Ed. Note: This is a guest post by Lee Keller King, a civil litigation attorney in a two-person shop in the Houston, Texas area, who practices in business litigation and family law.
Although nothing new to readers of our esteemed host’s blog, Cancel Culture has, until recently, been relatively unknown in Texas. That has changed and in a big way. Cancel Culture has now afflicted the Texas State Bar Association, including an effort to depose our current Bar president, Larry McDougal. The controversy has now reached national note. Can a sitting Bar president be cancelled because of a few comments on social media? This Monday, July 27, we hope to learn the verdict.
Larry is a former police officer, prosecutor and municipal judge who has been ably representing criminal defendants in Fort Bend* and surrounding counties since 1994. However, despite his yeoman service representing people of all colors, nationalities, genders and sexual orientations, the Mob is coming after him with tar and feathers. Larry’s crime? He deviated from the Narrative and had the temerity of questioning the virtue of Black Lives Matter. He has therefore been labelled a racist and thought criminal (as have any who dare defend him on social media).
The ”crime” of which Larry was first accused was that (1) on one occasion in 2015, he labeled Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organization, based on calls to kill cops (“Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon”), and (2) he recently expressed an opinion on social media that a poll worker wearing a Black Lives Matter tee shirt while working the polls constituted the Class C (fine only) misdemeanor of electioneering under the Texas Election Code.** Since that time, social justice warriors have combed social media for any other comments that might offend, and thrown them into the mix. Even an old repost of an “objectionable” meme is now considered grist for the mill.***
The outrage of the Woke has been deafening! One post on a private lawyers-only Facebook page for Texas attorneys received more than 750 comments, and the number of comments in various forums is in the thousands. One well respected minority attorney has gone so far as to state that, “With his remarks, Mr. McDougal has clearly sided with the confederacy.”
And the furor has not stopped with the attempt to run Larry McDougal out of town on a rail. Some attorneys on the far-left side of the aisle have created a spreadsheet of “racist” attorneys, who had the effrontery to support Larry, so that the woke won’t have to sully themselves by accidentally referring cases to such lowlifes.
And on one forum (again, a Facebook page limited to Texas attorneys, whom one would hope understand the concepts of freedom of speech and due process), attorneys are claiming that not only is Larry McDougal “anti black,” so are those who defend him. Even black attorneys who support Larry are being called “anti black.”
And now the Mob is pushing for adoption of ABA Rule 8.4(g), which would make an attorney subject to a grievance if that attorney engaged “in conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law.”
And the Bar leadership has listened. A special Zoom meeting of the State Bar Board of Directors is scheduled for Monday, July 27th at 9:00 a.m., to discuss, among other things, possible action regarding online commentary made by State Bar of Texas President Larry McDougal and other officers and directors. As of Friday, more than 50 people have signed up to speak at this meeting.
Conservative and libertarian attorneys in Texas are frightened: Will they be next? Many of us were under the false impression that Cancel Culture wouldn’t come to Texas, much less the Texas Bar. After all, we are all attorneys together and we proved our minimal intelligence by graduating law school and passing the bar exam, right? Perhaps we were wrong. I suppose we shall see on Monday.
*Fort Bend County is southwest of Houston, Texas and one of the fastest growing counties in the US.
** Texas law prohibits “the posting, use, or distribution of political signs or literature” “within 100 feet of an outside door through which a voter may enter the building in which a polling place is located.” Texas Election Code, Sec. 61.003.
*** Back in the day when I still posted on the Twitters, I had a disclaimer that “retweeting does not necessarily show agreement with the original post.” I may need to add that to Facebook.