"I'm going to sue you because my dad is a suer." These unfortunate words were used throughout our neighborhood when there was some perceived slight or injustice that could not be settled by a simple punch in the head. As you might well imagine, there was little if any actual litigation generated during these outbursts. They were primarily threats of some larger force that would hopefully create enough fear to cause a split lip to heal, or the water from a balloon to magically evaporate. I confess that up until I turned ten or eleven that I did get a little worried when faced with a pending lawsuit. My father was not a suer.
It would seem that my generation has grown older and now has more access to the legal system. A whole lot more access to our legal system. If you don't like how hot your coffee is served, or wish that you could get more rides on the Tower of Terror, you can sue. To paraphrase everyone's favorite courtroom weasel, Doug Llewelyn, "Don't take matters into your own hands, take them to court." And that's just what we do, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. One web site has the number at fifteen million a year, or one new lawsuit every two seconds. One of those will no doubt be the one filed by Shirley Sherrod against Andrew Breitbart. Breitbart is the blogger who put up an edited version of a speech given by Ms. Sherrod in hopes of proving that racism exists in the NAACP. Apparently it does, at least in the version that Mister Breitbart sees fit to present.
Would an apology have been better? It certainly would have been less expensive and less time-consuming. She got one from just about everyone else, including the President of the United States. Come to think of it, if I would have simply apologized for whacking the kid across the street with a wiffle ball bat in the head in the first place, I might have avoided that whole ugly interaction myself. Live and learn, I say.