The mother of all coincidences

Two years and still waiting

Code of Ethics

Tom Anderson:
Legalese: America’s official language

Tom Anderson archives

Katherine Hillier:
Too little, too late

Katherine Hiller archives

Galo Pesantes :
Meet me at the club, it’s not going down

Galo Pesantes archives

Jillian Peña:
Hot sauce and a change of heart

Jillian Peña archives

Allison Farole:
Success is worth all the hard work

Allison Farole archives

Alexandra Lozano:
Breast measuring gets the best of me

Alexandra Lozano archives

Marilee Lorusso:
Let the count down begin: 6 weeks to go

Marilee Lorusso archives

Web Exclusives
LV Life
Arts, etc.
Search Archives
Best of CT
ULV Comm Dept.
ULV Home
ULV Home
Legalese: America’s official language
Posted April 13, 2007

Tom Anderson
Editor in Chief

I think it’s finally safe to say that our society is now firmly under the control of lawyers.

Yep, all you conspiracy buffs can forget about your cutesy little theories of the United States being run from some super-secret bunker a mile below Washington, D.C. by the Freemasons, Elvis, JFK, the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy or even aliens; the real powerbrokers in this country are running around in plain sight, talking in their own 95 percent unintelligible dialect of English known as “Legalese.”

Tom needs his prescription upped, you say? Well, consider this: Bruce Tammi, a Wisconsin attorney representing himself, was recently awarded more than $226,160 in a lemon law judgment against Porsche.

The reason? None of the dealers Tammi took his leased 911 Turbo to was able to fix the retractable rear spoiler, which kept getting stuck in the raised position.

Now I wouldn’t have a problem with that verdict and award amount if, say, the car caught fire and burned a briefcase full of über-important documents, or the driver’s airbag deployed for no reason, slicing off both of his thumbs in the process.

But 226 large for an uncooperative aerodynamic appendage? Puh-lease.

And speaking of automobiles ever notice how an in-dash navigation system asks you to read an onscreen disclaimer/waiver of liability and press “OK,” “Accept” or whatever every freaking time you start the car?

Sure, there are mail-order companies that will sell you hardware that can defeat these nefarious gizmos, but how many new car buyers are willing to spend hundreds of dollars, completely disassemble the dashboard and probably void a warranty or three just to get rid of some recurring message? Not too many, and that’s just the way the suit-filing suits like it.

And what about all the warning labels plastered on the packaging of everything from toy aardvarks to zucchini-flavored baby food? Shouldn’t it go without saying that a bag of peanut M&Ms contains peanuts? Or that the contents of a cup of McDonald’s coffee may be hot?

Oh, that’s right, the latter came out of that lawsuit filed by some woman who spilled a cup of coffee on her lap while it was being handed to her at the drive-thru.

Apparently getting some relatively minor burns and your clothes getting stained as a result of a small accident that you played a significant role in entitles you to millions from the company you just happened to be patronizing. Now be honest: Does that really seem right?

The fact of the matter is that attorneys are playing God (or, if you prefer, Darwin) by falling all over themselves to try and save us from ourselves.

Of course, lawyers have the added bonus of getting obscenely rich for making the lives of you, me and everyone else who isn’t in the loop a never-ending blizzard of warning labels, waivers and subpoenas.

If you ask me, if someone is stupid enough to be typing in an address on their GPS while driving at 80+ mph, they wrap their car around a tree and wind up on a feeding tube for the rest of their lives, I’ll say “So what? That’s natural selection, baby.”

But obviously, no one has asked me, or anyone else with even a micron of common sense, and the downward death spiral of the American way of life is plain to see.

How long will it be before we have to sign waivers before we can dig into our food at a restaurant? Or have bus drivers read a disclaimer every time someone gets on board? Or have a lawyer stand outside the shower in case we slip and fall?

The more people refuse to accept responsibility or blame for stuff, the more power and money lawyers will have.

And that, boys and girls, is not how this country is supposed to roll.

Tom Anderson, a senior journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at