Sunday, March 20, 2005

Our Nation's Greatest Jurist

My Fellow Cybertravelers,

It is without shame or hesitation that I write today, without the slightest trace of irony or cynicism that marks my usual correspondence, and our society as a whole. It is with the utmost sincerity and civic-mindedness that I type these words.

I would like to tell you of someone who has the power to change us, to help our society, and to make us better people. Someone whose straightforward mien and forward-looking attitudes can change people's lives. Someone who does changes peoples' lives. A person larger than life. A person who is my hero. A person whose spirit we should all endeavor to embody.

I speak, of course, of Judge Judy.

Nee Judith Sheindlin, a former veteran of the New York court system, Judge Judy is familiar to us as the star of a television show. Called Judge Judy. I make a point of watching Judge Judy at every opportunity. You should, too. You will be a better person as a result.

I speak not of Judge Judy's directions to the unemployed to obtain gainful employment. Or to deadbeat parents to do a better job of raising their children. Or of her ability to separate the truth from falsehood, her expertise in jurisprudence, and that terrible haircut of hers.

No, Judge Judy's greatest attribute is a simple one: she tells stupid people that they are stupid. She yells at them for being stupid. If you have trouble with "coherent thought," she will call you a "moron," say "you're not playing with a full deck," and that you are "dumb as a pile of bricks."

Judy rules

If you are less-than-stable, you are a "nutjob." If you exhibited temper in an incident that brought you to court, you are "an angry nutjob."

That is not all, of course. Anyone who doesn't work, borrows money, and is overweight is instructed to "get off your fat behind and get a job." If you are overweight and plead poverty in paying a debt even though you are obviously well off, Judge Judy notes that "you have enough money to be well fed." I cannot do justice (no pun intended) to the intensity and vehemence with which she delivers these apt bon-mots.

But this just describes the surface of her depth. Interrupt Judge Judy and risk the wrath of Zeus. She tells people to shut up, zip it, can it. In an extremely loud and upsetting way.

Why, you ask, does this make us better citizens? How does it improve the body politic? It is simple. Because Judge Judy gets to say things to people all of us want to, perhaps every single day, but do not, instead adhering to propriety and the fear such people are carrying a .357 Magnum.

The jerk who pushes his way onto the bus, the backstabbing snake at the office, the blowhard politician telling us that bombing a nation will free it or the fundamentalist telling you and your children how to live your lives. We want to call them idiots, morons, jerks, because they are idiots, morons, jerks.

What makes it worse is that these people often rule our lives. Although some of these folks have the intellect of a small acquatic creature, they have power over us. They're the big bullies who cut us off on the freeway and push us around. They're the bosses who steal your ideas and rule by fear. They're the buffoons in the salad line who pick over every single piece of lettuce like they're doing brain surgery. We encounter these people every day of our lives. They make our lives miserable, but we never tell them of the misery they create.

Judge Judy does this for us. She liberates us. She exorcises the hate from our souls. She makes us proud that somebody, somewhere, gives these people their due by lamenting their stupidity and their rudeness, chafing at their petty scams, screaming bloody murder at parents more interested in partying than giving their children a hot meal.

I understand that those with more delicate natures find Judge Judy herself to be rude and uncouth. That she is nothing more than a big mouth with a gavel. Or that her legal reasoning is unsound. They would rather spend an entire day watching dental surgery on hillbillies or a group of NASCAR fans than one mere episode of Judge Judy.

To them I say, life can be difficult. Watching the truth can be difficult. But someone must say the truth. Someone must stand up for what is right.

On a more personal note, Judge Judy, like Jackie Chan and the Cubs, has made me a better writer. Seek the truth. Describe the real. Don't be afraid to take chances.

It is with this understanding that I officially nominate Judge Judy to the Supreme Court. For a better legal system. For a better America.