In Tepid Defense of the Man Who Threatened to Sue a Chinese Restaurant Over $4

The Navel Observatory

[The New Republic has now posted a version of this piece.]

By now even Ben Edelman thinks Ben Edelman is an asshole, but I want to defend him on one point. There has been widespread consensus that in threatening to sue a Chinese restaurant for overcharging him $4 on a take-out meal, Edelman behaved like a petty, selfish prick. I want to make the claim that only the latter of these three descriptors is true. Edelman was a prick, but he was not petty or selfish.

A picture has emerged framing the restaurant-owner as the hapless victim of Edelman’s vindictive terrorizing. The story is of a rich, entitled, overeducated, hyperaggressive lawyer harassing a struggling immigrant business-owner over a measly sum. But I think this framing is slightly unfair. From Edelman’s record, he seems to be extremely sincere about helping keep consumers safe from fraud, and if the story is viewed from a consumer…

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