OED Online Word of the Day

Today while at work I had to look up the ordinary and legal meaning of the word "vexatious" and I also decided to sign up to receive the Oxford English Dictionary word of the day.

As an aside, I have been asked to consider the creation of an offence for "vexatious letter writing". My instincts as a lawyer and as a legislator (a person who has been involved in the promulgation of legislation for many years now) tells me that the appropriate response to this request is a resounding NO. NO. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

I admit that the person who made the request (whom I will call the Responder) has had an annoying job of responding to many letters from a person whom I will call the Writer. The Writer had became fixated on particular issues concerning himself and I could see that it must have been extremely difficult and increasingly frustrating for the Responder when trying to reason with the Writer due to the Writer having particular psychological issues. Despite the Responder having provided many common sense responses it seemed impossible for the Writer to comprehend any logic emanating from the Responder. Indeed, as I recall the Writer's correspondence dealt with the various descriptions of the Writer in a psychiatric report and the Writer's attempts to have the report perceived in a different manner by the Responder.

One day at the end of her tether the Responder came to me for advice, specifically whether she could she simply stop responding to the Writer. I advised the Responder that as a public servant it was best practice if she did not simply stop responding and then I advised her bearing in mind that were the manner ever to be elevated to court or scrutinised by the public the ideal way to deal with the situation was for the Responder to be the model litigant (taken from the rule that the Crown should always be the model litigant). My reason being that if the Responder acted with equanimity then the Responder's role in this would always be open to scrutiny and there would be nothing in her responses which she would fear such as any hint of rudeness or sarcasm or unhelpfulness.

I suggested that initially her responses should be comprehensive and methodical and deal with each issue raised by the Writer so that eventually when the Writer began going over old ground the Responder could provide copies of earlier correspondence or simply refer to earlier correspondence until hopefully one day the Writer would tire and stop or more likely take his issue somewhere else.

Anway this is the situation where I guess that the request for an offence concerning a "vexatious letter writer" had emanated from.

As I was doing my research ostensibly so I could justify my recommendation with more than a No. No. Noooooooooooo. I decided to also sign up for the OED "Word of the Day". Not long after doing so I was very happy to discover that I had been provided with the said daily email. In anticipation of broadening my vocabulary (and my Scrabble abilities) and discovering a world of obscure words that I have scant appreciation of, I eagerly opened my email only to discover that the word today is..........................................

annual, a. and n. SECOND EDITION 1989
(├Žnjul) Also 4-7 annuel(l. [a. OFr. annuel, ad. later L. annul-em (= cl. annl-em); refashioned after the L. c 1500.]
A. adj.
1. a. Of or belonging to the year; reckoned, payable, or engaged by the year; yearly.

Whoopee Do (sarcasm - is there an emotive for that?)

Is whoopee in the dictionary?

Yes it is:

a loud, excited shout of happiness:

Whoopee, it's the holidays!

(from Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)

I would have been happier with the word "Whoppee" than "Annual"

I guess the moral of the story is "Beggars can't be choosers"


At 3:27 pm, Blogger OLS said...

We've come across this sort of problem as well, with a guy that we affectionately (and not so affectionately) refer to as a nutter. Mention his name in the corridors around here and eyes will roll.

We formed a policy that phone calls from him would not be taken as he was very abusive to staff who answered the calls and we informed him of this decision in writing and the reasons for it. So he started writing to us...

I've basically told our people the same thing you did - you should keep responding to his letters and be the model litigant. Unfortunately, this guy rarely goes over old ground with us - he has a brand spanking new complaint every week. But we did manage to work out a pro-forma letter which works for 90% of his correspondence and have dealt with the time wastage of his constant correspondence that way. And the pro-forma has turned out to be useful for other "clients" as well, both the nutters and the normal ones with a legitimate complaint.

I know it's not a solution, but it is some very heartfelt sympathy. ;o)


At 8:52 pm, Blogger Lushlife said...

It is difficult for many people in the service to comprehend that we provide a service to the "public" which includes all and sundry.

I can empathise with the Responder because there will always be some particular people who are going to make doing your job that much harder. Like the time a particular litigant who knew our system so well that he summonsed a room full of documents. I had to go through these documents over our traditional time off over the Christmas break in order to be prepared in the New Year to mount a privelege argument. I would say that while everyone else was enjoying the break I was there taking this guys name in vain every 30 minutes as I waded through the documents.

On one hand I cursed him on the other hand I reminded myself we have a justice system like this for good reason. People have rights and those rights have to be protected and sometimes it will be at the expense of some underpaid public servant just like me.


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