How To Enjoy Your Own Wake
I detoxed on Scott Greenfield and Simple Justice a year or so ago, and have had few occasions since to go back to his page. But when I read this morning that he was unplugging his keyboard, I was surprised. I will miss him now that he has gone. Indeed, I suspect he will be back soon enough, perhaps in a new form: The writing bug is hard to shake. I suspect he is enjoying his own wake just now.
When he returns I hope he will turn a new leaf. I liked it when he wrote about cases and controversies involving lawyers doing battle in court. It was when he turned his sights on the Internet and legal blogging that I lost interest. Lawyers writing about other lawyers who write about what other lawyers are doing in court has all the appeal of what it must be like to masturbate while wearing boxing gloves: I suppose you get to the point of it all if you try hard enough, but all the pleasure is destroyed in the labored effort.
I watched a YouTube debate between Scott and Kevin O’Keefe on lawyers and social media the other day. When the moderator announced that O’Keefe, a consultant on social media, was a former lawyer, Scott couldn’t entirely suppress a smirk. And when the moderator commented that if he were looking for a criminal defense lawyer, he’d want someone just like Scott – irreverent, outspoken and beholden to no one, Scott swelled with just a touch of pride. Anti-marketing marketing is still marketing, after all. The distinctions the two men drew in the debate were, a logician might say, without difference.
But I will miss Scott’s condescension. It was a steady beam, a dark radar dancing forever on the keyboard world ready to zap whatsoever offended his ambitions. I asked him to delink me from his page last year. Months later, he returned the compliment, writing a snarky review of a book I wrote proudly announcing he hadn’t read it. I’ve still not read Scott’s review. I am stubborn in my own way: once you’ve heard a cock crow you needn’t listen for the sound of more subtle notes.
The world of legal blogging is an odd place, but Scott had its method down cold. Write two or three pieces a day, link to others, comment on your comments, and above all engage, even if the engagement consisted of mockery. He was on to something. Some folks crave the whip.
Others want to crack it.
There will be a vortex in the blawgosphere for a spell. A handful of writers took their bearings from Scott, loyal lieutenants to the end, craving electronic scraps of recognition. It is a high crime among the cognoscenti not to drop their names in what you write. I’ve been called passive aggressive because when I see something stupid or unseemly, I attack the idea without naming the author of the nonsense. I’ve never understood that charge: I thought it fairly aggressive. I can declare an idea bankrupt without putting a coin in its author’s collection plate.
But what do I know? I am a shameless self-promoter; I talk about what I do in court; I crow when I win, and sob when I lose. I have those most dread things of all: feelings. I checked out of the blawgosphere, and read but a few pages now and again. I debated whether to break a general rule about avoiding the topic with this piece. I am sure come the morrow I will have misgivings about hitting the send key on this topic. What is to be gained in the keyboard competition to have the biggest and baddest attitude of all?
Why my indices are all wrong. You do know, don’t you, that there are folks on the Internet who keep track of such things as the ratio of people they follow to followers on Twitter? It is a sign among those who say they do not care about such things of their influence. On the day Scott retired he knew exactly how many posts he wrote in five years. He once crowed about how many comments his blog drew. When I asked him how many were his comments engaging his readers, he asked me if I was jealous. An odd fellow, he.
I don’t miss any of that chatter at all.
I am hoping Scott outgrew the role he adopted. I’ve never seen or heard about his courtroom work, but I’ve got to believe the effort to he put into blogging can now be put to better use. Perhaps he will try a few cases. Or maybe he’ll write a book, or a newspaper column. Who knows, maybe he’ll team up with Nancy Grace? He can match her snark for snark.
So I confess to missing Scott. I can’t say he was a guilty pleasure, because I neither took pleasure in what he wrote nor felt much anything at all about reading him or not. But his unabashed scorn was a lodestar in a world without firm markers. And knowing where he stood made it so much easier to determine where those who craved his approval thought they were.
I say he’ll be back, and within six months. He didn’t quit. He announced his retirement and left his page up and open for comments. Had his page simply disappeared, I’d take his departure to be permanent.
Rest up, Scott. Enjoy your wake. Then come back to life with a new gear or two. You were a good read once. I hope you will be once again.