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Will doesn't say he couldn't locate it on a map. He says "few" can. How many out of 100 randomly selected Americans do you think can locate Madison County on a map? How many out of 100 randomly selected Chicagoans? Your example is inapposite, because "Las Vegas" is to "Clark County" as "Edwardsville" is to "Madison County." If Will said "Edwardsville, Illinois" over "Madison County," he'd be just as correct.

I also fail to understand why the criticized "few can locate X on a map" is somehow rhetorically inferior to the praised "X has an irritated-looking head." But that's just me and my own irritated-looking head.


Ted: If Will hadn't been reaching for rhetorical devices when he didn't need to, his sentence would have looked like this: "Philip Morris recently got the Illinois Supreme Court to overturn a gigantic judgment against it in a suit that had originated in a place -- metropolitan St. Louis -- few could locate on a map." That would have come across as a little strange. Instead, Will chose to pretend that Madison County is in some faraway place that no one can really locate or find.


You're reading too much into this one, Evan. After reading and taking numerous depositions of plaintiffs in asbestos cases who resided outside of Illinois and brought their suits in Madison County, very few demonstrated that they knew "Edwardsville" or "Madision County" were located near the city of St. Louis. I assume the rest of the country, not having lawsuits pending in Madison County, would know even less than these plaintiffs.


The rhetorical point—that obscure judges elected by under 260,000 people in Madison County, are attempting to dictate national policy on consumer regulation from a courtroom in Edwardsville, Illinois—is entirely valid. "Metropolitan St. Louis" is technically accurate, but Madison County is one of eight counties in the St. Louis "metropolitan area," and one has to travel through St. Clair County (or a swath of Missouri) on the 25-mile journey to St. Louis proper.

By the way, I don't object to you editing your original post (I do it all the time), but it's generally poor form to correct an error pointed out in the comments without acknowledging the change, thus orphaning the comment. And even the changed version (Will "perhaps doesn't know") is inconsistent with the fact that Will states that Madison County is "located along a bend in the Mississippi River near St. Louis."


Of course, Evan also did not mention that George Will included the following sentence two paragraphs later from the offending senntence:

"Madison County, located along a bend in the Mississippi River near St. Louis, elects its judges, some of them very friendly to plaintiffs' lawyers who prosper from class-action lawsuits."

Comeon, Evan. Did you not read that far into the column?


And Will did that because he was being intellectually lazy... trying to imply that suits from Madison County are baseless and came out of some rural backwater nowhere town where the law isn't the law, but what good ol' boy network elected judges make it, instead of what is (essentially) a suburb of St. Louis.

You know, because for guys like Will, rural folk ain't good enough to make decisions 'bout justice, but they sho' is good 'nuff to use their NASCAR watchin' votes to put more conservatives in office...


Craig: "Near St. Louis" is misleading coming after the statement in the first pargraph. "Part of the St. Louis metropolitan area" would have been better. You've got to try very had to defend this one. The fact is that Madison County is one of the most populous counties in Illinois, which is one of the most populous states in the country. Will should started his column with this phrase: "that had originated in a place--Madison County, Illinois--that everyone should be able to locate on a map."

Ted: If you commented immediately after I published the post, I might have made a change that affected your comment. If so, I apologize. The only change I remember making was to set off "or perhaps doesn't know" with a dash. The phrase was always there though. In any case, I certainly didn't edit the post after I saw your comment. I agree with you that that would have been bad form.

With all this being said, I don't understand how your comment was "orphaned."


"Will should started his column with this phrase: "that had originated in a place--Madison County, Illinois--that everyone should be able to locate on a map."

While I certainly think everyone should have a thorough knowledge of their country's geography, most Americans should not be able to locate Madison County on a map even if they were told it is part of metro St. Louis. I wouldn't bet my daughter's life that 51 out of 100 randomly sampled US citizens could locate St. Louis on an unlabeled map--let alone MadCo. This does not change the fact that Madison County is "near St. Louis", as George Will accurately stated.


Where is Iowa? Just head north and turn left. You can't miss it.


Buttmonkey: Thanks, but my real problem is that I can't locate Iowa on a map. Well actually I can, but I'm pretending that I can't in order to make a rhetorical point about the people of Iowa, namely, that they're insignificant and don't matter. In fact, if you and I went looking for the people of Iowa, we wouldn't be able to find them on a map or anywhere else. On the other hand, why would we ever go looking for the people of Iowa? They're insignificant. In addition, they don't matter. I'm just happy I don't have to worry about them reading this. As everyone knows, people from Iowa can't read. Most certainly none of them has a weblog. That makes me extremely happy because in making my rhetorical point about how the people of Iowa don't count, I sure wouldn't want them looking over my shoulder. Get it?

Prof Yabut

Put me in the column that believes Evan is over-reaching here in trying to find a reason to criticize Mr. Will. Few people who have not been to a particular major city (or had some other reason to pay attention to it) know which county it is located in, unless (like Schenectady!) the county is named after its major city (or vice-versa). Of course, in a nation with so many geographic illiterates, don't count on lots of people knowing where St. Louis is.

Besides, Evan, didn't you once say that most tort reformers are so unread and ill-informed, they couldn't find their Madisons [nor their Butte's]with both hands?

p.s. This post proves that your Comments are indeed a lot more interesting when you take the time to offer an opinion -- even a silly one.

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