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Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Is dousing the Olympic torch a crime (or a tort)?

On the Olympic torch's path around the world to the site of the 2008 summer Olympics, the torch has been a target of protests directed at the repressive actions of the competition's host government. China's recent crackdown on Tibetan monks has been a subject of particular concern for demonstrators, but one suspects that even without recent events, China's history (and continuing practice) of human rights violations would have spurred demonstrations.

Protesters' efforts to douse the Olympic flame -- successful several times over -- led to the amusing scene of the torch being transferred along its route inside a bus (surrounded by a phalanx of motorcycle rollerblade police) (pictured at right).

"Using the torch this way is almost a crime," said the Vice President of the International Olympics Committee, Gunilla Lindberg. I'm curious why the IOC doesn't think it is a crime. Why "almost"? I think it's also safe to say that it's a tort -- assault -- in that the person carrying the torch certainly has reason to be apprehensive of imminent offensive contact when a protestor tosses a bucket of water or a burlap bag or sprays a fire extinguisher in the torch's direction.


I doubt he meant "crime" in terms of the potential battery or other offenses committed against the torch-holder.... my guess would be that he meant "crime" as in, "the use of the Olympic torch for unapproved political expression is a crime."

Anonymous Anonymous -- 4/09/2008 11:35 AM  

Agreed...(I think you may have missed a bit of my post's intended irony...)

Blogger Geoffrey Rapp -- 4/09/2008 12:28 PM  

I am unable to bring any insightful legal analysis to this but it appears as though the motorcycle cops were replaced by the rollerblade brigade in the above photo. That certainly adds to the comedy of having a bus play a prominent role in the torch relay.

Blogger J Smith -- 4/09/2008 2:53 PM  

There's just something funny about grown men on rollerblades. I think this is the first time I've seen a guy on rollerblades without the guy holding a woman's hand.

Blogger cooleystudent333 -- 4/10/2008 12:12 PM  

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