So, by now most of the chattering classes have weighed in on all things “Muppet.” This includes, for examples, Al Lewis on “A Muppet Manifesto” and Jessica Pressler on “Goldman and the Great Muppet Caper.”
Even those who only see the world through a particular partisan political prism have added their own nickel’s worth of deconstruction, including Holman Jenkins, columnist of the always reliable defender of the 1%, “The Wall Street Journal.”
On Saturday, Jenkins tsk-tsked Greg Smith, who despite having been executive director of Goldman’s equity derivatives business got a taste of Jenkins’s back hand, when he was diminished as “the junior Goldman Sachs executive” who says nothing “while appearing very much to say something.” Jenkins was unhappy Smith failed to put sufficient meat on the bones of his “calorie free” attack on Goldman.
And from across the aisle, law professor and liberal pundit Susan Estrich viewed Smith’s public resignation through the periscope of November’s presidential election battle as “a fight in which Wall Street and the 1 percent are pitted against everyone else.” And all too hopefully, she suggested it may even hurt the former head of Bain Capital, Mitt Romney. I rather think she’s stretching.
The polloi have always known you couldn’t trust Wall Street’s “Greed is Good” gang, especially post mortgage and financial meltdown. Indeed, Gary Weiss at Salon.com even suggests that “greed fatigue” has set in. And even caustic commentator Matt Taibbi who once notoriously called the greedy bastard class “Vampire Squids,” now laments the description as so ubiquitous he regrets having coined the term.
There was even a recent riff on occupational code names used by workers to demean their customers, “Name It; Clients Are Called It.” Other industries refer to those buying their goods or using their services as, for example, “Clampetts,” “Foamers,” “Bobbleheads,” or “Marks.”
“Eating what you kill.”
Not to be left out, lawyers also have their own buzz words, gestures, and stupid expressions, albeit most lawyers are thankfully sufficiently circumscribed by their ethical rules not to, at least, publicly demean their clients.
Instead, if they do go public, they insult others – – – like opposing counsel. And sometimes, they even insult the news media like Casey Anthony lawyer Cheney Mason who infamously made headlines last July making a middle-fingered salute at the assembled press.
But the one portrayal of clients that has regrettably entered their puerile patois is that of clients as prey – – – as something to be hunted down, killed and eaten. It’s the partner compensation system known as “eat what you kill.”
Indeed, such is the currency of the expression that 7 years ago, law professor Milton C. Regan, Jr. even wrote a book entitled, “Eat What You Kill: The Fall of a Wall Street Lawyer.” Also see law professor Nancy B. Rapoport‘s worthwhile book review “The Curious Incident of the Law Firm That Did Nothing in the Night-time.”
So thinking themselves members of their own warrior class or as hunters in the veld, lawyers happily co-opted the unsavory depiction from the world of commissioned salespeople who are themselves well steeped in “How to Eat What You Kill.“
Is it any wonder then, that with such an ethos of “eating what you kill” that Dick the Butcher long ago wanted to preemptively strike at lawyers?
Credits: “Flipping the bird,” by bigdadventures at Flickr via Creative Commons-licensed content for noncommercial use requiring attribution and share alike distribution.