John Dominik has been on a tear lately. Yesterday he wrote twice; the latter piece, The Stupid Juice–it Burns, shows an attitude that’s far too rare these days and frankly is one of the best pieces I’ve read in a very long time, anywhere. He laments people’s tendency to act as if those who disagree with them are subhuman and have no right to exist.
If you haven’t read it, I strongly suggest you do.
It’s a dangerous path. He argues that if he doesn’t defend the right of others to exist, that some day, no one will be left to defend his right to exist.
A few weeks ago, my wife watched an old movie on PBS. I don’t remember the title. It was a crime movie, set in England in the 1940s or 1950s. The main character was an old lawyer in ill health who was defending a man accused of killing his girlfriend for insurance money. The lawyer won the case–he was very good–but then it turned out his client was guilty, and he had to deal with that.
What struck me, besides these lawyers in the 1950s dressing up in powdered wigs like our Founding Fathers did, was that in court, all of the attorneys addressed one another and referred to one another as “My Learned Friend.” Although the prosecuting and defense attorneys were antagonists and clearly drove one another bonkers from time to time, they still used that language, and it even seemed to tone the hostilities down a bit.
I’m guessing that was probably the reason for that protocol. Because I’m pretty sure that’s mostly what it was.
We hear people call their opponents a lot of things in this country today, but usually it’s not “my learned friend.” I think John and I agree this would be a better place if we did from time to time.
You may be pleased to know that it is still the case in Britain that barristers wear wigs in court and call each other “My Learned Friend”, etc.