Every now and again, we hear about how Americans are stupid jerks. I think this is generally unfair, as we're talking about a country of over 300 million people that has produced more than its share of smart, hard-working and honorable people. Plus, you can't seriously tell me that France, Greece, Russia or Mali--to name just a few--don't have a lot of stupid douchebags as well. It's just that Mali doesn't have a reality TV show that anyone watches, so we don't get exposed to their dumbassery on a daily basis. (I don't mean to single out Mali, it's just when you make fun of Uruguay you get a lot of angry, poorly written letters.)
But then, it seems there are some Americans who can't help but represent us poorly. Let's take this stupid idiot who literally burned her ass on a bench outside the Dallas Cowboys' stadium two summers ago. We have a 100-plus degree day (typical for Texas) and a black marble bench outside the stadium. Natually, the bench is hot enough to fry an egg on, so Genius McMensa here decides to sit on it and suffered third-degree burns that required skin grafts.
Now, this is a mistake that anyone can make--even on a hot day, you may not realize how hot a surface is that you're about to sit on, and most of us don't test the surface with our hand to make sure it's not extremely hot. If that were the end of the story, I'd feel sympathy for this woman because ass-grafts can't be a pleasant experience.
The problem is, she's now suing the Dallas Cowboys (a team I have no loyalty to, as a Baltimore Ravens fan) for unspecified damages on the theory that the organization was negligent in not posting a warning that the bench could get very hot in the Texas summer sun.
It is possible for the organization to have made the bench out of a less heat-conductive surface, such as white-painted wood. It is also possible for the organization to have posted a sign saying "Warning--This Bench Can Get Very Hot in the Sun and You Might Burn Your Ass On It." But at what point do we want to free all possible plaintiffs from the responsibility to use common sense? If we live in a world where you have to post signs for every possible situation, then imagine the signs we're going to start seeing everywhere, in large print, in multiple languages, including Braille:
"Warning: Bench Is Made of Wood, You Can Get Ass-Splinters"
"Warning: Straw Might Poke Your Eye Out if You Don't Watch It"
"Warning: If You Walk Into This Wall Because You're Not Looking, You'll Hurt Your Nose"
"Warning: Subway Cars Are Heavy and Have Sharp Wheels"
Perhaps this is the end of black marble benches outdoors, or the beginning of millions of warning signs preparing us for every conceivable danger that we may bring upon ourselves with our carelessness. What it definitely is NOT is the era where we take some responsibility for our own safety.