Fool Me Once

There is a Japanese proverb that goes along the lines of “We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance” and as history has shown us we love to dance on April Fool’s Day.

For how long April Fool’s Day has been around and how it got started still remains a mystery. However a popular theory is that it all started in 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. It is said that people who were slow to get the news that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 had continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 causing them to became the butt of jokes and hoaxes. Some reports says that these pranks included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’avril” (April fish), said to symbolise a young, easily caught fish a.k.a. a gullible person.

Over the years the pranks played on April Fool’s Day seem to grow more and more extravagant. Have you ever heard of the great spaghetti harvest of 1957? In 1957, it had been a short mild winter and the BBC produced a ‘documentary’ about the early arrival of Spring and the spaghetti crops in Switzerland. At the time it received a mixed reaction of outrage, confusion and laughter some people are even said to have written to the BBC asking how they could go about purchasing their own spaghetti tree. Or did you hear that Google was being rebranded in Australia to “Googz” or that Virgin Australia now offers spin classes mid-flight and a children’s only zone. What pranks will we be hit with this year? Will your co-worker Susan cover your entire office with Post-it notes again?

Remember, that if you plan on being a prankster that the law still applies.

Even something that you may perceive as relatively harmless such as prank calling someone can land you in court. In Australia it is a Commonwealth offence to use a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence and carries with it the possibility of imprisonment up to 3 years. In 2015, an NRL player signed to the Bulldogs at the time was sentenced to be of good behaviour for 12 months and lost his NRL contract after he was convicted for prank calling the club’s strength and conditioning coach making moaning sounds. Maybe you are thinking about locking someone in the toilet or storage closet for a laugh? That’s probably not a good idea either. Any person who unlawfully confines or detains another in any place against the other person’s will, or otherwise unlawfully deprives another of the other person’s personal liberty, is guilty of an offence, and could land themselves in prison for up to 3 years.

Having said all that, it’s probably best to stick to the less risky pranks such as placing sticky tape over the sensor of your co-workers mouse.

May the odds be ever in your favour this April 1st.

Natasha Dawson

Criminal Lawyer, Gold Coast and Brisbane

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