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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtN1YnoL46Q

Let's take the song in a different direction:

TL;DR version

A duck repeatedly visits a lemonade stand, asking for grapes. Each time the proprietor says he has no grapes. After many repetitions the proprietor says "If you come back, duck, I'll glue you to a tree and leave you all day, stuck!"

The duck reports this exchange to the police as an illegal threat. The proprietor claims that the duck harassed him.

Is the proprietor guilty of some crime? Is the duck guilty of some crime? Assume that the duck is considered a person.

Long version

🎶 A duck walked up to a lemonade stand, and he said to the man running the stand, "Hey, [bum bum bum] got any grapes?"

The man said, "no," and the duck did go; he just waddled away [waddle waddle waddle], he waddled away [waddle waddle waddle], till the very next day [bum bum bum bum bum bum babum],

When the duck came back to the lemonade stand, and again asked the man running the stand, "Hey, [bum bum bum] got any grapes?"

He still heard a "no," and again he did go; he just waddled away [waddle waddle waddle], he waddled away [waddle waddle waddle], till the very next day [bum bum bum bum bum bum babum],

He kept coming back to the lemonade stand, kept asking the man running the stand, "Hey, [bum bum bum] got any grapes?"

This went on for days, he just wouldn't part ways, though he waddled away [waddle waddle waddle], he waddled away [waddle waddle waddle], till the very next day [bum bum bum bum bum bum babum],

The duck came back to the lemonade stand, again asked the man running the stand, "Hey, [bum bum bum] got any grapes?"

The man'd had enough, this was getting to tough, and he said to the duck who came to his stand, "If you come back, duck, I'll glue you to a tree and leave you all day, stuck!"

After this louder no, the duck decided to go; he just waddled away [waddle waddle waddle], he waddled away [waddle waddle waddle], till the very next day [bum bum bum bum bum bum babum],

When the duck walked up to the city police, and he said to the cop at the city PD, "Hey, [bum bum bum], is this an illegal threat?"

The man went to court, accused of assault, and he looked at the judge, wanting the trial to halt; he said, "I plead not guilty! This duck harassed me!"

The judge asked the duck, "So what did you do? Was the lemonade man harassed by you?"

The duck answered back, "Well, in part it is true. I wanted some grapes, but he had not even two. I went back every day, until the threat yesterday. Then I waddled away [waddle waddle waddle], I waddled away [waddle waddle waddle], I waddled away [waddle waddle waddle] and I told the DA."

Now I'd like to know what this judge will say. Did the duck harass the man, coming every day? Did the man commit a crime, or is he OK this time? 🎶

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  • (the legal procedure, including the way the duck pressed charges and the way they talked at the trial, is probably wrong, but I'm just asking about the possible crimes)
    – Someone
    Jul 10, 2023 at 4:31
  • (also the duck might be guilty of perjury because he actually told a police officer, not the DA; ignore that as well)
    – Someone
    Jul 10, 2023 at 5:03
  • It might, in a court, be tricky to sue. If the lemonade man was without glue. Jul 11, 2023 at 8:25

2 Answers 2

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Ducks are ducks, not people.

It might surprise you, but even a hypothetical duck that could talk is a type of bird and is considered a waterfowl and wild game but not a person or human. As such, you can not commit any crime such as assault against it. In fact, provided that the lemonade stand owner has a hunting license and this is not in a zone where you can not hunt, such as inside a town, he could have shot the bird without repercussions - because a duck can be hunted. Threatening game birds is not covered by any law.

Only would the lemonade stand owner have glued the bird to a tree he would have committed a crime, because gluing birds somewhere would be considered animal cruelty in most jurisdictions.

As the duck is a bird and not a person, it can not commit any crimes, such as harassment.

If a duck is a person...

Assuming that there is such a place where duck is a slang term for a person, or where ducks are considered people, then the pattern is different:

Such as duck would indeed perform a repeated action that is very much aimed at annoying the lemonade stand owner. But that is not necessarily legally harassment:

  • In Germany, § 238 StGB is aimed at stalking and requires the aim of inciting fear, § 185 StGB is for insulting speech, including harassing speech, § 186 StGB is for defamation, and § 240 StGB for coercion through harassment. A charge under those would be tedious.
  • In the United Kingdom, the English Protection from Harassment Act 1997, does not define harassment as any specific pattern. Scotland's variant reads a little simpler, and makes harassment for harassment's sake illegal. These laws might be applied to the duck.
  • Many of the United States federal laws will simply not apply to the situation. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is about sexual harassment in the workplace, Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is for schools, and the Fair Housing Act does deal with home purchases and renting. All seem inapplicable.

If the threat of gluing someone to a tree is a real threat under the law depends very much again. In Germany, it might be interpreted as too hilarious to be considered a true threat, but humiliating enough to constitute one of the insult laws, but the lyrics do not offer enough facts to make a proper analysis for this part.

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  • "Fallow" seems to be the wrong word here. Do you mean "fowl"?
    – phoog
    Jul 10, 2023 at 9:30
  • 1
    @phoog game bird might hit it better, thanks!
    – Trish
    Jul 10, 2023 at 9:53
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The song question is a variation of a joke with the punchline being about the proprietor's inability to follow through on the threat made and the duck calling the bluff. In the U.S., generally when one has no ability to follow through with a threat and the threat is so outlandish, most courts would not consider it to constitute a legal threat and would assume the proprietor was being hyperbolic in nature. What's more, the duck returning to clarify the lack of resources to carry out the threat as a sign that not even the duck took it as a threat and he is merely trying to use the legal system to further his harassment of the lemonade stand owner, which most judges in the U.S. do not take kindly to at all (This is called Abuse of Process and generally refers to a pattern of behavior in which one uses the court system to further vex a target and not to actually resolve a legal dispute in a just and equitable manner.).

On the other side, it would be hard to enforce a harassment charge against the duck, as the business is a lemonade stand and clearly mobile in it's depiction. As such, the proprietor does not own the property where he does business nor does the duck, so he cannot trespass the duck. His legal options are to move to another area (if the duck still follows, the owner would have a stronger case for harassment, as the owner is trying to avoid the unwelcomed behavior) or, failing that, secure a restraining order or injunction (depending on the jurisdiction) against the duck, which requires the duck to not come within a certain distance of the lemonade stand owner or his business or employees.

Considering the nature of the business, we should also consider the age of the owner, as traditionally the average age of lemonade stand owners is such that the owner might not be above the age of criminal liability (that is, the law prevents the owner from being charged with a crime at all because he is two young.). Typically, in the U.S., the Age of Criminal Liability depends on the jurisdiction. North Carolina has the youngest age, which children 6 years old or older can be charged, and Massachusetts has the highest, with only children 12 years and older being liable for crimes. Federally, this age is 11 years old. 28 states have no statutory age of criminal liability, but this might mean case law in the state would provide an age. So depending on the age of the lemonade stand owner and the location of the state, the cops would be unable to affect an arrest. In this case, the cops would likely remand the owner to the custody of his legal guardian with a recommendation of some time in the time-out chair and/or loss of video game privileges (because that's the corrupting media influence these days, right?) at best.

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  • The corrupting media of this day is TikTok as far as I was informed, responsible for eating tide pods.
    – Trish
    Jul 10, 2023 at 13:35

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