April 6, 2008

An Esenbergian interlude

Would you forsake your house and home,
Would you forsake your baby?
Would you forsake your husband too,
To go with Blackjack Davey?
Ride off with Blackjack Davey?

Well I'll forsake my house and home,
And I'll forsake my baby.
I'll forsake my husband too,
For the love of Blackjack Davey,
Ride off with Blackjack Davey.

Blackjack Davey — Traditional (a.k.a. Child Ballad #200).
Now, I don't know whether Blackjack Davey was a lawyer or not, but he sure as hell did some pretty effective persuasive arguing, judging from the way things turned out betwixt he and the lady of the house.

I'm going to get back to my series on the Coalition for America's Families' hatchet job against Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler, but since there's no longer any sense of urgency, I'm going to take a little bit more time over it, and hopefully the individual posts won't be so long.

But first I want to say something about my friend Prof. Richard Esenberg of Marquette Law School, who I've mentioned throughout this series, and who I'm going to be mentioning some more. Anyone who's been following over the past several weeks knows that Prof. Esenberg has also spilled a lot of virtual ink on questions related to the recent State Supreme Court election campaign. He's done so not only in response to many of the things I've written here but also to raise and argue a number of other points, many of which have considerable merit. Not necessarily definitive, but considerable.

But ultimately I've been focused only on one or two central themes, and a lot of what Esenberg has written doesn't engage those themes as directly as I have. That's not a criticism, or even a suggestion that Esenberg would prefer not to directly engage those themes. Of course he's free to write about what he wants, or what he considers more important, and he often does so quite compellingly.

Nevertheless, let's just say that there are several things upon which Prof. Esenberg and I fundamentally, and perhaps even irreconcilably, disagree. And not only do we disagree on a number of conclusions, I occasionally object strongly to the methods of reasoning he uses to reach those conclusions. And furthermore, I think some of the premises he puts to use in furtherance of that reasoning in order to reach those conclusions are deeply flawed. Deeply.

And I believe strongly that, given the time and the opportunity, I could convince Prof. Esenberg on a number of those questions, or at least show him why some of his conclusions, in the end, cannot be legitimately defended.

Prof. Esenberg knows what I think; he's no dummy. More importantly, Prof. Esenberg welcomes criticism like mine. In fact he invites it, and he enjoys engaging it, if only for the enervating intellectual exercise. Much like Justice Butler, as a matter of fact, who continually invited Mike Gableman to engage the substantial elements of Butler's opinions for the Supreme Court. Except Gableman wouldn't — and, I'm practically convinced, is unable to — engage that debate.

More recently, Prof. Esenberg — who I trust I can fairly call Rick now — and I have exchanged a small volume of private correspondence. And I'm not going to go into the details of that, because much of it involves stuff that's nobody else's business but ours.

I have no idea how many thousands of people I've met during my life. It's been lots. And I've met, conversed with, fought with, partied with, worked with, people from every station in life. From homeless women in the streets of Soho and beggars in Tangier to the CEOs of companies doing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business every year. And just about everyone in between. I don't exaggerate.

I've also spent a lot of time thinking about ethics, and morality, and religion. The latter is another subject upon which Prof. Esenberg and I disagree fundamentally, but I certainly don't presume to persuade him on that account. I wouldn't even try and I totally respect his personal views within that particular bailiwick of inquiry.

The haiku version is, I think that by this point in my life I know what I'm talking about when I say the following.

I want to say now, as clearly as I can — and I hope Esenberg forgives me for employing the traditional vernacular of my former incarnation as a construction manager — that Rick Esenberg is a fucking mensch, of the highest order, and he has justly earned my unequivocal respect as a person. Absolute and unequivocal.

Now back to the hardball presently.


William Tyroler said...

"Mensch"? That was part of "the traditional vernacular" used around the construction sites you managed? Interesting. Ah, perhaps you meant the accompanying adjective.

Anyway, for those who might not be familiar with the term:

In Yiddish (from which the word migrated into American English), mensch (מענטש) roughly means "a good person." A mensch has the qualities one would hope for in a dear friend or trusted colleague. According to author and Yiddish popularist Leo Rosten,
[A] mensch is someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being "a real mensch" is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous.

Indeed, Tom's is very high praise indeed:

Mensch: a decent human being, a good person who always takes the high road. Being called a mensch is the ultimate compliment.

Among other qualities, Professor Esenberg's principled commitment to free and robust debate of public controversies entitles him to great respect. But I can still kvetch about his role in the election, and I look forward to Tom's calling him to account. That said, and despite all the heat, the fact Tom approaches the task with undiminished respect for the professor speaks well of both of them.

Incidentally, for the suggestion "that Yiddish is quickly supplanting Latin as the spice in American legal argot," see this piquant survey, by Alex Kozinsky and Eugene Volokh.

Jim Bouman said...

Hanging out on-line with the (visiting) MU Law perfesser, formerly corporate vice president, before that, partner in a silk stocking law firm (and, concurrently, seeker of "discernment" of a "calling" that can only be realized through years "in residence" at Nashotah House)--not to mention 'splainin' where he got that halo--persuades iT that this guy is a mensch?


You've gotta give us a lot more evidence that this guy is indeed, possessed of menschitude.

I'll give him some credit. His previous status as a guy who needed tons (tons-and-tons) of editorial help with even the spelling of the names of well-known locals he was harpooning has improved a bit.

But, Mensch?


He might have mensch potensch.

But, please, tell us more about where you see all this incipient menschiferousness.

Terrence Berres said...

"He might have mensch potensch."

Honorable menschion?

Rick Esenberg said...

Thanks for the gracious comments.

The Reddess would like to know if you will provide space for a rebuttal?

illusory tenant said...

lol - absolutely.