Court Reverses Father's Decision to Ground Daughter by Keeping Her from a School Overnight Trip. I just love it how the Onion can take real practices and extrapolate them three steps forward to the utterly absurd.
The article is on what must be some mirror site for The Onion — something in Canada called TheGlobeAndMail.com. And it's odd, but the other stories on the site don't seem that funny. Well, here's an excerpt:
First, the father banned his 12-year-old daughter from going online after she posted photos of herself on a dating site. Then she allegedly had a row with her stepmother, so the father said his girl couldn't go on a school trip.
The girl took the matter to the court ... [and] Madam Justice Suzanne Tessier of the Quebec Superior Court ruled on Friday that the father couldn't discipline his daughter by barring her from the school trip....
Lucie Fortin, the lawyer representing the 12-year-old, said the judge found that depriving the girl of the school trip was an excessive punishment.
She said the girl has already been forbidden to use the Internet and her father also punished her by cancelling her participation in an extracurricular event.
In an odd twist for The Onion, the satire goes on to give some pretty humdrum and not very funny details. (Is The Onion losing its touch?) The story notes that the trip was a three-day outing marking the girl's graduation from sixth grade, and apparently not a part of the school's educational curriculum. The story also notes that the parents are divorced, and "[the girl's] father has legal custody but for the past month she has lived with her mother," but the story describes the matter as a dispute between the girl and the father, not a dispute between the two parents' judgment or a question about whether the mother should get temporary or permanent legal decisionmaking authority.
In any case, it's great humor, despite the excess of realistic detail. Thanks to Dennis Nolan for the pointer. I should note that there's a small chance that the story isn't a satire after all, but, really, given the absurdity, how likely is that?
UPDATE: Commenter David Malmstrom points to another news story that suggests the matter might indeed have been partly a dispute between parents: "The girl's mother allowed her to go on the trip, but because the school wouldn't allow the girl to go unless both parents consented, the girl, with the mother's support took legal action against her father."
But it seems to me the absurdity remains: It's absurd that a judge would step in to decide whether grounding a child from a school trip is "excessive punishment." If the mother petitioned for a change in custody, that would indeed justify (and require) a judge's intervention, because it would involve a major life decision, and would determine which parent should have disciplinary authority -- something the courts have to do in case of a divorce -- rather than whether a particular grounding decision was justified. But when the school policy is that both parents must consent, which is to say that each parent has veto power, and one parent does exercise his veto, it makes no sense for a judge to decide the matter for herself instead of leaving it to the vetoing parent's judgment.