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THE LAW IS A ASS for 08/15/2000
"The Law is a Ass" Installment # 56
Originally written as installment # 45 and published in Comics Buyer's Guide issue # 579, December 21, 1984 issue
I knew this one was coming, I just didn't know what I was going to do about it.
As you might guess from the above, the column that follows is not one of my finer moments. To be sure, there are some jokes in it--some of them even manage to be funny--but now, sixteen years later, the finished product is unsatisfying.
Void Indigo, a particularly pustulate and, thankfully, short-lived--it lasted only two issues-- comic book from Marvel's Epic line is the subject matter of today's screed. Understand one thing up front, it takes quite a lot for a work of fiction to offend me. Even what I've read of Verotik's output passes beneath my personal radar. But Void Indigo managed to press every one of my buttons. So much so, that I decided to write a column about it to express my displeasure. This despite the fact that there wasn't a single thing in it what really brought it within the purview of a column of legal analysis. There wasn't one legal aspect of the book--right or wrong--worthy of devoting a column to. But I wanted to write about it so was determined to find some way to bring it under the purview of my column.
My solution, which you'll see below, of bringing a fictitious class-action libel suit aganst the book for defaming the whole human race, while clever, was unsatisfying. I have, in the past mentioned how I can, on occasion, employ tactical nuclear weapons on Musca domestica. This is one of those occasions. It is, in fact, probably the best example of the practice that I have considering how short-lived Void Indigo was. Had I but waited, it would have gone gentle, if unsettling, into that good night without ever having been a blip on anyone's radar.
But, no, I decided to launch what follows on it.
My problem now, sixteen years of maturity and hindsight later, is what to do about the column? Part of me wanted to ditch the column entirely, pretend it never happened much as you have probably done with Void Indigo. (Come on, admit it, how many of you even remembered Void Indigo, before I reminded you of it? But if this web page is to be a true historical perspective of my column--and, my, isn't that a pretentious concept!--then this column had to be included in the mix. But not without substantial alteration.
In the original, I often engaged not only in reviewing and analyzing a comic book but the analyzing the creator behind the comic book. I made some remarks and presumptions about the personality instead of limiting myself to the work. That was, to quote my kids' kindergarten teacher, "very inappropriate." There are times when comments about the creator can be appropriate. In discussing the TV show The Practice and its frequently inaccurate portrayal of the law, I think it is appropriate to comment that creator/producer/writer David E. Kelly was, himself, a lawyer. This, however, was not one of those times. So I took the personal comments out in this version.
Oh, it's still overkill, but only against the creation, not the creator.
"The Law is a Ass"
Installment # 56
IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS
CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OHIO
|ROBERT M. INGERSOLL|| : ||CASE NUMBER OH-RU12?|
|On behalf of himself and all|| : |
|others similarly situated|| : ||JUDGE I. M. PEEVED|
|Plaintiff|| : |
|-vs-|| : |
|JHAGUR|| : ||CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT AND|
|Defendant|| : ||JURY DEMAND|
ALLEGATION OF JURISDICTION
1) Plaintiff, Robert M. Ingersoll, was, at all times relevant to this cause of action, a resident of Cuyahoga County, Ohio.
2) Plaintiff Robert M. Ingersoll brings this action on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, the class comprised of the Human Race. Class Plaintiff, the Human Race is so numerous, that joinder of all members of said class is impracticable. (And if you doubt that you just try and find a court room big enough to fit the whole human race. Come on, I double dog dare you!) Further, there are in this cause of action questions of law and fact common to all members of the Human Race. Further the claims and defenses of Robert M. Ingersoll are typical of the claims and defenses of the Human Race. Further Robert M. Ingersoll will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the Human Race. (You don't think I'd sell out my own species, do you? And for those of you who claim that lawyers aren't really members of the human race, it's not to late to limit the class a little, you know.)
3) Defendant Jhagur was at no time relevant to this cause of action a resident of Cuyahoga County, Ohio. (Indeed, as defendant is a comic-book character, it isn't likely that he resides anywhere on the planet Earth. As further proof, Plaintiff cites the fact that if Defendant's world is even remotely like the one portrayed in his comic, he obviously lives on some dark, evil alternate plane of existence far removed from the one wherein the Human Race resides; people who allow the mentally retarded to be killed being called "compassionate," notwithstanding.)
4) At all times pertinent to this action Defendant starred in a comic book entitled Void Indigo, the first issue of which Defendant knew would be distributed in and read in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, that is, unless, Defendant had some sort of Springtime for Hitler thing going and was trying to make the book tank by avoiding one of the major cities in the country.
FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION
5) Paragraphs 1 through 4 are incorporated herein by reference as if fully rewritten.
6) In Void Indigo #1, Defendant portrayed the Human Race with several false and defamatory statements, the specific nature of which are set forth more fully in the paragraphs which follow.
7) Defendant posits that Void Indigo #1 takes place in a world and time of "barbarism and cataclysm." A world where, "Humans have turned cruel, petty... [and have] forsaken all ideals, except power and survival. Worse, they [the Human Race] lie to themselves, look only to the light, cannot bear to face the darkness of their nature." (I apologize to the Court for the grammar of the above passage, or lack thereof. I was quoting from the source material so had to do it exactly as written, even if it made me sic.)
8) Defendant Jhagur in his comic Void Indigo # 1, hereinafter "The Work," furthered his inaccurate depiction of the world and the Human Race by giving specific, depraved examples of "Human" behavior and of "Human" beings. Said examples are described below.
9) On pages 1 through 3 The Work depicts a male prostitute, who is wearing woman's clothing and passing himself off as a woman. (Don't ask me why. No reason was given. I can only conclude that it was felt the inclusion of cross-dressing would make the scene seem more "cruel and petty.") Said individual is having an argument with a customer over the price of services to be rendered. The customer is a female, who is wearing man's clothes and is passing herself off as a man, presumably for the same reasons as the man was wearing woman's clothes. The argument escalates, until the woman in man's clothes takes a razor blade and slits the throat of the man in woman's clothes.
10) Page 5 depicts an Urban Cowboy who hasn't yet realized that John Travolta is passe, and who makes rather lewd advances on a female. Specifically, after the female, Linette Cumpston, tells the scuzzoid that she has, "no interest in sleepin' around," he still paws her breast, because he doesn't think she has answered his hedonistic question yet. (It's not that he won't take no for an answer, it's just that he doesn't understand words with more than one letter in them.)
11) Page Six introduces Defendant Jhagur, an amoral "hero" who kills the murderous female in man's clothes from earlier in the book and justifies his own murder with the following logic, "Those whom I choose to execute, the world will not miss." No one in the book is capable of making any sort of intelligent reply to the man's reasoning. (It should also be noted that our "Hero," Jhagur, killed the woman by gutting her like today's market-price special, then driving a large nail into her forehead. Subtle, old Jhagur isn't.)
12) Pages 7 introduces the Mulgrew family. Father Pete is a construction worker, who has a balloon payment due on his mortgage. In order to meet it Pete plans to sell an artifact that he found in a construction site, where he worked and with which he walked off without telling anyone that he had found it. The fact that under the law said artifact belongs to the owner of the property where it was found, so Pete is guilty of theft doesn't seem to cause Pete much concern. (Concern for the law seems a bit too much to expect of any of the sleeze which inhabit this comic book.) Daughter Colleen seems to be the only likable, innocent person in the entire book. Naturally, she isn't. She is particularly sensitive to the evil emanations of the artifact, i.e. she is inherently evil. By story's end Colleen turns into a flaming, nude harpy-like monster suitable for cliff hangers but little else. (Subtlety doesn't seem to be within The Work's capabilities either. Unfortunately, there is no cause of action applicable for kick-in-the-face writing.)
13) Pages 8 through 10 show the police. They are, to a man, surly, profane, and taken to pointlessly quoting Bob Dylan songs. Not a likable one in the bunch, although their taste in music isn't bad. (Keep that last sentence in mind. It is the first, last, and only good thing anyone can say about any character in Void Indigo.)
14) Delphine appears on Page 11 and reappears on Page 26. Plaintiff would call her a walking eating disorder, if he felt that her legs could possibly carry her own girth. Delphine would have to drop about two hundred pounds before someone could call her simply "fat." Her twin sister, Goodyear, gives us those neat aerial shots of the Super Bowl. When Delphine lies around the house, she really lies around the house; which is good, that way she covers up last years dishes, which are still sitting, unwashed, on top of the bureau. Delphine's house looks like the model for the "Day After the Day the Bombs Fell" issue of Better Hovels and Beer Can Gardens. Delphine also talks with her mouth full, which isn't surprising; it's never empty. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for her head. Delphine, if the Court hasn't guessed by now, is a slob, and would be a less agreeable companion than Jack the Ripper on a blind date.
15) Amanda Tower, a friend of the cross-dressing murderer that Plaintiff Jhagur killed earlier, appears on Pages 12 and 13. Ms. Tower has an underworld connection named Taro and does not cooperate with the police to investigate her friend's death. She seems unconcerned that her friend was used as a body double in a Ginsu commercial. Mercifully, she is murdered by Taro on Page 25. Mercifully for Ms. Tower, that is. At least she has escaped from the Defendant and The Work.
16) Page 18 features two sexist, racist news men, who delight in making sexist, racist comments about a fellow reporter, because she happens to be oriental, female, and ambitious. They are not nice men. So what else is new?
17) Pages 20 through 24 introduce Raza, a nude, tattooed physic healer, who magically disrobes her female clients then embraces them passionately, while telling them to "Use me for the pain." And that's in her more lucid moments. Raza isn't exactly unpleasant, just like walking in the rain isn't unpleasant, but she is far from being a positive depiction of a homo sapiens.
(There is more. Unfortunately, I cannot show it all to you. My word processor threatened to turn it self off, if I outlined even one more scene or character.)
18) Void Indigo #1 is collage of unbalanced, unpleasant, obscene, dishonest, hedonistic, and basically sick, ambulatory refuse anthropomorphically posing as "human beings." And those are just the good guys. It paints the totality of the human race in the bleak terms of Defendant's conception of the cruel, petty, barbaric and cataclysmic world in which he thinks we live. Void Indigo #1 forces the reader to share in Diogenes's search for even one honest man, but with even less hope than Old Diogenes ever had. It portrays the Human Race as debased and depraved and criminal without even one redeeming or marginally good characteristic or member. (No, really! There ain't one nice person in the whole stinking book! Not even a cute little dog or something. Cockroaches avoid this book as being unsanitary.) This one-sided, labored achromatopsia is the Defendant's written and published description of the Human Race found in Void Indigo #1.
(Reading the book is not unlike diving head first into an outhouse, and makes anyone who has read it want to bathe immediately. In lye! While I do not mind stories which are unrelentingly depressing and which dwell exclusively on the dark side of humanity, I believe such stories should make a point so as to justify its forcing me to wallow in human excrement. It should not exist solely for the purpose of portraying depravity for the shock value, as Void Indigo does. But what do I know? I also think a story should entertain, which is more than can be said for Defendant Jhagur.)
19) The matter published in Void Indigo #1 concerning the Human Race is false and defamatory.
20) At the time of the publication, Defendant knew that the matter was untrue or could have ascertained that it was untrue with the exercise of reasonable car, such as by looking out the window, for crying out loud!
21) By reason of the published lies in Void Indigo #1, Defendant Jhagur has libeled the Human Race, injuring its reputation and has suffered great pain and mental anguish to its damage in the sum of fifteen fantasticatrillion impossibidillion dollars and thirty-seven cents.
22) WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands judgement:
First, that the rights of Robert M. Ingersoll and all other members of the Human Race in and to the libel of the Defendant be determined.
Second, that the Court decree that Robert M. Ingersoll and the Human Race are entitled to damages of fifteen fantasticatrillion impossibidillion dollars and thirty-seven cents.
Third, that this Court direct the Defendant to pay the amount of damages specified and that he publicly apologize for defaming the Human Race in print in Void Indigo #1. (And if it's within the Court's power, that it direct the Defendant to trade in himself for a Smurf doll, so that he can never again appear anything even remotely as bad.)
Fourth, that Robert M. Ingersoll be awarded out of any recovery the expenses, costs, and disbursements incident to the prosecution of this action, including reasonable attorney fees. (I may not sell out my own species, but there's no reason that I can't make a few bucks off of them, is there? Or am I acting too much like a Void Indigo character?)
23) Plaintiff hereby demands a trial by a jury of his peers as to all issues in this action. He specifically rejects a jury of the Defendant's peers, as there is no way he wants to meet twelve people like that.
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