Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Judge not...

I love it when this happens - two news sources giving very different views on the same topic and between them being embarrassingly and inadvertently revealing of what's really going on. With a little careful cross-examination and cynical spin, quite a different picture can emerge.

Let's start with the BBC, who report on a review of why "so few female" lawyers become judges (guess the author's gender). At first blush, we hear that it's because of the culture of "male self-confidence and intellectual posturing." Gosh, isn't that awful? All those horrible old men blustering around and going on about some incomprehensible thing or another. What appalling company, eh?

But, but, waitaminute, isn't self confidence supposed to be a virtue? And "intellectual posturing" sounds a lot like sour grapes from someone who can't understand what's going on. Perhaps something lies behind the eye of the beholder, such as insecurity, maybe, and a nagging suspicion that she's not smart enough?

The piece goes on to suggest all that this dreadful self-confidence and general intelligence will remain "until there are sufficient women appointed to change the look of the environment".

Neurosis and a bit of dumbing down is what they need. Call in the women!

Hey, they said it, I just read between the lines.

But, just a moment, what is it they want to change? "The look of the environment"? Not the environment itself, just what it looks like? They're quite happy with the furniture, they just don't like the color of the wallpaper? Very profound, I'm sure.

This is, of course, all so much fluff and I suppose we should be grateful that the BBC still has just enough journalistic integrity to report on the real story, albeit right at the end of the article when they've already got you all scandalized about all the horrible men who're keeping women out by being all smart and sure of themselves, 'n'all.

It seems that it's altogether too much work. I mean, you have to travel, sometimes you can't have dinner at home and, well, let's get to the root of it: there's no money in it.

Yup. Cold hard cash and lots of fun, that's what counts.

One female Queen's Counsel (fancy name for a lawyer) revealed the true depths of the issue: "It's a very jolly life NOT being a judge. Getting loads of money, making jokes and doing really interesting work." Yes, she's just having oodles of fun screwing her clients out of their fees. What a jape, eh?

But I said there were two articles, did I not? Let's flip on over to the Telegraph where we are imparted the wisdom of The Lord Chief of England and Wales, whose name, oh wizard wheeze, get this, is "Lord Judge"! Really, I checked, that's him on the right:

Lord Judge >tee hee< has written about why lawyers in general become senior judges, or not. Apparently his judgment (geddit?) is that they're put off because the profession is "old-fashioned and fustian".

The Telegraph then feels the need to inform us that "fustian" means "pompous and pretentious". Frankly, I think it completely unnecessary to be told what a word means when you can figure it out immediately based on who's saying it and why, but I sniggered anyway.

(Nevertheless, I prefer to think of them as slightly moldy according to the first possibility that sprang to mind - fusty.)

The UK's chief old fashioned, fusty old fart thinks that lawyers of unspecified gender don't want to be judges because, well, then they'd be old fashioned and fusty. That's a little different from the self-confidence and intellect that the women are supposedly bothered by, but OK, whatever.

Lord Judge (!) protests, however, that he and his fellow judges aren't old fashioned and fusty at all! No, they're mostly young, strapping chaps in their 50s and 60s and quite a lovely bunch of chums. Actually, he said, "warm collegiate support", but I thought that a little, er, fustian for this blog.

In spite of their terrible reputation, he did come up with one reason why people want to become High Court judges, namely they get to be called Lord Wotsit or Dame Thingummy, which has got to be worth some respect, eh, bro? Yo, man, 'n'all. You be pwned by my Lordiness, lowly peasant.

Actually, he didn't say any of that last bit, but I just know he was thinking it. Wouldn't you if your name was Lord Judge?

But the Telegraph are really no better than the BBC about getting to the point which, again, is moolah. That and the fact that it's actual work.

Once more, it's left to the women to sum it up. Having complained about losing her dough, one woman deeply committed to the practice of law says: "The idea of spending the next 15 years of my life being a High Court judge doing rubbish work is frankly too depressing to contemplate."

"Rubbish work"? Helping define the law of the land and develop some actual justice is "rubbish work"? I despair for this nation.

You know, lawyers are quick to complain that they're the butt of a lot of unfriendly jokes, but let's face it, a awful lot of them do themselves absolutely no favors at all.

Interestingly, the Telegraph's final sentence speaks volumes - those lawyers who're on their 2nd or 3rd marriages find it especially difficult responding to the call of duty (or a peerage). As you sew, so shall you reap.