Fred Ward Emerald Case • Holy Wars • Digital Devil #8

28 January 2000
By Richard Hughes
Fred Ward Emerald Case • Holy Wars • Digital Devil #8

Digital Devil #8. The Fred Ward emerald case killed his business and nearly killed the emerald business in the US. Here was my tongue-outta-cheek take.

Digital Devil #8: Holy Wars

THE FOLLOWING is a public service message: We can go back to selling emeralds now. The water’s safe. The fat lady has sung.

Once upon a time, our ancestors admired emeralds. Indeed, they actually used them in jewelry. Of course that was before THE KITCHEN SINK INCIDENT. If you remember your history books, this was when an evil liberal journalist-cum-shylock gem dealer decided to take advantage of a poor, helpless newly-to-be-wed by selling her a tainted emerald ring. All was well until Ms. Peaches-&-Cream decided to play Fist-of-God with her ring and the kitchen sink. The sink won; the emerald business has never been the same.

SuperDog to the rescue

Enter the Policy Police. When Ms. Peaches-&-Cream tried to collect on her insurance for damage to the aforesaid rock, the Policy Police declared: “Achtung! Stop zere! Yourz eez not juz any ezmerald. Eet may be… Eet might be…yez, zees eez ze daztardly doomzday ezmerald.”

The Policy Police sped into action. Authorities were consulted and reports were prepared suggesting something was inherently amiss. Various and sundry experts took sides, with more finger-pointing than on the bridge of the Titanic. The matter eventually went to non-binding arbitration. Not even close. The arbitrator decided that emeralds were not indestructible. Round one to the shylock and the kitchen sink.

But the Policy Police would not be deterred. They realized if they won this case, they’d never have to pay out on another damaged emerald again. Thus the PP’s pressed forward, finally deciding this was a job for – yes indeed – SuperDog, the amazing gemological evangelist.

During the jury trial, SuperDog took center stage. With test-tube held aloft, SuperDog warned that the entire emerald business was a den of iniquity, peopled by godless reds, pinkos, greenies and other ignoble riff-raff. Unless immediate action was taken, the family unit would degenerate to the level where not even a Jesse Helms could walk the streets at night.

The shylock had no counterpunch for such vitriol. Although a representative from the famed Ecclesiastic Gemologists’ Group (EGG) was scheduled to testify on the shylock’s behalf, when it came time to go before judge and jury he was AWOL. The jury’s decision wasn’t even close. Round two to SuperDog and the Policy Police.

Hanky panky

Enter the American Shylocks Syndicate (ASS). After lukewarm debate, ASS decided to bury the hatchet – right in the back of SuperDog, citing as justification the Barren Precedent. This dusty bit of legalese dated from the 1520’s. When England’s Henry VIII couldn’t produce a legal heir with his then-bride, Rome refused to annul the marriage. So with the longest finger extended towards the Vatican, Henry founded his own religion – the Church of England – all so he could nail a fertile female.

Pause here for reflection. When the Pope declined to annul the marriage of Henry VIII, he did not do so for lack of precedent or because of some obscure passage in the Bible. No suh! He did so based purely on excellent whim. At that point, Henry VIII decided that losing his religion was better than keeping the company of fools.

In similar fashion, ASS declared they would be nobody’s fool. With middle finger firmly aloft, they grabbed the first white-robed piece to come down the pike and nailed together a brand new gemological church. It was now obvious. ASS would no longer be doing it doggy style. Round three to the asses.

Slick chick

Like a growling stomach after a meal of tainted shellfish, EGG slowly awoke from its slumber on the Left Coast. While they couldn’t be bothered to testify at the original trial, the well-known group apparently had a change of heart. A study was proposed – one in which all would be known at the end. Amidst more plate-passing than Easter Sunday at the Christian Coalition, they suddenly had green on the brain.

In August of 1999, the EGG study hatched. And a slick chick it was. This bird could waddle the waddle and cluck the cluck. It analyzed the problem this way, that way, up ways, down ways, side ways, wise ways, Amways, Elways – all except the most important ways. It failed to address the why-ways and the how-ways. Why on God’s green earth did we have to do this and how did we reach the stage where miniscule differences between one filler and another became the issue – rather than the fact that an artificial substance had been stuck into the stone, dramatically changing its appearance? The crux of the subject was skirted. When the fat lady sang, she forgot the verse about the why and how. And the gemological trial of the century? It merited not even a single note.

Losing our religion

So where does this leave all of us? Considering the carnage, an impartial observer would have to conclude we all suffer from a David Koresh death wish. Self-flagellation such as this hasn’t been witnessed since Dan Quayle declared his presidential candidacy. This industry didn’t just run into the garage and start the engine, it duct-taped its lips to the tailpipe. Dealer, jeweler, gemologist, consumer – we are all worse off today than when that fateful emerald ring struck the kitchen sink. The final round? I score it to the floor.

R S end dingbat

Author's Afterword

Published in GemKey Magazine (2000, Vol. 2, No. 2, January–February), this was installment #8 of my Digital Devil column. SuperDog did eventually get his cum-uppance in a later trial, where the same slick schtick failed miserably.

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