My column on Wednesday about lawyers, health-care reform and tort reform not surprisingly brought a lot of emails from lawyers.
While they took me to task, most were respectful, thoughtful and dignified - in short, they had mastered the civilized art of disagreeing without being disagreeable. I expected no less from professional people.
But in case I got the wrong impression of lawyers, a second wave of emails came in to show that these indignant ones were just a bunch of insulting goofs with no sense of humor. In short, while it seemed for a time that I had finally fulfilled my dream of finding a better class of enemy, my initial hopes were dashed. Oh well, you know me: I always smile bravely through my tears and then burst into laughter.
But I want to focus on the smarter and more polite replies. Some of them had a common theme. They started off by saying that I had misquoted William Shakespeare, a capital offense in certain old-fashioned colleges where the ivy climbs up the trouser legs of English professors.
Here is a typical reaction: "As you may know, the phrase "the first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers," from Henry VI, Pt. 2 is the classic out-of-context quote. What Shakespeare makes clear in the play is that if you wish to set up a tyrannical government, kill the lawyers."
And here is my reply to this gentleman (and indeed so he was, not like some of those other scoundrels): "Thank you for your courteous note but your explanation of the quote is a case of doth protest too much. I have no argument with the greater meaning of the quote in the general scheme of Shakespeare's play, but the bard was too great a writer not to let Dick the Butcher speak in the authentic voice of the people - that is, the resentful, prejudiced voice of the people. That, of course, was precisely my point, I ventured no further than to suggest than public resentment of lawyers is of long standing."
This is why I love my job - not because I am regularly called vile and ignorant but because good people exist out there also and they care about their Shakespeare.
Have a great weekend, you good people. As for the rest of you, I visit upon you the curse of the Australians: May all your emus turn into chickens and kick over your patio furniture.