Posted on October 17, 2000


A Sad Condimentary

Hold the pickles ... as exhibit A


Daniel Clark


If the Democrats are successful in this election, it will be due in no small part to the fact that there are of too many Darrin and Veronica Martins in America. The Martins, from Knoxville, Tennessee, are suing a local McDonald's, because, they claim, Veronica was assaulted by a pickle.

The incident occurred when Mrs. Martin was innocently nibbling a McDonald's hamburger. It seems a hot pickle slipped out, flopping onto her chin and -- ZAP! -- $110,000 worth of damage.

McDonalds: The Evil Empire

The Martins' lawsuit contends that Veronica's chin has been permanently scarred by a second-degree burn. Let's suspend our natural disbelief for a moment, and assume that this is true. Let's assume that, out of the billions and billions of hamburgers served by McDonald's, they decided to cook Mrs. Martin's in a kiln. Let's further assume that, although the burger was not too hot for her to pick up, unwrap or bite into, the condiments inside were as scalding hot as if they had just been piped up from the earth's mantle. Therefore, we believe that this percolating, semi-molten pickle leapt upon her, and deprived her of a normal life by deforming her into a circus geek.

That would justify her suing for damages, but why is she also suing for, among other things, lost wages? However badly scarred she may have been by this demonic cucumber, how could it have prevented her from doing her job? What is she, anyway, a chin model?

Lest we think Mrs. Martin is the only victim here, her husband is also suing for $15,000, on the grounds that he "has been deprived of the services and consortium of his wife." This because of a pickle mark on her chin? Has it made her so ghastly that the sight of her now renders him impotent? If so, then the judge could just tell him to tape pages from the Victoria's Secret catalog to his wife's face. That doesn't cost fifteen thousand dollars. Not even close.

Actually, compared to many similar lawsuits, the one the Martins are filing is a bit timid. They could have gone for millions, like the 72 year-old woman who scalded herself with McDonald's coffee, by holding it between her legs while driving. It's too bad nature had long since put an end to her service and consortium days, otherwise the amount of her lawsuit could have been astronomical. Just imagine if a similar mishap had befallen Tony Randall -- he'd now be using the golden arches for croquet wickets.

This just goes to show how far the entitlement mentality extends beyond government programs. Veronica Martin can't possibly believe that she and her husband deserve an eighth of a million dollars just because she hit herself with a pickle. No, they are instead seeking to correct some great cosmic disorder. The Martins, in liberal parlance being "The Little People," have been given by fate less than they ought to have. They know this because they can see that other people have more.

How better to demonstrate their virtue as Little People than by striking a blow against the great behemoth McDonald's? Look how big and successful McDonald's is. They have restaurants almost everywhere in the world, except maybe for the Galapagos Islands, and some parts of Delaware. It isn't fair. Somebody must punish these out-of-control Big Food profiteers, so that some of their self-evidently ill-gotten loot can be distributed among The Little People.

Enter the courts, filled with liberal judges, whose sole reason for existence is to fight on behalf of The Little People. If the Martins are fortunate enough to be assigned one of these judges (and their chances of that are much better than they were of winning "life's lottery"), then the facts of their case will be considered irrelevant. It never has to be proven that The Little People are in the right and big business is in the wrong, because to a liberal, those things are axiomatic.

If McDonald's offers a settlement, or shows any sign of weakness at all, The Little People will smell blood, and start a feeding frenzy. Soon we'll be reading dozens of news stories about unsuspecting Little People piercing their cheeks with sharp french fries, getting carpal-tunnel syndrome from dipping McNuggets, and becoming emotionally devastated after opening and looking at an Egg McMuffin.

Don't believe it? Remember Denny's. One table of customers at one Denny's restaurant filed a complaint, perhaps legitimate, saying that they had received poor service because they were black. Once this was reported, other members of minority groups started going to Denny's restaurants across America, to see if they might be discriminated against as well. To nobody's surprise, they decided that they had been. In order to combat the public image that they were, as a matter of corporate policy, racist, Denny's caved in, and offered a small financial settlement to anybody who felt discriminated against at any of their restaurants.

Denny's paid off all of them, no matter how absurd their claims. More than a few people wrote letters complaining that they'd been mistreated at the drive-through window. The problem is that no Denny's restaurant has ever had a drive-through window. But then, driving around in circles looking for a nonexistent drive-through window can be pretty traumatic, so those people obviously had the money coming to them.

And who could ever forget the great Pepsi-Cola syringe scare of 1993. David Copperfield couldn't take a syringe into a cannery and have it sealed into a can of Pepsi, but when one of The Little People said that one just happened to end up there, it was reported nationally, with almost no skepticism. This is because news reporters and editors, like judges, are liberals, so reality didn't matter to them. What mattered was that one of The Little People had enlisted them to fight against one of the world's most profitable, and therefore evil, corporations.

Right on cue, syringes started springing out of Pepsi cans all over the country. What was Big Cola trying to do, spread HIV? Getting nothing but accusations and stupid questions from the vindictive press, Pepsi was forced to embark on a very expensive media campaign to proclaim its innocence. Eventually, the message got through; otherwise, they would probably have wound up paying settlements to a bunch of shameless phonies.

Democrat politicians, stalwart defenders of The Little People that they are, have taken to using legal harassment as a substitute for legislation, and not coincidentally, as a source of funds. Federal and state governments have already pummeled the major tobacco companies into submission through litigation, and they aren't letting up a bit, despite the fact that they're now beating a dead camel. City governments are filing groundless lawsuits against gun manufacturers, claiming that they are responsible for crime, in hopes that they will agree to a similar "settlement" in order to get the persistent, pestering arm of government of their backs.

And then, there's Hollywood, where Al Gore and Joe Lieberman recently collected $4.2 million in protection money, after threatening the entertainment industry with a frivolous nuisance lawsuit, for false advertising. It's true that film executives have broken a promise by marketing R-rated movies to kids, but their advertising has been totally accurate. They advertise blood, vulgarity and mindless crud, and they deliver. Such a lawsuit would have no merit whatsoever; but then, that would only matter if the case were drawn out through the courts to its distant conclusion. It isn't Gore and Lieberman's intent that it go that far. They only mean to scare the film industry with the threat of expensive legal proceedings against a government with unlimited time and resources.

Gore and the Democrats claim to "fight for the people against the powerful." Who they really fight for, though, are those in search of instant, free money. By opposing tort reform, they and their friends, the trial lawyers, are fighting for people who intentionally slip in supermarkets, put foreign objects in their own food, and decide, after legal consultation, that they've suffered whiplash. The people they fight against are those who acquire their money by earning it. One of the things this election will indicate is which of those two groups of people is now in the majority.


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