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Tom Sauer - One Lame Dude

I got a comment on my Springsteen, Seals and Shit article from a few months ago from the folks at sealwatch.org, which caused me to investigate what had been up recently with the seal situation down in La Jolla. Sealwatch linked to the below video of some dick harassing the seals, provided by the La Jolla Friends of the Seals:

It's pretty much a 50 year old petulant child named Tom Sauer scaring the seals into the water and then talking about how he had the right to do it. Sauer is a San Diego attorney who maintains childrenspool.org, which talks about how great Mrs. Scripps (who is long dead) was for donating the childrens pool and lists the legal briefs he has filed on behalf of his clients, whose fines for harassing the seals he is contesting. Before we mock and belittle his personal flaws, let's just point out one thing from his most recent legal filing. In this case, someone named Lilo Creighton (who he talks about in the video) was fined for scaring away the seals. Part of her defense is as follows:

"the reason she landed on the beach in the middle of the hauled out animals was that she needed to concentrate on staying in a small channel to avoid being pushed on rocks; and that she needed to swim fast in order to reach the beach without being hurt"

So not only is the beach filthy, it's also evidently very dangerous for any of the "children" who might choose to swim in it. Unbelievable.

Towards the end of the video, where Sauer lounges around with his legs flared open talking about why he just drove the seals into the water, he makes some trenchant points that many six year olds would do well to incorporate into their argument for why they should be allowed to go down the slide next if "You're not the boss of the world" isn't working out for them.

First off he cites the 9th ammendment, which from what I can tell, says "Just because we only have 8 ammendments doesn't mean that those are the only rights we're giving you", kind of like a "we reserve the right to add in obvious things we forgot should they arise", like say, giving half the population the right to vote. He then transitions, this is true, into claiming that the 9th ammendment to the constitution gives him the right to

"establish myself as the alpha animal on that beach."

They all laughed at Madison when he wanted to pass the Alpha Animal ammendment, but who's laughing now? Not Tom Sauer! He keeps going:

"If there's a young child on that beach, I want that child to be the alpha animal on that beach."

If there's a young child on that beach, I would hope that this guy is nowhere near that young child.

The whole discussion reminds me of a scene from Bowling For Columbine, were Michael Moore discusses the shootings with South Park creator Matt Stone, specifically the decision of the NRA to come to Colorado within days of the shootings to have their annual rally. They defended the decision by trumpeting their "rights" to "go wherever they want within our great land." Stone replies, "Of course you have 'the right', but just, don't do that, you know?"

I think that expresses the situation about as good as it can be expressed: right vs. duty. You have the right to do a whole shitload of things in America, but you also have the duty not to be too big of a dick while you're doing them. Of course you have the right to go walk down and scare all those seals away. But why be a dick and take away the one thing people enjoy about that small, polluted, dangerous beach? Here are some other things you have the right to do:

-Picket outside hospitals with signs that say "God Hates AIDS victims"
-Tell kids waiting in line to meet Santa that there is no Santa, that that's just a man in a suit
-Walk out of a movie theater and tell everyone waiting to come in what the ending is.

I guess those kind of went in reverse order of seriousness...But still. Having the right doesn't make you above the rules of decency and friendliness that are also just as important to allow a society to function. And disobeying a law that you consider unjust doesn't make you into some kind of hero, who can lounge about spread eagle lecturing people about vauge constitutional ammendments. A lot of people throughout history have disliked, even hated pioneers like Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and Susan B. Anthony and the ideals and changes that they fought for. But the difference between them and Tom Sauer is that nobody heard about what King was doing and just thought "Wow, that guy, he's kind of a dick...I wonder if that makes him happy?"

UPDATE: My friend Derek, who just graduated from law school and will start working in a month at a firm where I can only imagine he'll be getting paid way more than a lawyer who primarily deals with seal related cases does, helped me out with some questions I had about the 9th ammendment, and Tom Sauer's use of that as his reasoning to harass the seals:

"robert bork called it 'an inkblot.' it means something, but it cannot be interpreted to do anything, because there are no internal or external limits to what it could mean. i think people who don't really know what they're talking about use it to justify the supreme court's invention of rights that aren't specifically described in the constitution."

Which would make sense, since this is what Sauer uses to grant himself the right to be "alpha animal".

"it's like if you and your parents got into a fight about something and they decided to let you do it...the reason you get to do it is because they let you, not because you had the right to do it. the ninth amendment can never be used to prevent the government from doing something. the types of things the people who wrote the ninth amendment and thought it was protecting may actually be protected,but they're protected through some other constitutional or political means. the ninth amendment cannot serve as an independent bar to any governmental activity, and it's been cited in like 2 supreme court opinions in 230 years. seriously, if you ever have a conversation with somebody who brings up the ninth amendment with some reverance, you know they don't know shit."


he walks like charlie chaplin.

This is one of the greatest and most hilarious commentaries I have ever EVER read on the seal situation. Thank you for giving me a much needed laugh this morning! I love you man!

Right on! I love your comments and article about the seal situation and especially about this "petulant child". How does he even get work as an attorney when he's clearly cuckoo?

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