Earth Doctor / Climate Troubadour

The Lawyer Song

People got lawyers, you ought to know,              G Em  Am D                G, Capo 2
Some sneaky as a Scorpio,                                     Em G7 Am Adim
And some that ought to be on a leash,                Bm Bdim Am D7
Confined to cottage cheese and quiche.             Gmaj7 G#dim Am D

They’ve got lawyers, sad but true,                        G Em  Am D
Happy to take a bite out of you.                           Em G7 Am Cm
Just a fact of life,                                                     Esus4/B  E7
You’re better off avoiding strife!                        A7 D7  G  D7

It started back long ago,
And they can set you back a lot of dough.
So use your manners, and be polite,
Brush your teeth and say your prayers at night,

Count to ten and don’t be a jerk.
They’re always looking for extra work.
If you don’t wanna pay the price,
You’d better treat people nice!

©Doug Hendren 2019

What’s it about? Not about lawyers, actually! It’s about Americans seem to have forgotten how to be kind and civil to one another. I believe a lot of the reason is the abandonment of the FCC fairness doctrine (1949), which required holders of broadcast licenses to present controversial public issues fairly. It was subsequently upheld repeatedly, including a Supreme Court finding (1969) that the fairness doctrine was not only constitutional but essential for democracy. Unfortunately, it was revoked in 1985, opening up the American airwaves to increasingly polarizing extreme talk shows, which in recent years has subjected listeners to an increasing burden of hate speech and highly divisive misinformation on issues of politics (Trump’s “big lie”), public health (Covid and vaccinations) and other issues.

According to Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, this disastrous trend in American life began with Rush Limbaugh (1985), and has greatly accelerated with Fox News (1996), Breitbart News (2005), and other outlets making up a “conservative entertainment complex,” driving polarization on issues of race, religion and other issues. Levitsky and Ziblatt trace the breakdown of American cultural norms in their 2018 book How Democracies Die, emphasizing that many pillars of national stability are actually not enshrined in law at all, but are a matter of cultural cohesion. One could say, basic good manners. Be good to your neighbor!

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