Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

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PLBT Proclaims Solidarity with Nutmeg Lawyer.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | July 13, 2009

Posted by Cliff Tuttle (c) 2009

In one of its “dumb lawsuit of the day” type articles, involving a plaintiff with a presumably Polish surname, Above the Law, a law blog familiar to PLBT readers, said (after a series of stale sex jokes) that this story made the author of this post feel less guilty about all the Polish jokes she used to tell during her youth. In other words, this story confirms the stereotype of Polish people as dumb, so all those jokes based on that stereotype are okay — this one being the latest.

Well, I won’t claim to have never told or listened to a joke that was premised on the idea that an ethnic, racial or other group had some undesirable characteristic. But, unlike Above the Law, I think
i’ve learned something about insulting, demeaning humor. l still feel guilty over past transgressions and I’m not going to change my mind because an isolated incident appears (to some) to confirm the stereotype.

Ethnic or racial jokes are simply ethnic or racial slurs cloaked in humor. Members of our profession, which demands high standards of ethics and professional conduct, should also be above such unbecoming and unprofessional utterances. If nothing else, our clients are members of these groups. Insult my client and you insult me.

Nutmeg Lawyer‘s Adrian Baron blogged on this subject recently. A reader posted the Nutmeg blog to the comment section following the story in Above the Law. Guess what? The cowards did not publish it! There’s fearless journalism for you! What’s the matter, ATL? Feeling a little sensitive to criticism? Good.

Notwithstanding the foregoing (as we lawyers never tire of saying), if you know any good lawyer jokes, I’d like to hear them. I might even laugh. Then, I’ll publish them, followed by an editorial on how stupid the stereotypical message of the joke really is.

When is a joke not a joke? When it is a slur. Get it?



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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