Arkansas Voters Are Not This Stupid

I tend to be unpolitical—not anti-political, because politics obviously matters, and not apolitical, as though I’m somehow above the fray and don’t have to pick sides. No, I just tend to struggle with most political questions and can only hope that years will make those questions clearer.

But I do know a little bit about what lawyers are supposed to do. (That’s my interest in the matter and why it’s acceptable fodder for this “unpolitical” blog—I am a lawyer and want people to understand why what I do is important). I also know a lot of people who are registered voters in Arkansas. So I think I am qualified enough to say this: Arkansas voters are too smart for these lawyer-bashing ads.

I’m referring, of course, to the latest lawyer-bashing mailer sent out against Clarke Tucker. He is running for state representative in my district, District 35:

tucker 1
This image is from the Arkansas Times blog post on the mailer, which can be found at http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2014/10/02/clarke-tucker-slimed-by-anonymous-mailer.

This is not the first time this tactic has been used in an Arkansas political race. A similarly stupid ad was put forth against Tim Cullen when he was running for Arkansas Supreme Court, and I seem to remember Patti James receiving one when she ran for Pulaski County Circuit Judge.

I have a lot of thoughts when I see the ad. It is stupid on many, many levels. The ransom-note typography is way over the top. The domestic battery imagery is more than over-the-top; it’s patently offensive for the front of a postcard. Tucker is running for State Representative, anyway: His relationship to violent crime is attenuated. And although I don’t know Tucker personally, I do know that he works at one of the whitest of Little Rock’s white-shoe firms; he does not practice criminal law. It’s absurd.

I think all that is pretty obvious on the mailer’s face. My issue is the question posed on the front of the mailer: “Why Would Clarke Tucker Defend A Violent Criminal for Free?”

I suppose the “writer’s” purpose was to create some doubt in the reader’s mind about Tucker’s stance on violent crime because there’s not a good answer to the question. I don’t really know what the person who sent this drivel was trying to do. But whatever aspersions he or she was trying to cast on Tucker, I think the mailer is a failure. There are many, many excellent reasons to defend someone who’s accused of a crime for free.

Now I don’t expect non-lawyers to buy into all the explanations we lawyers give for the things we do. Heck, sometimes I have my doubts. But when it comes to a private lawyer defending a criminal for free, I don’t think we’re dealing with some legal nuance or some cloudy platitudes about criminal justice. I don’t think it takes a law degree to understand that it’s a good thing for you to have someone on your side when the government comes after you.

This is, after all, the same big government (gub-ment?) that we all want to shrink. The police and prosecutors may look like your friends, but that’s only until they have some reason to take away your freedom. In that situation, you have one friend: your lawyer.

Everyone in District 35 has needed a friend, someone to speak for you when you can’t speak for yourself. This is not hard to understand, and I think that the people who received this mailer can understand it.

I can only hope that the people who come up with these inane tactics will catch on at some point. Again, I think most voters can recognize this as a particularly ugly form of deceit, the kind that appears to be protecting the helpless but is actually intended to distort the truth for political gain. They are trying to sell us all a bill-of-goods because they think we’ll buy into their baseless, anti-lawyer rhetoric. But I don’t think we will.

As I’ve said before, there are many good reasons to dislike lawyers. But defending a criminal for free isn’t one of them; this is why we should all like lawyers.