This joke and others like it were directed to the invited recipients of a private email list, a list from which the recipients could opt out, by an avuncular old man who is apparently just getting his feet wet on the internet:
YOU MAY BE A TALIBAN IF……….
1. You refine heroin for a living, but you have a moral objection to beer.
2. You own a $3,000 machine gun and $5,000 rocket launcher, but you can’t afford shoes.
3. You have more wives than teeth.
4. You wipe your butt with your bare left hand, but consider bacon “unclean.”
5. You think vests come in two styles: bullet-proof and suicide.
6. You can’t think of anyone you HAVEN’T declared Jihad against.
7. You consider television dangerous, but routinely carry explosives in your clothing.
8. You were amazed to discover that cell phones have uses other than setting off roadside bombs.
9. You’ve ever uttered the phrase, “I love what you’ve done with your cave.”
10. You have nothing against women and think every man should own at least one.
11. You bathe at least monthly whether necessary or not.
12. You’ve ever had a crush on your neighbor’s goat.
My father, regrettably, forwards this sort of thing to me several times a week. I tend to ignore the jokes, and instead send emails inquiring after his health, but he hasn't taken the hint.
A reporter walks into a newsroom. He gets a call from a lawyer who's been disciplined as a vexatious litigant by multiple courts. The lawyer has an axe to grind against one of the judges who disciplined him, one judge out of the many who have sanctioned this lawyer. The reporter goes on to repeat everything that the angry lawyer tells him, over and over, in story after story, for months, as the newspaper, which is already the butt of jokes, lays off other journalists who report actual news. Meanwhile, circulation at the newspaper declines, and the owner's stock price plummets.
I find the second joke far more offensive, and not just because it lacks a punchline. I find it offensive that Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Judge Alex Kozinski, who was embroiled in controversy earlier this year over his maintenance of rather silly (but offensive to Mrs. Grundy) images on a web server he thought was private, is yet again the subject of an apparent jihad by his hometown paper, for having a sense of humor.
The story is that Judge Kozinski, who is one the most respected jurists on the bench but a bit of a character, sends joke emails to former clerks, attorneys with whom he's built a relationship, and friends. Recipients, as some of the jokes are a bit off-color, are advised that they can opt out of the list, and that's it. The whole story.
Meanwhile, one of the largest papers in the country, acting on a tip from the above-referenced vexatious litigant, reports on this as though it's news, as though the jokes call the Judge's character or impartiality into question (I can guess what most judges think of the Taliban), or as though the jokes constitute some form of harassment. Spam is not harassment. The best they can come up with is this:
Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School and former federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, was skeptical that those who found jokes on the list offensive would necessarily complain, given Kozinski's commanding stature in the legal community.
"If you're ambitious, he's the last person you want to offend," she said.
If you're an ambitious attorney and you can't muster the courage to send an email containing this polite lie:
"Dear Judge Kozinski, while I'm flattered that you added me to your email list, I'm concerned that my wife / husband / significant other / boss might read these funny jokes. Regretfully, I must ask you to remove me from your list. Thanks!"
you have no business in a federal courtroom.
I don't carry water for those who argue that we need to increase pay on the federal bench because we're losing the best talent. The bench is its own reward. But it has been increasingly politicized through the years, and that's of greater concern, because we will lose anyone who dares to think originally or unconventionally. Now, with the Los Angeles Times and others like it jumping in, we may be in danger of losing any judge who has a sense of humor.