2008-08-14 / Sam Bari

Disclaiming the disclaimer

You can't beat a system you can't understand
By Sam Bari

As annoying as they are, disclaimers at the end of radio and television commercials and at the bottom of print ads do serve a purpose. I believe the purpose is to legally absolve the advertisers of responsibility for not living up to and/or honoring their sometimes outlandish claims and promises.

I think you know the commercials of which I speak. Pharmaceutical ads that offer cures for popular as well as little known diseases are at the top the list. These gems are closely followed by the guaranteed not to rust, bust, cause headaches or hernias, and will never shrink when washed if used as directed, gadget commercials.

The space age products that slice, dice, paint your house, do your laundry and babysit your kids while you lounge by the pool for pennies a day never cease to amaze us.

The pharmaceutical companies take no chances on liability issues by claiming the possibility of every disease, possible disease or bodily malfunction known to mankind, no matter what they are selling.

How many times have you heard: "May cause dizziness, drowsiness, insomnia, hypertension, depression, anxiety, nose bleed, dyslexia, cancer, anorexia and an irresistible compulsion to work out with Richard Simmons videos, when the advertiser is pitching something as harmless as mouthwash?" Yeah, I know. It's ridiculous.

However, isn't it puzzling that companies selling products that could really do some damage don't have disclaimers? For instance, doughnut companies—eat a few o' those tasty tidbits every day and you could have some serious problems.

I would think that the end of every doughnut commercial we would hear: Eating this product could cause fatness, heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, extreme ugliness, and may attract ants, flies, and bears. Store in a safe place, preferably under lock and key if you work in an office or this product will be stolen.

Nonetheless, we can't deny that liability issues are the mainstay of many law firms.

Not that I'm really worried, but I thought having a disclaimer at the end of my column might not be a bad idea. You never can tell; there are nutty people out there. They'll complain about anything.

Anyway, I had the Googlamaniacs, our crack team of researchers, look into the matter. They spent nanoseconds of their valuable time searching the Internet for disclaimers from every product and service imaginable. I selected the best parts from the most interesting and wrote the following general disclaimer to absolve my publishers of any responsibility for my rants, rages, witticisms, opinions, perceptions, or fabrications. This will alleviate them from the acute anxiety that they so stoically (I don't think so) endure whenever I submit material.

All clauses of this disclaimer apply to the disclaimer itself and are probably invalid, illegal, or fattening. All information found in the aforementioned column or disclaimer as well as all photographs, artwork, text, opinions, ideas, facts or factoids are either my own or were assumed public domain and therefore stolen in good faith. Any comments found in this column about anything should not be construed as either an endorsement or disapproval of the subject being addressed even if such comments overtly purport to do so. If you have detected a demonstrable copyright violation it was probably intentional. A minimum of 90 percent of all cited statistics in this column or any other column written by the above named columnist were probably made up on the spot, and if they happen to be true it is a total accident and not the newspaper's fault. Before reading this column be sure to make at least two backup copies of your mind so that important data and/or other media is protected against data loss. Brains sold separately. There is no conscious attempt made nor desire extant to libel or otherwise cause malicious damage, loss, public contempt, defamation, slander, blasphemy, treason, sedition, ridicule or disfigure persons of any gender or even none, corporations, governments, institutions, cults, gangs, or assemblies of inanimate objects, alien life forms, microorganisms, clergy, vegetables, animals, or any collections thereof. No representation whatsoever is made as to the accuracy, political correctness, spelling, syntax, semantics, content or meaning of the graphics, text or anything or anyone else found in this column, or of suitability for use or quoting elsewhere or for any other particular purpose. The reason for writing this nonsensical, absurd, and otherwise idiotic disclaimer supports the hypothesis that we live in a system we can't understand.

Return to top