Once upon a time…
There was a club. It wasn’t much of a club, just a big empty expensive space. Rumour had it that it had been built for something else that never happened.
So a bunch of strangers wandered over one by one and started using the space. It was more or less free. It wasn’t licensed or zoned or any of that stuff. There had never been anything like that before, so people made up their own rules for using it.
Some people put on punk rock concerts. Fans and performers cursed, spat and fought. Within the confines of the club, that was “normal.”
Some people staged fights. Within the confines of the ring, people battered each other until they bled. Had they fought outside the ring, outside the club, someone would have called the cops.
There were burlesque shows and insult comics and debates.
The space was the birthplace of many relationships, political movements, businesses large and small, and more. Everybody understood how it worked.
They understood — because it was patently obvious — that magic spells were an entertaining fiction. That asking “did six million really die?” didn’t somehow kill six million more people. That questioning global warming couldn’t make the world warmer, or even colder. Words were not nooses or bullets or fists or chemicals. They were words.
It was like a movie or a play. Only children or simpletons thought that violence and deaths they watched on a screen or a stage were real. Oh sure: in the entire history of movies, some poor guy or two had actually died on the set because a stunt went terribly wrong. But that wasn’t the norm. Nobody said: let’s shut down all of Hollywood, just in case… People die. That’s life. Or used to be.
Then one day the lawyers showed up.
The lawyers couldn’t decide whether or not to join the club or shut it down.
Being lawyers, they decided to do both.
First they showed up and shouted, ‘hey, there’s a FIGHT going on in here!’ And everybody laughed at them.
So they gave brash speeches like other folks did, and sometimes these speeches were outrageous, rude and insulting, packed with lies. But if you heckled the lawyers or challenged their behaviour, they sued. Afraid of being sued, lots of long time clubbers simply left.
Other veteran clubbers defied the lawyers. They got sued, too, then got tired of that and left. The club wasn’t the same anyway now.
When the lawyers weren’t in the club, they worked for Very Special People called politicians, or became politicians themselves.
These politicians were allowed to say whatever they wanted about each other without being sued, in a club of their own, called Parliament. When they were rude or outrageous, other politicians cheered or booed. But that’s as bad as it could get, because their special club had that special rule.
The lawyers didn’t see the irony of this. They were lawyers, after all…
After the penultimate lawyer in the club sued the last lawyer left, the club was purchased by a bunch of lawyers and politicians and turned into a factory that manufactured children’s bike helmets that also filtered out subatomic particles of peanut butter.
The best part was, the filters were recyclable!
And that’s how lawyers destroyed the internet.