Copyright (c) 2004 Georgia Law Review Association
Georgia Law Review
RHETORICAL HYPERBOLE AND THE REASONABLE PERSON STANDARD: DRAWING THE LINE BETWEEN FIGURATIVE EXPRESSION AND FACTUAL DEFAMATION
38 Ga. L. Rev. 717
On November 11, 1999, the Dallas Observer reported that a local judge had ordered a first-grade child be detained in a juvenile detention center for ten days while awaiting criminal charges relating to her report on a classic children's book. 1 The article, which appeared in the "News" section of the paper, was written by staff-writer Rose Farley and entitled "Stop the Madness." 2 In it, Farley reported that Darlene A. Whitten, a judge who previously presided over the juvenile court of Denton County, Texas, had ordered that the first-grader be detained at the Denton County Juvenile Detention Center in response to the child's writing of a book report on Maurice Sendak's award-winning children's book, Where the Wild Things Are. 3 The article quoted Judge Whitten as saying to the six-year-old girl that "[a]ny implication of violence in a school situation, even if it was just contained in a first-grader's book report, is reason enough for panic and overreaction," and that "[i]t's time for you to grow up, young lady, and it's time for us to stop treating kids like children." 4 Farley quoted Bruce Isaacks, the district attorney for Denton County, as stating, "[w]e've considered having her certified to stand trial as an adult, but even in Texas there are some limits." 5 The article reported that courthouse security officers ordered the six-year-old be shackled after a review of her school record revealed she had received "reprimands for spraying a boy with pineapple juice and sitting on ...
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