The winners of Slate's build-your-own-hack contest.

The winners of Slate's build-your-own-hack contest.

The winners of Slate's build-your-own-hack contest.

The law, lawyers, and the court.
Feb. 15 2007 3:04 PM

Shill Pill

The winners of Slate's build-your-own-hack contest.

And you thought Oscar night was exciting. We at Slatehave a winner of our build-a-hack contest!

Whenever we run a reader contest, the collective talents of Slate readers are humbling. Particularly when it comes to bowdlerizing the work of others, you people are almost without parallel. Or shame. (OK, not quite: My sincere thanks to the hundreds of you who prefaced your wild distortions with lengthy apologies for what you were about to do.)

Dahlia Lithwick Dahlia Lithwick

Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate and hosts the podcast Amicus.


Challenged to take a we've-yet-to-know-anything-for-certain column I wrote just after the indictments came down in the Duke rape case, and cut and paste it into the work of a self-righteous blame-the-victim blowhard, you sunk to the occasion. Afraid of nothing—save perhaps the proffered prize, from which most begged to be spared and which led others to write in and decline to participate at all—you pressed your ellipses into noble service. Except for the guy who wrote that ellipses are for liberal girly men.

The results were generally brilliant. A few clear knockouts emerged. Oh and I, for one, will never ever eat at a Chili's again.

Excerpts from the pieces that win honorable mention:

JR Drabick: "And what about ... objective scientific evidence? ... [T]he lack of a DNA match exonerates them. ... [T]he alleged victim was already injured before she arrived at the party.  [S]he was intoxicated upon arrival.  Pick your fact, any fact. Each of them ... true."


Liz Fenton: "It's easy to have doubts about the ability of [women to draw] … distinctions between consensual sex and date rape. How can a juror really divine what went on in the mind of [a stripper on] … a date gone wrong?"

John Ferrari: "Pick your fact, any fact. Each of them can, it seems, resolve … all … doubts. It's the … creepy, … so-called … victim … who's lying."

Jason Wells: "Part of the answer is ... date rape ... coercion and force ... are ... parties themselves ... (R)eally divine ... " 

Uccellina G. (who not only offered up a brilliant revision but included, at the end, a list of all the words she'd left out. Fabulous.): "the so-called objective evidence" currently being meticulously weighed and evaluated by the media is no more "objective" or "conclusive" than the … rapidly changing … accounts of  … the … accuser. … Pick your fact, any fact. Each of them … dismisses … the alleged … rape … "


Joe Weiner: Lithwick refers to the victim as a "crypto-hooker" who "was intoxicated upon arrival … [and] serves as yet another depressing reminder of all that is wrong with this country." Justice be damned, we should "use the … evidence to confirm what we already know in our bones to be true;" that it is "certain that [the] accuser [is] a liar and a tramp."

Brian Wantz:  "We are being played by the lawyers.  There are, in the end, objective truths to be found here. Pick your fact, any fact:  [T]he alleged victim was ... employed as a 'crypto-hooker.' Photos say she was intoxicated upon arrival. Nurses say ... someone else raped her.  [S]he never fought back.  As ... Jesse Jackson ... might ... say, ... what ... a 'ho.' "

Randy Yale: "If these legal processes are intended to be searches for the truth, why is there … Jesse Jackson knowing nothing."

First prize goes, indisputably, to Henry Quillen. He writes—for triple bonus points—of the hyper-liberal tendencies of the national food chain Chili's:

Chili's logo

Chili's wants you to feel sorry for your food. For "starters," this liberal restaurant reminds you that the Awesome Blossom on your plate was "battered" before it arrived at your table. Everything you eat is tainted with violence: Pasta is "tossed," potatoes are "mashed," and lettuce is "shredded." Never mind that food can't feel pain. To hide its bias, Chili's devotes about 10 percent of its menu to the "Guiltless Grill," featuring a picture of a chili pepper with a halo (no doubt to remind you that your food is in a better place, while you shovel innocent salmon into your evil mouth). But Chili's can't keep up the act for long; to drive home the fundamental sickness of eating dinner, the menu tells us, "Consuming [food] increase[s] … illness … "Of course, Chili's profits from the very abuse that it condemns, but don't try telling them. According to the menu, "We … relish … our … perfection." Apparently, Chili's likes its hypocrisy "well-done."

Henry will be sent the grand prize, which he may freely reject in favor of something better. He should also very seriously consider a career in AM radio.

Thanks so much to everyone who played!