Friday, November 25, 2011

Employees of Southwestern Reserve vs. Estate of Pier Paolo Pasolini

The Supreme Court has agreed to review the case of male and female employees of the Southwestern Reserve Bank who claim their civil rights were being violated when they were forced to attend meetings with the bank’s president who was a Pasolini fan. In briefs filed with the court (“Southwestern Reserve Employees vs Estate of Pier Paolo Pasolini”) the class action suit alleges that for almost a decade the bank president  regularly played films like Salo on his laptop while meetings with his subordinates were in progress.  Salo, a particularly graphic film, based on de Sade’s  l20 Days of Sodom, takes places in a concentration camp where coprophilia is freely practiced. The president, Jim Baker, who now occupies a mostly figurehead position as chairman of the board, is still a Pasolini enthusiast though he no longer empowered to ask employees to attend meetings in his office while he is screening the Pasolini films. Though involving seemingly simple first amendment issues, the case, according to experts is mired in complex legal questions—in part due to a fine point in the law where the estate of the deceased film director rather than the bank president is named as the respondent in the action. One film critic was quoted in a friend of the court brief as saying “these employees were forced to watch people eating poo.” There had been several previous rulings on matters which could impact the Supreme Court’s decision in the Pasolini case. In Gander vs. State of Connecticut, the court ruled in favor of the plaintive, a convent which argued that the presence of a sewage disposal plant made it impossible for the nuns to mediate and perform their offices. In Shapiro vs. Cleveland, the court ruled in favor of the municipality saying that a sinkhole in the middle of a public park was not necessarily a danger to bicyclists if a warning sign had been temporarily removed. The details of the latter case would not appeal to those readers with weak stomachs.

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