by Vince Martella
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Five geniuses at a state facility in Idaho have come up with a brilliant plan to make a ton of money. From within the confines of their prison cells, these entrepreneurs have hatched a scheme to sue beer and wine companies across the nation.
They claim that they were never warned of the destructive properties of alcohol, and therefore are not liable for the path their lives have taken subsequent to its use.
They have assembled the smartest team they could find to litigate their case: themselves. Keith Allen Brown, who is spokesman for the group, is serving time for voluntary manslaughter. With almost 30 years of prison time to mull it over, his colleagues must think Brown is on to something. Four other inmates have joined in with Brown, deciding that they too are victims.
I can just imagine the guards’ reaction when they heard the news.
“You think they’ve got a shot at this?”
“I don’t know, Jarvis, they just might. I’ve never seen a warning label on a beer either.”
In the event that they might be right, I’ve decided to do some research and see if I could cash in myself. I did a web search, and found out that, in many cases, prolonged viewing of pornography leads to adultery, which leads to divorces, broken homes and lower functioning family life. Who knew? Evidentially, not the men who were viewing this stuff. Each one I talked to had the same story:”There were absolutely no disclaimers on any of the sites about losing my family, my house, my business…Why, if I would have known how much her lawyers were gonna take me for, I never would’ve started that mess.”
Emboldened by this news, I searched out video game statistics. The results were very promising. Polls showed that teens routinely spend 9-13 hours a week playing video games. There were numerous reports of aggressive behavior tied to video game use. There were several life threatening cases due to dehydration and even a few deaths due to blood clots. I ran upstairs and checked our numerous game cases. It was just as I suspected. Not a word about aggressive behavior, danger to physical health or possible death.
I’m getting pretty excited now. I wonder how deep the pockets of the gaming industry are. While I’m at it, I might as well look at the lottery industry. If I can find enough testimony from hard core gamblers who started out with lottery tickets…
My mind was spinning wildly now. I was sitting on a beach in the Caribbean surf, with a cool drink in my hand, when a thought ripped me back to my computer chair.
“What if they don’t win?” It occurred to me that Brown and Company vs. Everybody in the World Who Distributes Alcohol could end in disaster. But if they won, they would set a precedent that would fling the door wide open to an early retirement.
I began to play out the courtroom scene in my mind.
“Mr. Brown, is it true that no one forced you to drink alcohol?”
“And it is also true that you were free to quit drinking at any time?”
“Well, yes, but I didn’t see any reason to quit. Everyone I know drinks it. It’s sold legally everywhere you turn. It’s advertised on every channel most every night of the week. If there were something wrong with drinking the stuff, don’t you think someone would have told us by now?”
“Please just stick to the questions, Mr. Brown. Is it your intention to convince this courtroom that the alcohol distributors are to blame for your actions?”
“Absolutely. I had no idea when I took my first sip of alcohol that it would lead me to addiction. I’m 52 years old. I’ve spent nearly 30 years in prison and alcohol has played a major role in most of the situations that put me here. Yes sir, alcohol is responsible for my troubles.”
“Your honor, I have no further questions for this witness at this time.”
“Does the defense have any questions for this witness?” asks the judge.
“Mr. Brown, how long have you been drinking alcohol?”
“Since I was a teenager“
“Yes. And at any time were you warned that alcoholic consumption would lead you to a life of violence and criminal activity?
“No sir. Sometimes they’d check my ID. Sometimes not. But they gladly took my money and sent me my way.”
“Mr. Brown, were you drunk at the time you committed your crimes?”
“Yes sir, drunk as a skunk. But I never would have done those things if I was in my right mind.”
“I see. Thank you, Mr. Brown. No further questions for this witness.”
“You may step down, Mr. Brown. Prosecutor?”
“Your honor, I’d like to call Rev. Steven Collier to the stand.
Uh ooh. I’m beginning to get nervous now.
“Rev. Collier, do you know Mr. Brown?”
“Yes sir, he was a student in my Sunday school class and youth group.”
“In the years that he was under your ministry Reverend, did you ever teach on the dangers of alcoholism?”
“Yes, I had several lessons on the dangers of alcoholism in youth group. But more specifically, the senior pastor and I both taught repeatedly on the wages of sin. You see, the Bible clearly teaches in Romans1:18-21 that man, in his wickedness represses the truth. God has made himself plain to man in the inner conscience, so that those that do not honor God, but rather choose wickedness, are without excuse…
The good reverend continues to speak, but I can’t hear him. All I can see is my precedent slipping away, and my yacht sinking slowly into the warm Caribbean waters…
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This is a great piece. I so enjoy your subtle sense of humor and the way you use irony to send your message home. My only suggestion would be to make sure you double space between each paragraph as the white space makes it easier to read online. Also remember that each time someone new is speaking, you start a new paragraph, even if the quote is just one word. Overall I think this is a great piece. Your design of it is fantastic because tackling this subject almost any other way would come off as being too preachy. You maintained a near perfect balance.