On numerous occasions, I have received e-mail from readers who express surprise at finding a lawyer who argues the case for liberty. And not the phony "you are free to be regulated" unfree kind of liberty, but genuine, "do as you see fit with your own free will and be responsible for the consequences" liberty. Given that a prominent hippie with a law degree publicly debated the meaning of the verb "is," the correspondence I have received is not surprising.
Although it is true that many lawyers, particularly the prominent glamour hounds who appear on television (and who are portrayed in the largely execrable lawyer shows on television), are card-carrying Leftists, this is not because they are lawyers. These Lefty lawyers were almost certainly Lefties before they ever came near a law school.
Consider: why does one go to law school?
In many cases, law students have no idea what to do with their life. In other cases, one goes to law school to follow in a family tradition of the practice of law. In yet other cases, law students are seeking a law degree because they are starry-eyed visionaries (social reformers, you see). The law can be a powerful tool for shaping society.
To generalize, however, it is dangerous to generalize about lawyers. The real enemy, of whom Americans should be watchful, are the empty-headed children who:
- graduate from terrible grade schools, barely able to read, write, or add;
- graduate from terrible high schools, still barely able to read, write, or add, but now more arrogant, horny, and susceptible to sophistry; and
- graduate from fluff factories known as "colleges" and "universities" (the term "multiversity" is now more appropriate) with little more in their heads than:
- the desire to have tremendous amounts of sex; and either
- the desire to "make the world a better place," or
- make lots of money;
and in the end, are 25-year old children with "Juris Doctorates" and the Mandarin-like ability to navigate through the corridors of power to get what they want (however short-sighted, selfish, or base their desires might be).
They almost certainly graduate from college with little or no understanding of foreign languages, let alone foreign cultures, and little or no understanding of history (American or otherwise), literature (American or otherwise), philosophy, religion, etc., etc., etc. ad infinitum. Not to mention little or no understanding of the nature of the law, i.e., of the philosophy of the law. As there is no such thing as right or wrong, of course, there is no such thing as the nature of law, and so this does not disturb them in the least (nor does it disturb most of their professors, but I digress).
The entire educational establishment in the United States verges on an exercise in high-priced social promotion. In fact, now that "education" has become almost completely detached from any actual learning, becoming "educated" is now very much like obtaining a driver's license or a permit: pay a massive fee, fill out some forms, smile a bit, and, as if by magic, you are "educated." You are educated because you have a piece of paper (a diploma) which says that you are educated. Here is your Doctorate in Education. Now go and run a school district on the thousands of dollars per household that you coerce every year.
Unfortunately, many people blinded by (b) and (c) above choose to go into the practice of law. And it shows. Notice that Bill Clinton, a lawyer, had his head filled with (a) through (c), inclusive. Americans have almost no respect for the legal profession, largely because of the fact that individual lawyers have behaved so badly.
Those who behave badly do not only include those whose greed spurs them on to bombastic lawsuits, but those who seek to remake the entire world according to the images which they have built up in their 25-year old minds.
Think of it: a law school graduate who goes straight from undergraduate college to law school is 25 years old when he graduates. What does he know? He knows he likes beer, he likes sex, he wants life to be free and easy, and he sees no reason why anything like religion or tradition has any place in life. By and large, such things have no place in his personal life (again, see Bill Clinton, the poster boy for the notion that "personal" life is irrelevant to public life. "Yes, I cheat on my wife and break my wedding vows, but you 260 million people that have never met me can trust me not to break my promise to uphold the Constitution." Right. Personal life is wholly irrelevant).
Consider two archetypes: the dullard and the zealot.
First, the dullard. His caring, compassionate, Left-wing, Democrat-voting grade school, high school, and college teachers convinced him that the world should be however he wants it to be. His own weak moral character, and his susceptibility to temptation, helped him along the way. He gets what he wants, and all is good. There is no such thing as right or wrong, other than the idea that he can do as he pleases, and he can force others to do as he pleases they should do. Bill Clinton is this type. Note, however, that such a man of mediocrity (in all things but lying) rose to be the President of the United States. Note also that he received a larger advance for his upcoming "memoirs" than did Pope John Paul II.
Second, the zealot. Her caring, compassionate, Left-wing, etc., etc. have convinced her that she has a manifest destiny to fulfill, much as did Chairman Mao and Lenin. The ridiculous windbag Hillary Clinton is this type. And we see where eight years of fabulous lies, regarding: (1) cattle futures trading, (2) the White House Travel Office, (3) the Whitewater land deals, (4) confidential FBI files of Republicans, and (5) Vince Foster, have landed her: not in jail, but in the United States Senate. Don't forget the $8 million advance she received for her upcoming memoirs.
Query: how can two people who profess to have no memories of numerous events publish memoirs? Sounds like an exercise in fiction (much like their public life: phony photo ops and nothing more).
I ask you, gentle reader, are there better role models for aspiring, young, libidinous liars and money-grubbers? One is hard-pressed to imagine them.
There is much to despise about the Clintons, and about other attorneys as well. The fact that they are lawyers should not be one of these things. Whether one is a lawyer or a doctor, or a member of Congress, one can be a sniveling lackey of statist planning, or one can work for freedom from government.
If anything, the distaste for lawyers comes down to a distaste for what it is that lawyers are able to do to people, namely, land them in all sorts of practical difficulties from which one cannot be extracted, in many cases, without spending large sums of money. Lawyers can harass and annoy with the best of them ("ethical rules" to the contrary notwithstanding). That is something to dislike.
But it is not their law degrees that make the Clintons, or any other lawyers, repugnant. It is their ideas and their actions. It is how they use their legal education.
Why point this out? If the United States is ever again to be a "nation ruled by laws, and not men," there must be more lawyers who will work toward that goal not merely because a client will pay them to do so, but because the work matters. Like it or not (and most, I think, do not), the practice of law has taken on such importance in American society that it cannot be abandoned to the hordes of collectivism.
In closing, tell your favorite lawyer jokes as often as you like. Remember, however, that it isn't the law degree that makes the sleazy lawyer a sleaze, it is his own bad moral character.
August 23, 2001
Mr. Dieteman [send him mail] is an attorney in Erie, Pennsylvania, and a PhD candidate in philosophy at The Catholic University of America.
© 2001 David Dieteman