It has long been observed that some laws serve as unhappy bellwethers, demonstrating that what was once commonsensical is now in need of codification. We do not, for example, have legislation that prohibits coprophagia because we presume that coprophagia is so unthinkable that legal interdiction is unnecessary. For the same reason have we traditionally avoided formalizing our opposition to marrying stepdaughters or to putting sweaters on pit bulls.
It is thus a rather depressing thing that anyone should have to remind the public, as Representative Lamar Smith of Texas did in 2005, that they are responsible for the consequences of their own decisions, and that government should not be in the business of encouraging “lawsuits that blame others for our own choices and could bankrupt an entire industry.” Back then, Smith was trying to rally support for the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act, a measure that had become increasingly necessary during the first part of the decade as the number of frivolous lawsuits that obese Americans brought against food manufacturers piled up. Lamar’s bill failed twice — passing the House on two occasions but dying in the Senate.