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DETROIT (CAP) - Officials for Chrysler are backpedaling today after word got out that the company last week did not file for protection under Chapter 11 of U.S. bankruptcy laws, but instead filed for protection under the seldom-used 300-year-old statute of Chapter 17. An exasperated President Obama said he will make an example of the troubled automaker by forcing the company to follow through with its mistaken filing.
"I swear you can't make this stuff up," Obama said as he stared blankly at a copy of Chrysler's bankruptcy paperwork on his desk. "Maybe they meant to put 7. Or maybe the 7 is actually a 1 with that, uhh, little flag thingy at the top. I dunno, it looks like a 17 to me."
Chapter 17 of U.S. bankruptcy laws dates back to 1705, and is a derivative of the English bankruptcy Statute of 4 Anne. According to West's Encyclopedia Of American Law, that statute decrees that "uncooperative debtors would suffer as a felon without the benefit of clergy." Law historians say this is 18th century terminology for capital punishment.
"A number of debtors were in fact hanged during the 95 years that this statute was rigidly enforced," said Harvard law professor Henrick Dauer. "And certainly U.S. Bankruptcy Court and the U.S. Supreme Court would have a long road ahead of them before we'd ever see Chrysler executives swinging from the gallows.
"But the American people are just so fed up with these automakers, there's no telling what will happen this summer if Chrysler doesn't get its shit together, and fast," added Dauer.
Dauer said that there is a provision in 4 Anne that allows for debtor's prison instead of the death penalty, but only under the condition that the debtor is "chemically or otherwise physically castrated." And although many Americans might like to take auto executives and string them up the balls, Dauer said 4 Anne doesn't allow for that specific act.
Some question whether other groups who stand to benefit from Chrysler's misfortunes may have had a hand in the bankruptcy typo. Rumors have surfaced that officials for Italian automaker Fiat have been discussing post-merger plans for the Chrysler executives, which involves "burning them at the stake."
On the flip side, United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger has confirmed that union members voted overwhelmingly to have those same Chrysler executives "drawn and quartered" should the UAW be successful in its bid for joint ownership of the Detroit automaker.
This isn't the first time Chrysler has shown a disregard for the dire nature of its circumstances. Back in early April, the company submitted a restructuring plan to President Obama that was nothing more than a bunch of doodles and stick figures. The company has yet to revise that plan.
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