Are you ready?

James and Isabelle Lassiter, who hail from Texas, were visiting Murfressboro, Tennessee and stopped into a Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse recently with their children. Apparently the sense of humor at hibachi restaurants has declined precipitously since the last time I ate at one, for I am told that the gag the Lassiters endured is now common fare. One of the Wasabi chefs held up a plastic toy depicting a little boy, and when the boy-toy dropped his shorts, he squirted water in a long, thin stream, as if urinating. The children were delighted! They were especially delighted when the stream hit their mom in the face.

Isabelle Lassiter was not delighted. In fact, she and her husband called the police, and accused the chef of sexual assault. “It peed on me…basically, out of his… wee wee area,” Isabelle explained, delicately.”It really didn’t have a wiener, but you got the point.” Investigators, who briefly took the toy into custody, indeed noted that the toy wasn’t anatomically correct. An officer wrote, “I observed the toy to have no penis and just a hole for the water to shoot out.”

PLEASE don’t tell me that if the toy did have a plastic penis, the claim of “sexual assault” would have been taken more seriously.

The Lassiters agree that this detail should not matter. “Just because somebody cut off a piece of plastic…doesn’t change the fact that you’re getting peed on,” said James Lassiter. “It was a sexual style assault on my wife.”

This is not a hoax. I wish it was a hoax. Reading about it has temporarily disrupted my capability to organize my thoughts, so I’ll just note the following in no particular order:

1. It was not sexual assault, by any stretch of the imagination. Nobody “peed on” Mrs. Lassiter. The cook squirted water on her, using a juvenile, risqué version of a squirt gun.

2. If Isabelle thought even  for a second that the stream of liquid was urine, she has a cognitive problem. Isabelle, pay attention: plastic figures do not urinate. They are toys. They have no bladder or kidneys. Even if the liquid comes from the toy’s “wee wee area,” it can’t possibly be urine.

3. Calling the police was beyond an over-reaction; it was truly idiotic, and it should be punishable. I’m trying to think of any reason not to have an ordinance that declares a spurious and wasteful call for police a misdemeanor carrying a hundred-dollar fine. Of course, such an offense should only be declared in extreme circumstances…like this, for example.

4. The manager of Wasabi did issue an apology to the couple, but claims he has never had any complaints about the toy in the past. “The kids like it, they think it’s a water gun, kind of like a water gun you know,” said Mr. Huang. Ah! The old “if kids think it’s funny, it’s ethical” standard. This standard is not reliable. The Lassiter kids might well have also found it hilarious if the chef hit their surprised mother with a cream pie, a pillow, or a dead cat.

5. Usually reasonable Jonathan Turley wrote, in the blog post that alerted me to this unbelievably stupid story containing nothing but absurdly behaving people….and by the way, Professor…

…that he has “seen it happen a dozen times .” Why in the name of all that is sane does he keep going back to a restaurant that does this? Does Turley think it’s hilarious? Nobody has yet been able to explain to me why anyone over the age of six or not drunk as a skunk would think such a toy is side-splittingly funny anywhere, much less when it is doing its thing in a restaurant.  When did urination imagery become appropriate in eating places? When? What does this have to do with Japanese food?

6. Follow the link above and read the comments on the story on the professor’s blog. Here is the worst, though most of the rest cause me to question Turley’s readership too: “Hmm, a Texan couple dining in middle Tennessee – nuff said already. White trash looking to make money. I hope the restaurant turns around the sues them!”

7. The manager says  the chefs will now ask for permission before pulling this gag on diners. Ya think? Here’s the question anyone who thinks the chef’s conduct is perfectly acceptable and that the Lassiters and only the Lassiters are in the wrong needs to answer for me. Would they advocate the gag being done to the President? Would they expect him to think it is amusing? My answers: no and no.

8. This an intentionally act calculated to surprise and embarrass a patron in public, and forcing the patron to “be a good sport.” Well, I don’t go to restaurants to have to be a “good sport,” and I don’t go to be squirted in the face with water, no matter what it issues from. I’ll be a good sport if the waiter spills wine on my lap accidentally, but not if he spills wine on my head as a joke, you know, so that the kids and any law professors present bust a gut.

9. Apparently the vast majority of people, including Turley, only blame the Lassiters for being too “sensitive.” Of course this wasn’t sexual assault, but it was definitely assault, and Mrs. Lassiter had every right and reason to be…well, pissed. Apparently the couple is considering filing charges, which I would strongly advise against, but I find the reaction in support of the restaurant astounding. If it were me, and my wife was squirted in the face while a chef evoked bathroom humor at our table, I would walk out, but not before giving the chef and the manager a loud and withering dressing down—you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry— so the place forever fears pulling this sophomoric stunt on anyone else lest another victim reacts “like that Marshall guy…remember? That was horrible!”

10. The chef was disrespectful and unprofessional. The Lassiters were irresponsible and silly. Prof. Turley and his ilk are excusing conduct that should not be excused, and this is, in my view, an Ethics Clown Car Wreck…the dumbest ethics story I have ever encountered or want to encounter.

37 thoughts on “Behold..THE DUMBEST ETHICS STORY EVER TOLD!!!

  1. Boy would I be pissed off if this happened to me! 😉 Still, I do buy the white trash fishing for bucks interpretation especially since the cops were called.

      • Aha, there’s Issac playing the race card! In addition, the progessive “I’m offended” card. I am white, I feel comfortable saying white trash anytime I want to.

        • I’m white. I don’t think “White Trash” is a good idea. Any more than cracker or red neck for that matter. Better to drop these sorts of terms and act grown up.

  2. Just when you think you’ve reached the bottom of the barrel, you find there’s yet more, and lower STUPID to be scraped out.

      • It’s Saturday evening and we are reading an ethics blog. This facts says much about us.

        It is 5:00am on Monday and I am reading an ethics blog aloud to two co-workers during a break from taking crisis line calls. I’m not sure I can go back on the lines now because my mouth keeps spurting guffaws. The first one was out before the story was really underway when my mouth puckered dangerously and faltered fatally at Murfressboro, fourth try. Note that it was the burbling/frothing sound plus the separate mouth movements, one for each syllable, lips crumpling tighter and tighter if it were to be pronounced properly that generated the merriment. Later, after googling to find that the spelling had two e’s rather than two s’s, there was less pucker and more grimace or so the mirror told me. Still, I wondered, it wasn’t unethical to have a name that one had to suffer for. Unless … unless there was a reason that Murfree’s property couldn’t have been a neutral -ton, or -town; a pleasantly assonant -burg, or a -city, or -ville that ended in a welcoming smile? On second thought, it could be just unpleasant association with Westboro or Scottsboro or even Arthur Godfrey’s contretemps with Teterboro Airport.

        The second belly-buster was the description of the toy’s self-actualizing “It peed on me”, straight out of a Chuckie horror movie (the choice of “it” doing so-and-so instead of recognizing the human hand behind it identifies the issue as threatening in the eyes of Mrs. Lassiter).

        The third, where it all really got ethical in another direction, the policeman’s report. Both of which, I just realized, will have to wait a few days because they keep extending their pseudopodia amoeba-like into distant realms and engulfing new ideas.

        It is now 9:14am and This fact says much about us. Mainly that dealing with ethics on any level, including funniness, is tough, and liable to make one sleepy.

      • Sorry, Jack. Your YES comment at 7:45 was meant to go in under Tom’s bon mot. I don’t know why WordPress put mine in between.

  3. I don’t think I would have made a scene, or walked out, but I may have not come back if they squirted me or my party. Although I would have enjoyed it putting out the flaming onion volcano.

    We went to restaurant in San Diego called the Corvette Diner. Done all in 50’s theme, very cute, but the waitress introduced us to their “tradition” of throwing handfulls of drinking straws and DubbleBubble gum at everyone at the table. She threw it hard enough that a piece of gum actually broke a water glass on the table. The kids had fun, but we never went back. Lots of people thought it was a riot though…seems it made the place famous.

    Maybe I’m just too stodgy. But I do like gum!

  4. From now on, when going in a Japanese restaurant one has to declare: “I want a dinner without a Happy Beginning!”

  5. Given the many times you wrote very highly about Prof. Turley I found it a bit harsh you writing”Prof. Turley and his ilk”.

    • “Ilk,” in this case, are those who are, like the professor, mocking the couple for not smiling and laughing about the assault. Again, read his followers comments (which, by the way, he doesn’t deign to moderate.)

      I expect better from those I have written highly about.

  6. I found this story initially because the headline was too crazy & funny not to pass up.
    But when I read the story- I was outraged, very shaken up- and quite surprised by my very visceral reaction.
    It too me a minute to calm down and figure out why.
    As a survivor of multiple sexual assaults as a kid then teenager, I found it angering, offensive and quite frankly hurtful, to so causally point the finger and scream “sexual assault”. Clearly these people have no idea what sexual assault entails otherwise they wouldn’t have been so careless with such a powerful word. Same for assault. This was nowhere near either words defining experiences . Offensive, childish sure -but assaulting? Hardly.
    Being assaulted is something that never leaves you, shapes your relationships and trust of new people. It takes year or sometimes a lifetime to recover: some never do. There’s something seriously wrong with people using words out of context because you demean the actual meaning.
    If this gets traction I will have lost more faith in humanity, because what will be happening is downgrading the real experiences of assault by survivors.
    I can’t even imagine my experience in the same defining realm as being squirted by a “pee-pee boy”. If only I was lucky enough for just that to have happened. I wouldn’t have a lifetime of emotional scarring. I would woken up in the middle of the night with nightmares. I would not be afraid when someone accounts sneaks up behind me, or trust being alone with someone who even slightly reminds me of my attacker.
    What a joke.
    I’m sure their next step will be an attorney and a lawsuit & that is sickening too. Most survivors are grateful to have their attackers jailed, so so they can’t hurt anyone again and are able to move forward with their healing. The goal is never financial gain but justice.
    They should be ashamed of themselves.

    • Great comment. But it is definitely an assault…and battery too. Any unconsented touching preceded by apprehension that one is abut to be touched is battery preceded by assault.

  7. Clearly this drop trou pee pee boy is not oriental but the Chinese have a ceramic pee pee boy they use for testing when water has been sufficiently heated to properly boil water. See, eg.,

    Maybe orientals have some cultural fascination with peeing dolls. My wife and I were introduced to pee pee boy in a tea shop sales demonstration in Beijing. The stream was not pointed at any of the customers and it was pretty darned unexpected and funny.

    None of which explains what the heck the management at this restaurant was thinking, but maybe pee pee boy provides some cultural context.

      • I’ve never understood that. Isn’t Asia the European word for that part of the world/hemisphere? Orient and Occident? East and West? We’re no longer Westerners? Are we supposed to be outraged when anything is described as Western?

        • Oh, it is a meaningless distinction, just like “people of color” and “colored people” mean the same thing in English terms, but one is considered respectful by those are so described. The term that was used when a group had lower social status comes to signify not just members of the group, but the status of those individuals for who the term is used. When Orientals was the term accepted by Asians, the groups was widely discriminated against, Hence the term is now considered denigrating and insensitive, and insult that says, “I regard you the same way people regarded people who looked like you back when people who looked like you were second-class citizens.” Fag vs gay is another example.

          • I’Il have to ask my best Chinese friend her take on this. But of course that won’t matter. I’m sure she needs to have the P.C. police speak for her, even though she has a Ph.D.

            I never looked down on the Chinese or Japanese. Maybe I was born after all that stuff had subsided and I didn’t grow up in California. Plus I had a Pakistani/Ugandan/British friend and client who got me used to hearing Pakistan and India being called “Asian.” So I guess the correct term for China and Japan is east Asia, although I bet few Chinese or Japanese would be very thrilled about being lumped together geographically given their long-standing enmity.

            I’ve never thought of Chinese as anything other than hard working, entrepreneurial, education oriented and family oriented. And incredibly successful.

            So when is Occidental College going to stop offending people and change its name to something less demeaning?

            And how is “Middle-Eastern” permissible? It’s a direction, not a place! Sheesh.

            I’d have used “Chinese” except the restaurant was Japanese-sounding so I wanted a broader term that didn’t include South Asia (as it’s called). Guess I should have said “East Asian.” And obviously, I’d never use clearly offensive terms like “chink” or “slant.”

            What a minefield we live in.

  8. The Wasabi chef is an idiot for thinking that this little “joke” was appropriate and management should have put a stop to it when they noticed it the first time.

    Isabelle Lassiter is a self-centered reactionary PC wacko for going off the “I’m offended” deep end into the intellectual dishonest gorge of sexual harassment. In my opinion; the husband has no excuse, other than he’s a he’s a PW’ed wimp, for going along with his wife’s illogical tangent. These parents are teaching their children a terrible message.

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