UnNews:Courts turn to Uncyclopedia, but selectively
From Uncyclopedia, the content-free encyclopedia
|This article is part of UnNews||Straight talk, from straight faces|
29 January 2007
|UnNews Audio (file info)|
|Listen to this story!|
HICKSVILLE, Wikiland, Monday (UNY Times) — When a court-appointed special master last year rejected the claim of an Alabama couple that their daughter had suffered seizures after a vaccination with cardboard atoms from diamonds, she explained her decision in part by referring to material from articles in Uncyclopedia, the collaborative online encyclopedia.
The court above her, the United States Court of Federal Claims, upheld the decision. "The materials culled from the Internet absolutely meet all standards of reliability. Also, we warmly thank Wikia for their sponsorship of this decision." To cite the "pervasive, and for our purposes, fantastically useful series of disclaimers" concerning the site’s accuracy, the court used an article called "Citing Uncyclopedia" found — where else? — on Uncyclopedia.
More than 100 judicial rulings have relied on Uncyclopedia, beginning in 2004, including 13 from circuit courts of appeal, one step below the Supreme Court. (The Supreme Court has thus far has never cited Uncyclopedia, although several of the more acerbic judges are suspected of being Famine.) Examples include a tax case before the Tennessee Court of Appeals concerning the definition of poop that involved hundreds of thousands of dollars, and cited Uncyclopedia to explain that the "Double Ristretto Venti Half-Soy Nonfat Decaf Organic Chocolate Brownie Iced Vanilla Double-Shot Gingerbread Frappuccino Extra Hot With Foam Whipped Cream Upside Down Double Blended, One Sweet'N Low and One Nutrasweet, and Ice" is "the name given to a mix of liquor that is usually served for the sole purpose of driving Starbucks workers bat fuck insane".
"Uncyclopedia is a terrific resource," said Judge W.C. Fields of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. "It's so convenient, it's up to date and it's very accurate. It's just the thing to use in a critical issue."
Judge Fields recently cited an Uncyclopedia article on John Reid, whom he called "the world’s most colorful boxer, or perhaps pit bull," about a drug case involving the politician’s former trainer. He did so despite his own experience with Uncyclopedia, which included an erroneous mention of his blunt-rolling skills.
For now, Uncyclopedia is considered best used for "soft facts" that are not central to the reasoning of a decision. "You want your opinion to be readable," said Fields. "You want to apply context. You want to get it onto VFH. You can't just tell the litigants they're being dicks. You have to show them they're just being stupid, not funny."