One of the "benefits" of having a blog is that you attract critics.
Some critics are what you might call trolls. They sit back and anonymously lob witticisms like "you're a moron" or "your blog sucks." No reason to spend much time thinking about those types.
But every once in a while, you come across a different sort of critic. This sort seems well-intentioned and thoughtful, perhaps even noble--if misguided. (Hey, if someone disagrees with me, they've got to be misguided, right?)
This kind of critic causes you to stop and think. And that's a good thing.
Legal Schnauzer recently attracted such a critic. He is Matthew Krell, writing at Cottonmouth, a progressive blog in Mississippi. Mr. Krell takes me to task for my reporting on the Paul Minor case in Mississippi.
Actually, "takes me to task" might be too strong a term. After all, Mr. Krell and I are on the same team (both progressives), and we seem to have the same goals (an honest and fair justice system).
Our differences, I think, are attributable to age and experiences. I gather that Mr. Krell is a law student, so I'm guessing he's in the 22-25 age range. That would make him about half my age. And by virtue of my age, I'm guessing I've developed a more hardened perspective on life than has Mr. Krell.
Ultimately, I'm not sure that Mr. Krell and I disagree all that much. He's embarking on a career in the law, and it's probably healthy for him to think that he's heading into a noble profession. Meanwhile, I've seen the darker side of the legal world.
Perhaps Mr. Krell and I can teach one another some valuable lessons. Maybe I can show him that sometimes reality really does bite. And maybe he can show me that, despite our occasional journey through darkness, we should strive to see light in the distance.
Mr. Krell presents a respectful critique, and I want to present a respectful response. But since he and I really are on the same team, I figure why not have a little fun?
So first, I want to say that I'm grateful for Mr. Krell's critique for two reasons. One, it made me think a little harder about what I'm doing on this blog. And two, it reminded me of one of my favorite episodes of Scrubs, which I think is one of the best shows in modern television history. I never thought I would think a TV comedy could rank with the brilliance of M*A*S*H. But I think Scrubs often rises to that level.
The episode I'm reminded of is called "My Common Enemy." It centers around Dr. Molly Clock, a young, idealistic, somewhat dingy (and very attractive) psychiatrist at Sacred Heart Hospital. Dr. Clock believes that people are essentially good. Even those with a "hard outer shell," she says, have a "creamy center."
Well, this is nonsense to two of the hospital's veterans--Dr. Perry Cox and Chief of Staff Bob Kelso. They agree that most people are "bastard-coated bastards with bastard filling."
Cox and Kelso normally loathe one another and disagree on most everything. But they agree on this: Dr. Clock, and her sunny, positive outlook, must be crushed.
They become particularly alarmed when they see Dr. Clock whistling the "Andy Griffith" theme song and getting patients, visitors and others to whistle along with her. "Dear God, she has an actual skip in her step," Cox says.
Something must be done! So Kelso asks Cox about their plan of attack. "When I crush a person's spirit," Cox says, "I like to use a combination of intimidation and degradation."
So they are off on a mission to teach Dr. Clock some lessons in hard knocks. But will the tables get turned? I won't ruin it for you. But for folks, who love to read great comedy, the script to "My Common Enemy" can be found here.
And before we go into my response to Mr. Krell, let's enjoy this video clip of highlights from "My Common Enemy."