October 21, 2005

They haven’t said much about the meaning of life so far, have they?

posted by Will Wilson @ 5:52 pm

Because AG Watch likes the ludicrous, California AG Bill Lockyer’s suit against Big Tuna has us, well, hooked. Sentences such as “Defendants sell Tuna Products” and “The true names and capacities of the defendants sued herein as Does 1 through 100 are unknown to plaintiff, who therefore sues them by such fictitious names” amount to a truly ridiculous complaint. Imaginary fishmongers on trial; if Kafka isn’t court stenographer, we’re protesting.

The tuna companies have fought back. Thankfully, their attorney has a sense of humor. He claimed in court, “The only warning that would be appropriate for canned tuna would be: Warning, not eating enough of this product could be hazardous to your health.” But he isn’t jesting entirely: the FDA supports Big Tuna in the suit, even advising Mr. Lockyer to release the Fish Men.

California’s Prop 65, the cause of this fishiness, is federally preempted according the the FDA. The Proposition, also known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, is an exercise in health-nut semiotics. The suit alleges that the Tuna People (and Non-People) didn’t adequately provide, “(A) warnings on labels, (B) identification at the retail outlet through ’shelf labeling, signs, menus, or a combination thereof,’ and (C) ‘a system of signs, public advertising identifying the system and toll-free information services, that provides clear and reasonable warnings.’”

But Lockyer isn’t really interested in the relationship of signifier and signified. He just wants cash from Starkist. Tsk! Tsk!

No wonder Saussure went batty. And he went wherever I did go.