The joke of a bully

A retired lawyer who is my age and who has a lot of experience in the federal courts corresponded with me. He is very thoughtful.

He hated the post on women and attire in the courtroom. Alluding to an old New Yorker magazine article, my correspondent referred to my attempt at humor as “the joke of a bully.”* He emphasized the inherent inequality of the power dynamic between yours truly and the lawyers who are the subject of this blog or the lawyers who interact with this blog. As an example, the writer stated that I need only read the “fawning” responses I receive from lawyers as evidence of this inequality. My correspondent has a very important point.

How can I expect a worthwhile exchange, when I will always be the “judge” and the subject/reader/commentator will almost always be someone who is not a judge?  Since the power dynamic is inherently and immutably unequal, is this blog’s striving for a humorous, transparent, honest and legally realistic exchange doomed?  I need to think hard on these questions.


*New Yorker, Talk of The Town, p. 3 (January 9, 1926) (“It is disappointing to note that judges on the benches continue trying to be funny. It seems to be a growing abuse. Schoolboys have to laugh when the headmaster makes a joke, and similarly the courtroom always has to chortle with the judge. Humor, however, is rarely the gift of the legal mind; and almost universally the joke from the bench is the joke of a bully.”)


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