Don’t Blame Judge Judy That Students Are Clueless

When CNN published a story about the report of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, everybody went nuts over the last sentence of the opening paragraph.

There is a crisis in American civic education. Survey after survey shows that recent college graduates are alarmingly ignorant of America’s history and heritage. They cannot identify the term lengths of members of Congress, the substance of the First Amendment, or the origin of the separation of powers. They do not know the Father of the Constitution, and nearly 10% say that Judith Sheindlin—“Judge Judy”—is on the Supreme Court.

That means 90%* know that Judge Judy is an entertainer, playing a judge on TV, where she amuses the audience by her prescient cries that one of her small claims litigants is lying before they even say a word.  How much fun is that!

Well, Jonathan Turley isn’t amused.

I am admittedly not a fan of faux television judges who, in my view, degrade our profession and trivialize the legal process. (here and here). Judge Judy and other faux judges caricature the legal system and misrepresent how conflicts are legally addressed. They use people as if they were circus animals performing for the entertainment of the public. The fact that anyone would even confuse Judge Judy with a real jurist is incredibly depressing.

Of course these faux television judges trivialize the legal process. They get a half hour to do two cases, start to finish. And the cases are, for the most part, laughably trivial, and presented by litigants who couldn’t argue their way out of a paper bag. Not that it matters, because the judge is the star of the show, and has to smack them around a bit, picking the winner in the first 30 seconds and then beating the lying loser to a pulp before he (it’s usually, though not always, a “he”) can do more than smirk and utter the first syllable of protest.

But the show made Judge Judy filthy rich, and she surely wasn’t getting there when she was a real judge.

For the record, Judge Judy was once an actual judge.  In 1982 Mayor Ed Koch appointed her as a judge, first in criminal court, then later as Manhattan‘s supervising family court judge in 1986.

And her husband, Jerry, was a real judge too, until he became a kept man, because, did I mention, Judge Judy is filthy rich?

In July 2010 when Sheindlin’s contract was renewed, her salary increased to $45 million per year. It was later reported in October 2013 that Sheindlin is the highest-paid TV star, earning $47 million per year for Judge Judy, which translates into just over $900,000 per workday (she works 52 days per year).

But when she isn’t hard at work for those 52 days per year when she earns her $47,000,000 salary, she gives freely of herself for the improvement of the public’s knowledge of law.

However, CNN and other networks routinely ask her to comment on legal issues as if she were anything other than an entertainer. The merging of law and entertainment does not produce some hybrid. It simply produces entertainment like an [sic] dominant social gene.

judyBut then, “CNN and other networks” are in the business of getting people to watch their programming, because eyeballs translate into advertising revenues, which translates into salaries paid and profits earned. And really, isn’t that what the law, what civic virtue, is all about?

As for the 10% who believe that Judge Judy is a Supreme, that seems to be a huge win for our educational system, our college students and our society. That 90% know otherwise is, frankly, pleasantly surprising. Things like names of important public officials are good to know, but are not nearly as important as a basic grasp of what government does, how it functions, what the Constitution means.

And when it comes to these things, a 90% success rate is an unachievable dream.

The chief diversity officer of the University of Iowa said her office plans to have a bias assessment response team in place on campus by the end of the current semester.

The proposed team — which would be known by the acronym BART — would address complaints of racial or other bias on campus concerning incidents that “skirt the line between a policy violation or even a crime.”

“We do need to differentiate between free speech and hate speech,” said Dodge, who also is on the Board of Directors for ACLU Iowa. “I think there are ways that people can abuse freedom just as they can abuse any other gift that they’re given. I think that a BART will help us keep people informed of when they are walking over that line.”

DodgeThat’s from Georgina Dodge, chief diversity officer and associate vice president of the University of Iowa, and ACLU board member, explaining that free speech doesn’t include hate speech, and how her BART (cool acronym, right Mehserle?) will swoop down upon those who “abuse freedom.”

So leave Judy out of it.  She’s no clown, Turley, but an entertainer making $47 million a year, even more than they pay a GW lawprof and occasional television personality.  If we need an example of how college students are clueless about civic virtues, there are far more serious problems:

What knowledge students do receive of their history is often one-sided and tendentious. Lately, student protesters have sought to expunge historic figures like Thomas Jefferson or Woodrow Wilson from campus, deeming these men too flawed to deserve monuments or buildings that bear their names. These protesters properly remind us of the cancer of racism that has infected our nation, but their demands are made on campuses where there is little reason to believe that students are sufficiently grounded in knowledge and understanding of the history of America and its civic institutions to make sound judgments.

The problem isn’t that they’re sitting in their dorm rooms watching Judge Judy, but that they’re empowered by administrators like Georgina Dodge to believe whatever lie confirms their passionate beliefs.  And as the study shows, it’s not going to get any better, as students bask in their ignorance, bolstered by a proliferation of very expensive programs that accomplish nothing.

You don’t see Judge Judy shelling out cash to pay for an endowed chair in critical race theory, do you?  She’s too smart to waste her salary on such crap.

*There may be some who confuse Judge Judy with Kim Kardashian, but does this really require further discussion?


22 comments on “Don’t Blame Judge Judy That Students Are Clueless

  1. Victor Medina

    People typically pay good money to have their freedom abused. It’s a cottage industry.

    Also, the two most famous BARTs are Bart Simpson and the dude involved with the Cubs. White males, clearly. She should have spent more time with the acronym. Given this week, could we not have gotten the Kindness Intervention & Normalization Group?

    Do I have to come up with this on my own?

  2. Random Wine Geek

    Of all of the gems in Dr. Dodge’s statements, the one I found most jarring was her description of freedom as a “gift,” though I may be more sensitive since the week started with a holiday honoring a man who died fighting for that “gift.”

    1. SHG Post author

      You are absolutely right. That an ACLU board member would call freedom a “gift” would have once been incomprehensible. Sadly, that’s no longer the case.

  3. Jyjon

    I am shocked by Dodge. The ACLU got on my radar defending the hate speech of the illinois nazi’s. Now they’re trying to stop hate speech? wow, how did I end up in Bizzaro World and how do I get back to Sane World?

    1. SHG Post author

      In the scheme of ACLU concerns, the clash of rights relating to speech, race and sex/gender, means something has to give. This is the choice they’ve made.

      1. j a higginbotham

        Who is this “they”? Dodge is one person on the Board of Directors for ACLU Iowa, but the ACLU main web site has several (undated) pages explicitly stating that “hate speech” is free speech and should be allowed.

  4. Boffin

    If you throw out the Creator, then life, liberty, and all that could only have been endowed by the Administration.

  5. losingtrader

    I’d be happy to pick winners before they speak for $45 million per year, roughly what you get for refusing to speak to prospective clients . And I believe you’ve insulted all persons of faith. It’s not “zombie in the sky.” It’s “Hairy Thunder, or Cosmic Muffin”

    One more thing: BART is the By Area Rapid Transit System. You already have no rights there.

  6. Mark Draughn

    Georgina Dodge isn’t on the board of the ACLU, she’s on the board of the Iowa ACLU. Those local ACLU chapters aren’t controlled by the national ACLU, and sometimes they get…weird ideas. The national ACLU hasn’t said anything about this yet, but I doubt they’re signaling a reversal of their position on hate speech.

    1. SHG Post author

      A. Yes, it’s in the post that it’s Iowa.
      B. This isn’t the first free speech clash issue with the national ACLU, which has made it abundantly clear that free speech is low on the hierarchy of rights they give a shit about.
      C. ???
      D. Profit!!!

  7. Jim Cline

    While I haven’t seen her show for years from what I’ve seen in the past it would be a lot of fun to watch her deal with some of the issues the little snowflakes are currently bringing up. Maybe they would listen if she was the one telling them to grow up?

  8. John Neff

    I think that they got the money to pay for a chief diversity officer by getting rid of the job of vice president for bad news. What bothers me is that chief suggests there will be a tribe of diversity officers.

  9. Jake Eschen

    We have to question these surveys’ accuracy. Did the respondents get an electric shock every time that they answered wrong? If not, what would motivate them to answer correctly?

    These recent college graduates who said Judge Judy was on the Supreme Court passed the test with flying colors. Its whole point was to show how ignorant they were, and a refreshing number fully collaborated. The survey wanted stupid, and they gave it stupid.

    I’m sorry I never had a chance to take the USC sex questionnaire asking about the number of partners in the last three months. I would have had a great time.

Comments are closed.