The liability lawsuit against McDonald’s hamburger chain strikes me as frivolous, even laughable on its face. But I’m not laughing because it is not just some isolated, renegade, over-the-top lawsuit. It’s representative of a society-deadening illness in America.
Last year lawyers filed a number of lawsuits against fast food distributors for making their consuming clients obese and unhealthy. While none of the lawsuits has yet been successful, a few are still looming and people are beginning to take them seriously.
The theory behind the suits is that the defendants failed to disclose clearly and conspicuously the nutritional content and harmful effects of their food, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol.
Just how far are we going to take this developing principle that a person is not responsible for his own actions if there is a deep pocket to which we can shift the blame? The tobacco suits were bad enough. After all, if as a pre-teen some forty years ago I was aware enough of the risks in smoking to try to convince both my parents to quit the habit – which I was and did – how could any sentient human being have been ignorant of the risks?
It didn’t matter that everyone knew the risks, said the tobacco plaintiffs, because the evil, conspiratorial tobacco companies tried to conceal the risks and also laced their product with addictive ingredients. They needed to be punished – not just for their tortious behavior, but also just for being big corporations -- no matter how irresponsible the plaintiffs may have been.
But what about McDonald’s? What misdeeds has it perpetrated that should trump the flagrant irresponsibility and humiliating shamelessness of the plaintiffs in these cases? Well, the father of one of the burgerholics said he never saw anything in the Bronx restaurants informing him of the food’s ingredients. He also submitted an affidavit saying he always believed McDonald’s was healthy for his children.
This guy may have driven in on a pumpkin truck, but he has no right to expect the rest of us did too. If he was so unworldly he wasn’t aware burgers and fries are high in fat, are we supposed to believe he would have been able to comprehend a nutritional chart and then exercise sound judgment (on behalf of his daughter)?
You better believe this insanity will not stop with McDonald’s and it won’t stop with fast foods – because this really isn’t about nutrition. It’s about changing our societal relationships, restructuring our economic system and undermining the nuclear family. It’s about destroying our liberties by divorcing them from personal responsibility and accountability – freedom can’t long survive without them.