Monday, March 13, 2006

A sensible piece on the Holy Grail-Da Vinci Code thing

by Tim Wu (an acquaintance of mine, and now a Columbia colleague as well) at Slate. But the passage that really intrigued me was this one (reminding me of why I could never be a law professor--I would always be haring off after irrelevancies):

Take the classic 1983 case of Blackie the Talking Cat. Blackie was a cat alleged to speak English, and his owner ran a business reliant on that ability. Based on Blackie's speaking abilities, the owner argued that it would violate the First Amendment to force him to register his business. The courts hearing the case proceeded under the assumption, as claimed, that the cat could indeed speak. Why? Well, how exactly is a court supposed to prove that a cat cannot actually speak? He might just not be in the mood. In the end, a federal court threw out the case not because of the ridiculous claim that the cat had free speech rights, but for other reasons-among them, that Blackie the cat should have brought his own lawsuit if he could 'speak for himself.'

Why have I never heard of this case before?!?


  1. Cats take the stand in an incredible Keeler novel, X. JONES—OF SCOTLAND YARD!

  2. I am SO glad that I now have... Wow. Very, very good indeed.