A Renaissance Is Possible

If protesting and arguing on Twitter and Facebook and Reddit aren’t enough for you, why not take to the streets? Literally. Just because something is used for cars to roll on doesn’t mean it can’t also be part of social media.

I note this in light of a lawsuit filed in federal court recently on behalf of something called Women for America First by some male lawyers against the mayor of New York and the commissioner of the city’s Department of Transportation that says the group should be able to paint a mural either on Fifth Avenue or one of three other locations.

After all, the city painted “Black Lives Matter” on Fifth Avenue so the street must be a public forum.

In a letter to the mayor, the group says it wants to paint its motto: “Engaging, Inspiring and Empowering Women to Make a Difference!” This sounds progressive but it only takes a few minutes on the internet to figure out that this is a right-wing group that sells “Boot Pelosi” T-shirts and complains on its website about the “liberal feminists and their cohorts” who have spent billions to defeat conservative values.

The site also claims the group’s coalition is a “21st century suffrage movement.” I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. Maybe they’re trying to confuse us.

Be that as it may, I kind of love the idea of streets as public fora. After all, streets have always had messages on them. I should be able to write a rebuttal to a “right turn only” message on the street if I need to go straight. Haven’t you always wanted to paint “Adults Cross Too” next to “School Crossing” signs?

The group Women for America First included this AP photo by Mark Lennihan in its July 24 federal complaint against New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio over his endorsement of a Black Lives Matter mural on Fifth Avenue, outside Trump Tower. (Image via Courthouse News)

OK, maybe you haven’t, but consider what a wonderful outlet for creativity and art that public street painting could be. You brighten up neighborhoods and reduce confrontation because everyone is busy with self-expression.

Imagine a city with protesters busily occupied drawing and painting and mysterious men in unmarked uniforms creating sculptures of Confederate generals in response. It could be a new Renaissance.

Uneducational credit. You can now get credit for extracurricular activity if you’re a lawyer in Ohio. An activity described in an “administrative action” issued recently by the Supreme Court of Ohio can earn you up to four hours of continuing legal education credit. So it must be really educational, right?

It’s not. In fact, the court is temporarily waiving a requirement that credited activities must improve lawyer competence.

Ohio lawyers (as least as of this writing) can get CLE credit for serving as precinct election officials on Nov. 3 because there’s a shortage of poll workers due to Covid-19. Instead of old people passing out ballots, Ohioans will be faced with attorneys watching everyone closely. This could be a voter-suppression tactic.

It’s an interesting idea and the Ohio Supreme Court probably does mean well, but I’m not convinced it will work. Are lawyers going to be more willing to brave the pandemic than old people? Aren’t they going to be busy with election lawsuits? Is four hours of credit enough of an incentive for poll training and a full day of work?

The way to make this work is to find incentives for people in all sorts of professions. Barber poll workers could trim backsides while people vote. Bakers could sell cupcakes at their registration tables. Real estate agents could hand voters magnets and calendars. Criminals could get four days of jail-time credit.

The possibilities are endless. Think of it as a mashup of democracy and capitalism. It’s the American way.

By the way, if the educational part of continuing legal education is unimportant enough to be waived, state supreme courts should be using their imaginations to take advantage of this. You can make lawyers do all sorts of things to get those credits.

For example, sewing a hundred face masks ought to be worth at least an hour of credit.

If the president is sabotaging the Postal Service, lawyers could earn credits by collecting mail and making sure ballots get to the people who count them.

Any lawyer inventing an effective Covid vaccine should get a full year’s credit.

‘Perry Mason,’ episode 6. Still weird but features a surprising touch of realism: Perry Mason, after studying law for only two weeks, is actually a really bad lawyer. That was unexpected.

The highlight of the episode is the rather large courtroom audience screaming, pointing and practically rioting. You don’t get courtroom drama like that any more.

Matthew Rhys also gets to do an amazing impression of John Lithgow — so good I was wondering if he was lip-syncing — while driving a car alone.

Still no confession at the end of the episode.

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