The Cutting Edge

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

George Orwell

Chatting with another criminal defense lawyer yesterday, one who has a decade on me in the trenches, we talked about the truth and what’s become of our fellow “gladiators”.  Between spin, sugar-coating and outright lying to avoid a harsh reality, deceit has become essentially a universal norm.  Despite our self-image as tough, hardened to the choices we make daily in the trenches, even criminal defense lawyers have come to cherish deceit in the name of getting along, ruffling no feathers, being liked, offending no one. 

Following a post here yesterday, a reader recommended it, twitting that it was “edgy”.  What made it edgy is that it was blunt and clear, no equivocation or apologies for saying what it was meant to say.  I asked my lawyer friend what happened to us, that makes it edgy to speak one’s mind without trying to soften the blow, or the point.  How did we reach the point that sugar-coating is the norm, and anything else is considered edgy, even harsh?

We’re not very good at hearing the unpleasant news that someone, somewhere, disagrees with us.  Whether it’s that someone doesn’t like us very much, or thinks we’re dead wrong, or merely disagrees, our new-found sensibilities demand that if we express it at all, and many wouldn’t even think of expressing an actual idea for fear that it would boomerang and shine a bad light on them, we are required to do so in a way that makes it palatable.  The idea of just saying so is outrageous. 

I’ve often called the slackoisie “teacups”, too fragile to hear anything critical without cracking into a million shards.  They love to hear how wonderful they are.  They can’t bear anything else.  But this trend isn’t just a slackoisie issue; it’s become increasingly pervasive.  The old maxim, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all, was taught to every child when engaging in polite conversation.  It was not, however, meant to spell the end of honesty when engaging in substantive commentary on issues of significance.  It was to avoid creating an awkward moment at the tea party.

While dealing with comments in the post yesterday, the two subjects of the post, Jason Falls and Tamar Weinberg, complained that I was being unfair to them.  The issue at hand was whether bloggers owed PR people, who approached them with unsolicited pitches, a duty to be nice and polite to them.  I thought not.  They disagreed, but their complaint was that I was too harsh on them, that  we should all play nice with each other.  Their comments were couched in dulcet tones of peace and reconciliation.  Mine not so much.

The conciliatory words in the comments here belied the truth exposed on twitter.  After Falls issued a call to arms to the PR crowd, one responded by twitting :

That’s rich! @ScottGreenfield (A LAWYER!) is questioning the morals & ethics of @Tamar & @JasonFalls on PRs vs Bloggers
Put aside that he completely missed the point of the post, which wasn’t about morals or ethics, since it’s not like PR people can be expected to easily follow language, and note that his thrust was A LAWYER would question a PR person.  Hah!  But then, it’s not like Jason or Tamar have any say over what their followers think, and the mere twit by a third party in no way suggests their agreement.

On the other hand, Tamar’s responsive twit thanked him for the laugh.  Falls twitted back that he was Falls’ new hero.  The twitterer may be a moron, but at least he had the guts to talk straight.  Tamar and Falls, unfortunately, was revealed as cowards and liars.  Though I never questioned their morals and ethics, their own words belied their deceit.  If they hate lawyers, have the guts to say so.  If they want to call me a “twat”, then do it.  But neither had the guts to say what they meant here.  It was all sugar-coated nonsense, concealing what they really thought.

One of the reasons I began Simple Justice was as a vehicle to express ideas.  Not to make anyone love me (or even like me, as the case might be), to “engage” with anyone, to entice potential clients to hire me.  This is about straight talk, even if it means that someone’s feelings are hurt.  It’s not for the purpose of hurting feelings, but for the purpose of speaking the truth as I see it.  Your mileage may differ.  If you find unvarnished commentary too harsh for your sensitive eyes, then this is not the blawg for you.

But if you want to speak out, whether it’s in agreement with me or disagreement, don’t lie.  Don’t feign being conciliatory when you mean something else.  And if I find out that you’re lying, expect me to call you on it.  It was my opinion that Tamar Weinberg and Jason Falls were totally wrong, but I had no reason to question their honesty.  Now, they’ve made it clear that they weren’t being honest.  They might call it being “respectful”.  I call it being deceitful.  Tell the truth, whatever that truth is to you.  It would have been a far more interesting discussion had they told the truth.

And if you can’t take the truth, then shield your eyes, avert your gaze, look elsewhere for something to read.  You will most assuredly find Simple Justice way too edgy.  And don’t urge me to join you on the shelf with the other teacups.

H/T Seth Godin, for the Orwell quote (irony duly noted).

17 comments on “The Cutting Edge

  1. Jason Falls

    The reason I didn’t call you names or say that I hated you or lawyers is because I don’t. If I’m not mistaken, I followed my “hero” comment with a “heh” which is my universal “I’m kidding” punctuation. None of this is relevant.

    You spill your hatred and fear of those different than you and masquerade it around like honesty. You choose to be unhappy with the world around you and think you’re breathing fresh air into the world. If that makes you feel like a better person than the rest of it, enjoy yourself.

    I like lawyers. Especially mine. I don’t have anything against you, even if you hate PR people or put words in my mouth or call me a liar with no grounds. Yeah, you have troll- and turd-like behavior, but that doesn’t make a person a bad one.

    Enjoy your condescending pow-wows with your fellow defense attorneys, my friend. I’m sure you’ll enjoy ripping this comment up and claiming I’m now something else I’ve never been.

  2. SHG

    First, nice to see you’ve grown a pair overnight.

    Second, you are mistaken, as there was no “heh” in or after your twit. I guess that was an oversight.

    And finally, disagreement with you, and anyone else who confuses blowing smoke up the ass of others. reflects neither hatred nor fear.  You give yourself too much credit to think that PR people would be worthy of hate or fear.  Just annoyance.  But I am very proud to see that you’ve finally found the nerve to vent a little.  There may be hope for you yet.

  3. Tamar Weinberg

    Wrong again! How many court cases have you even won in your time?

    As someone who almost went into law, I have no problem with lawyers. My problem is with individuals who 1) can’t admit defeat (and ask for $2 when they don’t have the answers), 2) trolls.

    My problem also lies with you and your aggressive approach without civility. Funny how your blog sidebar talks about welcoming thoughtful, albeit civil and respectful, commentary, but you can’t practice what you preach.

    The fact that several people warned me not to involve myself with you should speak for itself. (The irony is that some of them are lawyers.)

    I know you’ll respond to get the last word, Scotty. I won’t be here to read it.

  4. SHG

    Everybody wants to get something for free from a lawyer.  You know how that goes. I thought it was very reasonable.

  5. John Beaty

    It appears that you have pinked the bull. Tamar, Jason and their ilk show up here exactly as they were in high school: saying nice, nice to your face, and snarking around behind your back. Calling them on it is fun, but ultimately pointless, as they have zero capacity for honest self-reflection.

    “I almost went into law!” Now, there’s a call to arms.

    Do you read The Cranky Professor? (crankylitprof?) It’s worth a peek.

  6. SHG

    Self-refection would crack their carefully crafted online personas.  That would be a terrible waste.  But what I have some trouble with is that the biggest buzzword amongst the social media pundits is “authenticity”.  They must be using a different dictionary than I do.

  7. Steve

    Let me see if I’ve got this straight. They write posts telling bloggers what they are obligated to do. You disagree with a post on your own blog. They call you a troll in the comments to your blog post because you

    a. disagree
    b. use their own words to show that they are two faced
    c. didn’t kiss their arses as they think everybody is supposed to do (see the blogger obligations to PR professionals part)
    d. all of the above.

    Am I missing something here?

  8. Ken

    This doesn’t make any sense to me at all. I thought PR was premised on solid foundations of honesty, sincerity, and a respect for one’s fellow men.

    Next thing you’ll be telling me that all these pharmacists who email me aren’t actually supportive of my penis.

  9. SHG

    No way.  I won’t make a penis joke. I just won’t. Talk about a small wonder. No, I didn’t just write that. That would be so wrong.

  10. SLM

    Irrational, illogical, totally emotional, spilling estrogen all over her angst-ridden words, and setting women back another decade or two. Great. Thanks for sharing, Tamar. At least there’s no doubt that you were once a mommy blogger.

  11. SHG

    In her defense, I’ve seen plenty of men equally irrational, illogical and totally emotional.

  12. Rumpole

    I have a mental image of Tamar and Jason reading your blog every day and then engaging in a daily two minute hate via twitter.

  13. Stephen

    “I know you’ll respond to get the last word, Scotty. I won’t be here to read it.”

    God, this person has missed a big part of the concept of “discussion.”

    I dunno, I think they’ve lost your chance to say it was uncivil and disrespectful through their own actions. I’m convinced by the twitter conversations.

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