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February 27, 1997

Until Someone Gets Hurt
Copyright 1997 - Greg Bulmash - All Rights Reserved

I subscribe to very few newsletters because my time is so limited and most of my reading is done for business purposes. I subscribe to Daniel Bowen's "Toxic Custard Workshop Files" (http://www.toxiccustard.com) and Joe Lavin's Humor Column (http://www.sure.net/~joelavin). I also subscribe to "News Of The Weird" (http://www.nine.org/notw), which is where I read about how a fraternity was indicted on charges of criminal hazing for a wedgie that got out of control.

Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept of the wedgie, also known as a Melvin, it is where you grab the back of someone's underwear and pull it up until... well, imagine turning a pair of men's jockey or boxer-style briefs into a thong bikini and you've got the general idea.

When done right, a wedgie is merely uncomfortable and a bit embarrassing. But like our parents and coaches told us when they caught us pulling these stunts, "it's all just fun and games until someone gets hurt." And as adults, when that happens, we no longer go to the principle's office. We can go to jail for these childhood pranks gone awry.

I just wonder how we would classify them as crimes. What is the actual charge for flicking someone's nose after saying "there's a spot on your shirt." Since pointing at the shirt proves that you not only intentionally flicked his nose, but you conspired to lure his nose into a position in which it was more vulnerable to being flicked, would that be first degree premeditated flicking?

What about spitting into someone's mouth while they're yawning? Sure, in grade school it was a sign of marksmanship, but what would the criminal charge be? Unlawful discharge of a loaded weapon? "Your honor, my client didn't know there was a loogie in the chamber. He was clearing his throat and it just went off."

Some would only be things you could sue for. "The defendant asked my client if he was a 'fag in a cage.' Of course my client truthfully and innocently answered that he wasn't. Then, suddenly, the defendant started pointing at my client and shouting 'fag on the loose... fag on the loose.' The defendant has publicly slandered my client's good name and damaged his reputation as an upstanding heterosexual in the community. That is why, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I believe my client is entitled to punitive damages in the amount of two million dollars."

The scariest part is that I can honestly imagine the last one not just being a joke, but actually happening in real life. In fact, it seems like much of our legal system is run by the kids we used to tease in school.

I am absolutely positive that on some playground in Arkansas forty years ago, there was a little boy getting called William Jefferson Buttwipe. I can still hear the kids singing "You say D'amayto, I say D'amahto." Think of the salacious variations a twelve-year-old could create for the name Dick Gephardt. And let's just forget about any kid named Newt. He probably got beat-up every day. Yet these are the guys who now make laws, set policy, and make it possible that someone might one day sue for the old "fag in a cage" gag or press charges for aggravated nose flicking.

You see, our parents and coaches didn't warn us right. They should have said: "It's all just fun and games until someone becomes a politician." Yeah, then it's dangerous for all of us.

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