Lies, Damned Lies, And Disclaimers

The asterisk is the bastard stepchild of "the fine print". This pernicious piece of punctuation shows up to dash our hopes and crush our dreams. Just when we finish reading the glossy magazine or website copy, thinking we have found a wonderful treatment for some ailment or a great bargain, that little party pooper shows up, bringing with it some weasely caveat in the form of the fine print; the miracle cure will likely give you stomach cramps and green poop, or that you need to buy six of the items to get the "sale price".

The sheer ubiquity of the asterisk tends to make us expect to see it and not really look at the reality check it represents. Other media have come up with more genius ideas to obfuscate reality from advertising fiction. On radio, you must suffer through those ghastly speeded-up "disclaimers"; verbal diarreah that is sometimes genuinely unintelligible.

On TV, they have even managed to make the fine print even finer, so that it appears to be a smudge of text that appears for 2 or three seconds. Try reading the blurb at the end of a typical auto commercial - I dare you.

In light of all that - let me humbly suggest that anytime a politician (national or local, of any party) shows up on TV, we should cover their face by a big asterisk - it would save us a lot of heartache and second guessing.

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