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"Men in Costa Rica can now be sent to prison for trying to hit on women." (Page 181)


Source: The Best Book of Useless Information Ever


Noel Botham & The Useless Information Society


A Perigee Book


Published by The Penguin Group (USA) Inc.


Copyright 2008


212 pages


ISBN-13: 978-0-399-53428-7





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  • 5 weeks later...
"Men in Costa Rica can now be sent to prison for trying to hit on women."


Basically, yeah, although it depends upon how you define "hit on." If you call someone a a prostitute, even if she IS, you can be arrested and jailed--and in theory whether you are a man or a woman.


The idea here, foreign to the US, is that slander and libel are big things. In reality, most of Europe (and the rest of the world) are keener on these issues of reputation than is the US. In the US, people are accustomed to saying anything about anybody and getting away with it. Not so in the rest of the world. Honestly, there is something to be said for this. Why should a person have to deal with disparaging insults? People's lives have been ruined in the US for this, and they have no recourse. Elsewhere, like in Costa Rica, a person's reputation counts--and it is illegal to insult them.


This gets ticklish with press freedom issues. In the US, anyone who can be remotely construed as a politician (dog catcher etc.) can have anything said about them, true or not, and have no recourse. In Costa Rica (and elsewhere) even politicians have the right to their reputations. So you better darn well be sure that what you say about them is fair and accurate.


I'm really of mixed opinions about all this, and believe that it is an issue of where you draw the line. In the US, interestingly, it is basically illegal to ask a woman accusing another of rape about her sexual history--or to ask a female job applicant about her marital status or children. We protect some people. Yet, you can call a police chief a racist, get him fired, and he has no recourse. We pick and choose who is protected and who isn't in the US. In Costa Rica, everybody is protected legally--politician or puta.


Then too, there are the practical considerations. When you overhear how some women are treated you may want a law that sends guys to prison for hitting on them. At one of my local pizza parlors, a guy walked in at lunch time and within earshot of everyone called the waitress a puta (whore or slut). The poor woman was earning a dollar an hour, if that, and sweating like a pig to wait on everyone. She did not deserve to be addressed that way, and I'd like to see that man's ass in jail myself. You don't treat people that way, and that is what the law says--because the reality is that they do get treated that way.


It's actually a tough issue, very morally complicated.

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Dear Kenn,


Thanks for telling about how the handling of "slander" differs between the USA and Costa Rica.


Just like you, I feel this issue is morally complicated.


Despite this issue, Costa Rica must be a nice place to live if so many people want to live in Costa Rica.




Laura K

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