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The grand prize went to a bottle of drain cleaner, which says  "If you do not understand or cannot read all directions, cautions and warnings, do not use this product."
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updated 1/14/2004 12:28:51 PM ET 2004-01-14T17:28:51

Warning: this editorial may offend, insult or anger you.  If you are easily offended -– stop reading now.

Imagine even living in some remote area of the world for the past 25 or 30 years and the first thing you see upon your return to the U.S are warning labels on just about everything:  Warnings not to eat plastic, not to eat rat poison, not to use a compact disk holder as a ladder. 

You would think we‘ve become a society of complete morons.  Of course, what has really happened is that companies and businesses are going to sometimes absurd lengths to protect themselves against lawsuits, which pose questions like, “How was I to know not to put my finger in a working blender?” 

A group called Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch has just finished its annual contest of wacky warning labels. 

The grand prize went to a bottle of drain cleaner, which says  “If you do not understand or cannot read all directions, cautions and warnings, do not use this product.”  Some sound advice, particularly to those who can‘t read it.

Then there‘s the five-inch fishing lure with three steel hooks that warns, harmful if swallowed.  If only the fish knew. 

And a smoke detector, which reminds it  “It will not extinguish a fire.” 

Look, sometimes warnings can be lifesavers, particularly those that advise of an unforeseeable side effect, but so many simply reflect the major problem in our society-- the death of common sense and personal responsibility.  A vast majority are paying a heavy price for the foolishness of a few.

I have an idea:  How about switching it up and making those  “few” wear a label, which reads, “Warning, I am of feeble mind.  Don‘t assume I know anything.  Please advise me of the use or misuse of anything that you sell me.”

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