Monday, April 25, 2005


It’s been said that, during some of the more raucous moments of his star witness’ cross-examination, District Attorney Tom Sneddon - who’s been at the forefront of getting Michael Jackson on trial - could be seen cradling his head in his hands, visibly dejected at how poorly she was comporting herself. Between her admissions of having lied before, and her fears of being kidnapped in a hot air balloon, one wonders if the judge was ever tempted to hand her a shovel and advise her to start digging up.

Fortunately for the jurors’ sanity - and not, perhaps, for Michael Jackson’s - the weight of other evidence and testimony may yet see him convicted of the crimes he’s accused of. But if that witness had been all they’d had, the Prosecution’s case might well have been sunk right then and there.

Sneddon made a number of cocksure, “shoot from the hip” comments regarding Jackson and his music, when he’d announced the charges against the singer back in 2003. I wonder if he wanted to eat any of those words this last week?

(I think the blanket answer would be “I’m not going to discuss that.”)

Speaking of eating your words: Police have arrested Anna Ayala, who made headlines a short while ago claiming to have found a human finger in a bowl of Wendy’s Chili. (Kentucky Fried Chicken immediately apologized for someone having licked too hard)

The police arrested the woman for Grand Larceny, as she’s cost Wendy’s about $31 million dollars in lost business through the hoax, and claimed that Ayala was a litigation-prone con-artist. Maybe she shouldn’t have had her lawyer call up the fast food giant to talk lawsuit - er... settlement - before they’d found who lost the digit?

Now me, I’m wondering why Mrs. Ayala didn’t just claim that Wendy’s had hypnotized her into eating herself fat and stupid at their restaurants, instead. In the wake of such self-serving documentary drek as Super-Size Me, there’s a chance someone might have actually believed that.

So what’s the connection between “human” chili and “hugging” children, other than the obvious joke? If we’re willing to take it on faith that the mother of Jackson’s accuser was more interested in cash than justice - rather than a poor witness for a good case - then these individuals may be two more heads of the dreaded Finger Beast.

You’ve never heard of the Finger Beast? It’s a killer, let me tell you. It costs the American legal system untold amounts of time and money every year. And it’s forced who knows how many people to pay up to avoid damaging headlines and legal problems, not to mention the lingering stigma of having been accused of something - which is all it takes to have you proven guilty in the court of popular culture.

At some point, the Finger Beast figured this out. It could thereafter be seen pointing its eponymous part at anyone big enough to be seriously hurt by bad publicity, and rich enough to be willing to squirt out some hefty cash to avoid it. Thus was the Finger Beast made wealthy, one under-the-table payout at a time.

The problem was that the Finger Beast became a legitimate part of America’s way of doing business, public or private. Someone calls up and says they found a dead, fried rat in their KFC dinner box? See how much they want, pay it and shut them up. Someone says you got them up the stick at a the company’s Christmas Party? See how much they want, pay it and shut them up. Someone calls up and says they found a mouse in a beer bottle? Oh, wait, that was a movie... wasn’t it?

Now, unless it can be conclusively proven that aliens dropped the finger into Mrs. Ayala’s chili on the way back to her table, her past activities would strongly suggest that this matter is par for the Finger Beast’s course. No surprises there, other than Wendy’s surprisingly sane and intelligent way of handling the crisis.

As for the Jackson trial, it remains to be seen if there was any fire from the smoke caused by the singer’s questionable behavior with and towards young boys. The fact that he gave into the Finger Beast in 1993 - to the tune of $20 million, if some reports are correct - doesn’t mean that he actually did anything, given how payoffs have become common practice. But it sure doesn’t help his case, either, especially in the light of other, more credible witnesses.

If anything, it would be good if America used the medium of the Jackson trial - and the sad, developing case of Mrs. Ayala - to take a good, long look at how it deals with being hit up for hush money. But as long as the media is willing to treat accusations as convictions, it’s more than likely that the Finger Beast will continue to be well-fed.


Blogger beakerkin said...


The legal system will not get fixed unless businesses force it.
Oby-Gyn in Staten Island are closing down . Risky patients can't find doctors and defensive medicine adds thousands. We all loose due to the excesses of the trial lawyers.

2:05 PM  
Blogger J. Edward Tremlett said...

Maybe, but what does that have to do with the Finger Beast? This piece is more about the fear of being tried in the court of public opinion, and coughing up cash to avoid it, than trial lawyers and their impressive suits.


ps: re "ardvarking" - not a Joe Bob Briggs fan? ; )

11:41 PM  

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