Kind of Like the “Girls Gone Wild” Videos, Except Really Wild

Last year I wrote this post, where I expressed doubt that the people who claim to have taught apes sign language are legit. The main reason why I smelled a rat was due to the reluctance of the researchers to allow outside observers who could sign interact with the apes.

Now there’s this news story. It seems that Francine Patterson, the head of the Gorilla Foundation, told three female employees at different times to bare their breasts. She claimed that Koko, the most famous of the signing gorillas, was requesting it.

Two of the employees were fired and filed suit against the Foundation. The third employee actually figured that stripping for the ape was the only way to keep her job, so she flashed some chest. Now she’s signed on as co-suer.

You know, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard of where something like this worked. (If the suit has merit and isn’t some bizarre attempt at free money, that is.) Usually saying that it’s your dog who wants to get a gander at the goods results in a slapped face. There’s going to be a run on exotic animal pet stores as frat boys buy up the country’s monkey population.

The second thing that occurs to me is that it was Ms. Patterson who was telling the three women what Koko wanted. None of them could understand ASL and tell what the ape was trying to say, even though they were entrusted to work in the closest proximity to the star attraction.

Makes me wonder.

I wonder why, if it’s Koko and not Ms. Patterson with the breast fetish, why they don’t just get her an Internet connection and a credit card number. Seems it would be cheaper than a lawsuit.

This is Interesting

Megan’s Law set up a sex offender database, as well as authorizing public notification when an offender moved into a neighborhood.

According to this news report, a real estate developer filed suit against a former sex offender for ruining sales at a subdivision. The developer also filed suit against the real estate company that bought the house for the criminal.

Can’t say that I’m particularly sympathetic to the two principals. The sex offender preyed upon the weakest and most vulnerable members of society. The developer squandered any good feeling I had by trying to drag this into court. Looks to me like he’s trying to bankrupt the ex-con through legal bills so he would be forced to sell.

The cops and the real estate company which bought the house, however, were just doing their jobs. I notice that the suit doesn’t name the police, probably because there’s no chance that it would win. A company that’s hired to find houses for people might just have some money in the bank. Looks like the developer is hoping for a sympathetic jury so they can get some damages awarded.

So who’s to blame here? The criminal? Well, sure, he’s responsible ’cause he’s the guy who committed the crime. But is he responsible for bringing down property values after the police, obeying federal law, plaster fliers all over the neighborhood? Probably not.

In many states it’s against the law to discriminate against someone due to race, creed or sexual orientation. Would it be considered discrimination if you refused to sell a house to a sex offender, knowing that the value of your property would plummet?

I’d say no, but I’ve never worked that side of the bench. (In fact I never was even called to testify on this side.)

The Long Nose of the Law

Over at the The Volokh Conspiracy Orin Kerr notes that the Supreme Court has reaffirmed that getting sniffed by a police dog does not constitute a search under the Fourth Amendment. I wonder how this will play out if technology replaces the dogs?

There exists an emerging class of chemical detectors for which the best description is artificial noses. Like biological noses, these devices can detect a wide range of compounds wafting in the air. Some designs even use biological receptors embedded in microchips. Within 10 years or so these detectors will reach the level of sensitivity of a dog’s nose and they will fit in a handheld unit. Unlike a dog, these devices will be able to tell us exactly what they detected and in what amounts.

Let’s call these devices eSniffers. Their existence raises all kinds of interesting legal and cultural questions. For example, at what point does the use of an eSniffer become a search under the Fourth Amendment?

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