With apologies to all my defense bar friends, I’m simply intrigued by devil’s attorney Max McCann, “a smart, suave and slightly smarmy defense attorney on a mission to get a variety of blatantly guilty clients off the hook.” Silly, I know.
But this is also the post-Christmas ennui. And I’m tired. Not so much physically as mentally weary over the usual end-of-year remnants of mass indignation. Three more bellyaching slices of seasonal silliness over Duck ignoramuses, Santa’s racial politics and of course, ‘affluenza.’ And here I’d decided not to wade into those three waters. Better to buck conventional social media wisdom and discuss something else.
Not like reams of viral and print opinion haven’t already been wasted on the three topics, including one yesterday. Of the Duck Dynasty brouhaha, it asked that we “not dignify this incident by calling it a culture war. In a war, there are winners and losers. In this elaborate pantomime, everyone comes out ahead.”
Amen. Even members of a national lawyer listserv spent almost two weeks quacking endlessly about Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty. But then as lawyers are wont — they quack, grunt, yodel, coo and whistle just about anything ad nauseam — this time it was Duck Dynasty, the U.S. Constitution; free speech principles; poseurs/authenticity; politics; liberals/conservatives and oh yeah, religious faith, homophobia and race.
All the while legions arose in defense of Phil Robertson. Still it was Kim’s essay that reaffirmed my own first thoughts about the fowl controversy. And it wasn’t that I had a problem with what Jon Stewart called Robertson’s “Right to Say ‘Ignorant Shit.‘” I have a blog you know.
However, I did object to that inexplicable tendency — particularly from those as well-educated as ex-teacher Phil Robertson who despite his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees nonetheless prefers subscribing to what historian Gerald Horne calls “the grievous proliferation of propagandistic historiography in the U.S.”
More specifically, in Robertson’s case it was that too-convenient ‘moonlight and magnolias’ nonsense reprising the outrageous absurdity of “‘happy Negroes” — not during the slave era but in Phil’s case, pre-1964 Louisiana where as Kim explains “the truly offensive part of Robertson’s interview was not his crude, anatomical account of human sexuality, but his insidious take on the experience of African-Americans in the pre–Civil Rights South. “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once,” he said. “They’re singing and happy…. Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.” This is straight from the racist text book that justified slavery as one big happy plantation, and Robertson is off-script only in the sense that he hasn’t updated his rhetoric to the 2.0 colorblind version, one that acknowledges that while discrimination once existed, its time has passed.
So here I am weighing in, after all, a few days shy of 2014. Better to recharge. And to put away for the last time this year, what’s supposed to be the root of all three cultural controversies, 2013’s final reincarnation of the Red State v. Blue State divide.
As for the racial identity of Santa Claus — that’s just more media-created fatuousness. And concerning who Megyn Kelly thinks he is, well if he’s not a dog in a red suit then he’s whoever we want him to be. He’s as ‘real’ as any reality-television character.
So why can’t he be pigmented in any color? Take, for instance, one of my personal preferences — Homey Claus.
“Homey don’t play dat.”
Finally, we come to ‘affluenza,’ which raised hackles in a lot of places. It was the fatal DWI criminal defense conjured up by a psychologist to exculpate Ethan Couch’s spoiled upbringing — which purportedly made it impossible for the 16-year-old to exercise normal judgment while driving drunk. That’s when he ran down and killed four people on a Texas road. The judge gave him 10 years probation and viral hell broke out.
But since the judge ain’t saying — who can say if ‘affluenza’ — “a condition in which children — generally from richer families — have a sense of entitlement, are irresponsible, make excuses for poor behavior, and sometimes dabble in drugs and alcohol” was even persuasive? Or was it just creative hokum to ignore anyhow?
Or was it just what James McAuley wrote at The Affluenza Society, — one more instance of negligent parents and their lawbreaking kids leading rarefied insular lives of affluent secluded privilege — “a metaphor for the dark side of suburban cosmology”?
Nah — just amend the list. Until next time, add No. 8 to “The 7 Most Baffling Criminal Defenses (That Sort of Worked).”
Meanwhile let me get back to Max McCann . . . .
Happy New Year!
Photo Credits: by Faith Goble at Flickr via Creative Commons-license requiring attribution;The Old Plantation (anonymous folk painting). Depicts African-American slaves dancing to banjo and percussion via Wikipedia Commons, public domain;The Spoiled Child by Jean-Baptiste Greuze at Wikipedia Commons, public domain.