Harassment Lawsuit: The Toothpick Case

By Emily Grube on December 15, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In Carlisle, PA, the nightmare is finally over for two men that were, for some time, trapped with the mentality of children.

One man/child, Richard Cantor, 56, went out of his way to throw a toothpick on "the sidewalk in front of another man's home" (The Patriot-News). The natural response from the other man/child, Brian Taylor, 43, was to do an equally ridiculous action: call the police.

When they arrived, instead of a simple littering charge, Cantor was cited for harassment. Only recently did the two decide to handle their harassment lawsuit out of court and save the tax payers from funding their absurd "He started it" circus.

To see how the toothpick case got so far, allow me to analyze what is necessary for a harassment lawsuit. 

The definition in Section 2709 of the Pennsylvania Penal Code begins with "the intent to harass," which clearly helps no one by using the word you are defining in the definition.

The crime is also committed with the intent to "annoy or alarm another person." I think we can all agree that the toothpick was not a cause for alarm.

I do not believe that the toothpick is a universal symbol for "you are going to get a beat down." If one is ever found at your doorstep, you do not spring back to the safety of your house and build a pillow barricade as you wait for reinforcements. It is not a sign that the toothpick people are coming for you for gnawing on their brothers and sisters.

Unless the tossed toothpick was a threat that if Taylor ever messed with Cantor he would widdle him down to a piece of arbor floss, the only option would be that Cantor acted to "annoy." Well I'm annoyed by the stupidity of this already, so let's roll with that choice.

Next it has to meet another requirement. Was there any physical contact? No. Does Cantor follow Taylor around leaving behind a trail of toothpicks like a modern-day Hansel? Not that I read. Was there any threatening, obscene, or awkward communication? Unless they speak in toothpick code, nope.

The only one left would be that Cantor, "engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts which serve no legitimate purpose." We have a winner! I see no purpose in this act whatsoever.   

Taylor told police that "Cantor constantly takes action to annoy him." Well, I think that this has given me an idea.

As someone who reads the news, I have been hearing about developments in this "case" since September. For three months I have been tempted to stab my eyes with toothpicks so I wouldn't have to read about this farce anymore. Well, if this case isn't annoying, then I don't know what is. So get ready boys, because you might be seeing me in court when I sue you for harassment.

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