Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Help the NLRB

November 9, 2020

An NLRB dispute over Scabby the Rat, a VIP at every job-site protest, gives us all a chance to hone our brief- and creative-writing chops.

Milt Policzer

By Milt Policzer

Courthouse News columnist; racehorse owner and breeder; one of those guys who always got picked last.

The National Labor Relations Board needs your help. If you’re bored in isolation and tired of TV and video games, this is your chance to have some fun.

Weigh in on Scabby the Rat.

The NLRB has officially invited all of us to file briefs on the issue of whether displaying a 12-foot inflatable rat amounts to illegal picketing or coercion.

Yes, the topic is whether anyone could be coerced by seeing a large balloon. If this isn’t an exercise in creative legal writing, I don’t know what is.

I have a few suggestions for your NLRB essay.

Consider the impact on Thanksgiving Day parades. Does Garfield strike terror in the hearts of dog lovers? Should we ban the terror of the giant Grinch?

You could also argue that rats should be allowed because corporations can fly their own rebuttal balloons. Maybe Bossy the Cat. It would give the demonstrations a Tom & Jerry vibe, inviting the attention of children eager to learn the nuances of labor negotiation.

An in-depth discussion of the emotional distress caused by the Baby Trump balloon could decide the issue.

Related topic: Is sticking a pin in a protest balloon an act of vandalism or a form of protected speech?

Dancing secrets? I have no strong feelings about TikTok. I’ve never used it, never viewed it, never danced on it. But while I don’t care that much whether it gets banned or not, I still wonder why this is an issue.

What exactly is TikTok’s threat to national security?

I do realize I’m not privy to classified intelligence briefings, but is intelligence really at work here? A federal judge in Pennsylvania, one of the president’s favorite states, last week granted a preliminary injunction against a TikTok ban mainly because she couldn’t understand TikTok’s threat either.

The ruling notes that the president’s executive order called TikTok  a threat to the “national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States” because the app gives the company — and maybe the Chinese government — access to “Americans’ personal information for blackmail” and could be used for “blackmail and corporate espionage.”

Here’s the best part: the President said the Chinese Communist Party also could use TikTok for disinformation campaigns and the spread of “debunked conspiracy theories.”

You can decide for yourself whether that’s deeply ironic.

Be that as it may, the part I wonder about is the supposed blackmail. Blackmail for what? Poor dance moves? Bad song choice?

How do you blackmail someone over stuff that’s already on the internet?

Maybe somebody could be embarrassed by a missed credit card payment.

If the CIA is using TikTok to pass on messages in coded dance steps, maybe the agency should rethink the practice.

Yeah, there’s probably financial information being gathered, but what major company doesn’t already do that? Shouldn’t we be more worried about what, say, Facebook and Google, are doing with our financial information?

So why does the president hate TikTok? It might be the Chinese ownership, but there’s a more obvious answer: He hasn’t figured out how to use it.

Categories / Op-Ed

Subscribe to our columns

Want new op-eds sent directly to your inbox? Subscribe below!