26 September 2006


Every once in a while somebody catches the ridicule wave and rides it seemingly forever. You know, those people you see on TV every day, who always find something even more stupid to do or say. This is, regrettably, the case of math teacher Ana María Degano, who is suing one of her students for 5,000 pesos because he, Juan Carlos Calandria, accused her of unfairly failing him in his last exam. (For reference, AR$5,000 = 3 PCs, 1/8 of a car, 500 kg of beef.)

Argentinians generally don't sue people. We do know that, up there in the Bizarre Omphalos of Global Culture, people sue other people, and then get Boston Legal et al made out of court cases. But in Argentina you gather your family to tell the other person to fuck off, get your friends to demonstrate, throw stones and eggs at the person's house, leave scratches on their car's painting with your keys -- the leeches are summoned only as a last resort. That's what makes Prof. Degano's case even more ridiculous.

Our boy JC may not be extremely bright at math, but Degano (who teaches at the Normal School No. 1, a venerable institution in Rosario) allegedly failed him a lot of times in a row, and JC lost the chance to enter university. JC sent a private letter to the head of the school, asking for another teacher to examine him, as is every student's right when there's the chance of a personal conflict with the teacher. The head of the school forwarded the letter to Degano, who took offense, as it accused her of harming not only JC's career but other students' too, by arbitrarily giving them bad scores. She was so upset that she took the matter to the tribunals and asked for reparations. A meeting was arranged but the matter was not solved.

Other students organized a sentada (a sitting down) in front of the Tribunals to protest and show solidarity for JC. Later, on TV, Degano defended herself, and thanked a group of students identified as the V of Van Gogh, "that we get along fine with", whom she had waved on her way out earlier. The students released a comuniqué emphatically denying that they were in favour of Degano.

When inquired as to whether she thought it right to go on with the suit, the prof melodramatically said: "Public opinion already sentenced me; now I'm looking for justice." Furthermore, she'll go on "because now the damage has become worse." For the grand finale, she charged: "You the press are skinning me."

I'd tell you not to miss the next installment, but that'd be too pathetic.

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