Tuesday, May 2, 2023


The following item was sent to me by regular contributor John P. Thanks, John.

Some comments about it:
  • It was written in 19998 by Lori Borgman and was first published in the Indianapolis Star on 15 March 1998.
  • There is a version attributed to George Carlin which differs in a number of ways from Ms. Borgman's original.
  • Below is the one sent to me by John.
  • It is incorrect in a number of respects. One example, often quoted by critics of the current age, is the old lady awarded damages for spilling hot coffee in her lap. It wasn’t stupidity or a lack of commonsense.
Stella Liebeck was a 79-year-old woman in Albuquerque, New Mexico, whose grandson drove her to McDonald’s in 1992. She was in a parked car when the coffee spilled.

Liebeck acknowledged that the spill was her fault. What she took issue with was that the coffee was so ridiculously hot — at up to 190 degrees Fahrenheit, near boiling point — that it caused third-degree burns on her legs and genitals, nearly killing her and requiring extensive surgery to treat.

McDonald’s apparently knew that this was unsafe. In the decade before Liebeck’s spill, McDonald’s had received 700 reports of people burning themselves. McDonald’s admitted that its coffee was a hazard at such high temperatures. But it continued the practice, enforced by official McDonald’s policy, of heating up its coffee to near-boiling point. (McDonald’s claimed customers wanted the coffee this hot.)

Liebeck didn’t want to go to court. She just wanted McDonald’s to pay her medical expenses, estimated at $20,000. McDonald’s only offered $800, leading her to file a lawsuit in 1994.

After hearing the evidence, the jury concluded that McDonald’s handling of its coffee was so irresponsible that Liebeck should get much more than $20,000, suggesting she get nearly $2.9 million to send the company a message. Liebeck settled for less than $600,000. And McDonald’s began changing how it heats up its coffee.

As Conover put it, “This was an incredibly rare case where a working-class victim actually beat a huge team of corporate lawyers and made the world a better place.”
  • I was reminded of how much of John’s contribution did make sense, however, when I read today that a Sydney District Court judge sentenced a child sex predator over an act towards a 14 year old boy. The offender was born male but identifies as a woman. The judge, in his judgment, referred to “her penis”.
  • The world has gone mad.

John’s contribution (which I believe may have been previously posted in Bytes):

An Obituary printed in the London Times

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
Why the early bird gets the worm;
Life isn't always fair; and
Maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place.

Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realise that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;
I Know My Rights
I Want It Now
Someone Else Is To Blame
I'm A Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realised he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

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