Ten Years After

SJ is ten years old today. This might be a post about the joys of blogging, but it’s not going to be. It’s been far less fun doing this than it used to be. It’s not just that the old blawgosphere is largely gone, or that some old friends have been swept up in the mindlessness of social justice or the hysteria of Trump hatred.

It’s that so many have lost their sense of humor, their ability, and even their desire, to reason, their focus. And some, who were never as fascinating as they thought themselves, have proven to be sadly unstable and disreputable. Some friends who offered interesting and thoughtful ideas are no longer with us. Some friends are no longer friends. Some have simply disappeared, and others have reinvented themselves into the phony internet personas they think will make them important people.

My pal, Stephanie West Allen, sent me a link this morning about a Yale history professor who says we have “maybe a year” to defend America from Trump, who is “literally Hitler.” This isn’t a serious point. This is insanity.

It’s not nearly as much fun to write about the law when readers are nuts. It’s even less fun fending off the insane comments, here and by the geniuses on other social media, from reddit to the twitters, as if it’s my duty to explain why they suffer from paranoid delusions and pathological narcissism. I wonder which of you will be the first nutjob to explain to me why “BUT HE IS!!!”

Ten years after I started SJ, the law is as much of a mess as it’s ever been. The ability to have rational discussion is nearly non-existent. The level of hysteria has achieved heights never before imaginable. And mostly, even the smart folks are largely lost in their outrage.

We will survive the current insanity. Trump will be replaced with another president. The republic will survive. But I cannot forget who forfeited their integrity and sanity along the way. I don’t really give a damn why you succumbed to your feelings. You aren’t the center of my universe, and even if you can’t grasp this fairly obvious detail, SJ is my soapbox, not yours.

I don’t come to your house to take a dump on your door step. You came to mine. And reading your thousand of words, your serial comments, your insistence that you’re not a flaming lunatic, doesn’t make me want to invite you to the SJ sleepover party.

There are still thoughtful people out there, the few who have braved the slings and arrows of the deeply passionate. And I will remember who they are as well. These are the people I want standing next to me in a fight, because these are the serious people who will be the ones to continue to do as they’ve always done, stand up for the law, the Constitution, reason and challenge those who would undermine it, whether with the best or worst of intentions.

But they are fewer and farther between these days. In their place, I see fragile, deluded, educated but ignorant people, who have given up on integrity and given in to their worst impulses, their unrestrained irrational emotions. They are certain they’re special. They are angry that I don’t appreciate how special they are. How much fun is it to write to appease their feelz?

No. It’s not fun. Happy birthday to SJ.

107 thoughts on “Ten Years After

    1. SHG Post author

      Please understand that what I’m about to write isn’t about you or your kind comment, but that I’m going to use your comment for an ulterior purpose.

      Is it my job to teach you? To amuse you? To give you a free read in the morning? Did I assume a duty to confirm your bias, validate your feelings, put into words whatever it is you feel? Is it about you?

      I write for my own amusement. I let people read it because I can, but not because I owe anyone anything. I don’t ask for anyone to agree with me. I don’t force anyone to read SJ. I surely don’t make anyone comment.

      I’m sincerely glad you found value, and sometimes a laugh, in what I write. That’s a collateral benefit to what I do here. It’s not my purpose.

      1. Allen

        I read what you write for my own purpose. It’s indeed fortunate that we can both gain something through it.

        Happy Birthday

  1. Keith Lee

    Thank you for ten years of blogging here at SJ, and generally being present around the online lawyer world. It might not be as much fun as it once was, but you are still making a difference. My thoughts on the law, people I know, and my overall career have been positively impacted by reading SJ and having known you. I think many, many others could say the same.

    I hope we get another ten years of curmudgeonly skewering, insights, and laughs.

    1. SHG Post author

      You’ve been one of the young lawyers whom I’ve watched grow into maturity online (and in person). You give me hope for the future of the law.

  2. Karl Erich Martell

    Thanks for the efforts – they are appreciated. There’s a glass of beer and a plate of green chile chicken enchiladas waiting for you any time you are in NM.

  3. Turk

    Writers gotta write.
    Sometimes others get something from it, sometimes not.

    Happy birthday, SJ. Glad you survived.

  4. Jeff Gamso

    I know how much work it is to do what you do here. It may not be the fun that it was, but SJ remains, for at least some of us who read it every day, worthwhile (or we’d stop reading it everyday – duh).

    More than congratulations, thanks.

    1. SHG Post author

      It’s not work when you enjoy it. When it’s not fun (and since I’m surely not getting rich, famous or loved because of it), why bother? That’s the struggle at the moment. Why try to keep it real when half the Harvard Law faculty is spewing snake oil to whip up the fools and make them as ignorant of law as possible? People don’t want real. They want their feelz confirmed, any way they can get it. Thank you, but rational discourse is dying, if not dead.

  5. Murray Newman

    Love you, man! Even if you aren’t feeling celebratory, ten years of quality thought and writing is an accomplishment worth celebrating.

    There is a reason that you are respected and revered in the legal and blogging world. You’ve continued where so many of the rest of us have trailed off. Feel grumpy about it to your heart’s content but the rest of us are glad that you are still the voice of reason (usually) in a wilderness of reactionary idiots.

  6. PaulaMarie Susi

    Congratulations, my friend. Happy 10th, SJ!
    You encourage people to think, not an easy thing to do these days.

  7. Wilbur

    HB10, indeed.

    Know that you (and the commenters, too) do genuinely stimulate me to think about topics from an oft-different perspective than my own. That’s pretty high praise, albeit from a lowly source.

    All the best.

  8. Bruce Coulson

    Congratulations for ten years of writing interesting, thought-provoking columns. Even for those who are not your intended audience.

  9. Maurice Ross

    Thanks for your blogging. You are a reliable defender of the rule of law and especially first and fourth amendment rights. But somewhere along the road you have lost your way. No rights are absolute and sometimes you have to take a stand. Racism and bigotry remain a tremendous embarrassment in our legal system. It’s not just politics. Fighting for social justice is consistent with the rule of law and the constitution which is designed to protect against majority tyranny. The Yale professor is neither insane nor hysterical. You of all people should realize that Trump’s open alignment with the white supremacist alt right threatens the rule of law and constitutional democracy. The analogy to Hitler is real and many quite reasonable federal judges and partners in major firms have voiced concern about it. Maybe it is you who has gotten lost over the past ten years. It’s never too late to catch up with history.

      1. Maurice Ross

        I pray that you are right and I am wrong. But I’m not optimistic. Stephen Miller’s over-the-top comments on Sunday news shows seem to support my authoritarian thesis. But as you have said, so far Trump has no actually openly refused to follow court orders. Time will tell.

  10. DC

    Ken White linked to SJ somewhere back in the Twitter ether and I have not been disappointed.

    Thank you for writing for your amusement, I in turn am amused and challenged by your blog.

  11. Chris Ryan

    Happy 10th Birthday from one of your IANAL crowd.

    SJ has been a boon to me in making me less stupid, and I will rue the day it closes up.

  12. Luke

    I’m no lawyer, and teaching me isn’t your job, but teach me you do. I appreciate the time you sink into this site and how it helps a poor layman like me try to improve my understanding. For as long as writing here continues to amuse and gratify you, I’ll keep reading. Thank you.

    Now I’ll take my non-lawyer ass back to the peanut gallery and resume lurking.

      1. Luke

        I’m saying whether you amuse me doesn’t matter, and I know it 🙂 Although for the record, you do. If there’s a YouTube video I know it’s a good day.

    1. Troutwaxer

      What Luke said. I also appreciate the time and effort you put into this blog, and I’d have sad feelz if you stopped blogging.

      On the subject of Trump, I don’t mind a little rhetoric if it pushes things to the point where The Orange One never, ever has the chance to prove you wrong.

      I wish you many maple-bacon donuts. (And good New York bagels with really good lox. I think you wrote about that once too.)

      1. SHG Post author

        There’s an ambivalence about Darth Cheeto. He’s doing everything wrong, but then, maybe that’s why he was elected and maybe a little “doing everything wrong” will have some beneficial results since doing everything right hasn’t always worked out so well. It’s not at all an endorsement, but a recognition that knowledgeable folks who love bagels haven’t managed to craft the perfect world yet either.

  13. Jim Tyre

    Congrats, Scott and SJ!

    I haven’t been here from the beginning, and I don’t always agree with you – prolly we share a belief that no one should always agree with you. ‘-) But even though the blog is for you, not your readers, you’ve managed to teach me some good things, or at least to get me thinking about things to which previously I hadn’t given much thought. For that and other things, I’m grateful.

    (And thanks for fixing the video link at the top. I wasted many brain cells pondering what the bad link signified when I first saw it.)

  14. Anuj

    I’m not an American but a lawyer (big law, at that). I’m not personally or professionally invested in any of the issues that you write about but came back everyday for a lesson in clarity of thought and expression. Thank you, the ability to be the voice of sanity in mass hysteria is both inspirational and instructive. Keep on keeping on (as long as you feel like it).

    1. SHG Post author

      I often wonder if I’m as clear to others as I am to myself. That’s a curious problem when writing for an audience as diverse as the internet. I appreciate that.

      1. Chris Ryan

        The clarity of a person’s communication is always subject to the ability of the receiver to process the information. Anyone that comes to SJ looking for answers is likely to walk away disappointed, as most problems (and criminal justice is no exception) cannot be solved in a series of blog posts.

        I know that I come here looking for a clear framing of the questions that I need to think about, along with context (and links to all sides) to provide more food for thought. But as you have said many times thinking is hard.

  15. Anuj

    The short answer is yes and no you cannot expect it to be otherwise. Sometimes you can see there is a missing leg even if you don’t know what it is but clearer than most by a mile

  16. Kathleen Casey

    Happy Birthday! It seems to be just as long as it has been.

    I am sorry to see the aggravation. I guess most nutjobs don’t know anyone who disagrees with them and so when you talk sense and sarcasm the insanity escalates.

    Thank you for everything you do. You and SJ have made me a better lawyer. I hope you and Dr. SJ enjoy your dinner at the French restaurant with the weird name.

    1. SHG Post author

      Heh. We are looking forward to that dinner. Hope it proves worth it. And tonight, maybe a nice hot fudge Sundae. There are some benefits to this bloggy stuff.

      And thank you, my hinterlands correspondent.

  17. Dick Taylor

    Thank you, for ten years of clear thinking backed by solid principle and for being able to explain it again and again to people who seem at best intermittently able to appreciate it. SJ is a rare treasure.

  18. Nels Ekelund

    Congratulations on 10 years of Simple Justice, Scott!

    Rest assured that there are those of us who, over the past up-to-ten years, have not only enjoyed reading your blog but who greatly appreciate and have greatly benefited from having a corner of the internet that remained devoted to not making people stupider. And, just maybe, we engage in rational thought and discourse a bit more and are a little less stupid for it.

    Your writing remains as insightful and entertaining (and in no way prolific) as ever.

  19. John Barleycorn

    Who needs a blanket or a net.

    Time to take this blawg out on the road!?

    Shouldn’t be too hard to come up with the right paint scheme for the bus and if you turned it into a vlawg from location on Fridays, just think of all the cool cats you could hang out with every weekend, to say nothing about all the right kind of cynical babes you would meet.

    Trust me. It will be fun…

    Could be worse? Could always be worse…

    But Cheers to you anyway esteemed one!

    BTW it’s true, you know, what they say about fun, especially if you ain’t having any.

    P.S. The way I see it, you should probably be just about getting around to figuring out the inevitable simplicity of the justice conundrum in about twenty years or so, give or take.

    What’s a few rock chips anyway?

      1. John Barleycorn

        Yeah, that ought to work until you get paid for the first few gigs. But you might want to consider penciling in a few converted  ’56 Burlingham Seagulls for the final leg of the first tour.

        Just saying…but from my experience the lines of the Burlingham tend to keep a slightly more diverse mixture of the right kind of cynical babes in the groupie pool longer than lines of a Blue Bird.

        Not to say that the sort of, right sort of cynical groupies that are singularly attracted to the lines of a Blue Bird over the Burlingham aren’t a heck of a lot of fun!

        It’s just one of those things that you learn from the trenches.

        Nevermind… it’s your show!  Besides you are certainly still young enough and probably fit enough to handel the Blue Bird exclusive types anyway.

        You’ll figure it out, just don’t fuck up the busisness plan if you have to make the switch to  Burlinghams to keep from burning out too fast.

        Pro Tip: If you run into any Blue Bird exclusive groupies that you just can’t part with, tell them you will replace the box springs in the master suite in one the converted Burlingham’s in your fleet with Blue Bird bench seat springs. And if they come back with “You’re talking pre-1992 springs right?” put them on the payroll too.

  20. AH

    Happy Birthday and thank you for doing what you do. I can’t remember how long I have been reading (definitely more than half of the ten years) or even how I found myself here, but it has been my first stop in the morning ever since. I always appreciate your viewpoint and the principled and reasoned way in which it is presented. I hope, despite all of the frustrations, you continue to enjoy writing for a long time to come.

    1. SHG Post author

      Now I remember when and why you first came here (or at least I think I do). I wrote about your grandfather. I could not have been prouder than having you here. Thank you.

      1. AH

        I think that was actually just the first time I commented. I believe I had lurked for some time previously. But that is the date I used to determine it has been at least half of the ten years. I greatly appreciated what you wrote about him. My grandfather was a very principled man and I think he would appreciate your principled approach. With the current political atmosphere I frequently reflect on the calm and reasoned way he dealt with what he deemed to be a clear injustice. I believe his demeanor contributed to the power of his actions and so I am trying to heed his example.

          1. Jim Tyre

            Scott, want to add in a link to that piece? It sounds really interesting, but I wouldn’t know where to begin searching for it. Thx.

  21. Anthony

    if it helps, i stumbled upon your blog 1 day ago via Lowering the Bar, and have been aggressively feeding my brain with its legit-ness. A tip of the cap to you

      1. Anthony

        Perhaps it’s only on my phone, but i love that the options button in the upper left of the mobile page opens to a blank menu. Not joking & wonder if it scares off a dum-dum or 2.

        in before i’m zinged with that low-hanging fruit.

        1. SHG Post author

          I’ve never seen SJ on a phone, so I have no idea what it looks like. Frankly, I never see if from the page you see. It’s only a dashboard to me.

          1. Scott W Jacobs

            Reading it is fine, and the initial comment works great but attempts to reply cause it to not nest (and is, I suspect, a major cause of “is hitting the reply button too hard” issues). Same thing happens frequently at FaultLines.

    1. SHG Post author

      And I bet sometimes you wish I would do so from a greater distance. Like that mean old uncle who says “meh” to all the good ideas.

  22. Ken Mackenzie

    “rational discourse is dying, if not dead”
    Not here. Here, many readers become a little less stupid for having read, and sometimes engaged with reasoned arguments. Hysteria is in fashion. Fashions pass. Your blog is a form of resistance to the Rise of Stupid, at least as a happy by-product, if your purpose is not to teach. For me, it’s been many things; a refuge from hysteria, a model for writing , a source of knowledge, understanding and guidance, a touchstone. Also fun. Thank you.

    1. SHG Post author

      I’ve seen a lot of fashions come and go. I’ve never seen a nation so bound in hysteria. Fashions pass, but how do people find their way back to calm, deliberate thought after they’ve sucked the blood of rank emotions. Entropy is still a thing, and people have given in to it.

      1. Ken Mackenzie

        “how do people find their way back to calm, deliberate thought after they’ve sucked the blood of rank emotions?”
        After the tantrums, the fighting, the smashing of precious things, my kids need to rest. The children come to a point where they look for grown-ups to clean up the mess, provide the necessaries, and demonstrate some responsibility.

    2. Billy Bob

      What’s a touchstone? Fun? That would be collateral damage. If not fun,… nevermind. A model for writing, yes! SJ has helped us with our own writing. (Hopefully, better than it used to be.) And thanx for suffering us non-lawyers. At first, we thought this site was another mutual-admiration society. However, we quickly learned otherwise; and it has proven to be more than that, irregardless of the restless animals on the outside looking in [at those endeavoring to become “clear” thinkers].
      The most important thing we have learned is not to be the first commenter in the queue. Ha. In other words, the first to get slaughtered. Happy Tenth! Keep up the good work.

      We remember, upon first visiting, the time you completely erased our comment and re-wrote the comment we should have written. We were hooked. What a hoot!

  23. Laches

    A happy 10th to SJ, an island of smart and rationale in a sea of nonsensical feelz-based shrieking.

    I know from your comments above and previously that you don’t write for your audience, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to read what you write, and become a little less stupid each day for it.

    All the best to you, sir.

  24. Eddie Harrington

    Happy Birthday to the first thing I read every morning after I sit down at my desk. Reading this blawg has been an real eye opener on many issues and I truly have learned a lot. Hope you have 10 more years of writing left in you.

  25. MrBill

    What’s there to say that others haven’t said already, and better? I’ll say it anyway. Congratulations on the milestone, and best wishes for continued success.

  26. Brady Curry

    Thank you for all you do. This Hillbilly is a little less stupider for having read your blog. I don’t like to comment much because I then find out the stupid it still strong in me.

    I would sincerely miss reading your blog should you ever grow tired of it. You have a gift for putting thought to paper and I thank you for sharing it.

      1. Brady Curry

        “Shine” is easily obtained in these parts. I’m talking about the illegal stuff. That crap they sell at wal-mart and the liquor stores is just that. If it’s not illegal its not moonshine.

        A co-worker is my source of choice. We can get clear or flavored. Flavors include grape, strawberry, pineapple, apple pie, dreamsicle, cherry, iced tea, etc. You can also request any flavor you can think up. If you know what you’re doing the best is to get the clear and flavor it yourself. Or just man up and drink the clear straight. If we could think of a safe way we could send you a quart.

        1. SHG Post author

          I expected Chris Seaton to bring me some shine, but he came empty handed. Not even a donut. I should have pulled his Hillbilly card for that.

  27. Pedantic Grammar Police

    Please don’t be so hard on those who say that Trump is literally Hitler, nor in general those who say that anything is “literally” that which it is not. This is shorthand. It would take too long to say “I live in a fantasy world and nothing I say (or type) should be taken seriously.”

  28. Morgan O

    I lurk as well- yea, even unto the creeping upon the archives. I’m not a lawyer. Hell, I’m not even American. I do like the clarity of thought and style. I learn, I ponder. None of these things are particularly important to you doing continuing to write, but I do think your writing is important. Voices of sanity always are.

    Tummy-rubs aside, I also never know when I may be in maritime distress in Nebraska, and name dropping an admiral will allow my canoe-load of smuggled beaver pelts to pass unremarked for a suitable tribute of Quebec syrup and fine bacon.

  29. Scott Jacobs

    In late, because life.

    Scott, I know you don’t write for us, but what you write has an impact on us. A while back I told you that you were the sort of lawyer I want to be like when I’m through law school and a practicing attorney and that belief has only grown more certain with time. You don’t come by your views and stances lightly, and you hold to them with a conviction I continue to be inspired by.

    If I am half the lawyer you are, if I have half your integrity and deliberate nature upon my beginning the practice of law, I will be light years beyond any possible peers, where ever I end up practicing.

    Pleas for you to continue will fall upon deaf ears, but still shall I make them; you inspire and provoke thought every day. Please don’t stop, if only so that you make continue to goad those of us who are not yet – but who wish to be – trench lawyers to want to fight tooth and nail.

    You make me look forward to the fight.

    For that alone, I will always thank you.

  30. Rendall

    Happy 10th Birthday.

    10 years and every year I forget to write a trolling comment on April Fools Day to get your teeth a-gnashing. Maybe this year.

    But you really should write for a broader, non-lawyer audience. Consider writing a kind of “Law Splainer” like Popehat. Also, I get what you say about free speech, but hate speech isn’t free speech, you know. You can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater.

    I got a lot of them. I can keep going.

  31. Wolfear

    I realize I am late to your birthday party. So many things take up the time of a Dairy Queen manager. Maybe my opinion means something, maybe it doesn’t. You’re not looking for my approval, and I’m not qualified to give it. As what I hope would be one of the many non-lawyers who read you writings, I want to say thank you, for not making us stupider and hope you keep up the good works.

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