June 20, 2007 – Jason Morandi
A federal court today ordered Buford Snatter, professor of law at Southwestern University and longtime Burbank resident, to immediately cease using the word “spontaneous” in any and all written or spoken communication.
Justice Benjamin Pettifinger of California’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday upheld an earlier ruling against Professor Snatter, citing the general welfare clause of the Constitution. In describing the kind of word usage that got the professor into trouble, Judge Pettifinger commented “this just isn’t good for anybody.”
The trouble began when readers of Professor Snatter’s articles noticed certain words and phrases recurring at a disturbing rate. “It’s a question of when word use becomes abuse,” explained arresting officer Harris Bludger. “He definitely crossed a line. He’s gone way over the quota for the use of these words.” Asked what that quota is, Officer Bludger replied “I don’t know what the quota is, I don’t know if there is a quota, but I know he’s gone over it.”
Readers were the first to alert authorities to the problem. “I’d be reading one of his articles,” said a frequent reader of Professor Snatter’s articles who declined to give her name, “and there it would be: ‘spontaneous’, or ‘spontanaeity’, or worse, ‘spontaneous and autonomous’. When would it stop?” Another anonymous reader said she also suffered from abuse: “I’d be reading along and I always knew it was about to come up. If not in the first paragraph, then in the next. I’ll tell you, there was nothing ‘spontaneous’ about it.”
Indeed, Professor Snatter’s word use became a federal issue when it emerged that, while his prose is liberally sprinkled with the term, he is in fact not a spontaneous person.
“I was shocked when I found out,” said longtime Snatter reader Mona Eubanks.
The issue surfaced when one of Snatter’s daughters tried to introduce her father to yoga.
“He has always claimed to be interested in eastern thought, yet he refuses to even try the practices that are an integral part of those philosophies,” said daughter Brigentine Snatter. “Buddhism and the vedic philosophies aren’t just things that happen in your head. They require practice in order to integrate them into your life. When I tried to get him to go to a yoga class or an introduction to meditation, he said he’d think about getting around to putting it on a list of things to consider sometime. Is that what he means by ‘spontaneous’ behavior?”
In his appeal, Professor Snatter claimed that while he appreciated his daughter’s efforts to introduce him to the world outside of his own head, he just wasn’t interested, but that he would find his own ways of being spontaneous. However he failed to produce evidence that he was planning to engage in spontaneous behavior sometime down the line. He had promised to present the court with a list of potential spontaneous activities that he had written on a yellow senate pad, but later said he was unable to locate said pad. “It’s around here somewhere,” Snatter argued in his own defense.
Snatter’s daughter added to her charges that her father would only eat from a very small selection of food choices, citing Chinese chicken salad, spaghetti aglio oglio and BLTs as his mainstays. “Don’t even ask me about Cheez-Whiz™,” she added.
“He’ll go out to a nice restaurant, a restaurant that has its own specialties it is famous for, and he’ll ask if the chef can do a spaghetti aglio oglio,” Snatter’s daughter said. “It would be one thing if he could say it correctly, but he doesn’t even do that! This is the only thing he ever orders and he doesn’t even say it right!”
“That and Chinese chicken salad,” added Brigentine’s sister Hildegarde.
“And the BLTs,” chimed in younger sister Gvtaren.
“Yes, and the BLTs” agreed Brigentine.
“He used to eat Cheez-Whiz™, but we took it away from him,” reported Gvtaren.
Whiny civil liberties activists whined about supposed violation of free-speech, but were largely ignored.
“The first amendment was not intended to allow people to say whatever they damn well please,” commented constitutional scholar Avid Rhinegold.
In a statement issued after the verdict was read, Professor Snatter said that the ruling “is just one more indication of the collapse of Western civilization. It is an attempt,” he said, to “stifle the spontaneous free expression of peace-loving men and women spontaneously living their lives in non-hierarchical ways characterized by spontaneous order.”
The prosecution said it would not rule out going after Professor Snatter’s abuse of the phrase “peace-loving men and women”.
Highlighting the seriousness of the case, arresting officer Bludger noted “(i)t seems that, while Professor Snatter loves nothing more than to throw this word around in his prose, he doesn’t actually have a spontaneous bone in his body. This is where law enforcement needs to step in. People think they can just throw words around willy nilly. We’re here to let them know that that’s not the case.”
While Snatter’s daughters were saddened by their father’s ordeal, they expressed no regrets about turning him over to the police.
“In the end, we really had no choice but to contact the authorities,” said Brigentine Snatter.
Professor Snatter’s wife, June Snatter, admitted that her husband has never been spontaneous.
“No, he’s not,” she sighed. “But I can’t change him.”
Mrs. Snatter could face charges of aiding and abetting.
Under the court order, Professor Snatter is prohibited from using the word “spontaneous”, “spontaneously”, or any other derivative thereof. Should he violate the order he will face heavy fines and possible jail time.
Asked for further comment on the ruling, Professor Snatter said only “it’s all coming down.”
(This article originally appeared in the Burbank Bugle, June 20, 2007.)