Warning: This Article Contains Words
First Published In Di Skoorsteenki


Eight obese American youngsters are suing McDonalds for making them fat. One of them claims that he has eaten every single meal over the last three years at McDonalds, presumably with his (possibly mentally challenged but dollar earning) parents' blessing and sponsorship. Apparently the complainants feel strongly that the fast food chain should post appropriate health warnings on their packaging. 

Presumably this warning will be in the name of the Surgeon General, will include calorie and fat content as well as an explicit warning that what you are about to eat does not constitute a healthy, nutritiously complete and slimming meal.

It started with cigarette packets and swiftly moved on to other commodities, like Nytol Nighttime Sleep-Aid, which carries the dire warning: "May cause drowsiness" (no way!). Sainsbury's peanut packets similarly warn: "Contains nuts" (far out!).  Wacky warning labels reveal that Americans apparently need to be told not to eat the toner meant for their laser printers and neither to feed dog shampoo to fish, according to http://www.power-of-attorneys.com. 

The similarity between the McDonalds lawsuit and the precedent that was arguably set by protesting, and sometimes unwilling, consumers of tobacco products is unmistakeable.

One cigarette a week will not harm your health. One McDonalds meal a month will not make you fat. Aggressive advertising and the addictive chemicals in cigarettes make it difficult to stop at one cigarette a week. Aggressive advertising and convenience in a time-pressured world make it difficult to stop at one McDonalds meal a month. Beyond the psychological, the possibility may even exist that additives in McDonalds (and other fast food) meals are physically addictive. No doubt a study to this effect is already in progress.

It could be argued that the case against cigarette companies has set a dangerous precedent of removing responsibility from the individual and laying it squarely and expensively at the source, the manufacturer. This was reinforced a while ago when the very same McDonalds was successfully sued for not informing their customers that coffee is hot (coffee containers now carry the appropriate warning).

On the face of it, the kids' lawsuit is frivolous, but if McDonalds agree that they should warn customers that their coffee is hot, what defence could they possibly have for not warning the same customers that Big McMeals are fattening? If one pursues the train of logic beyond the inherent comedy, it becomes clear that the attorney for the kids has clearly spotted a previously unexplored market opportunity.

Big business makes big bucks selling us stuff that is ultimately bad for us. Big business spends big bucks imploring us to use more and more of their products. Should they be made to take responsibility for the consequences of consumer compliance? Since these captains of industry clearly know that consumers have no ability for independent thought, are in fact  feeble enough to eat toner, it seems a logical next step that they should take responsibility for the inevitable consequences of using their products as intended.

As already demonstrated, the Americans are past masters of stating the obvious. Their pandering to the monster of The Lowest Common Denominator has however spawned Frankensteinian progeny that are now ready to peckishly tuck into a happy meal of rather larger proportions.

I am watching this particular wisp of smoke with great interest. Will Coca-Cola be next? For that matter, why has Coca-Cola not been sued yet? With its high caffeine content alone, their product is most certainly addictive. Certainly their product is harmful when consumed in great enough quantities. Shouldn't each can carry the warning that this product eats through metal, is capable of dissolving coins and teeth alike? The Coca-Cola Light bottle warns that it is "only effective as part of an energy-controlled balanced diet". Effective as what, I have to ask. 

A Swede recently rested his laptop on his legs for just an hour and had to be treated for extensive blistering. Did this man not feel any discomfort prior to blistering? Were he American however, I have no doubt that a lawsuit would already be pending.

It is my opinion that the only real beneficiaries in this Olympiad of Stupidity are the lawyers, those erudite men walking the gold paved corridors of (in)justice in their sinister robes and powdered wigs. Before being allowed to practice law these people should be made to take an oath to do no harm and waste no time. Their professional code of (mis)conduct should preclude them from squandering resources in the service of entertainment and their personal bank accounts. It should be possible to sue lawyers for representing vexatious and frivolous lawsuits and, when found guilty, these lawyers should be disbarred.

In the realm of frivolous lawsuits the cherry is indubitably scooped up by the man who bought himself a box of obscenely expensive Cuban cigars while on holiday. Upon his return he insured the cigars before proceeding to don his smoking jacket and use the insured goods as Fidel intended. He then instituted a claim from the insurance company, claiming that he lost the cigars in a series of small fires. The insurance company had well paid lawyers who protested for a while but eventually advised that the claim should be settled. In a poetic display of legal thinking, and a hard lesson in messing around with insurance companies, they then successfully sued the cigar smoker for arson and wilful destruction of property. 

For sure, in the 21st century we do not need court jesters. We have lawyers. And they are, conveniently, already present at court.