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The fail­ure to qual­ify for a clas­s­ac­tion suit may be rea­son to launch a class-ac­tion suit.

New Zealand Listener - - CONTENTS - Joanne Black

Are you a di­a­betic who has lost your toes, ei­ther of your feet or your legs, de­spite tak­ing a drug that was sup­posed to help you, an ad cur­rently run­ning on US tele­vi­sion asks. Pass.

How about con­cus­sion? Did you suf­fer con­cus­sion while play­ing foot­ball even if you played only on prac­tice teams or for half a sea­son, an­other ad asks. No, not me. Vagi­nal mesh, then? Did you have any used in surgery and per­haps it went wrong later? No? No. As­bestos-re­lated cancer? Got any of that? Not me.

The strange thing about these ads seek­ing par­tic­i­pants in class ac­tions, all of which I have seen in the past week, is that they leave you feel­ing oddly dis­en­fran­chised. Hav­ing two legs, with a foot at­tached to each one and both feet hav­ing the ac­cepted al­lo­ca­tion of toes, no foot­ball-re­lated con­cus­sion, no vagi­nal mesh – trou­ble­some or oth­er­wise – and not a hint of as­bestos-re­lated cancer, I should be leap­ing off the couch grateful for my good for­tune. In­stead, these ads cre­ate an odd sense of ex­clu­sion, even though these are clubs to which no one would wish to be­long and no amount of fi­nan­cial com­pen­sa­tion would put right the in­juries that some peo­ple have sus­tained. Fear of miss­ing out – or FOMO if you are un­der 25 – is a strange phe­nom­e­non. Per­haps if I wait long enough there will be a class ac­tion for those suf­fer­ing so­cial ex­clu­sion from in­el­i­gi­bil­ity for class ac­tions.

Since the Las Ve­gas mas­sacre, there has been end­less spec­u­la­tion about what mo­ti­vated Stephen Pad­dock, 64, to slaugh­ter so many peo­ple. For a man who liked pri­vacy and who kept his ter­ri­ble mis­sion con­cealed un­til the mo­ment he started fir­ing, his life is now ex­posed in all its in­ti­mate de­tail.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors started look­ing at the likely pos­si­bil­i­ties – he was a mem­ber of an ex­trem­ist group, he had a grudge, he had suf­fered heart­break or fi­nan­cial loss – as though com­mit­ting mass mur­der is an un­der­stand­able re­sponse to, say, be­ing jilted.

It ap­pears that Pad­dock had not been dumped. How­ever, there does seem to be an in­crease in the num­ber of peo­ple, ji­hadists and oth­ers, de­cid­ing that they want to die in as cat­a­strophic a man­ner as hu­man imag­i­na­tion and phys­i­cal lim­i­ta­tions al­low.

One out­come of Pad­dock’s modus operandi is that bump stocks have sold out ev­ery­where. A bump stock is an ad­di­tional ri­fle butt that a shooter can fit to his semi-au­to­matic to en­able it to fire like an au­to­matic. Handy. (And, yes, I use the mas­cu­line pro­noun “his”, even though I be­lieve in equal op­por­tu­nity, be­cause there is a strong gen­der bias among mass mur­der­ers.)

After the killings, there was a rush on bump stocks, al­though whether that was be­cause Pad­dock had showed their ef­fi­cacy or was out of fear that they might be banned is im­pos­si­ble to know. But there is lit­tle prece­dent for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment show­ing any in­cli­na­tion to act on gun con­trol so it may just have been the ef­fect of pub­lic­ity.

Mean­while, some of Pad­dock’s vic­tims with­out health in­sur­ance lie in hos­pi­tal fret­ting as much about the cost of their stay as about their in­juries.

Sto­ries of hero­ism on the night were real but do not, for me, out­weigh the dis­mal con­clu­sion that the world is a sick old place. I chide my­self for my re­sponse. We need to re­solve to rally and pre­vail, not to ad­mit de­feat and suc­cumb.

I be­lieve in equal op­por­tu­nity, but there is a strong gen­der bias among mass mur­der­ers.

“I started off just col­lect­ing seashells.”

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