A book hits the shelves at 12:01 tonight. It’s about a boy who goes to school to become a wizard. I’m told it’s the seventh, and last, in a series of books that have been rather popular among the clannish sort that read such things. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.

I’m not going to have the cash to procure my own copy for another week and a half, and so I have to wait while certain people around me ravage through it this weekend and then dance around me like they have to pee because they WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE BOOK SO BAD, but they CAN’T, because I haven’t read it. This is an imposition that I have pressed upon them.

I am reminded of a story my friend Shane shared once, about two guys he knew. Guy A made some reference to the movie The Sixth Sense, revealing the big twist at the end. Guy B got all bent out of shape because he had not yet seen the movie. At first Guy A was contrite, because that sucks, but then he reconsidered. “Dude,” Guy A said to Guy B, “that movie came out five years ago.” Actually, it came out in 1999, so let’s just assume this conversation took place in ’04 or somewhere around there. Anyway, Guy A’s point was that the statute of limitation on spoilers had run out for that film.

It got me thinking, there really should be a statute of limitations on spoilers. If someone doesn’t have the common decency to know, at this point, that Verbal Kint is Keyser Sose, or that Dil is a man, or that Soylent Green is people, then no one else can be held accountable if they reveal that information. It’s been out there long enough that if you don’t know about it, even if you haven’t actually seen the movie, read the book, whatever, then you just haven’t been paying attention.

Here is what I propose:

1) For films, the statute of limitations on spoilers is six months from the release date, unless the DVD is released LESS THAN six months after the original release. In that case, the limit is three months from the DVD release date. Films made for television have a statute of limitations of one month from the broadcast date, although who the hell even watches those anymore?

2) For books, the statute of limitations is one year from the date of publication, UNLESS that book reaches the Top 10 in sales on either Amazon or the New York Times bestsellers list, in which case the limit is three months.

3) For episodic television, the statute of limitations on any given episode runs out when the next episode airs, unless the episode is the last episode before a hiatus, in which case the limit is two weeks. Which means that I can tell all y’all that Jack and Kate will eventually get off the island.

4) In situations where more than one limit applies, such as a film version of a book, the limit runs out on the EARLIEST possible date. Which means that even though the movie version of the new Harry Potter book won’t be out for a few more years, the time limit on spoilers still runs out three months from tomorrow.

5) And this is an important one: Revealing spoiler information before the limit has expired is punishable by death. And that’s if it’s an inadvertent slip. If you’re a dick about it, you will be strapped to a chair and forced to watch consecutive episodes of The Simple Life until your eyes melt out of your head.

I guess the point is, DO NOT TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS IN THE NEW HARRY POTTER NOVEL. But if I still haven’t read it in three months, go ahead and tell me because I obviously don’t care that much.