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Righteous rage

AngryLegoThe world, it would seem, is getting increasingly angrier. 

A 22-year-old Connecticut man was arrested recently after writing obscenities and the word “tyranny” on a speeding ticket he received from a New York police officer. The disgruntled fellow claims, in a recently filed federal lawsuit, that his free speech rights were violated when he was arrested.

William Barboza is suing two police officers in the Catskill-area village of Liberty, New York, over the arrest. Barboza had, it’s been widely reported, scrawled “Tyranny!” over the word “Liberty” on the payment form issued with a speeding ticket last August. He added an obscenity-laced insult, and then took off on a rant that led to his being dragged to court where he was handcuffed and arrested for aggravated harassment. Barboza posted bail that day, but hasn’t stopped bellyaching since.

The lawsuit, filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union, argues that Barboza’s naughty language should be considered “protected speech” and, therefore, Barboza is being discriminated against just for losing his temper.  

He’s not the only one who’s grumpy. According to a recent study from researchers in New Zealand, Legos are madder than heck these days, too. The little, plastic, yellow-faced people who are a snap-together part of the famous children’s building block set, appear proportionately more angry, the study found.

In recent years, according to the New Zealanders, Lego has released more little yellow guys with angry scowls than ever before. This spike in plasticine ire, the study suggests, is related to the release of more aggressively-themed Lego sets: pirates, space invaders and Harry Potter villains, all carrying weaponry and grouchy frowns on their wee faces.

“It is our impression that the themes have been increasingly based on conflicts,” wrote researchers Christoph Bartneck and Mohammad Obaid, who work for the University of Canterbury; the third author, Karolina Zawieska, is from the Industrial Research Institute for Automation and Measurements. The researchers arrived at their conclusion after cataloguing and photographing the 3,655 Lego characters released between 1975 and 2010, then asking 264 American adults to characterize the figures’ expressions as angry, happy, sad, disgusted, surprised or fearful.

“We discovered a proportional growth of angry faces since the early ‘90s,” Bartneck says. “Variables, such as skin color and whether the figure’s head is attached to a body, didn’t substantially throw off our conclusions.”

The report has led, in one Ohio community, to a ban on the purchase of Lego sets that include angry or otherwise unhappy little plastic men.

Which really pisses us off. 

Click here to read this story in our Digital Edition

This Article appears on the July 2013 issue of LPM under ¿Será Posible?

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