Lawsuit, n. a machine which you go into as a pig and come out as a sausage.
- Ambrose Bierce
You have to hand it to the Founding Fathers. If they hadnt created such a powerful court system, where would we be if we spilled our coffee, got too fat, injured our self-esteem, failed a test we couldnt study for because we were nursing our injured psyche, lost a promotion because we werent the best person for the job, or received a traffic ticket because we were trying to get to work on time to improve our chances of getting that promotion and extra pay, which God knows my poor family needs?
Ah, me. Name the aggravation and someone has already sued another somebody to recoup a fictitious dollar value for the anguish theyve endured, said anguish all the more assuaged if great amounts of punitive damages are also heaped upon the aggriever for causing such agonizing distress.
Or take the poor California voters who presumably cant aim their pointer into the right hole on their punch-card ballots, the maligned telemarketers whose livelihoods are threatened if the public doesnt welcome their intrusive phone calls, and the one-in-a-million parent who objects to a religious prayer, phrase, or symbol within sight or sound of their child in a public school, and the courts are only a lawsuit away. Is this a great country, or what?
But what Id like to know is, if to protect the rights or belief systems of the few the courts will throw prayer out of schools, words from a pledge, voting machines out of California, or calories and hot coffee off the menu at McDonalds, can I petition those same, minority-sympathizing bodies when something just as mentally-anguishing offends me? Ive already started my list:
Rap music. While I dont expect everyone to like classical music, buy season tickets to the opera, or learn to play the piano, I deeply resent attaching the word music to rhymed protest and the deafening beat of atonal drums. Call it chant, cheer, or making a statement, but not music. Furthermore, my objection to the accompaniment of this art form pales when it comes to the lyrics, or rather, ad lib sounding-off.
Of course, I could turn off the TV or walk out of a building when strains from the latest ranter pour through the speakers, but then Id miss something it was my choice to watch or attend. Clearly, Rap whatever-it-is encroaches on my constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of choice.
Postal and electronic message invasion. Oh, the agony of unsolicited calls, wastebaskets brimming with unwanted mail, and eye and mouse-finger strain when deleting spam-crammed messages from my computer. Such wonderful inventions, the phone, mail delivery, and the Internet, ruined by incessant advertising and heart-wrenching appeals. This encroachment on my time and space is an unfair offense against my constitutional right to privacy and the pursuit of my own happiness.
Profanity everywhere. I am incensed by the foul language I encounter in print, on TV, or when I muster the courage to attend a movie I really want to see. Such words are so offensive to me that my already rap, solicitation, and privacy-invasion anguish is strained to the limit. No one in this judicially-protected, constitutionally-privileged county should have to suffer so much.
Grammar and language mutilation. My early-reading grandchildren select books from an approved list, and the content is peppered with him and me subjects, aint and he dont verbs, and gutter-slang where grammatical structure and choice wording used to be the norm. Also, I hear, words like pupil and student have been downgraded to the unacceptable, with the presumably non-discriminatory word learner used in their place.
Again, the anguish to this word and good-speak lover is indescribable. Ive become so worried about using the incorrect - I mean, correct - word which could offend some lawsuit-happy, politically-correct bad-speaker, that Im afraid to open my mouth. I cant afford to defend myself in a lawsuit, which Id probably lose anyway because of a me-and-them judge who just dont understand what Im going through.
By chance, is there a sympathizing but tiny minority out there willing to petition the courts to rule on our cause?
(Barbara Seaborn is a local freelance writer. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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