go on the Internet and call other people stupid names without some guidelines. The reason this went to the Minnesota Supreme Court, after all, is because a lower court couldn’t say “tool” was acceptable public speech. Bravery personified. Wouldn’t want to call them tools, though. Tools are useful.

SOURCE

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Web Posting

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Patient Complaint

Plaintiff David McKee’s Reply To Patient Complaint

Plaintiff David McKee’s Cease And Desist Letter To Defendant Dennis Laurion

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Complaint To Minnesota Board Of Medical Practice

Plaintiff David McKee’s Complaint To Sixth Judicial District Duluth Court

Plaintiff David McKee’s Response To Minnesota Board Of Medical Practice

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Answer To Plaintiff David McKee’s Complaint

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Motion For Summary Judgment

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Deposition Extracts

Plaintiff David McKee’s Deposition Testimony About Circumstances Before Encounter With Laurion Family

Plaintiff David McKee’s Deposition Testimony About Encounter With Laurion Family

Plaintiff David McKee’s Deposition Testimony About Circumstances After Encounter With Laurion Family

Plaintiff David McKee’s Deposition Testimony In Response To Questions By Marshall Tanick

Affidavits By Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Parents

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Supplemental Motion For Summary Judgment

Plaintiff David McKee’s Motion To Oppose Summary Judgment

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Reply Memo In Support Of Motion For Summary Judgment

Sixth Judicial District Court’s Order On Motion For Summary Judgment

Plaintiff David McKee’s Appeal Of Order On Motion For Summary Judgment

Plaintiff David McKee’s Brief To Minnesota Court Of Appeals

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Brief To Minnesota Court Of Appeals

Plaintiff David McKee’s Reply Brief To Minnesota Court Of Appeals

Minnesota Court Of Appeals Order To Strike Portion Of Plaintiff David McKee’s Reply Brief

Minnesota Court Of Appeals Announces Decision

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Petition For Review By Minnesota Supreme Court

Plaintiff David McKee’s Opposition To Review By Minnesota Supreme Court

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Brief To Minnesota Supreme Court

Plaintiff David McKee’s Brief To Minnesota Supreme Court

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Reply Brief To Minnesota Supreme Court

Minnesota Supreme Court Decision On David McKee MD V. Dennis K. Laurion

David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion 2010

David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion 2011

David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion 2012

David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion 2013

McKee V Laurion Is A Textbook Case

 

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