I TAKE BACK everything I’ve ever said about North America. I want to live there.
I’ve just seen a report about a woman in Edmonton, Alberta, who sued the makers of Stride chewing gum for US$100,000 because it stuck in her dentures and she "suffered depression for approximately 10 minutes."
Wow! Imagine living in a place where you can blame your tiniest bad mood on some big corporation and take out a lawsuit against them for a small fortune.
I would sue the Nickelodean TV channel for a million bucks because I felt mildly depressed for several seconds last night when I realized my children thought Spongebob Squarepants was more entertaining than their own father, and another million for being right.
And remember that incident in the US last month where a man sued a nail salon for US$200,000 because he felt mildly humiliated for a few moments for paying one dollar extra for his manicure?
I feel mildly humiliated all the time! That’s the normal state of being for people in disreputable professions, such as journalist, lawyer, murderer, banker, etc. If I lived in the US I could retire after the first day.
Having said that, the North American legal system is better than the ones we have in Asia, where you can’t sue anyone for anything.
Last week, I found tinned fruit salad on my pizza, clearly a MAJOR human rights violation. A lawyer among my fellow diners told me there was nothing I could do. Unbelievable!
There was an item in the legal news last week, forwarded by reader Wendy Tong, which raised my eyebrows.
Derrick Smith, about to be tried for murder, got a letter informing him that he had been selected for jury duty—at his own murder trial.
He tried to accept the job. “I promise to be fair and impartial,” he told a lawyer at the court in Albany, US, according to the Times Union newspaper.
The court withdrew the offer.
Shame. It could have been the fastest jury decision in history.
“So, did you do it?”
End of case.
Incidentally, I wish I was a juror on the Michael Jackson doctor trial. Rumor has it that the dead pop star’s lawyers are going to “play the race card”. Now here’s the question: which race? He was black in the 1980s and became white around 1991, I reckon.
Still, the top legal story of the past week HAS to be this one: Swiss authorities passed a law making it illegal to keep just one guinea pig, Der Speigel revealed.
“It might be lonely,” a legislator explained.
So if the entire population of Greece goes bankrupt and starves to death, no problem. But if a guinea pig feels a bit isolated? It’s the Swiss to the rescue. That’s SO European.
Now if this happened in the US, things would be completely different. The guinea pig could sue its owner for millions of dollars. The owner would get depressed and counter-sue the guinea pig. And the final outcome would be the same as with any case: the winners, of course, would be the lawyers.
Meanwhile, those of us stuck in Asia are left picking tinned fruit salad chunks out of our pizzas. Tragic.
IN OTHER NEWS….
Your humble narrator is on his way to Bali for the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival. If you’re heading that way, come and say hello. The internet in Indonesia can be a bit intermittent, so apologies if your emails are not promptly answered…
Many thanks for the recent comments, especially the hilarious ones about Manly Men and effeminate Asian guys—will definitely recycle them into a column for the news media.