Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Overused Law School Phrases

I've been thinking about words and phrases for awhile... particularly how law school has a language that is completely different than the rest of the world. I even posted about it here. Anyway, I was reading another student's blog today (name removed to protect the innocent), and he used a phrase that I hate, and I know he probably used it because it has been burned into his brain from overuse in law school. So I present a couple phrases that are overused in law school; one by professors, and one by students:

"The slippery slope..." - Man I hate this phrase, and professors use it all the time (especially in Con Law) "But Jimmy, if we apply heightened scrutiny to restrictions based on gender or age, can't we slide down the slippery slope so that even pedophiles, be they a quasi-white pop singer or part of a large Association of man-boy love, can claim that laws against child molesting violate the 14th Amendment?1" "Maybe professor, but only if the Supreme Court is on vacation that day, and they all let their pets decide the case."2 So what if there's a damn slippery slope, that's why we invented climbing gear.

But, as much as I hate the slippery slope, it is nothing compared to the following phrase heard at least 40 or 50 gazillion times every year in law school classrooms:

"But, what if..." followed by a ridiculous hypothetical... and then usually followed with some variation of "would that be _______, Professor?". It doesn't matter how straight forward the question, or how easy the concept (folks from my Contracts class may remember the "Mail-Box Rule Incident"), someone will find the stupidest question imaginable. "[Waving Hand In the Air] Professor, but what if the assailant doesn't actually touch the victim, and the victim suffers no harm, physically or emotionally, would that be a battery or assault, Professor Torts?" The only good things about this phrase is 1) the look on the Professor's face when they realize how stupid the question is, and 2) (if the Professor is nice) his or her attempt to make it sound like a good question and still explain this basic concept to someone who is clearly clinically retarded.

1Sweet! My first Michael Jackson reference (and it's so fresh too) and my first N.A.M.B.L.A. reference, all in the same post!
2To be fair, I've heard Ginsberg's cat, Judge Learned Paws, and Scalia's canary, John Jaybird, are quite the legal scholars.


At 7:31 PM, Blogger biff said...

The slippery slope argument is never a good policy argument. I prefer the floodgates argument.

At 8:43 PM, Anonymous Pinchy said...

Did you have Carpenter? He teaches all the ways to respond to a slippery slope argument. The best is "What's so bad about ending up at the bottom?"


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