the lawyer writer

sometimes legal                     sometimes literary                     sometimes not

Monday, January 03, 2005

Warning: Misuse of the Socratic Method

It's a day for confrontations.

This morning I was doing a radio show (via telephone and in my pajamas) when the host said the most dreadful thing you can say to someone at 6:30 AM: "Okay, let's take some callers." Still, all went well, until Angry Caller called in. Angry Caller did not identify himself as a cop or law enforcement official, but proceeded to enumerate all the things that were wrong about The Street Law Handbook. He summed up by suggesting that everyone simply buy a local copy of the statutes and codes in their county if they wanted to know about the law. This is why I think he was not a law enforcement official, because if he was, he would know that statutes are open to interpretation (and therefore lawyers) and that they also make for incredibly boring reading. However, I decided to employ the most fearful weapon in my legal arsenal: The Socratic Method.


Angry Caller: It's simple. Assault is just when you use force*

Me: Well, what is force?

Angry Caller: Like when you push or hit someone, or hurt them. Something excessive.

Me: But what is excessive?

Angry Caller(getting angrier): You know, when you injure someone.

Me (smug): But what is an injury?

At this point, the guy started swearing and the host cut him off. This is the most common reaction to the Socratic Method, unless you are in law school. Anyway, it was too bad that he was cut off, as I starting to enjoy law-school-professor act. That's what the law degree is about: if I don't know the exact definition of something, I'll make sure you don't either.

(*Assault is not defined as "when you use force." and I do know the legal definition of the terms above, but they are interpreted differently in various locations. To learn more, you should go buy a copy of your local codes and statutes in your county as soon as possible)

My other confrontation might not happen. I am waiting to get paid for a job I did in March. I am quietly simmering, ready for action if the money does not arrive. We'll see.


Blogger toey said...

I could, of course, take your advice now, drop my law degree and pursue a much more 'meaningful' life, but, being the type of person who doesn't believe chilli is hot until he tastes it, I will go on.

Look forward to reading your blog =)

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