You ever read those disclaimers at the bottom of faxes and e-mail messages? While it may have been a good idea at the start, the disclaimers seem to have taken on a life of their own. Here’s what I mean.
Example of modern day disclaimer (real language in bold, my comments in parenthesis):
Disclaimer: (Actually, it seems to be more of a warning, threat or bullying request, but it certainly is not a disclaimer.)
This fax, including attachments, may include confidential and/or proprietary information and may be used only by the person to whom or entity to which it is addressed. If you, the reader of this fax (glad we got that clarified), are not the intended recipient or his or her authorized agent, you, the reader (for those who were still confused), are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, or copying of this fax is prohibited. (Prohibited by whom and on what authority and what is the punishment for a transgression, one might ask, but these clauses never seem to tell us that.) If you have received this fax in error, please notify the sender by replying to this message, and then delete this fax immediately. (Ever notice how computer terms like “delete” are taking over our language? Since a fax is a paper medium, one might have thought that “shred” or a reference to the “circular file” might work.)
What this Disclaimer could say is simply, “Notice: The content in this message is confidential. If you received this message in error, please destroy the message and let me know.”
But for those of you that prefer the verbose, click here to read the 2001 Dafta award winner for longest e-mail disclaimer. It’s only a 1000 or so words.