The Company You Keep

It’s happened more times than I care to count.

It happened again yesterday.

Someone tweeted a link to a lawyer’s blog post. I don’t follow too many people on twitter, but I like it cycle in new blood occasionally, so I followed the twitter handle link to see what that person was about.

In short, they were a garbage person.

Racist content, misogynistic content, transphobic content. If I could have stomached it and read on, I would have probably found more contemptible things. Near as I can tell, the only thing this person did like is free speech.

I like free speech too. I would never say that this person doesn’t have the right to say these things. That doesn’t mean I can’t think they’re reprehensible for saying them.

Personally, my code of honor dictates that once I find out that you’re a garbage person, I don’t really want to have anything to do with you professionally. I can’t work with you on projects, I’m not going to signal boost your work, I’m not interacting with you on twitter. As I said in my Legal Tech Lives interview, “The world is the web and the web is social. Behave accordingly.”

The thing that really bothers me is that garbage people are really quite popular on lawyer social media. (And let’s not forget the cesspool that the Above the Law blog comment section became.) Yes, yes, as so many Twitter profiles say “RTs do not equal endorsement.” Okay, so you aren’t endorsing their behavior, but you’re ignoring it which is tacit approval. Racism, misogyny and the like are treated as personality quirks and not something that should be unacceptable behavior in a profession dedicated to law.

Imagine being a member of a marginalized class and seeing someone you respect professionally joke around with someone that says things like “Chelsea Manning is a man.” and “Blacks didn’t contribute anything to the creation of “America.” (Paraphrasing actual sentiments that I’ve seen.) It’s likely that they assume you either don’t care about this person being racist or you agree with them. If you’re okay with that, hey…that’s on you.

I guess I’m just saying, I wish more people had the courage to shun assholes. And that people thought about the image they’re portraying with the company they keep.
Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk Flickr via Compfight cc

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