Short History Of The 21st Century Lawyerclysm

Column written by Jon Splatz on Friday, October 8, 1999

from the I-Hope-I-Don't-Get-Sued-For-This dept.

We pundits like to make predictions about the future. If we're wrong, we quietly hide our old predictions and nobody is the wiser. But if we're right, we jump up and down, point to our prognostications, and yell, "I told you so!" (It works for Jesse Berst.) With that in mind, I would like to make a few predictions about what will happen if the lawyerization of the world continues and the Lawyerclysm becomes imminent.

Before I begin, let me set the scene by posting the latest installment in the Humorix vs. Microsoft patent dispute. All of our readers (both of you) are probably getting sick of this never-ending legal battle. "What the hell does this have to do with Linux?" you ask. I don't have an answer to that. But, if Eric S. Raymond is permitted to veer off-topic and espouse the virtues of Geeks With Guns, then I should be able to rant and rave about Lawyerclysm.

In response to Mr. Noah Morals' latest volley, the Microsoft Legal Department sent this reply:


Dear Mr. Morals, et al,

Thank you for informing us of your modified license. You are, of course, aware of the fact that the old version of your license applies to our previous communications, and therefore your feeble attempts at challenging of the Microsoft Grossly Private License (GPL) is not any more valid than it was before.

Any future communications between us will still fall under the Microsoft GPL because now that we are aware of the license, we will find ways to work around it.

  • "You may not read, copy, distribute, disseminate, laugh at, or modify any Humorix content unless you have accepted the terms of this License."

We will be processing all future communications from you with a scanner and OCR software, and then have computers read it out to us. Your license does not forbid listening to what you have to say without agreeing to your terms.

Our patent on "the concept of using one product to force people to use another product" is still valid, because of the word "force" instead of just "suggest". People can answer no to "Do you want fries with that?", but not to "Do you want Internet Explorer with Windows 98?" or "Do you want Windows with your new Gateway PC?"

We have embraced and extended a previously used open concept, and we hold (and will defend) our patents on this extension.

Thank you for your attention.

Signed,

[Long list of Borg-employed lawyers snipped.]


You might need to read that a second (or third) time to wade through all of the dense legalese and LIES (Legal Incoherent Erroneous bullShit, an acronym that has just been trademarked by Humorix).

It's scary, isn't it? An increasing number of people talk and think like that. To them, life is not a stage, but one honkin' big license agreement stacked in favor of the Lawite (lawyer elite, a term I just made up).

Oddly enough, Mr. N. O. Morals didn't return the lengthy reply he usually does. Taking a strategy from the Amazon playbook, he sent this counter-letter:


Dear Microsoft Legal Department,

Our reply to your reply to our reply to your reply to our reply to your first challenge is summarized thusly:

Whatever.

Signed,

Mr. N. O. Morals Head of Humorix's Vast Legal Department


Nevertheless, this latest exchange of lawyerfire further strengthens my fears about the coming Lawyerclysm. I expect that -- if left unchecked -- the world will hit the Lawyerclysm on February 30th, 2031 (that's not a typo).

As promised, here is my brief history of the 21st Century leading up to the Great Collapse:

August 10, 2001: A class-action lawsuit is filed against McDonalds, Burger King, and other fast-food chains claiming that they added ingredients to their burgers to make them "more addictive". "Ronald McDonald is a clever marketing ploy to get children addicted to their unhealthy products at an early age," one lawyer argues in court.

September 25, 2001: Linus Torvalds is found guilty of violating child labor laws by accepting kernel patches from programmers who happen to be minors. Thanks to his billionaire status after the Transmeta bonanza, he is able to easily afford the $10 million fine.

February 29, 2004: An activist group called "People For Calendrical Equality" files a lawsuit against the Federal government demanding that February have at least 30 days like every other month. "Society discriminates against the second month, and that's just wrong," a spokeswoman will say. Before the court can act, Congress passes a bill shifting days from March and August to give February thirty days. Leap Day (February 31st) is designated as Lawyer Appreciation Day.

October 9, 2006: A library sues a Virginia man for $250,000 for failing to return a book for 10 years. The library wins.

October 10, 2006: Another library in Virginia sues a lawyer for $10,000 for failing to return the book, "Ambulance Chasing For Dummies" for 10 years. The library loses.

January 2007: The American Bar Association (ABA) launches a billion-dollar advertising campaign entitled "Lawyers make the world go 'round" to counter growing calls for reform of the judicial system.

July 19, 2007: A court rules that Intel's marketing slogan, "The Itanium III Pro Plus chip makes the MS-Internet go faster" is not false advertising.

Early 2010: A Lawyercratic political movement forms to "protect" the interests of lawyers and to prevent reformation of the American legal system.

January 2013: A study conducted by some sub-sub-sub-agency of the Federal bureaucracy reveals that a "startling" 15% of the US population is without adequate legal insurance coverage. "This is an outrage. Millions of members of the 'working poor' cannot afford the services of an attorney for something as simple as beating a parking fine. This must change," a Lawyercrat in Congress will say in defense of his "Legalcade" program to provide low-cost legal coverage for everyone who qualifies.

November 1, 2015: A Supreme Court ruling paves the way for people to sell their own body parts (i.e. kidneys) for a profit. Within a year, an increasing number of people sell a kidney to raise money to pay for their legal defense. After being forced to pay $12.5 million in damages to a family after running over their dog, one Illinois man sells an arm and and a leg via online auction site MicrosoftBay to make ends meet.

Late 2016: The Universal Bar Association (formerly the ABA) awards the case of Smith vs. Smith as the "Lawsuit Of The Year"(tm). In this California case, a woman sues her unborn baby boy for "increasing her weight to levels above her prescribed ideal body weight", causing her "undue mental anguish and grief". She wins. Once the baby reaches the age of majority (14), he will be forced to pay his mother (or her estate) $1.9 million in damages. The court establishes a precedent that a defendant unable to appear in court can still be successfully sued.

April 2020: A Michigan court rules that companies can place a hidden camera in their products to spy on consumers and collect marketing information as long as a notice is placed on the product in letters at least one micron in size. Within one year Ford and GM have collected more intelligence information than the CIA during its entire history.

Mid 2022: Growing dissent in the American public about the lawyerization of the country results in the formation of the Anti-Attorney Party. However, the Party's power quickly wanes when its leader, founder, and primary beneficiary "disappears" under mysterious circumstances. Eventually, Congress declares that all Anti-Attorney members are engaging in "un-American" activities and should be imprisoned. All dissent is immediately halted.

April 9, 2022: A study conducted by Harvard Law School reveals that the average American files 14.2 lawsuits, is a defendant in 16.9 cases, and is indirectly involved in 213.0 other suits during their lifespan. Ninety-five percent of the population will spend more time in a courtroom than in a bathroom during their lives.

May 2025: Income taxes for attorneys and judges are abolished by a Congress and Presidency composed solely of Lawyercrats. Everybody and their brother drops what they are doing and tries to enroll in law school.

Late 2028: By this point, legal expenditures account for 54% of the GDP of the US, up from 23% in the previous decade. The growth of the legal industry continues at an accelerating exponential rate, until...

Early 2031: ...it hits 99% and the economy collapses. Nobody wants to work in any occupation except the legal field. Indeed, with the high cost of legal insurance and the virtual guarantee of being sued at least once a month, nobody can afford to be anything but a lawyer, judge, or politician. Farmers quit. Power plants shut down. Commerce shuts down. Within a matter of hours, the entire economic, social, and political fabric of the US rips apart.

The Layerclysm strikes.

Before long, the entire world is in a state of calamity as the Lawyerclysm rapidly spreads. The only human civilization not affected is the small Lunar colony composed of geeks, nerds, and pundits; the founders were wise to ban any lawyers or politicians from immigrating.

As the old adage goes, the Geeks shall inherit the Earth. [I apologize in advance for Splatz's really awful pun. -- The Editor]

Write me at jonsplatz [at] i-want-a-website [dot] com.

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