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Notes: 1) LawAndEverythingElse.Com & BurtLaw.Com don't solicit business for any law firm or give legal advice, other than that lawyers may be hazardous to your health. There are many more bad ones than good ones. Who can find a virtuous lawyer? Her price is far above rubies. It is easier for a camel to pass through a needle's eye than for a lawyer to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. So saith the Lord. 2) In linking to another site or source, we don't mean to say we necessarily agree with views or ideas expressed there or to attest to the accuracy of facts set forth there. We link to other sites in order to alert you to sites, ideas, books, articles and stories that have interested us and to guide you in your pleasure-seeking, mind-expanding, heart-opening, soul-satisfying outer and inner travels.
BurtLaw's Woman -- er, Person -- of the Year. Time just announced it has picked three women "whistleblowers" as its "Persons of the Year," formerly "Man of the Year." We think it's okay to praise government and corporate whistleblowers, although we hope Ashcroft & Co. (including would-be Little Brother, John M. Poindexter) won't get their way and turn us into a nation of snitches and suspects (spineless, spiteful, suspicious people who blow the whistle on their family, friends, and neighbors, turning everbody, themselves included, into suspects), which is what Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia were. If we were to pick the "Failures of the Year," we'd pick President George W. Bush and his aides and advisers, whose handling of the economy couldn't have been worse and whose response to 09.11 has played and is playing into Osama bin Laden's hands, making the world less safe rather than safer. President Bush proclaims that his favorite "political philosopher" is Jesus of Nazareth, whose birth we celebrate this week. That's pretty ironic (and sad), coming from a guy who never saw a death warrant he was unwilling to sign, a guy who thinks sending more people to prison longer will solve social problems, a guy whose main metaphor for dealing with complicated diplomatic problems is war.
Who do we pick as BurtLaw's Person of the Year? Our finalists are four babes. The three who almost got the nod are three TV babes: Lauren Graham, the fast-talking, fast-thinking Mom on one of the best shows, Gilmore Girls; Leah Remini, the feisty little wise-acre from Minnesota who stars with Kevin James in King of Queens; and Patricia Heaton, the star of Everybody Loves Raymond, the sort of tough but loving little broad every guy dreams would be his sidekick along the road of life. Those three almost got the nod. But the winner is...a woman who's no longer with us but who is always with us, in our fantasies and dreams. In Somewhere in Time, the 1980 film, Christopher Reeve plays an obsessed playwright who "goes back in time" to the Grand Hotel on Macinac Island in 1912 to meet and win the heart of the woman of his dreams, the renowned stage actress, Elise McKenna (played by the then dazzlingly beautiful Jane Seymour). If we (BurtLaw and all his alter egos, including, "Pruit," "Goose," "Contapoulas," "Randolph the Bow-legged Cowboy," "Notrub," "Rockin' Rand," "BurtieBoy," "Burton Blah-Blah," "Chad," "BurtLaw," "BurtMan," "BurtDog," "Sir Burton," and "Hansycats") were able to go back in time to woo and win some babe, we'd go back in time and happen to be on a particular train headed for California. It would be a train carrying a recent Denison, Iowa High School graduate named Donna Bell Mullenger, a petite, slim brunette who had been born on January 27 (my daughter's birthday), 1921, who had grown up on a farm with four siblings, and who had won a blue ribbon for biscuit baking at the Iowa State Fair. She'd have only $60 in her pocketbook and she'd be headed for Los Angeles, where she planned to live with her aunt and attend City College, working at odd jobs to pay her way. We'd enroll there, too, and woo her and win her. She'd still be an English major and still be elected campus queen at age 20 and still sign with MGM as a $75-a-week starlet, and still change her name, only we'd be at her side all the way. And we'd be there in the wings supporting her as she played the greatest movie role ever played by a woman, that of Mary Hatch Bailey. In the '50's she'd still be, as she was, a hard-working, take-charge real-life feminist before many of today's verbal feminists were yet born. In the '60s she'd still be, as she was, an anti-nuclear activist and anti-Vietnam War protester. And in this fantasy she'd still be alive today, ever young. You know who we mean. We, of course, don't know for sure but we like to think that if she were alive today, she'd not only be a BurtLaw Groupie but would want to march hand in hand with us as we take on the current generation of war-mongers, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Ashcroft and their front man, the President. She's our Woman of the Year, our Person of the Year. She may well be next year, too, because the passing of the years does not seem to wither her, nor do any of the forces of custom make stale the infinite variety of her strength, steadfastness, warmth, wisdom, beauty, and understanding. (12.23.2002)
Did you happen to rob the grocery store? Sister Pearlee Toliver, the "Jewel of the [Radio] Dial" in Monroe, Louisiana for 30 years, died last week. The obituaries in the New York Times today, 09.16 (click here), and in the Monroe, LA News-Star last week (click here), are both worth a read. Her weekly two-hour gospel show, which attracted a "cult following" beyond Monroe, "mostly consisted of her reading advertisements back to back for businesses like Bubba's Fish Market, Amco Bail Bonds and Mother Helen, a spiritual adviser" (NYT). The ads, which she wrote and delivered in a "quirky" style, cost each sponsor only $15. "A typical homespun advertisement, this one for a bail bondsman, went like this: 'Friend, was you up all night long getting in trouble? Did you happen to rob the grocery store? Did you kill somebody last night? Diddy Bop said no bond gets too large or too small for him to handle. Why not call Diddy Bop and sit down and tell him your trouble.' Most advertisements ended with the rushed, elided catchphrase, 'Why not check it out and lock it in?'" (NYT) (09.16.2002)
Is America a paradise for women? That's the question Sinclair Lewis & his second wife, journalist Dorothy Thompson, debated publicly in The Pictorial Review in June of 1929. Lewis took the affirmative, arguing, inter alia, that for every American-born woman who moans about her sad life, "there is a foreign-born American woman who gloats that she is lucky to come." Were Lewis updating his piece today, he might want to rely in part on information contained in two recent stories on the status of women in third world countries, both of which were published in connection with the recent news reports out of Pakistan about "honor rapes." Here are the links: The horrors many women face (Chicago Tribune 07.28.2002) and Rape as punishment (Washington Post 07.26.2002). Also relevant is Unconstitutional adultery (Cairo Times 07.25.2002), about attempts to repeal the Egyptian adultery laws, which punish women disproportionately to men.
Women's toys. I couldn't help note the contrast between those stories and these two stories: New kind of party leaves women to their own devices (Annapolis Capital Gazette 07.28.2002) and Humiliation alleged in Delta suit (Washington Post 07.27.2002). In fact, these two stories ought to be contrasted not just with the above stories but also with each other. The first profiles a 32-year-old trend-setting female entrepreneur who conducts "slumber parties" at which she introduces her romance-enhancing product line to the women in attendance. Some of the women attending one of the parties are identified by name, and the author of the story states, "There was very little shyness about the products and definitely no snoozing -- despite the name. Instead, there was plenty of open banter about both male and female body parts." The second story is about a lawsuit filed by a woman who claims she was publicly humiliated at an airport when the airline on which she was traveling discovered that one of her bags was vibrating. She was taken to the tarmac, where she was allegedly made to open the bag and hold up the item causing the vibration, a so-called vibrating female sex toy. Plaintiff alleges that some passengers on the plane looked out and saw everything and that three male Delta employees "began laughing hysterically" and made "obnoxious and sexually harassing comments," which she presumably overheard. The contrast? In the one story the women speak openly about their interest in such toys. In the other the woman is so embarrassed and humiliated by being outed as a user of sex toys that she files a suit presumably knowing that the newswires will pick up the story and spread it around the world instantly via the internet.
Young women abusing teenage boys - the next big scandal? In a courtroom in Canada, a judge in a jury-waived criminal trial is hearing evidence regarding a criminal accusation that in 1998 a 27-year-old female teacher engaged in inappropriate sexual activity with one of her students, a 13-year-old boy. According to a statement prepared in 2000 in connection with the filing of a civil suit, the teacher "began telling [the boy] to come see her at recess or after school, giving him hugs or a peck on the cheek. She would sit on his lap or get him to sit on hers, sometimes sitting on his lap in the middle of class...He said that after school one day when they were alone in the classroom, she kissed him on the mouth...." The boy subsequently told police, "In this same period, we had a school dance and we would dance together. We danced like a boyfriend and girlfriend would. She'd change her clothes and leave the door open...When she put her arms over her head her shirt would come up. She was always asking me what she should wear and stuff." More (National Post 06.25.2002 via MetaFilter.Com). First there was a single report of an apparently-isolated instance of abuse of a teenage boy by a priest. Then more victims came forward.... Then, scandal! Now some of us are asking questions: Is this case, if proven, isolated or is it just the tip of the iceberg? Would the boy have complained if his mother had not found the teacher's letters and confronted him about them? How do you reconcile a story like this, in which the young woman's conduct leads to a civil suit and criminal prosecution, with the story depicted in Summer of '42, which nice folks have called heart-warming and nostalgic? Does (should) it make a difference if "the woman" is (or looks like) Jennifer O'Neill? Does (should) it make a difference if, at the time of the contact, "the woman," as in Summer of '42, had just received news of her husband's death in war? Might Summer of '42 have violated the "overbroad"provisions of the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996, which the U. S. Supreme Court recently declared unconstitutional in Ashcroft, Attorney General v. Free Speech Coalition? If the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional, does (should) it follow that the Marriage Vow is unconstitutional? Ought Ashcroft himself be declared unconstitutional? Is Love a fallacy? I don't know the answers to these (and other) questions, but I'd like to know. (07.02.2002) Update on trial: teacher acquitted (CBC 07.20.2002).
The long journey. There's an old Norwegian saying that, loosely translated, goes: "It's a remarkable thing about life, how small it begins and how far it can go. Look at the baby and then contemplate the grown individual -- what a difference!" I thought of that saying when my now ex-wife, Jeanne, and I joyously welcomed our first-born, Jennifer Lindsay Hanson, into the world on 01.27.1975. I'm thinking of it again today as Jennifer graduates from University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor; but I'm also thinking now of how, despite the miles she's traveled, despite the ways she's grown, despite the things she's accomplished, she's not different. In Carousel, the musical play by Rodgers & Hammerstein, there's a scene at the end during which Billy, the carnival barker who died young without knowing his daughter, attends -- in spirit form --his daughter's graduation and instantly recognizes her as his. I just re-read a 10-page journal entry of mine that I wrote in early 1979 titled "Jennifer at 4." The Jennifer of then is easily recognizable in the Jennifer of now (depicted right with two of her law school classmate-friends), and I have every reason to believe that if I'd been missing from then until now, I'd not only recognize her instantly but would find that we still shared the same wonderful father-daughter wave length that we somehow shared even before she was born. I'd also not be surprised to learn she's a lawyer. In my 1979 journal entry, one of the things I noted was her extraordinarily well-developed sense of fairness -- at one point I wrote, "She is like a Jesuit priest in her ability to point out the most minor inequities." That's, of course, only a small part of who she is. Doug Amdahl, one of six chief justices with whom I worked at the Minnesota Supreme Court, once publicly referred to a law clerk of his as "bright, beautiful and, most of all, nice." The description certainly fits Jenno, to whom I say, "It's a privilege and honor to be your dad." (05.04.2002)
Should women be able to practice law? Saudi Arabia "is considering opening the legal profession to women so that they can deal with cases related exclusively to women." Female lawyers would not be allowed to appear in court but "would instead be asked to write out their arguments, which would be presented on their behalf by men in the court itself." More (Arab News 05.12.2002). Background: In the Matter of the Motion to admit Miss Lavinia Goodell to the Bar of this Court, 39 Wis. 232 (1875).
a) "What are little girls made of?/ Sugar and spice/ And all things nice,/ That's what little girls are made of." Nursery ryhme.
b) "[T]he dirty little secret of female solidarity that is rarely touched upon, not just in movies but in life...is the rivalry, the jealousy, the ferocious fear of abandonment that underlie our support of one another...." From a review by Molly Haskell in the New York Times of the new movie, Crush, starring Andie MacDowell. More
c) What we now know is that school-aged girls are far more aggressive than has been previously believed; their preferred expression of aggression, however, is not physical, but relational aggression...." From Relational Aggression: 'How girls hurt each other (Ophelia)
d) "[Chris] Rock insists [that] no matter what a woman does for a living there's always another woman at work who she's convinced is trying to ruin her life. The thing is, she just might be right...." From Laura Miller, Backstabbers, a review in Salon of Phyllis Chesler's Woman's Inhumanity to Woman. More (04.01.2002)
Ye olde rights o' the hubby. According to The Straits Times, the highest court of Dubai, "the most liberal" of the states making up the United Arab Emirates, has ruled in a divorce case that a husband has the "right" to "beat" his wife in order to "discipline" her. But, apparently the court recognizes the wife has rights, too -- she has the right to divorce her hubby if she suffers any injury as a result of being disciplined, even if the discipline is only verbal. More (04.01.2002)
Judge unwittingly turns lawyer into instant celebrity, brings ridicule on herself. Laura Joy, a lawyer who is very attractive and successful and stylish, appeared the other day in the courtroom of Judge Micheline Rawlins, who describes herself as "dowdy." Ms. Joy was wearing an outfit she's worn before in court without complaint. Judge Rawlins, however, didn't like it. She felt it showed too much cleavage and therefore wasn't appropriate, and she said so, in open court, backing up her opinion by refusing to hear Ms. Joy, who was there with her client, until Ms. Joy changed into something more conservative. One thing led to another, and now Ms. Joy is a celebrity of sorts in her neck of the woods, getting the kind of publicity for herself and her firm that money can't buy. Click here, here, here and here. BTW, in one of the articles, Judge Rawlins is quoted as claiming she was speaking in part for her male colleagues, who she said don't dare confront female attorneys over their attire. If I were a judge, I wouldn't confront Ms. Joy over her attire and wouldn't want Judge Rawlins claiming to speak for me. I've seen a number of pictures of Ms. Joy in various outfits. To me, and I'm just an ordinary man, she looks -- oh, how should I put it -- just fine. It's not as if she showed up in court the way Gwyneth Paltrow showed up at the Oscar ceremony (click here). (03.28.2002)
Film noir and the femme fatale. "The undercurrent that flows through most 'high noir' films is the failure on the part of the male leads to recognize the dishonesty inherent in many of noir’s principal women...." From High Heels on Wet Pavement, a short essay by Michael Mills on "film noir and the femme fatale" that includes great black-and-white "stills" of a couple of the premier femme fatales. Other essays on film noir worth reading include 10 Shades of Film Noir: An Introduction (note the links at the bottom of the page). One of my favorite films of this genre is Dark Passage, a 1947 film starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall that I've included in my list of my favorite romantic flicks. Click here and here. Like law and film noir? There's a sub-genre known as law noir, of which The Man Who Wasn't There, the latest Coen Brothers movie, starring Billy Bob Thornton, is an example. Typically, a law noir film is a noir film in which one of the characters is, you guessed it, a shyster lawyer. Like bowling and film noir?! Perhaps you didn't know there's a sub-genre known as bowling noir.
When is a divorce not a divorce? In the Catholic church it's when the Pope says it's not. In a speech last week His Holiness warned judges and lawyers against participating in divorce cases because to do so "enables evil." More (St. Petersburg Times, 01.29.2002). Many Italians responded by accusing the Pope of improperly meddling in "state" matters. More (CNN-Europe, 01.30.1002). One can also argue, inter alia, that the Vatican is being hypocritical. Shortly before "09.11" I called attention to the story of the marriage of "the exorcist," Archbishop Milingo, and "the acupuncturist," Maria Sung, a Korean who is a member of Rev. Moon's Unification Church. After the two got married three months earlier, the Vatican, which had a problem with Maria, threatened Milingo with excommunication if he didn't in effect divorce Sung and once again pledge adherence to the priestly vows of unmarried celibacy. Milingo relented, bade goodbye to his bride and rejoined the holy frock-flock. More (ArchbishopMilingo.Org). But, you say, the Vatican doesn't allow divorce. That's only partly true. As Pres. Clinton taught us, just as the word "is" has multiple meanings, the words "marriage" and "divorce" have multiple meanings. The Vatican didn't recognize the marriage, you see, so it "never happened," even though Maria has said it was "consummated" and Archy has said they were "one." Moreover, even if the pictures (see, e.g., right) aren't doctored and the marriage did happen, a marriage that ends in "annulment" also "never happened." It's obfuscation like that, that prompted the great novelist Joseph Conrad to say that words are "the great foes of reality" and Justice Holmes to counsel us to "think things, not words." Thinking things and not words, what the Vatican did, to put it baldly, was rent asunder what God joined together. It has been suggested that "law students for years to come will study President Clinton's grand jury testimony of August 17, 1998 as an extraordinary example of how a witness can avoid answering questions." But in its actions last fall and in its more recent statements condemning divorce, the Vatican has provided us all with another case study in using words to elude the truth and delude oneself. One can't help but wonder if the Vatican has learned anything since the days of the Reformation, when Martin Luther (1483-1546) exposed its dark underside. (02.04.2002)
When is a contract not a contract? In Sweden some men will say it's when it's a contract with a woman. A Swedish fellow's girl friend in 1991 urged him to donate sperm to a lesbian couple so that one of them could be artificially inseminated. The two women agreed contractually to assume all the responsibilities of parenthood, including, of course, the many financial responsibilities. The couple had three children using his sperm. The woman who gave birth to the children, Anna Bjurling, sued the donor, Igor Lehnberg, for child support after her relationship with her partner ended. In a sort of early "Valentine's Day surprise," a Swedish court has ruled that "dada" must pay -- $280 or @ 2240 smackronoroos a month. More (Yahoo). If I had my way, the following events would occur in short order: a) Anna would order three pink flamingo Valentine's Day surprise lawn ornaments for Igor, b) he would call her up to thank her, c) they'd surprise themselves by hitting it off, d) she'd renounce lesbianism and "convert" [see news story: College junior ends lesbian identity (Onion)], e) they'd make things even more legal than they now appear to be, and f) some TV producer would pay them $25,000 to make a heart-warming, tear-jerking TV movie out of "their story." (02.02.2002)
A beautiful wife. I saw the new Ron Howard film, A Beautiful Mind, with my kids the other night. It's a beautiful film based on the life -- the up & down & up again -- of the legendary John Forbes Nash, Jr., the Nobel-prize winning mathematician. The real hero -- heroine -- of the story is the woman who stuck by him through thick & thin, his wife, which is why it could be called A Beautiful Wife. Last year I predicted Traffic would be the big winner of the various film awards for 2000. I predict this film will win the Academy Awards for Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress. (12.28.2001) Update: This mini-review was quoted in full today in United Marriage Encounter's WED-log, which Keith Clark edits and which is one of my "featured sites" because of its excellent coverage of weblinks relating to marriage. (01.16.2002)
Women & the law - an update. The American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession has released a report, in the irritating pdf format, titled "Balanced Lives: Changing the Culture of the Legal Profession," downloadable, along with a prior report ("The Unfinished Agenda, Women and the Legal Profession") here. If you're interested, you might want to check out some of the commission's recommended sites of interest. Carol Kleiman of the Chicago Tribune, who writes an award-winning column on issues of concern to employed women, has written an interesting column covering the latest report. Here's a link to a page with links to each of her columns from the last several months. First among my personal favorite "women in the law" is my daughter, who is a third-year student at University of Michigan Law School. Next are some legal secretaries with whom I was privileged to work. (Alas, legal secretaries, almost all of whom are above-average and under-paid women, sometimes aren't appreciated or treated particularly well by, of all people, female lawyers. Next among my favorite "women in the law" I'd include several female lawyers, whom I won't name, but with whom I worked closely and amicably for years, people who thought of themselves and wanted to be known not as "female lawyers" or "female judges" but good lawyers and good judges. These are people who, like Judge Learned Hand's devoted band of law school professors (see the plaque at the entrance to Austin Hall at Harvard Law School), were "patient, considerate, courteous and kindly" people who knew that in the profession "it is as craftsmen that we get our satisfactions and our pay," who "in the universe of truth...asked no quarter of absolutes and gave none" -- people who, I would add, never stopped being women but never used the fact they were women to "get ahead" or to "get their way." I have arbitrarily designated my late friend, Justice Mary Jeanne Coyne, as the representative of this band of lawyers I was happy to call colleagues and friends. It was she, after all, who said, "A wise old woman will make decisions in about the same way as a wise old man" (quoted frequently by Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg). :-) (01.08.2002)
Travel warning - update. Single women who like "romantic adventure travel" to exotic places are advised to avoid vacationing in the northern Nigerian state of Sokoto, which adopted "Islamic Sharia law" around a year ago. Recently a divorced woman stood trial on a charge of adultery. Residents of the village reported to police that 35-year-old Miss Safiyatu Husaini, a divorcee, was pregnant. Ipso facto she had had sexual relations outside of marriage, and I take it that under Sharia law that meant she had committed adultery. Yahaya Abubakar, the alleged impregnator, is Miss Husaini's 60-year-old cousin. The presiding judge found Miss Husaini guilty and sentenced her to death by stoning; however, he acquitted Abubakar after ruling that his confession, to only three rather than the requisite four officers, was inadmissible (a neat little quirk of Sharia law). More (BBC). The Sharia Court of Appeal in Sokoto has just announced that the sentence is automatically stayed pursuant to Sharia law pending decision of Miss Husaini's appeal. More (AllAfrica). At least she gets an appeal. (12.03.2001) Update: Is it right to kill a woman for adultery? "It is the law of Allah. By executing anybody that is convicted under Islamic law, we are just complying with the laws of Allah, so we don't have anything to worry about." How will they execute her? "They will dig a pit, and then they will put the convict in a way that she will not be able to escape, and then she will be stoned." More (BBC 12.06.2001); Latest developments (BBC 01.14.2002); Sharia court frees woman from stoning but another woman is sentenced to die by stoning (BBC 03.25.2002)
The burka and the bikini. "Whether it's the dark, sad eyes of a woman in purdah or the anxious darkly circled eyes of a girl with anorexia nervosa, the woman trapped inside needs to be liberated from cultural confines in whatever form they take. The burka and the bikini represent opposite ends of the political spectrum but each can exert a noose-like grip on the psyche and physical health of girls and women." From The Burka and the Bikini by Joan Jacobs Brumberg and Jacquelyn Jackson in the 11.23.2001 issue of the Boston Globe. (11.25.2001)
What if there were too many men? A panel of family planners is drafting a law in Viet Nam to bar the practice of testing pregnant women to determine the gender of the baby. More (Yahoo). The aim is to stop the selective aborting of female fetuses by couples, who prefer boys to girls. The head of the panel described the preference as "a common Oriental psychology." Actually, the preference isn't confined to "the east." My mom was born in rural Minnesota in 1913 in a small two-story structure, one room per floor, with a kitchen lean-to in the rear. When my grandfather, who was waiting in the lean-to, got the news it was a girl, he said, "Aw shucks." He was not alone among Americans in saying that when a daughter was born. Viet Nam wants to avoid the problem faced by China, which has 100 million more men than women. The expressed fear is that men will start killing each other over women. (Other possibilities, of course, are an increase in female prostitution as well as an increase in male homosexuality. At least, that's what I recall a sociology professor saying when I was in college.) You might think that as a guy I would have preferred the situation I experienced as a freshman undergraduate at S.M.U. in Dallas in the early 1960's, when there was a significant excess of women, to the subsequent situation at Harvard Law School, when men exceeded women in my class of 550 by a ratio of 95 to 5. But my female classmates at S.M.U. were more interested in upperclassmen than in us freshmen wearing the required beanies, and I didn't hang around to partake of the benefits enjoyed by upperclassmen. On the other hand, male Harvard Law students were in demand among female students at the many Boston colleges and universities, especially the all-women schools. Plus, we enjoyed the additional benefit of being more mature, hence more desirable, than their male peers. A typical fall mixer at the law school was something to see: busload after busload of women, cabload after cabload of women, arriving. I remember overhearing a girl saying to a friend who wanted to leave early, "No! This might be my last chance!" Male attorneys still find themselves in a favorable position. Ten years or so ago a man I know told me that in some of the big law firms there is not a small amount of competition among the women -- female lawyers, paralegals, legal secretaries, receptionists, file clerks -- over the single or otherwise eligible heterosexual male lawyers. My point is: one can't just look to sex ratios in the population at large, or in a sub-population, to determine what is a healthy balance. In the words of a hundred thousand judges, one must look to "the totality of the circumstances." (11.19.2001)
Those nice guys you meet in church. During my years as a research attorney at the Minnesota Supreme Court I worked on a number of appeals in sexual abuse cases in which it came out that the convicted defendant's modus operandi was to meet the women and/or children he victimized at social gatherings of single parents. Nick Hornby, author of High Fidelity and How to Be Good, also wrote a novel titled About a Boy, reviewed here, in which a relatively benign fellow perfects the "single-mom scam" to "market" himself as a sensitive guy to (and thereby "score" with) attractive gullible single mothers. Here's a link to a real-life story about a less-than-benign Maine guy convicted of sexual assault who has used churches throughout the state to meet the women and young girls he has assaulted. It's sad to say but believers, like buyers, must beware.
Harvard, Emerson and the "marriage premium." Emerson was a realist about marriage. In his journal in September of 1848 he wrote:
None ever heard of a good marriage from Mesopotamia to Missouri and yet right marriage is as possible tomorrow as sunshine. Sunshine is a very mixed & costly thing as we have it, & quite impossible, yet we get the right article every day. And we are not very much to blame for our bad marriages. We live amid hallucinations and illusions, & this especial trap is laid for us to trip up our feet with & all are tripped up, first or last. But the Mighty Mother who had been so sly with us, feels that she owes us some indemnity, & insinuates into the Pandora-box of marriage -- amidst dyspepsia, nervousness, screams, Christianity, "help," poverty, & all kinds of music -- some deep & serious benefits & some great joys. We find sometimes a delight in the beauty & the happiness of our children that makes the heart too big for the body. And in these ill assorted connections there is ever some mixture of true marriage. The poorest Paddy & his jade, if well-meaning & well-tempered, get some just & agreeable relations of mutual respect & kindly observation & fostering each of other, & they learn something, & would carry themselves wiselier if they were to begin life anew in another sphere.
Emerson rather obviously believed that, while marriage might not necessarily be the sacred institution that some theologians insist it is, it is an institution that, on balance, benefits society and individuals. In this age of the ascendancy of cost-benefit analysis, it should not be surprising that some students of the institution have posited that there is a demonstrable "marriage premium," an excess of benefits over costs, economic and noneconomic, that inures to married people. That is the thesis of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially (Doubleday, 2000), by Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher, who argue, as one reviewer put it, that "the wages of the married are high, commitment is good for the libido, and happiness may just depend on reciting the wedding vow." Stanley Kurtz of the Hudson Institute made something of a case against Harvard University Press for declining to publish the book. He has suggested that the declination might have resulted from a "feminist bias" against the institution. Now, in this interesting commentary in National Review Online, he reports on a study of so-called "shotgun weddings" that, at least minimally, supports the thesis of Waite and Gallagher. Specifically, the study yielded statistical evidence that the men in these marriages "ended up with greater income than single men with the same sort of background." Of course, this doesn't necessarily show anything more than it shows. I personally tend to think it's best, in evaluating the institution, to rely on our own experiences and perceptions, as well as on those of Emerson and his like (as if there is anyone even remotely quite like him). As a formerly married man, I must say I think more of the institution of marriage -- both the prosaic, legal kind and the poetic, nonlegal kind -- than I do of divorce. Of course, my views of divorce might be different if they hadn't been tainted by the divorce process. The divorce process is, to the ongoing shame of the legal profession and our legislators and judges, an all-too-often inefficient and costly process that causes real harm, economic and noneconomic, to good people and their children. Would I consider marrying again? Under the "totality of the circumstances" (a favorite phrase of some judges), probably not. I think for me the advice George Washington gave in his Farewell Address, of avoiding "entangling alliances," is apropos. I know this will disappoint all my "BurtLaw groupies," but so be it. :-) (11.15.2001) Update: This entry of mine, with specific links to the main page and to the "Law and Love" pages (see one, two, three and four), is featured in WED-log, the leading weblog on weddings & marriage. (01.08.2002)
"Why can't a woman be more like a man?" So asked Professor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady. Germaine Greer, the feminist literary critic, has edited a collection titled 101 Poems by 101 Women, just published in England. In this piece in the UK Guardian, she addresses questions such as "why women have left little in the way of literary monuments, especially poetry," why the work of so many of them is, in her view, imitative, and other loaded questions guaranteed to infuriate some people. She notes a double standard in poetry that some might argue is not unlike that sometimes noted in the legal profession's attitude toward women: "Men will often praise in a woman's poetry qualities such as facility, delicacy, sentimentality, simplicity and piety, that they would despise in a man's, while women who reject such femininities will be charged with stridency or posturing." She believes the poems she has selected "are all interesting, partly because of their differing relationship to the masculine canon and the literary establishment, but also because in using the male-forged instrument in an unsanctioned way they overturn decorum and invent for themselves an upside-down land which is revealing and fascinating to explore." Shortly before 09.11 P. D. James, the noted author of detective stories, said to George Will, the columnist, that "bringing order out of disorder" is "a female function," a comment that prompted me to venture into risky territory myself by asking whether, assuming the validity of James' assumption, men and women who are able to get in touch with their feminine sides might make better common-law judges -- and better poets. More. In thinking about it, perhaps I may have been exploring the reverse of what Professor Higgins explored in his rhetorical question. I may have been exploring whether, in certain areas -- perhaps judging and poetry -- women should stop trying to be like men and men might well benefit from being more like women. Just thinking out loud, folks. Just thinking out loud. :-) (11.12.2001)
Headline. Headline in print and online editions of NYT today, 11.01.2001: "Schumer and Mrs. Clinton Want F.B.I. to Share Facts." Sounds like a headline out of the 1950's, when women, even those who held public office, were referred to always as "Mrs. This-or-That." I suppose the Times' excuse is it wants to distinguish Hillary from the ex-Prez. Surely there's a way to do that without using the "Mrs." appellation. At least the story doesn't refer to what Clinton was wearing. An authentic 1950's story would have, as in: "Mrs. Clinton, dressed in a tailored navy blue pants suit, stated...." :-) (11.01.2001)
FDR and Dick on female judges. FDR "considered" appointing a woman, and so did Dick Nixon. Click here for more....
Hal H. Hanson. On my way into Cub grocery today to stock up on yogurt for my son, who eats more of it than anyone in Minnesota, I noticed a woman walking purposively toward me. "You look like Hal Holbrook. Has anyone ever told you that?" "No, I said. Never that." She went on, repeating herself, and I laughed and walked away, saying, "I'll have to think about that." Do I get approached by women often? Let's say occasionally. Do I approach women? No. I've always felt women should feel free to walk around in public without being harassed by men. Does it bother me when women approach me? No. The ones I like best are the older ones. I used to call them "old ladies." I've always had a way with them. :-) I suppose it comes from accompanying my mom to ladies aid when I was a little boy. She was the head of it and the women fawned over me. Anyhow, I have always smiled at the "old ladies" in the grocery store. On more than one occasion they've commented on my "curly hair," as they put it. "Oh what I wouldn't give to have hair like yours." As I get older, these "old ladies" seem to be younger in my eyes than they used to be. Hmm. Always shy, back in my dating days, I used to wish sometimes that the burden of calling up, asking, etc., was equally shared. Sometimes, I suppose, I even fantasized that it might be nice if the burden of "asking" belonged to women. On a slightly different but related topic, I offer, for your edification, a link to a proposal by a woman who calls herself "Lady Misato" who seems to have done a lot of hard thinking on the subject and has devised a detailed plan for wives to use to turn their husbands into love slaves -- literally. I was married once. I do remember feeling like a slave at times but I never thought of myself as a love slave. Might it all have worked out differently if my wife had read Lady Misato's tract? I dunno. Anyhow, her instructional tract is called "Real Women Don't Do Housework." She starts out: "Certainly, when it comes to brute strength, earning potential, and innate aggressive tendencies, it is the man that holds the high cards. Women, on the other hand, are the more rational, civilized, organized, intelligent, protective and attractive gender. But women have one power that men respect most: erotic power. What if you could get your husband to hug and kiss you at every opportunity? What if you could get him to bring you flowers and take you out to dinner without a special occasion? What if you could get him to communicate meaningfully with you and to open up emotionally? What if you could get him to do the household chores? Not just taking out the trash and mowing the lawn but washing the dishes and the laundry, cooking dinner, and cleaning the house. What if you could have all these things and better sex than before? And what if, after all that, your husband was happier and more faithful than ever?" Click here to find out how. (10.16.2001)
Killing women for being women. Here are links to some good reports on what it's like to be a woman in Taliban-dictated Afghanistan: The Taliban's bravest opponents (Salon); The sad, perilous lives of Afghan women (McClatchey); Putting Afghani women in perspective (National Post). Here are links to related stories about the plight of women in countries experiencing a resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism: Return to Pakistan (Salon); Fears of acid attacks rife in Kashmir (Irish Times); Fundamentalists are afraid of our women (New Republic). Quite revealing, I believe, is this story: Women shunned to the end by hijacker (UKTimes). (10.03.2001) Update: Olympic sport: flogging women in Kabul (NYDaily); Sexual rage behind Islamic terror (FrontPage).
Is "bringing order out of disorder" a "female function"? P.D. James, the author of detective stories, thinks so: "Women, she says [to George Will], have an eye for details and hence for clues, are more interested in motive than violence, and are gifted with psychological subtlety and the exploration of moral choice." (Washington Post via Overlawyered). Does that suggest, at the very least, that men and women who are able to get in touch with their feminine sides make better common-law judges? Better poets? There is no doubt that one of the seemingly common attributes of great poets is the ability to see connections among seemingly unrelated things, to think divergently and convergently equally well, to create, as Robert Frost puts it, "a momentary stay against confusion" in the form of a poem. I suppose good judges, especially at the appellate level -- the profession's writers -- are good partly because they occasionally exhibit this poetic ability to see the connection of a seemingly unrelated case, perhaps in another area of the law, with "the current case," the ability to think metaphorically, the willingness to "let go" (if only in an anal-retentive judicial way) during the creative phase of deciding-writing. But is this ability -- are these abilities -- feminine? If so, how explain that many female judges don't display any poetry in their work-product? Perhaps, or so one might speculate for argument's sake, it is because they find themselves in what they (wrongly?) perceive as a heretofore male profession and are trying just a tad too hard to be hard and stereotypically masculine. (09.10.2001)
You can't live with them, you.... "No matter where you look...men have always and everywhere expressed fear, disgust and hatred of women." From a review by Jenny Diski in the London Review of Books (via A&L) of a newly-published history of misogyny, Misogyny: The Male Malady by David Gilmore. [more]
Last days of dress casual? "Some of my partners still wear suits. And you know who else does? The women. The young women lawyers all wear these black suits, with pants. I think it's so they won't be mistaken for secretaries. But none of the young guys wear suits anymore." According to experts, it's possible that casual wear at the office is just a trend that will end.... [more]
Women suing men. "I used to be a feminist. Now I'm a misogynist. I've been so often attacked by women in the press, and now with my personal scandal, I'm just fed up. Certain public figures are game for this...." From a report in the UKGuardian on a call by British actor and playwright, Steven Berkoff, for a change in the law, which he argues makes it too easy for women to file false claims against men in the public eye. An unnamed Asian woman has sued Berkoff, claiming she had a relationship with him in 1994. The woman alleges Berkoff raped, assaulted and racially abused her. Berkoff, who once threatened to kill a critic after the critic wrote a bad review, said, "It is shocking because anyone can say anything, it's all blown up in the press, your career is affected and you have not actually been charged and gone into court. The laws have to be changed." Under British law, the highly-regulated "somewhat-free" press is not allowed to print the name of the claimant but is free to print the defendant's name. Recently, a woman named Nadine Milroy-Sloan, who waived her right to anonymity and allowed a British tabloid to photograph and interview her in return for £75,000, alleged that a former Tory MP, Neil Hamilton, and his wife participated in a sexual assault on her at a party. The Guardian reports that the Hamiltons, who deny the allegation and claim an alibi, have struck back, filing a civil action for libel against their accuser. Last week, according to the BBC, a Labor peer, Lord Corbett, proposed that "the man" accused should have "matching protection" from being publicly identified because a subsequent acquittal does not sufficiently protect an innocent man's reputation from damage. Another peer, Lord Harris, agreed, saying, "This episode [involving the Hamiltons] shows the appalling consequences of naming and shaming without any scintilla of evidence." There are those, however, who favor protecting the claimant but naming "the man." [more] (08.23.2001) Hamilton seeks change in law: "There is now, as the world knows, the opportunity for any gold-digger to come forward and make a set of false allegations against somebody who has a high profile" (09.15.2001)
News anchor loses bikini battle in high court. Anna Ford is a British Lesley Stahl, a woman my age who has been reading news for the BBC for many years. Last summer she took a vacation in Majorca with her then partner, David Scott, and her kids. A member of the paparazzi, using a telephoto lens on his camera, took pics of her wearing a bikini on a somewhat secluded section of a public beach. In the pics, later published in a British daily tabloid and a magazine, Scott and Ford were shown applying sun-screen to each other. The UK has a different notion of press freedom than we do, and the British press in turn has a different idea of what's newsworthy and what's not. Ford herself, in 1998, wrote a critique of the British press' (and public's) fixation on sex, which she titled "Sex Objection." It's worth a read; here's the only link to it I could find. In any event, after the pics were published, Ford filed a complaint with an independent self-regulatory body called the Press Complaints Commission, self-described in laudatory terms here, criticized here. Ford's complaint claimed the publication of the bikini pics violated the PCC's Code, which provides in part: a) "Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence"; b) "A publication will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual's private life without consent"; c) "The use of long lens photography to take pictures of people in private places without their consent is unacceptable"; and d) "Private places are public or private property where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy." When the PCC denied Ford's complaint, Ford tried what no one else has tried -- she tried to appeal to the High Court, claiming the PCC arbitrarily had failed to uphold its own code. The Court now has denied permission to appeal [more], and Ford has responded by denouncing the PCC as a "pussy cat" organization over which editors who work with the commission hold far too much sway on matters of privacy [more]. The PCC has responded to the Court's decision and Ford's denunciation by praising the Court and itself [more]. For opinion evidence from others agreeing with Ford that the PCC is ineffective, click here. Re the Minnesota News Council, click here. The site for the Australian Press Council has links to the sites of the relatively few other press councils around the world. My own opinion of the Minnesota News Council is that it primarily serves the interests of the news providers. It's possible the bland local newspapers and TV and radio news shows in Minneapolis-St. Paul might be worse than they are without the council, but that's not saying much. (07.31.2001) Update: It seems a member of the paparazzi has been trying to sell to the press similar pics of "President Jacques Chirac on his summer hols, looking bronzed, a trifle plump -- and completely naked." And, according to The Guardian, it seems thus far (as of 08.30.2001) no paper or magazine has been willing to publish the pics. A double standard? Another update, this on press councils: Here's a link to another story suggesting increasing dissatisfaction with the work of the UK's Press Complaints Commission. Lawyers for celebrities whose privacy has been invaded by the press recently have adopted a strategy of relying on the European Human Rights Act in going directly to courts, thereby bypassing the commission. For my previous comments on this development, click here. (10.30.2001)
"Counselor, would you repeat your objection -- I was thinking about my hair." USA Today reports on the results of a survey about what's on the minds of women. According to the survey, "women" -- and presumably this includes female judges and lawyers and legal secretaries -- spend an average of 43 minutes a day thinking about their hair and 48 minutes a day thinking about sex. Twenty per cent would give up sex or wealth if they could have great hair all the time, 24/7/365. (That reminds me of a friend who in the late '50's said he'd give his soul in exchange if he could be Elvis Presley.) The hair survey was sponsored by the good folks at Salon Selectives, who these days are trying to interest women in some new practical hairdo's that presumably will guarantee the women sporting them will be taken seriously: "The Sparkler," "The Frrr," "The Pagoda," "The Cactus," "The Olive," and "The Dandy." I haven't seen the details of the study. I wonder if the researchers questioned the participants about how much time they spend reading mail-order catalogs, thinking about possible purchases and discussing them with office mates, etc. I also wonder when all this thinking occurs -- during office hours? It all is somewhat of a shock, but only if one ignores the related question of what men spend their time thinking about. Sinclair Lewis' fictional Minnesota judge, Cass Timberlane, if asked, probably would have said, "The law." Do you know what Judge Timberlane was really thinking about? Click here for the answer. (07.31.2001)
Blonde power. Have you heard the joke about "the blonde and the lawyer"? If not, click here. (It's not very funny.) However, there's a "blonde film" that started Friday the 13th I've not yet seen but I've heard is worth seeing; it's Legally Blonde (described here in the Harvard Law School Bulletin), starring the delectable Reese Witherspoon. [Click here, here, here, here, here, and here for reviews] Witherspoon plays a California blonde fashion-major whose Harvard Law-bound blue-blood boy friend, played by Matthew Davis, dumps her in favor of his old prep-school girl friend, who he thinks is more suitable spouse material than a "dumb blonde." Witherspoon develops a plan to win him back: enroll at Harvard Law herself. And that she does (it's apparently easier to get in now than when I attended, as perhaps exemplified by the students' choice of a Commencement Class Day Speaker this year, Greta Van Susteren). Once at HLS, Witherspoon meets with competition (from a dark-haired beaut), disdain (from her stereotyping classmates, who view all blondes as dumb), and other obstacles. As anyone who saw Witherspoon in Election (a favorite recent film of mine) knows, one should not underestimate Witherspoon, who soon organizes a "Blonde Legal Defense Fund" and basically wows the heck out of everyone, becoming, in the words of the Bulletin, "the blonde whose gift for fashion is only surpassed by her gift for jurisprudence." The film's web site contains a "blonde translator" ("All men are created equal" translates to "All men are like created equal"), a section of important dates in "blonde history" (in 1987 that blonde babe, Margaret Thatcher, became the first prime minister in Brit history to serve three consecutive terms), a collection of blonde jokes, a blonde quiz, etc.
Are you a "bully broad"? Wanna get ahead? Every once in awhile (how about once a month) someone comes up with a new way to change your life for the better. There's usually a book involved ($21.95 with one idea per chapter) and often day-long (or longer) seminars and workshops. Or maybe tapes (an extra one for free if you act now). This month's Elle features a story about an executive coaching program called "Bully Broads." I haven't received my Elle yet (just Vogue), so I haven't read it. But the nice folks at ABC News have posted a story about the story about the program. Click here. The program is the brainchild of Jean Hollands of the Growth & Leadership Center in Mountain View, CA, of which Hollands is CEO. Hollands has a book coming out in September, so you'll be reading and hearing lots more re "Bully Broads." The gist of her message is that lots of women on the management and leadership ladder are "bullies" (no argument from me there, as long as you agree that lots of men in management are bullies, too); that while being a bully might work for men, it doesn't work for women; and that if these female bullies want to get ahead they should participate in her monthly support group (and/or read her book) and learn how to stop being "temper tantrum bullies," stop being "witholding" or "silent-type bullies," stop being "constant complainer bullies," etc., and learn how to smile, soften their voices and eyes, be vulnerable and patient, etc. It all sounds like teaching people who by nature aren't very nice to fake niceness, but I'm probably off. For those of you who are thinking of rushing out and buying the latest Elle, I suggest you "save a buck or two" (quoting Alyssa Milano) and avoid the perfumed ads by reading the ABC News story (click here) and by reading "Finishing School" by Colleen O'Connor, in the April 2000 Issue of Business 2.0 (click here).
While we're on the subject of self-help books and programs for the women folk, bullies and sweet ones, who come to us begging for advice, it seems appropriate to mention that even if you've decided to continue bullying everybody at work, you might think about trying a different approach at home. To that end I offer you several links regarding the latest craze in the marriage advice biz, being a "surrendered wife" a) first chapter of the best-selling book, The Surrendered Wife: A Practical Guide to Finding Intimacy, Passion and Peace with a Man, by surrendered-wife par excellence, Laura Doyle, b) web site of Laura Doyle, and c) review of the book by a woman who says one would do better reading Shakespeare.
While I haven't read it, I'd be more inclined, I think, to recommend a slightly-different book, Surrendering to Marriage, by Iris Krasnow, a book that suggests it takes two surrender-ers to make a good marriage, a man and a woman who mutually surrender themselves to "the promise" spoken of so eloquently by Thornton Wilder in the play The Skin of Our Teeth: "I didn't marry you because you were perfect. I didn't even marry you because I loved you. I married you because you gave me a promise. That promise made up for your faults. And the promise I gave you made up for mine. Two imperfect people got married and it was the promise that made the marriage. And when our children were growing up, it wasn't a house that protected them; and it wasn't our love that protected them -- it was that promise." To read an excerpt from Krasnow's book, click here; to read a review, click here. I like that, but I've known few lawyers, men or women, who'll surrender anything, much less themselves, willingly.
One relevant book I have read (after the divorce and therefore too late for me) that I do recommend is Why Marriages Succeed or Fail (1994), by Dr. John Gottman, Ph.D., of the Gottman Institute (click here and here), a fellow who suggests husbands don't give in enough (don't surrender enough?) to their wives. This strikes me as one female lawyers would like. They can cite it, as controlling authority, as they explain, ever so patiently, to their hubbies that the marriage will work if they'll only just surrender to the boss lady.
Hmmm. I'm wondering what sort of a self-help book I can write that will appeal to women (who, after all, buy most of these books), one that will allow me to cash in "big time," as Dick Cheney would say. Here are some titles (a good title seems to be very important) that just came to mind. The titles are a) The "Niagara" Way to a More Fulfilling Marriage (a title that might appeal to all the women paying $6.50 a bottle for the Swedish herbal soft drink, click here, that purports to help women attain sexual ecstacy); b) Making it Big in Business by Getting in Touch With Your Lost Inner Lesbian Self; c) Total Marital and Business Fulfillment Through Tantric Sex; d) How to Sleep Your Way to Marital Happiness and Financial Success (or How to Marry a CEO); e) Cooking Your Way to a Happy Marriage; and f) Mary Machiavelli's Guide to Making It Big. Which might you be willing to buy? Let me know soon. I'm setting aside a couple weeks in August to write a draft of one of them.
Announcement. We've finally gotten around to launching our new webzine/blawg: BurtLaw's The Daily Judge:
It is not an online newspaper and is not affiliated with or intended to be mistaken for any existing or previously-existing newspaper or journal. Rather, it is a so-called "blawg," a law-related personal "web log" or "blog," one with a subjective, idiosyncratic, and eccentric sociological and social-psychological slant that focuses not on the latest judicial decisions of supposed great importance but on a) the institution of judge in the United States and in other countries throughout the world, b) the judicial office and role, c) judicial personalities, d) the great common law tradition of judging as practiced here and throughout the world, e) judges as judges, f) judges as ordinary people with the usual mix of virtues and flaws, etc. We link to newspapers and other sources in order to alert the reader to ideas, articles, stories, speeches, law books, literary works and other things about "judges" that have interested us and that may interest the reader.
We don't promote our blawgs, but readers of this blog and of our affiliated political opinion blog, BurtonHanson.Com, may be interested in it. We don't think there is another blawg quite like it.