Thursday, March 31, 2022

Licorice Pizza

I found the movie Licorice Pizza, which won several Oscars, very enjoyable except for one, naggingly disturbing thing - the romance part. You see the male lead, who is just 15 years old, falls madly in love, at first sight no less, with the female lead who is 25 years old. Although at first she resists, in the end she falls just as madly in love with him. This isn't unrequited love, it is fully requited. 

Again, in case you missed it, he is 15 years old and she is 25. 

Imagine if the genders of the two leads were reversed. A 15 year old girl falling in love with a 25 year old man and in the end she gets him. There would be outrage. It would be cited as typical male oppression of women. People would say the movie is exactly what is wrong with Hollywood. It would be viewed as sexist. It certainly would not have won any Oscars. 

Why is that true? I think the best explanation is that our society is so fundamentally sexist we believe deep down in our collective conscious that a 15 year old boy is more responsible than a 15 year old girl. 

Same reason we believe a woman who divorces a man to be with someone else, refuses to contribute anything to the upbringing of the children yet is able to make just as much as him, ends up with lifetime alimony. It would never happen if the genders were reversed.  Which is precisely the reason I am so in favor of equal rights. 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

A Moral Holiday

The Atlantic has an interesting and relevant article about how the United States is currently going through a moral holiday

The United States is now in the midst of an extended moral holiday, in both senses. I see many manifestations of this moral holiday converging, and two in particular: first, the orgy of violence on display by supposed law-enforcement officers long before the current protests began; and second, the looting, vandalism, and other forms of public lawbreaking by rioters at the fringe of the earliest protests. This second form of lawbreaking, occurring over a period measured in days, is as nothing compared with the steady accumulation of police violence over decades. What these phenomena have in common is an implicit sense that we are in a time of accelerating change, making what was forbidden suddenly licit. Criminal acts that were heretofore shameful, such as beating unarmed, peaceful protesters or burgling a hair salon, are now performed in full knowledge that dozens of cellphone cameras are turned in your direction.

Although true, I disagree it is a new phenomenon. By many measures we are far more moral than in the past. Slavery and overt racism (when is the last time being in the KKK was considered cool?) are long gone. More recently I remember huge battles over gay marriage just a few years ago which quickly petered out to the point where it is widely accepted today. Nor do many people today argue women should be paid less than men for equal work.   

Although I think the legal industry is one where crime is rampant, I do not believe this is anything new. Unfortunately, reform in the legal system is well behind reform in other areas such as law enforcement as evidenced by the lack of reporting on the issue. Hopefully this changes. Soon. 

Friday, March 18, 2022

Florida (Again)

Both the house and senate in Florida have again passed alimony reform legislation. Now it is up to Governor Ron DeSantis to sign or veto it.  I am not much of a DeSantis fan but I hope he does the right thing for once an sign it. 

It is difficult for me to believe that anyone in this day and age would argue against:

The bill, which Gruters has promoted as an improvement on past efforts, would repeal court-ordered permanent alimony — leaving bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative and durational alimony for all divorces going forward.

Two measures written in the legislation were the subject of the bulk of debate: a 50-50 time-share presumption and the elimination of permanent alimony on previous, modifiable agreements.

Those who argue agaisnt the bill I presume also argued agaisnt the Equal Right Amendment.  

To quote Jim Morrison from the Doors, "People are strange." 

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Remembering the Equal Right Amendment Battle

In my younger days (grade school/high school), there was a huge debate over the proposed equal rights amendment. Even at the time I thought it bizarre that anyone would oppose it. It seemed to me that it would be down right embarrassing to oppose equal rights, something akin to supporting slavery.  Yet the amendment never passed. 

As the linked Wikipedia article above states it failed because:

the ERA seemed destined for ratification until Phyllis Schlafly mobilized conservative women in opposition. These women argued that the ERA would disadvantage housewives, cause women to be drafted into the military and to lose protections such as alimony, and eliminate the tendency for mothers to obtain custody over their children in divorce cases

No wonder I supported the ERA. 

Women should be drafted into the military, alimony should not be based on gender or better yet eliminated, and gender should not be take into account when determining custody. It is just has hard for me now to understand how anyone would think otherwise as it was understanding why anyone would be opposed to equal rights for women when I was a kid. 

The irony is that without obtaining the very things Schlafy feared would happen, we will never have equal pay for equal work nor equal representation of women in politics and corporate leadership positions. 

We have a long way to go to achieve a truly equal society. 

Friday, March 4, 2022

A Plea For Ethics

An article in California Legal Ethics is a plea for ethics in the legal professions.

Unfortunately there is a huge financial incentive for lawyers, especially in family practice, to not only violate their own professional rules but the law. This combined with the almost insignificant chance they will be held accountable has created a system where crime by lawyers has become endemic. 

Family law has always been difficult. Trends in society, the ongoing destruction of personal norms of appropriate behavior, the erosion of social trust, and the increased competition between lawyers for clients have made it more difficult. The lawyer-as-hired-gun meme still has currency, and it is often emphasized by lawyers themselves in their advertising, based on the idea that clients want aggressive lawyers. Many of my clients who are family law lawyers tell me that family law practice is uglier now than they ever seen it.
No, all is not fair in love, war or the practice of law. They all have ethical rules that must be followed if we are to live in a world not governed by brute force.

Only we can choose what kind of society we live in.