I've been meaning to write about a modest proposal our friend TJIC floated over at his place. His premise: why not have a special category of adulthood, entry to which is strictly voluntary, that carries with it special rights and responsibilities? Here's the idea:
I propose bifurcating current legal adulthood into two designations: “lesser adult” and “full adult”.
Lesser adults would get mortgage bailouts, credit card bailouts, could bail on all sorts of contracts if they find them distasteful, and, in general, would be treated somewhat as wards of the state.
Full adults would be able to sign contracts that the state actually enforces.
A lesser adult could opt, at any time, to become a full adult.
A full adult could opt, at any time, to become a lesser adult, but could not escape contracts that they’ve already signed.
Personally, I prefer "Grownup" for our new category.
Here's some of the other rights and responsibilities of Grownups I would impose:
* Grownups can't cite voluntary intoxication as a defense or mitigating factor in any civil or criminal suit. Grownups know that they chose to get plowed. In fact, if a grownup offers any defense to a criminal or civil matter excusing or justifying conduct based on diminished capacity, they would immediately lose grownup status.
* Cops don't have to Mirandize grownups, because grownups are presumed to know their rights.
* Grownups are presumed as a matter of law to have read warning labels, contracts, and the fine print. There is no exception to the parol evidence rule for grownups. For the non-lawyers among you, that means that if the contract says "x", and warns the reader that it contains all terms of the deal, and the grownup signed the contract, the grownup cannot later argue "oh, but they told me it was also y and z."
* Grownups are presumed to have the knowledge of a high-school graduate with a B average. That includes civil, historical, and scientific knowledge. A grownup would be presumed to know, for instance, that dropping an electrical appliance in the bath could lead to electrocution, and could not complain that they were not warned of that. A grownup could never, like the successful plaintiff in Moran v. Faberge, claim that they should have been warned that pouring perfume on an open flame could be hazardous.
* Grownups would be strictly limited in the amount of mental suffering damages they could collect in a torts case.
* Grownups could sue for punitive damages, but because they recognize that such damages are to deter for the good of society, not to reward them, they would be compelled to donate such damages to charity.
As TJIC points out, most of us would choose to do business only with grown-ups.
More ideas about rights and responsibilities of "grownups"?
Edited to add: a good one from a commenter at TJIC:
* A grownup could get a prescription for non-FDA-approved drugs, but would not be able to sue if the drugs killed him.
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