f/k/a . . . the archives

September 11, 2004

shysters slander shakespeare

Filed under: — David Giacalone @ 3:59 pm

see also shakespeare and lawyers and google and I

theater king

TAKE, O take those el-lips-es away,
. . . that do mislead the morn!

my queries bring again

search’d in vain,
Search’d in vain!

(with apologies to W. Shakespeare

Dear Mr. Google:
I’m irked.  I count on your search engines to help get my message to the masses.  Oft times have I praised the wise placement my words receive in your search results.  However, this time you’ve Goofled big time, and it’s those damn ellipses that have done me in.
On the one hand, it’s great that the query <Shakespeare on lawyers> places my essay Shakespeare and Lawyers in the fourth spot out of almost 100,000 results.
On the other hand, your synopsis gives the totally wrong impression of my theme, which is that lawyers and bar groups have been misinforming the public about the meaning of Shakespeare’s quote on killing lawyers, while claiming they’re clarifying what the Bard meant.

To wit, it says:
f/k/a . . . .: Shakespeare and Lawyers

Shakespeare and Lawyers. In fact, the famous quote from Shakespeare is not a criticismof lawyers, but actually is the greatest possible compliment. …

You have quoted the proposition I am attempting (valiantly and persuasively) to debunk.  It looks as if ethicalEsq and Prof. Yabut and David Giacalone agree with the legal profession’s misleading propaganda concerning Shakespeare’s famous line about lawyers.
So, please tell your fancy algorithms to pay a lot more attention to context.  To help them, I am repeating below the main thrust of my argument [hint: the Bar is distorting the Bard's quote about lawyers!]:

Please allow me to sound-off about a particularly dastardly example of disinformation by lawyers – the party line propaganda used to combat the ubiquitous quotation from Shakespeare:

“First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

–Shakespeare, King Henry VI, Part II, IV, ii
  • [T]he Bar has decided to put down its lawyer’s license and engage in artistic license and fiction writing.   In the name of setting the record straight, they have decided to misinform the public about the meaning and context of Shakespeare’s famous line.
  • The party line is, therefore, that the sentence demonstrates Shakespeare’s unshakable recognition of the important role lawyers play in maintaining the rule of law and the fruits of civilization.
  • joker 2 There’s one problem, neither the play itself nor English history supports the legal profession’s interpretation of Shakespeare. First, the conversation between Jack Cade and Dick the Butcher is not a discussion on how to plot to win a rebellion against lawful government.  Quite the opposite, Cade is proclaiming what he will do “when I am king, — as king I will be.”   When Butcher yells out that the first thing he wants done is to kill all the lawyers, Cade responds, “Nay, that I mean to do,” and laments “I was never mine own man” since signing a contract ["scribbled" on parchment by a lawyer and sealed with bee's wax].
  • . . . . That’s the unlawyered version of the story.  In this historic context, lawyers were seen as protecting the privileged and corrupt establishment, as part of the resistance to needed social change and justice.  Whatever William Shakespeare actually felt about the legal profession, a good part of his audience would have enjoyed hearing Dick the Butcher’s idea for improving society once their rebellion was successful.  The royal “we” here at ethicalEsq are not advocating slaughtering all the lawyers — just stifling all the liars.
[click here to read the entire essay “Shakespeare and Lawyers.”
fractured poetry inspired by my sylvan friend joker neg

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