Truly, this is a great country, where among our most cherished liberties is the right to sue anybody at any time.
It’s a country so overrun with lawyers that you can always find one to represent you – if not to sue, then to threaten to sue.
Take the case of 14-year-old Texan Ahmed Mohamed. In mid-September, he built a clock and took it to school to show his teachers. One was wary and thought it might be a bomb. Take a look at the picture and judge for yourself.
Officials at MacArthur High School in Irving called in the police. Ahmed was arrested and handcuffed. He was not charged but the case, if not the clock, exploded – at least on social media and in the mainstream press, where assorted saviors and supporters rushed to Ahmed’s defense.
Heading up the Ahmed fan club was a noted Twitterphile named Barack Obama, who tweeted: “Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House?”
Vice president of the fan club: Mark Zuckerberg.
“Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest,” the face of Facebook posted on his famous website. “The future belongs to people like Ahmed.”
And the love just kept flowing. Ahmed visited the White House, met with the leaders of Turkey and Sudan, made a pilgrimage to Mecca and, finally, landed a scholarship from a foundation in the Persian Gulf country Qatar to attend school there. Ahmed and his family promptly headed for the Middle East.
But international celebrity and a free Gulfside education are apparently not enough. The Mohamed family wants more. Fifteen million more, to be exact. That’s the amount the Mohameds are demanding from the Irving Independent School District and the city of Irving.
In a Nov. 23 letter to the school district, the family’s attorney said the money should be paid as compensation for “violations of Ahmed’s constitutional, statutory, and common law rights, and the damages flowing from those violations.” Ahmed, a Muslim of Sudanese heritage, was clearly “singled out because of his race, national origin, and religion,” the letter said, adding that if the money and a written apology are not forthcoming, the family will sue.
“Bring it on,” should be the city’s and school district’s reply.
Ahmed was singled out not because of race or religion but because, in this day and age, if something looks like a bomb it should be considered a bomb. Even before the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, there were numerous examples of violence and threats of violence in schools and elsewhere across the U.S. and around the world.
We cannot be too careful, too wary, too suspicious.
Ours is a country of great opportunity. Always was. But the Mohameds are confusing opportunity with opportunism.
In the wake of recent tragedies it’s shameful for them to be sending threatening letters demanding $15 million for this unfortunate incident. Unfortunate it was. Malicious and discriminatory it was not.
But this is a great country and there are many ways to get ahead and make money without cheap-shot lawsuits. When I searched for pictures of Ahmed’s clock on Google, I ran across another cool clock on eBay, one with a digital display and snooze alarm.
Furor and lawsuits aside, it’s fortunate that Irving school officials weren’t snoozing when they saw Ahmed’s clock.
Richard Connor is chairman of the parent company of Fort Worth Business, DRC Media. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.