Judge John Hodgman Episode 118: Taxi Evasion


Marcelo brings the case against his girlfriend, Sam. When Sam takes off early from a night out, Marcelo would like her to take a cab home. Sam thinks he's not respecting her ability to walk home smartly and safely. Who's right? Who's wrong?


Lewis Michael Powell for suggesting this week's case name!



Bones to pick

So did anyone else pick up that the judge was singing the tune of "Believe it or not," the theme song to the TV show "The Greatest American Hero" and not the pina colada song? Also, people from Guam hate to be called Guamanian, they prefer to be called to Guamaniacs. Overall a good episode.

Estonian brothels

Angry letter writing Estonian reporting in!

I'll have you know Romania does have brothels, just a short 1300 mile drive away from us.

I think we have brothels as well, but I don't believe they're legal. Prostitution itself is decriminalized, but procuring (pimping) is illegal.

This was a close one --

1) Sam is lucky to have a guy like Marcello. Hope she lives long enough to make it permanent.
2) Guesses on who is singing "Somerville" - John Pizzarelli? Neil Sedaka? ... a teenaged John Hodgman??

Freedom of movement

This is a rare instance where I disagree with Judge Hodgman's verdict.

I'm not familiar with the neighborhood in question in this case, but I will take your word that it is in fact a dangerous place to walk at night, in spite of the fact that such dangers are so frequently exaggerated that fear of crime has been rising while actual rates of crime have been falling for decades.

Assuming, however, that walking down this street at midnight is more dangerous than, say, driving down the same street in a car – advising the defendant of this fact and recommending that she take a taxi is appropriate. A court ruling requiring that she take a taxi, however, crosses a line into restriction of her freedom of movement, a subject about which women are particularly sensitive, though it would constitute a denial of rights no matter who the defendant was.

To be told that you can't go where you wish because it's not safe can take on an oppressiveness that compels one to defy it.

Your comment that how alert one is or how closely one holds one's bag is irrelevant also showed a fatalism about the possibility of self-defense and protection that was disappointing. There are ways that a person can behave to reduce the dangers of the city, both real and imagined.

I believe a ruling that considered these aspects of the case would have been more effective, and that the ruling such as it is risks causing resentment and discord in this relationship.

Signed your sincere admirer,
Lola Rogers

I'm with you Lola

I felt the same and could feel Sam's pained and exhausted sigh when the verdict was made.

Women live our lives negotiating the risks presented by men, and we have struggled to gain the (still limited) autonomy we enjoy. As much as JJHo and Sam's bo think they are doing what's best for Sam, they are both underestimating Sam's life-long and profound understanding of the personal risks associate with freedom of movement and undermining her right to choose what risks are or are not reasonable for her. Should she walk alone on those streets at 11pm? Maybe not. Should she be prohibited by men (even men who care about her) from doing so because of possible nefarious actions that other men may take? Definitely not.

Cynthia Hopkins

Google seems to have very little information on her and I can't find her on iTunes, but I must have that song! Any help?

once again...


The Somerville Song