Burn The Squawk, Cry Legal Aid Society’s Fragile Waifs

They’re gathering kindling, branches, anything that burns outside 100 Centre Street. Not the prosecutors. Not the police. Not even the judges. No, it’s the new hires at the Legal Aid Society, and the only reason they’re making a bonfire of their vanities is they can’t get a permit to build gallows unless they have enough gender-inclusive restrooms.

For whom are they putting in this effort? The most vile, the most evil, the most politically incorrect person in all of indigent defense.  Appellate Squawk.

If the wrath of the humorless is a satirist’s badge of honor, we’ve been awarded the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for our recent post “Are you a cissie?

The post (trigger warning!) is a spoof of compulsory workplace “trainings” proselytizing the fashionable notion of gender issues über alles. Our point was that although genderism may be a harmless enough ideology for personal life, it’s intrusive, irrelevant and potentially offensive to foist it on people we’re supposed to be defending from criminal prosecution.

Remember the good old days, when public defenders concerned themselves with, you know, public defense? No more, kidz. There are far worse dragons to slay, people who use words like “cissie,” which made not one, not two, but six (with their requisite “me toos”) Legal Aid lawyers immediately accuse Squawk of progressive heresy. Burn the witch!

OMG, the cries of “Homophobic!” “Racist!” “Heavy hearts, anger and anguish!” “Resistance to the Truth!” that went up from a claque of goodthink colleagues.  Grievances! Complaints! Running to Mommy Management!  Of course we support free speech, they harrumph, but not when it offends us!

The policy carefully crafted by LAS between tears of anguish over the oppression of humorless included, among a great many deeply sensitive requirements, that

Harassment does not require an intent to offend. Thus, inappropriate conduct or language meant as a joke, a prank, or even a compliment can lead or contribute to harassment.

Squawk never stood a chance. While xhe writes satire, which isn’t quite the same as a joke, it’s much too hard for the humorless and intellectually challenged to distinguish between the two, and so xhe harassed, they shrieked.

Apparently they skipped First Amendment in law school for fear of being traumatized.  But if criticism of their beliefs makes them anguished and apoplectic, how in the (real) world do they function as lawyers?

This is where Squawk has failed to keep pace with the demands placed on Legal Aid lawyers. In the old days, they defended people accused of crimes. Now, they spend their time dealing with the Fragile Waifs of the Law. But, of course, their response was to tell the adorable waifs, adorned in their pale armor, to grow up, to not find offense under every rock, right? Noooooo.

LAS retained Proskauer’s Elizabeth Spector Loudon to investigate the witch. One might have thought an investigation would consist of the two minutes it took to read Squawk’s post, but then, blasphemy is far too serious a matter to be taken thoughtfully.

As it turns out, soon after the announcement of the new discrimination and harassment policy, a CLE was held, where the lawyers were instructed that the first thing they must do when meeting their clients was not to ask about the case, not to ask about the defense, not to ask about anything having anything to do with that nasty old-school mission of criminal defense. How horrifying! How exhausting!

No, the first and foremost concern was that LAS lawyers were directed to ascertain their self-identified gender and sexual orientation. It didn’t matter that there was nothing to suggest a gender or sexual orientation issue. They must put it first. And never, but never, call a client “Mr. Smith,” as that would presume their gender, even if no one had ever shown them the respect of using an honorific* before. As a last resort, they were trained to use the word “Mx.,” which always serves well in the holding cell to identify defendants who tend not to be particularly woke.

Due process wasn’t high on the list of concerns for the LAS when seeking to burn the witch. They demanded Squawk be interviewed by their Inquisitor without knowing the allegations. After all, it’s not like they’re lawyers, or would let the LAS union contract stand in the way. But with some persistence, Squawk was finally given the redacted complaints.

I am reporting the content of this blog as creating a contributing to a hostile work environment. Please read it. It is terrible.

“Terrible”? Deep thoughts here, but then, nothing compared to the erudite expression of “creating a contributing to a hostile work environment.”

I would like to file a complaint against [Squawk], due to the blog post communication that was sent out below through Legal Aid’s email system.

A complaint for what? If you have to ask, you’re obviously a somethingphobe. And included with this thoughtful accusation is the requisite Slacktivist’s solidarity statement. There is nothing more beloved at LAS than to “stand with” the marginalized.

For some context, CAB recently had trainings on best practices for representing transgender and gender nonconforming clients on direct appeal and in SORA hearings.

I am writing to this large group to express support and solidarity with my transgender and gender nonconforming colleagues. I am appalled by this blog post, and I know I’m not alone.

As a cis-gendered, heterosexual woman who got a lot out of the recent CAB trainings, and who hopes to keep improving my practice so that I can better represent transgender and gender non-conforming folks, I also want to thank those colleagues who worked so hard to make the trainings happen. I hope Legal Aid will continue to promote trainings like this so that we can all grow as lawyers and people (not to mention comply with our ethical obligations and the State and City human rights laws).

Had enough? But we’re not done yet.

I am writing to file a complaint of discriminatory harassment against [Squawk].

Not your plain vanilla harassment, but discriminatory harassment. But at least this complaint goes into detail on all the outrageous and offensive things the accuser endured.

This blog post characterizes asking a client’s name and preferred pronoun as “the latest advance[] in client-centered embarrassment” and as a “humiliating” question.

The post then goes on to provide a transcript of an imaginary conversation between a cis-gender woman attorney and her client. In the exchange, the client describes having been subjected to a series of egregious constitutional violations by the police. The attorney is portrayed as being so fixated on confirming her client’s gender identity and sexual orientation that she is oblivious to these egregious violations.

The attorney is shown admonishing the client for purportedly equating his genitals with his gender identity {e.g., after the client says that the police handcuffed him to a chair and “started throwing lighted matches on my lap, causing imminent danger to my manhood,” the lawyer responds with, “Tut, tut, gender isn’t a matter of stereotypical physical characteristics”). The client is portrayed as homophobic and sexist (“Yo, are you calling me a FRUIT?” and “Damn these girl lawyers”) and the attorney is portrayed as being more invested in correcting the client’s language than paying attention to the client’s legal needs (“That’s a very discredited terminology. The term is non-binary gender fluid”). Further, the post also belittles the use of “they” as some individuals’ preferred pronoun {“Your wife? What gender identity does they go by?”).

[Squawk’s] email has served as a huge distraction from doing my job today. I am upset and really troubled that someone who works at the Legal Aid Society- an organization whose motto is to make the case for humanity- is joking about the importance of honoring a person’s preferred pronoun and gender. It is disturbing that the message indicates that an attorney cannot zealously represent their client while inquiring about a client’s preferred pronoun and gender identity. If anything, by asking a client about their pronoun *furthers* an attorney’s ability to best represent their client.

And they go on. As one of Squawk’s defenders noted, there is nothing about her post that denigrates gender or sexual orientation.** If that is an issue, fine, and it will in the ordinary course of minimally intelligent representation be addressed. What it does ridicule is how LAS has put its social justice issues ahead of its one job, the defense of indigent defendants.

It’s time for a little introspection at the Legal Aid Society. Are you the Sensitive Political Correctness Society or do you defend people accused of murder and rape, assault and drugs? If Squawk’s criticism of your exaltation of “gender justice” over your duty to defend the accused makes your fragile waifs break down in tears, then it’s time to find some other organization to defend the accused. You’re not up to the task, no matter how hard you try to tie your sad feelings up in pretty pink bows.

This is a tough job, and it demands tough people, not the fragile waifs of the law.  If you can’t make it through a blog post without crying, then you can’t handle the job.

*No, officer. “Motherfucker” is not an honorific.

**Squawk does use words that might make even the toughest White Knight swoon, but if they can’t bear the language in a blog post, they’re going to have a very difficult time handling the typical street language of some cis-dude in lockup. Then again, under the new policy, they would no longer be required to defend foul-mouthed defendants who create a hostile work environment for the lawyers, whose feelings come first.

40 comments on “Burn The Squawk, Cry Legal Aid Society’s Fragile Waifs

  1. Richard Kopf

    SHG,

    How does one, like me, who is especially sensitive to the horrors of binary forms of address, pronounce “Mx?”

    As always, thank you for helping me with language.

    In this modern age, I find addressing offenders with the approved honorific, particularly those who I sentence to life plus cancer, to be a daunting challenge.

    All the best.

    RGK

    PS. Offenders have similar troubles addressing me. One particularly bright and sensitive offender, aware of the etymology of my first and last name, came up with this: “Judge Dick Head.” I liked it, but it has not caught on.

    Reply
    1. SHG Post author

      Good try, but not going there, Judge. Rick Hasen, on the other hand, may volunteer to champion your cause. I can ask if you want.

      Court Clerk: How does the defendant plead, guilty or not guilty?
      Lawyer: Before the defendant pleads, I want to advice the court as to the defendant’s personal pronouns.
      Judge: The options are guilty or not guilty. Pick one.
      Lawyer: Judge, you are not valuing the defendant’s lived experiences and are harassing my client!
      Judge: GUILTY OR NOT GUILTY.
      Lawyer: Well, actually Judge, I don’t know. After I asked him about his preferred gender and sexual orientation, he called me a public pretender and told me to kiss his ass and get him a real lawyer. I haven’t stopped literally shaking since.

      Reply
      1. Richard Kopf

        SHG,

        Before I decide whether I request you to make the inquiry, I need to ask another question. Would that be Mx. Hasen?

        All the best.

        RGK

        Reply
      2. kemn

        I just want to say, if that’s the first question my public defender asks me, I’m going to find the money to hire someone who cares about winning the case, and not about my feelz…

        Reply
        1. SHG Post author

          I don’t care who you are, what your sexual orientation is, which of the 47 flavors of gender you prefer. If you’re in lockup, all you want is to get out of the pens. What you do not want is a lawyer who will waste his 3 minutes discussing your pronouns and genital preferences.

          Reply
    2. wilbur

      I had assumed “Mx” was short for Mister Mxyzptlk, the imp from the 5th Dimension who bedeviled Superman with his devilish pranks. Aren’t most people locked up for essentially devilish pranks?

      We know it isn’t for “mixed up”.

      Reply
      1. Norahc

        I was always taught “Mx” was the abbreviation for Mexico. Seems kind of racist for LAS to call their “unidentified” clients Mexicans.

        Reply
  2. Marc Whipple

    I’m confused again. Or still.

    Anyway.

    How, exactly, did this become a matter for internal investigation? Is this blogger known to be an employee of the LAS or something? Or is it just that somebody discussed this online so obviously they must have some connection to the LAS so hostile work environment by proxy?

    Reply
    1. SHG Post author

      Well, that’s a detail I purposefully omitted, as Squawk is anon on the interwebz but not so much internally at LAS. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one, as it’s not my place to reveal what Squawk has chosen not to reveal.

      [Edit: And should anyone try to dox Squawk here, I will not allow it.]

      Reply
  3. Jay

    I was doxxed years ago after offending public defenders in my state, though my attacks went to their job performance. I quit blogging but my office refused to reprimand me. I just point this out because out in the sticks we look up to LAS and the way they perform. After this I doubt we’ll be accepting invites to view their offices again.

    Reply
  4. Jim Tyre

    Apparently they skipped First Amendment in law school for fear of being traumatized.

    “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of sXXXch, or the right of the people peaceably to XXXemble, and to peXXXion the government for a redress of grievances.”

    Reply
  5. David Meyer-Lindenberg

    Privilege, I guess, is being able to afford a lawyer who cares more about winning one’s case than using one as a pawn in some fantasy game of politics. If they really wanted to help the underserved, the most ideologically coherent thing Squawk’s accusers could do would be to resign.

    Reply
    1. SHG Post author

      In a better world, they wouldn’t have the opportunity to resign, as they would never make it beyond the three month probation period.

      Reply
      1. Scott Jacobs

        More concerned they managed to graduate or pass the bar in the first place.

        I thought the legal profession was supposed to have standards.

        Reply
  6. Jyjon

    Isn’t demanding to know someones sexual preferences a form of sexual harassment? I am so glad I never worked in a field where that kind of discussion was relevant. Sure, sometimes we needed to know the sex of the plants for pollination n stuff. No one cares about the sexual orientation and gender identity of the plants.

    Reply
  7. B. McLeod

    The SJWs don’t realize the extent to which (witch?) they have already become silly parodies of themselves. They are like a Monty Python movie in progress, leaving viewers unable to sort out who is left in the Judean People’s Front and who has gone over to the People’s Front of Judea.

    Reply
  8. REvers

    Scene 1, in the holding pens outside of the courtroom

    Lawyer: What is your gender and what are your preferred pronouns?

    Client: Well, I’m gender fluid and I prefer xhe and xer.

    Billy Bob (overhearing): WE GOT US A HOMO! GIT ‘IM!

    Hilarity ensues.

    Reply
  9. Scott Jacobs

    Crap like this is what causes me to wonder if I want to be a defense attorney.

    I mean, on one hand, fuck the state, man. I wanna make the State earn every conviction.

    but on the other, I really like winning, and I can only assume that the sort of lawyer who would file these idiotic complaints would be super easy to beat in court.

    Reply
      1. Scott Jacobs

        Jesus Christ that is maybe the most depressing thing ever.

        It’s like the group project from hell, where instead of a shitty grade because your partner is a moron, someone loses years off their life.

        Reply
    1. B. McLeod

      Even without another overlay of pointlessly silly shit, the criminal system is a dangerous place for an innocent defendant. In a hundred cases, you can expect one or two acquittals, and “winning” will often be defined by how far you can whittle down potential consequences via plea bargains.

      Reply
      1. SHG Post author

        Well, that’s not exactly how it works. Some lawyers get more dismissals/acquittals than others for good reasons. Some never do.

        Reply
        1. B. McLeod

          And yet, if “winning” is your thing, CDL is probably not going to be the shining opportunity for anyone.

          Reply
            1. B. McLeod

              Yes. Like that day of rest you get after a 120 hour week, or that first real meal you get after 30 hours in the clutches of the airlines, or sitting by the fire after a day and night of hunting in the snow, or being with your woman after six months at sea.

  10. Lee

    Well’s I guess if one can’t win one’s cases, one can at least pat oneself on one’s back for one’s SJW purity. At least one can then tell one’s self that one meant well, and it is all about the feelz, right?

    Reply
  11. AE

    I’d like to think I would have had the courage to file a complaint about Squeak as well in this situation.

    Of course, the hypothetical complaint would have read “By running her mouth about this, Squeak had me dragged into another bullshit HR session about how the most important part of my job is asking for correct pronoun usage. Anyone who makes me suffer through another one of those is clearly attempting to create a hostile work environment, and I don’t feel comfortable or safe working somewhere that I could be randomly tormented this way.”

    Reply
  12. Pingback: Free the Squawk! - Windypundit

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