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.