Although I have revealed biographical details on the blog here and there, and a few of my friends know about this blog, I have from the start blogged here anonymously. It is not for fear of my generally conservative views becoming known, since I don’t make them a secret. The main reason I chose not to put my name on the blog at the outset was because I didn’t really know if I would keep at it. Six months later, I am still enjoying the blog and it is slowly gaining readership, so that is no longer a problem.
Another reason was to avoid annoying anyone who might be a current or potential client. I generally try not to offend, but some folks are easily or perpetually offended. Moreover, the very nature of a blog — unedited and free-flowing — makes it easy to use poor word choice or a bad example or otherwise to say something you later regret.
However, one thing that never crossed my mind was the possibility that one of my own law partners would try to make a big deal out of something I wrote. Unfortunately, that just happened to Paul Mirengoff of the great conservative blog PowerLine.
Professor Jacobson reports at Legal Insurrection that a blog post Mirengoff made after the Tucson shooting memorial service got him in hot water with his firm, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. The comment was this:
“As for the ‘ugly,’ I’m afraid I must cite the opening ‘prayer’ by Native American Carlos Gonzales,” Mirengoff wrote. It “apparently was some sort of Yaqui Indian tribal thing, with lots of references to ‘the creator’ but no mention of God. Several of the victims were, as I understand it, quite religious in that quaint Christian kind of way (none, to my knowledge, was a Yaqui). They (and their families) likely would have appreciated a prayer more closely aligned with their religious beliefs.”
One of Mirengoff’s partners, James Meggesto, was so driven to despair by Mirengoff’s The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Spaghetti Western movie reference (is that offensive to Italian-Americans?) that he and the firm had to issue — in Prof. Jacobson’s apt words — a “sanctimonious statement” responding to it:
As an enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation; as an attorney who has dedicated his life and law practice to the representation of Indian tribes, tribal organizations and tribal interests; and as a partner in the American Indian law and policy practice at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, I was shocked, appalled and embarrassed by a recent Web posting by another Akin Gump partner, Paul Mirengoff, who posted on his personal blog an insensitive and wholly inappropriate criticism of the use of a Yaqui prayer as the invocation to the recent memorial service held in Tucson, Arizona. As soon as I and the firm became aware of this posting, the firm took immediate action to deal firmly with this unfortunate situation. Accordingly, Bruce McLean, chairman of the firm, issued the following statement: “We sincerely apologize for the blog entry posted by Akin Gump partner Paul Mirengoff on his personal blog, powerlineblog.com. Akin Gump is neither affiliated with, nor a supporter of, the blog. We found his remarks to be insensitive and wholly inconsistent with Akin Gump’s values. Mr. Mirengoff regrets his poor choice of words and agreed to remove his post.”
This is not just sanctimonious — it is bad writing. “Shocked,” “appalled,” and “embarrassed,” by an “inappropriate,” “unfortunate,”and “insensitive” statement that is “wholly inconsistent with Akin Gump’s values”? For his clients’ sake, I hope that Mr. Meggesto doesn’t subscribe to this ” leave no modifiers behind” approach in his legal writing.
There was nothing insulting about Mirengoff’s post. He didn’t even criticize the prayer itself.
He found it odd, as did I, that a memorial service for multiple people would feature a Yaqui prayer when none of the dead were Yaqui and were likely to be of various faiths. Moreover, it is the kind of self-absorbed gesture we often see from the left (who, by the way, would freak out if a Christian prayer were given at an otherwise non-denominational event), so it was rightly the subject of discussion.
Anyway, now I have another reason to blog anonymously. I don’t need the hassle of finding out that one of my partners is an overly sensitive type, or is someone like Meggesto who would be willing to throw a colleague under the bus for some imagined slight that has some remote chance of impacting his bottom line.