No One's Laughing

No One's Laughing

Something stupid: What were you guys thinking? Silly me, but I thought that "Best of Dallas" meant something (September 26). As the 2000 recipient of "Best Gay Bar," we were proud of the selection. It was also good for business, because people do read your picks. Is it all just a joke, or do you just pick on the Best Gay Bar selection to turn it into a joke? Was there really a selection for Best Gay Bar that you did not print as part of your joke, or was that selection just not important enough to merit a serious choice? The Dallas Voice did an article on your "dumb" joke and the repercussions for the bar and the gay people who showed up to check it out. You will be lucky if you don't get sued over this one. I would not have even known about the "joke" had it not been for the Voice article. Bottom line, you guys screwed up big-time, and the reputation of the paper is lessened. Maybe you will think twice before doing something stupid, or just drop the whole "Best of Dallas" if you cannot take it more seriously.

Alan Pierce
Round Up Saloon

Seriously lacking: I found this "joke" to be hurtful, deceitful and full of contempt for the gay community. It also lacked respect for a neighborhood establishment. I am writing mostly because I found this "joke" to be offensive to the gay community. Are there other "Best of" categories that the Observer took liberties with? I think not. Furthermore, by perpetrating this fraud on the gay community as well as this establishment, you have made a mockery of your own institution of the "Best of" issue. Your online apology is seriously lacking. You never apologized to the gay community, who you obviously think is an easy target for such a prank. Your smugness of "not everybody got the joke" is further proof that you feel superior for some reason. Who was to know that you had started writing comedy? You're not funny--unless you think that being a bigot and inflicting your lack of humor on innocent parties is funny. Just so there is no misunderstanding this time, this was not the least bit funny!

Mark Sullenger

Real Victims

The chickens fight back: I like to read the Dallas Observer. It's irreverent and critical when other papers seem to just want to advance the propaganda of the status quo. But in the asbestos story "Enough to Make You Sick" (September 26), the writer did just that--advance the propaganda of the status quo.

First, let's clear something up: Neither Fred Baron nor the amalgam of the so-called "trial lawyers" makes up the status quo. The status quo consists of multinational corporations that sell poison for a profit. That they're being sued today with a vengeance does not suddenly make them victims or take them out of the status quo. This is like calling the fox in the henhouse the victim when the chickens fight back. And if money puts you in the status quo, the corporations are way ahead of the lawyers. In fact, for every dollar that Baron has made from these companies, they in turn have made millions more from innocent workers who breathed and ate the asbestos.

Now about the argument that we need to reform the laws that allow us to sue these giants because real victims are suffering from fake victims making claims, all I can say is that this is the same old corporate propaganda that frivolous lawsuits are killing us and we need to change the laws.

This same argument was in fact used to reform our workers compensation laws. Several years ago, all workers had a right to their day in court with a lawyer on their side. They needed these lawyers to fight big insurance companies. Corporations and insurance companies then, as today, cried that frivolous claims were being filed; that they were expensive; that they were also hurting the workers who were seriously injured. These corporations also cried out that incompetent doctors in cahoots with lawyers were responsible for the frivolous claims. And big business won.

Our workers compensation laws were reformed, and today our workers can't get compensation worth a damn. Nor can they get lawyers to help them get it, because the incentive to help them, a decent fee for all the pain and aggravation involved in fighting with corporate enemies, was taken away from the lawyers. And the seriously injured did not fare any better. They were hit along with everyone else. Now you'll see them at the TWCC on Harry Hines, alone, without lawyers, walking around trying to find their way around a legal nightmare. You'll see these people holding small, cheap folders in their hands that contain important legal documents that they don't even know how to read. Big business intended it to be like this from day one and advanced the often-used frivolous lawsuit argument as a subterfuge to accomplish this goal.

Make no mistake. I don't handle asbestos-related lawsuits, and I am not a friend of Fred Baron. He doesn't even know who I am. But I am irritated. Your story is a cry of help for the wolves, the corporations, the status quo. This is unlike the Observer stories I like to read.

Luis Avila

This is robbery: "Enough to Make You Sick" illustrates how trial lawyers have learned to abuse the legal system. There are too many class-action lawsuits filed in this country seeking enormous financial payouts on scant legal grounds. Why do lawyers get to keep at least 40 percent of a financial judgment? This is robbery. Society ultimately pays for these judgments in higher costs to buy products and insurance coverage. An injured plaintiff, if he has a legitimate complaint, is entitled to reasonable compensation. He is not entitled to become a multimillionaire from a judgment, nor is his lawyer entitled to become a multimillionaire himself from his 40 percent of the judgment.

We do need tort reform across the board in this country. We need caps on judgments and caps on legal fees. Lawyers should not be entitled to more then 10 to 20 percent of a judgment. Proof of an injury should be set to high legal and medical standards. In some cases, arbitration should be required to settle lawsuits.

The problem arises from the lawyers taking advantage of the legal system, especially when they are the "fox in the henhouse." Our society needs to have more control over lawyers by passing tort reform legislation to curb abuses by this so-called profession.

Nick Padron
Via e-mail