The Non Sequitur Legal Lampoon
© Andrews McMeel Publishing, Kansas City 2002
The Non Sequitur Legal Lampoon |
A Biased, Unfair, and Completely Accurate Law Review from Non Sequitur
Andrews McMeel Publishing, Kansas City
Which brings us to lawyers
The second most frequently asked question I've gotten over the years is “What do you have against lawyers?” This usually comes from lawyers who don't like seeing themselves in the cartoons and want me to stop. This, of course, only encourages a smart-ass satirist such as myself to do more of them. And the more they squeal, the easier it is to tell if the material is on target.
But it may surprise many that I don't have anything against lawyers, per se. Like any other profession, most lawyers are decent, hard-working people. These lawyers, however, are not the focus of my cartoons, nor that of society's ire on a whole. Nor should they be. Conducting themselves in an honest, decent manner to service justice is what lawyers are supposed to do. That's the minimum requirement. You shouldn't expect praise for doing the bare minimum of your job.
Besides, decent, hard-working people just aren't funny. They're ordinary, and ordinary isn't very entertaining. Humor and satire are solely dependent on the oddities of the human condition.
Sociopaths on the other hand, are ideal for entertainment and satire as their complete lack of a moral conscience tends to make you stare at them in stunned bewilderment…like a car wreck on the highway. We only notice the bad always and their outrageous courtroom behavior instead of the decent ones for the same reason we don't hear anything about the priests who aren't molesting children or the drivers who make it home without getting into a pileup on the highway.
Our legal system is tailor-made for the ethically deficient, as lawyers are given free reign to say and do things that would land the rest of us in jail. Behavior that would bring charges of extortion against you and me is just standard practice in the legal profession. That is what makes my job so much easier.
For most of us, the only exposure we get to a court hearing is some high-profile case on TV. This is when we see the high-priced defense attorneys weave their magic of half-truths and innuendo, doing everything they can to direct attention away form the issue they're supposed to be dealing with. The last thing a sharp defense attorney wants to deal with is the actual issue. Confusion and obfuscation is the order of the day to confound a jury and attain the goal of “reasonable doubt”…and pile up the billable hours.
This strategy, of course, if made easier by making sure they have a jury made up of people who can't spell DNA.
And prosecuting attorneys aren't any better when they ignore or hide evidence that they know will help the defense. If you're poor and have to rely on a public defender, your chances of survival are just barely above nonexistent.
Such bad news for the public is good news for satirists. It has been that way since Eve dared Adam to eat the apple. Her serpent attorney said it was okay.
There are many who believe that the bad image lawyers have today was created by the media. This theory, it should be pointed out, is put forth in the most part by the legal profession. Everyone loves playing the victim these days, and the legal community is no different. At first this sounds like a valid point…until you think about it for more than a nanosecond.
The truth is, media creates nothing. Never has, never will. Media dorks (like cartoonists and columnists) aren't bright enough o create an image. Media only reflects. If someone doesn't like the image they see, they shouldn't blame the mirror.
This point was emphasized, ironically enough, by the legal profession itself. The ABA Journal conducted an extensive nation survey in an effort to find out why lawyers are held in such low esteem. They discovered what most of us already knew: The people who had the lowest regard for lawyers were the ones who had the most contact with them.
So much for being a victim of bad press.
This finding by the ABA Journal has been reflected in my mail over the past decade from readers on a regular basis. The people I hear from with the worst image of lawyers are the ones who have more contact with lawyers than anyone else - judges.
Oh, their stories make you wonder how they keep their sanity. And they're all former lawyers!
But don't get me wrong - I don't rail against the legal system with the hopes of getting things changed. Quite the contrary. If it weren't for idiocy, there wouldn't be much to satirize and I might have to get a real job.
So I say, let's keep the legal profession just the way it is! Sociopaths are people, too, and should have the opportunity to make a living.
As long as we have semiliterate, ambitionless kids gong to college whose only passion in life is to make money, our law schools will always be filled. This will guarantee we'll always have more practicing attorneys than postal employees (yes, it's true). The sheer volume of people in a profession that attracts sociopaths by rewarding anti-social behavior guarantees there will always be work for satirists and screenwriters.
All hail the legal profession! Without it working just the way it is, you wouldn't be reading this book. And for that, I am eternally grateful.