Focus, Redux

As Wild Bill might say, there you go again, and indeed, here I go again. There are two overarching groups of people who read SJ, the first being lawyers and the second not being lawyers. They come here for different reasons, read the posts through different eyes.

One of the recurring reactions I receive from lawyers is the appreciation of my riding comments hard. Many sites have shut down comments altogether, because moderating them takes an enormous amount of time, far more than reading some, even all, of the comments posted. I have to read them all, no matter how crazy or wildly off topic. Some are, ahem, long. Some are incomprehensible. Some flow into and out of languages that appear to include English at time and others that exist only in the writer’s fertile imagination.

Some comments are intended as humor, or sarcasm, or snarky references, that no doubt make complete sense in the mind of their writer, but since I have no idea who the writer is, how would I know? The writer may know exactly what she meant inside the secret world of her inner motivations, but it’s just a disembodied random voice to me. And it’s left to me to read a comment, sometimes over and over, to figure it out. Because that’s probably how I want to spend my day, trying to figure out what some random person is trying to say.

Then, of course, some people aren’t nearly as good at expressing themselves as they believe, using words and phrases that may mean a great deal to them but not to anyone else. I read them in order to decide whether you should have to.

It can be too much work, and frankly, most comments aren’t worth that much of my time. At least to me, and since this is my blawg, that’s all that matters. You’re always free to express your deepest thoughts elsewhere, but here, it’s on my dime, and so you can be right, the smartest person ever, saying something totally important, but you don’t get a vote as to what I think matters. I win, not because I’m necessarily right, but because I have the trash button and you don’t.

This past week hasn’t been one of the best for comments, and it’s making me wonder why I allow them at all. When I let commenters stray, whether from the specific subject of the post or into the “non-lawyer chaos theory connect the dots to whatever crap pops into your head,” lawyers get annoyed with me. Why am I letting the people who should shut up and learn ruin the comments with their nonsensical rants.

And then there are the serial defensive arguments, for which my old, now-banned, pal Jake was famous and almost universally despised. Jake always thought it was about his progressive approach. It wasn’t. It was about the cluelessness of his arguments, a reflection of his utter lack of knowledge about law combined with trying to manufacture childish counterarguments that made everyone with a little legal knowledge cringe. Yet he would post comment after comment, fighting by whatever means he could muster, for his right to be the dumbest guy in the room.

Stop putting me through this. It sucks the fun out of it for me, and if it’s not fun for me, why would i continue to do this? And if I don’t continue to do this, there won’t be anything for you to write a comment about. I really don’t want to reach the point of killing comments altogether, as there are fun ones, humorous ones and, occasionally, illuminating ones. But get a grip.

If you say your piece and the reaction isn’t what you hoped for, that’s not an invitation for ten more comments about why you’re not a blithering idiot. You said it. You have nothing more to add. That’s it. If you’re as brilliant as you think, then there will be a Nobel Prize in the mail for you. If not, then that’s that. Either way, stop sucking up my time with your repeated comments fighting for your dignity.

If you’re not a lawyer, there’s an 87.3% chance your legal analysis is wrong, either entirely or in part. Have a little humility and recognize that you’re probably not the most brilliant legal mind here. If all the lawyers seem to find something completely uncontroversial, but it strikes you as improper, maybe the job is for you to figure out why you, the non-lawyer, doesn’t get it rather than mine, or the other lawyers, to explain why your legal acumen is lacking. It’s not as much fun for lawyers to explain law to random people on the internet as you think, and SJ doesn’t exist to teach every dumbass with a question how law works.

There’s a reason they’re called “comments,” not questions.

And then there are those comments adding in that extra bit of information, the factoid, the tidbit of information that may or may not be tangentially (or worse, orthogonally) related, as if the comments exist for you to turn my post into yours, because you think your detail is really interesting or really important. Or maybe it’s just some detail you know and are bursting to share, whether to show how smart you are or just because you decide it’s fascinating.

At some point, nearly every commenter here has decided that I’m a jerk in my handling of their comments. And you may well be right. Much of it has to do with how many nonsensical comments I’ve read, and trashed, before getting to yours. At this moment, there are 579 comments in my trash folder from this past week. Bet you didn’t know that. I do. This is what I deal with.

So much as I may be wrong, a nasty old dick, and needlessly mean, cut me a break, especially if you haven’t bothered to hit the tip jar and at least cover the cost of SJ’s continued existence while I write posts every day. If this becomes unfun enough for me, then where are you going to comment and what are you going to gripe about?

If I’m too horrible for you to take, nobody makes you come here, read, comment or contribute. But if not, then do me one favor. Focus.

43 thoughts on “Focus, Redux

  1. Guitardave

    ” if all the lawyers seem to find something completely uncontroversial, but it strikes you as improper, maybe the job is for you to figure out why ”

    …it only took a year of reading posts and comments for me to comprehend this. Your responses to comments , for me and I’m sure others, are often way more instructive than the post. Thanks for clearing up how large a task it is. I, for one, REALLY appreciate your doing it.

    1. SHG Post author

      Thanks, Dave. For the non-lawyer, there are often questions about things that make little sense or conflict with ideas that are widely accepted outside the practicing criminal law community. I don’t blame people for wanting to better understand, but there are just too many people with too many questions (often presented as a challenge here, i.e., “my trauma is real, how dare you lie and say it’s not!!!”) to unravel and explain. This isn’t law school for the unwashed, and the amount of effort it takes to deconstruct legal nonsense is a magnitude of effort greater than making the original point.

  2. wilbur

    Your comment policy makes me step up my game, such as it is. You do not easily suffer fools.

    1. SHG Post author

      The irony, from my side of the dashboard, is how often someone will thank me for not letting the other guy dive down the rabbit hole, but when they don’t get the love, it’s totally different. It’s a lot easier to see why the other guy was a dolt than when you’re the “other guy.”

      And in fairness, sometimes I’m the “other guy,” too. I realize I’m just as much at fault as everyone else, but what else can I do but run this hotel as best I can?

      1. PseudonymousKid

        You can’t please ’em all. The comment policy is refreshing but takes some time to get used to because your slavish devotion to each narrow topic is unique and thinking is so damn hard. Thanks for the insight into how much effort it all takes. How would we fair commenters know otherwise? Sorry for wasting your time, as I know I have. I’d be sad to see the hotel bar closed.

    2. L. Phillips

      Made SJ a part of my daily routine because of the generally incisive writing and an interest in how “the other side” thinks. The bad cop meme becomes tiresome for a fat old retired LEO with an undistinguished career like myself, but I figure everyone needs a foil. Your point about the tip jar is spot on so set up a monthly donation. Fully understand that I am outgunned intellectually. Comments will be rare and pithy, or pissy depending upon my mood.

      1. Norahc

        Except for the retired LEO part, L Phillips explained why I keep coming back here on a daily basis. While my truck driving yokel self can’t always afford monthly donations, I did manage to find the tip jar this month and will continue to do so as my budget allows.

        Thank you SHG and all commenters here for challenging me on a daily basis and making me think.

  3. Richard Kopf


    The last piece I wrote for SJ I ended with this admonition: ” In the future, fucking focus.” Thus, and also from my Hercules and the Umpire days, I feel your pain. Sadly, I admit to being a pedantic offender as an overly long comment last week demonstrated.

    In short, I will try to do better before deciding that you and your readers cannot survive without the thoughts of an old man whose brain is shrinking. The fact that I have always believed myself the center of the universe will make this effort hard.

    All the best.


    1. SHG Post author

      You, Judge, are my dreaded unicorn zebra in a flowered swimming cap. For the sake of others, I’ll explain. Not only does Judge Kopf do me the courtesy of using my humble blog for his Senate-approved Article III thoughts, whether I agree with them or not, but he does so at constant risk of those who hate the idea that judges might actually be people rather than officious dignified cartoon characters.

      For all the people who are obsequious to judges because they are judges, there is only one judge who has ever shown us groundlings, and we’re all groundlings when it comes to federal judges, the courtesy of engaging like regular human beings on the internet. Some day, this will be better understood and appreciated by the idiocracy.

      Until then, you will always have a home at SJ and most-favored nation status. You’ve suffered mightily for the risk you’ve taken by being a real human being here, and that alone is more than any of us deserve to show you the respect you’ve earned here. I apologize for those times when I failed to show you the respect and appreciation you deserve.

      1. Richard Kopf


        You have never “failed to show . . . the respect and appreciation [I] deserve.” Never, not once.

        Judging is a lonely business and the opportunity to joust with you and others on the extraordinarily unique platform known as Simple Justice is a rare gift that I treasure. Intellectual engagement shorn of sycophancy is vital for me if, as I do, wish to keep my head on straight.

        All the best.


        1. SHG Post author

          Years ago, when I was still young enough to be deemed worthy of a robe by the powers that needed stamps licked in the party office, I went to a friend of mine who sat in a trial court and asked her how she liked it. She looked at me and said it the worst mistake she ever made. Not only was it insufferably boring (“How would you like to be to sit there and say nothing when some incompetent buffoon couldn’t get a decent question out of his mouth to save his life?”) and no one, except old friends and a few of the less officious drones will talk to you without blowing smoke up your ass? No matter what you decide, someone always hates you, and no matter how hard you try, go home at night doubting that actually did anything useful.

          Plus, the pay sucks.

          Judging is lonely business, even if sycophants laugh at all your jokes.

        2. Guitardave

          Judge Kopf,
          Never in my life did i think i would exchange words with with a man of your stature and position…if i did, it was only in the worst possible way. 🙂 Your ‘realness’ for lack of better words, has really helped to change my flawed thinking…almost a default way of living, and being…that is; you( and Scott, and others) have destroyed this ‘us vs them’ ‘the PTB’, ‘Suits’ etc. , mentality i carried around my whole life.
          I know you all have the same mundane parts of life i have, but seeing it all spelled out here, in all its wonderful gory detail, has made me realize that ‘the system’, that I’ve so long loathed, is just a windmill for me. The fact that it’s populated by real people , both excellent and flawed, has really challenged my idea of a enemy Leviathan that i can neither fight or change. It may even knock me out of the decades long, politically apathetic state i live in, since you’ve all taken away my, “you can’t fight it, it’s too big and rotten” excuse, as there is no “it” to fight.
          So again, i sincerely thank you, and Scott, Skink, McCleod, Fubar, and many others, for just being yourselves, and letting a mutton head like me hang around and get enlightened. I owe you guys.
          Best regards, GD

          1. rojas

            All would be forgivin if you had not used that damn emoji.

            Arm outstretched flicking my Bic lighter. Flame is about 3 inches tall. Fresh Bic.
            Play Freebird… again!!

  4. Bob S

    This is interesting. I often make the short smartass comment simply as a way of saying “I’m out here, regular people read and enjoy this”, without considering whether or not they might actually be detrimental.

    My only comments of substance I consider sort of “Dispatches from the steam room”. At times I feel my ‘otherness’ from the general reader pool of SJ provides some value by way of perspective. These pertain only to social issues that come up in discussion, not any interpretation of the law, which I have no training in, and am here to learn about rather than argue about.

    I hope you choose to continue. I do read your blog daily, it’s part of my routine, and without it I would surely have to read something dumber over my coffee.

    1. SHG Post author

      I enjoy and appreciate funny, snarky comment, and many of the non-lawyers make SJ better for them. We all need more humor in our lives.

  5. Ross

    I haven’t had a comment trashed(until now, maybe), but I pre-trash 90% of the comments I write when I realize they suck and reflect weak thinking, or aren’t pertinent. I am a far better writer because of that. However, that’s just an added bonus to the great content that demonstrates that carefully considered writing is a far better means to express an opinion or explain a position than the disrespectful drivel spewed by the average social media user.

  6. David Meyer-Lindenberg

    Some flow into and out of languages that appear to include English at time and others that exist only in the writer’s fertile imagination.

    Look, I’m trying, okay?

  7. cthulhu

    I tend to post much more snark than pithy commentary, but I appreciate that you seem to have some appreciation for the snark (most of my comments make it through). I’m a non-lawyer, but am passionate about many of the issues you raise (mostly in agreement with most of your positions) and greatly enjoy not just the blog, but the comments too.

    Hope you continue with this project; a corner of the Intertoobs would be the worse without your efforts.

  8. John Barleycorn

    Oh FUCK not back to concise AND coherent again…..! That is some tough duty there all right.

    OK, if you insist, but I am not gonna read that newspaper you read every day not the Twit links.

    Cheers from the one who may have been the only “grandfathered in” blithering “nuisance idiot”….


    Ok, back to perfecting my béarnaise sauce recipe and polishing my copper béarnaise pot then and less commenting until Blackstone and Amazon get together and I start showing up with my squirt gun to the spitball fights.

    And thanks gain for your tireless efforts with SJ esteemed one even.

    P.S. Even on your worst days you ain’t really all that cranky. 😉 Ugly maybe…. but you have been ageing pretty well. Heck, you might even turn out to be a contender like that recently Supremed guy Neil one of these days. You will never be as sharp as that Antonin dude though.

      1. LocoYokel

        From Barleycorn cogent might be asking to much, I would settle for at least coherent and work up from there.

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