Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sticking Cheese Up Your Nose is First Amendment Speech

NYTreports that felony charges have been filed against Domino's Pizza employees who made a disturbing YouTube video that shows them sticking cheese up their noses and putting it on a sandwich.

The video has been seen so widely that it has damaged the Domino's brand; nationwide polling went from positive to negative over this video, which the Times said a million people have accessed.

The local authorities charged the employees with "delivering prohibited foods," according to the Times, and the art attached to the article are the employee's mug shots, credited to the police department.

The video itself shouldn't be enough to charge these people, because it doesn't prove that the food was actually served to any customers.

If the defendants are lucky, the video has a time and date stamp that can be checked against the store's records and prove that nobody ordered sandwiches like the ones portrayed in the video on the date the video was made. But if similar sandwiches were ordered, that wouldn't prove that the sandwiches delivered were the sandwiches shown in the video.

The video itself is pure speech, and while it is grounds for investigation of food going out from that Domino's franchise, it's not grounds for a felony charge, unless police have other evidence.

Political pressure probably forced local authorities to do something, but even if the tainted sandwiches were delivered, it will be extremely difficult to prove. Look for the charges to get dismissed pretty swiftly.

On a related note, cheap food prepared by low-paid workers is likely to be the subject of gross pranks. If the worst thing someone has ever put in your food is snot, you're probably pretty lucky. I live in New York City, and I suspect the act of eating that sandwich would expose someone to fewer germs than an average New York subway commute, especially since the sandwich would have been heated after the pranks portrayed in the video, which would kill bacteria.

No comments: