The Stephen Glass issue has been reheated and reboiled once again. Since 1998, media have been following the former wunderkind's fate after he was caught making up facts when he was writing for The New Republic. Slate, in keeping with its contrarian for contrarian's sake approach, couldn't help itself. In leaps of logic even S.E. Cupp wouldn't sign her name to, David Plotz jumps in with an argument so ridiculous that I wonder if he wrote it with a straight face.
Before I get started on all things wrong with this article, I have often wondered if Slate was really just messing with its readers. After all, this publication once dared to publish Farhad Manjoo's pleas and denials that he was a troll yet in the fourth paragraph he admits that is exactly what he did.
Who knows? The sentiment makes me feel like I'm watching Inception all over again. I digress...
After spending an introductory paragraph overemphasizing how much he hates Glass, Plotz tries to convince us that he should be admitted to the California bar because the Committee of Bar Examiners and the Supreme Court justices are just sanctimonious meanies who want to keep people out of their special club. The problem is Plotz fights alleged smug with a strong dose of his own smug recipe.
The Committee of Bar Examiners and the Supreme Court justices—every one a lawyer—don't want to let Glass be a lawyer because they're embarrassed that anyone could possibly think that he's like them. He's not one of us, dear.
Yes, that's right. The state of California is being one giant Mean Girl who won't let Glass eat at its lunch table. The state's 33 page reluctance couldn't possibly be about an individual who was a habitual liar of a prolonged period of time who went to great lengths to conceal his dishonesty and only came clean because he was caught in the act. Not only that but Glass's reign of deception continued when he tried to apply to the New York bar ten years ago.
In a hilarious, ironic twist, Plotz does the same thing Glass's characters witnesses did: he calls out the Committee for having "anxious snobbishness" and other nefarious motives. The Committee of Bar Examiners's job is to root out corruption, illegal activity, and unethical behavior of the very individuals it licences. Its job is also to calculate the risk in issuing law licenses. After all, the Committee will be on the hook should Glass be up to his old tricks again.
But the Supreme Court and the California Committee of Bar Examiners don't care about that. They care about telling themselves that their profession is saintlier than it is, and they're superior to the reformed liar who wants to work with them. But law isn't holy orders. It's a job.
I wonder if Plotz gets offended when other licensing boards investigate malpractice and misconduct? I'm sure if any didn't, his journalistic chops would be all over that with self-righteous condemnation.
Plotz takes it a step further by arguing that if California admitted Glass, everyone would know who he is so if he tried of anything unethical, everyone would be naturally suspicious anyway. After all isn't it a judge's and jury's job to root out anything that's amiss in a lawyer's argument?
Glass is far less likely than most lawyers to try to sneak something past a judge, because he'll know that every single word he speaks and document he signs is suspect.
Or you could just not admit Glass in the first place and save everybody time of exerting more energy on extra scrutiny, including the taxpayers most of all. We already take this approach with rapists, pedophiles, drunk drivers, embezzlers, and other criminals. I'm not sure why Plotz thinks the California judicial system should bend over backwards just for one lawyer.
But this line happens to be the most hilarious of all.
Admitting Stephen Glass to the bar would help the people of California who need lawyers.
Plotz is apparently unaware of the overabundance of law students, attorneys, and unemployed attorneys in the United States today. And even if that weren't the case, California being one lawyer short isn't going to put the state in complete chaos. But, you know, sure.
None of this matters to Plotz. He needs clicks and angry comments so he pulls an Yglesias and tries to convince us that a known pathological liar should get a law license.
Funny thing is that in all his faux outrage and offense at the California Supreme Court's decision, never once does Plotz say he or Slate would be open to hiring Glass. If he really wanted to convince us he's for real, I'd love to see that happen. But Plotz won't and neither should anyone else.