It Is Wrong To Throw ThingsCommentary • Opinion • legal • ISSUE 35•31 • Sep 1, 1999 By William H. Rehnquist, Chief Justice Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist It has become incumbent upon me, in light of certain matters which have been brought to my attention, to address the problem of throwing things. I believe I can best serve my country in this matter by firmly standing by the traditional posture and position of this court in instances in which an object or series of objects is manually propelled by one party without the specific or implied consent, or request, of one or more other parties, i.e., that it is wrong to throw things. Accepting the previous as a definition of "throwing" acceptable for this brief, and "things" simply as read, even a casual observer will note that the throwing of things is wrong; those who question my basis for argument may refer to the many precedent-setting decisions on yelling, most notably Sandt-Horowitz v. Board, 1982. However, in acknowledging that physical discomfort and damage may result from thing-throwing, we also must acknowledge the argument, "But yelling and throwing [things] are two completely different things." We shall therefore start with the first case: The thrower may state that he or she did not intend to hurt anybody, and what's the big deal, anyway, as in Rehnquist v. Rehnquist, Jr., 1970, 1971 (various), 1972. Here we see a clear case of willful, pre-meditated intent, as applied to prosecution, begging the question of why the subject was throwing things in the first place. A basic principle of law is the establishment of responsibility, which in this case leads to the thrower, regardless of intent. Malice or carelessness bears on sentencing, not on the specific legal points involved. Second, the interior/exterior argument--that a plaintiff was only instructed not to throw things in the house--begs the question of property value (NOT environmental disposition) as opposed to human rights. Or, to quote Mother v. Rehnquist, 1940, "So you know not to break a vase in the living room, but it's okay to throw gravel at your sister in the driveway?" Then, as now, the judge's question is rhetorical but valuable; even an expensive vase has less value than a sister, regardless of how bratty. We therefore infer that, if we as a society decree that one should endeavor not to throw things at objects, we must also rule that it is wrong to throw things at people. This bears directly on a potential subclass of argument, such as, "But Dan Marino throws things all the time!" He does, of course, but only in cases in which consent from wide receivers and running backs is implied. He does so in a spirit of cooperation, and he does not throw "things," but a ball expressly designed for the purpose of being thrown and, subsequently, received; res ipsa loquitor. I would strongly advise you not to waste my time with any other wasteful, sophomoric outbursts of this kind, for doing so will lead me to hold you in contempt. The object thrown is immaterial, as is the object thrown at or toward; I had hoped you would have the good sense to see this by now, but I shall explain. The plaintiff may say, "It was just a piece of paper. It's not like I threw a hand grenade or something." After advising the subject to watch his mouth, lest it be washed out with soap [Rehnquist v. St. Agatha's Catholic School For Boys, 1942], we ask: Isn't it? A piece of paper might not cause the same degree of personal or property damage as a hand grenade, it is true, but it is merely a matter of degree. Does that paper not cause the destruction of a pro forma lawful state, namely a nice, clean house? And haven't I ruled in the past that it hurts other people's feelings, not to mention poses a potential safety hazard, when you get a nice, clean house all dirty? I have spoken. A short recess is now in order while I deliberate on who is to clean up this mess.