Tuesday, November 16, 2004

With a white picket fence, and a gun, and a lawyer

Alan Dershowitz was in town last night making the moral case for supporting Israel. Hey, I don't need convincing; but maybe someone at the Citizen's City desk does. After some more or less neutral banter concerning the event itself Dershowitz spoke at, there's this bit in his bio: Mr. Dershowitz has never been bashful about his long resume of defending clients of questionable repute. "My job is to defend people charged with crimes," said the religiously educated Jew. "It's my job, I do it willingly and I do it proudly." "And I think it is in the tradition of the Torah (which is the Jewish bible) when Abraham defended the sinners of Sodom and he didn't apologize for that." I wouldn't defend murderers. I want to become a lawyer in order to prosecute, to make the best case for convicting and punishing the guilty. But someone has to argue for the defense, and better it's someone that considers it a sacred duty as part of the legal process than someone with motivations less wholesome. One of my heroes is John Adams, who - despite pressure from the public, and rhetoric at cross-purposes from his cousin Samuel - defended the British troops charged in the Boston Massacre of 1770. But I'm not entirely certain the bio is in aid of defending the role of the defense attorney, especially when it also involves the phrase "the religiously educated Jew." If it's bias (and not just a poor choice of words that coincidentally might imply Dershowitz is a scummy fanatic), it's subtle. Am I way off base here? Am I being overly sensitive to the possible intersection of anti-lawyer and anti-Israel prejudice? All I know for certain is that I'm going to keep an eye on the author, Aron Heller.

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