Friday, May 25, 2007

I'm gonna sue yo ass!

A woman is suing the courts in some state because she wants to be able to swear her oaths placing her hand over the Koran, according to her beliefs. Since I saw this in mute at the gym, I don't know what the guys from the ACLU had to say, although I can guess, but here is my suggestion: as this is, supposedly, a country where there is separation of church and state, there really is no reason to be swearing on any religious text whatsoever. Let's swear on the Constitution and everybody will live happily ever after. If I ever were required to place my hand upon a book and swear, I wouldn't choose the Bible. As good a book as it is, it doesn't hold any coercive effect on me. I would choose the Constitution, because it makes sense to swear to uphold the laws, by placing your hand on the laws. Or if given a chance by this increasingly anything-goes-society, I could choose Swann's Way by Marcel Proust, or King Lear or Libra by Don De Lillo (lots of truth in all three).
But the question is, why do we atheists and agnostics have to say "so help me God?" Why do we have to swear upon a book we may respect, but which does not compel us to be honest more than other books? We are very discriminated against in this society. This is not good.

A guy is suing IBM because they fired him for looking at porn sites at work. He comes back with the excuse that he is a Vietnam Vet that suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and this is how he self-medicates, and instead of IBM firing him, they should offer him sympathy and counseling.
Okay. Maybe it is all true. Maybe we should be grateful that he self-medicates by watching porn instead of sniffing crack or taking a gun to a park and blasting away innocents. BUT, this story points to the very American habit of invoking all kinds of lame excuses for all kinds of unsavory behaviors and never ever taking personal responsibility for your adult actions. If you survived both Vietnam and IBM, as affected as you are, you are an adult and you know full well that what you are doing is wrong. A nicotine fiend could say the same thing: please allow me to smoke because I had a miserable childhood. Please let me do my coke in peace at my desk, because I've had such a rough life. THERE ARE STANDARDS, people. It's hard to have sympathy for people who are so aggressive about getting it.
I had a colleague once, a very talented guy, who decided to get another job and I had to search for some stuff in his internet bookmarks after he left. I found most of his bookmarks were of women bathing and undressing and who knows what else. I had a real icky feeling, not only of not really knowing what kind of person I had been working with so far (and what kind of person goes away and doesn't erase it?), but also of a very unwelcome transgression. You can watch all the porn you want in the privacy of your house, but don't do it in the office. It violates the unspoken rules of civilized, respectful behavior. Still, my colleague, being European, if caught would have probably shrugged it off instead of coming up with some excuse to justify his unacceptable behavior.

A couple is suing McDonald's because their kid got super sick by eating McD's French fries and hash browns which contained traces of milk. If you are so concerned by the health of your kid, maybe don't take him to McDonald's; not exactly the paragon of healthy eating to begin with. Is McDonald's responsible because your child has an extreme susceptibility to milk? I don't think so.

You know, where I come from, in the land of the Enchilada, we are not that careful with anything. We also don't have recourse to sue people when things happen to us. There is no such thing as suing because somebody left an unattended hole in the street and you fell to your death. We live with the knowledge that we better watch out, because peril is always lurking somewhere. There are never any caution signs; people do reckless things all the time. Nobody compels companies to watch out for your safety, you have to do that yourself. I'm not saying this is good. In Mexico, sexual harassment is the norm, for instance, and until recently, there was no medical malpractice law to speak of. But we still believe in the concept of accidents. Or personal responsibility or sheer bad luck. Not everything can be blamed on someone other than yourself, and not everything has a price.

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