There’s this popular quote going around attributed to Will Smith:
Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.
However, that saying’s been around forever (most attribute it to Will Rogers). I personally like the variation that goes: It’s crazy to work at jobs you hate, to buy things you don’t need, to impress those you don’t know.
It’s yet another onea those sayings that people think they know but they don’t know at all; although, unlike these sayings, it has more than just the air of truth.
But there’s this joke that I’m tired of hearing that has only the air of truth:
Him: You know, Shakespeare said, First, kill all the lawyers.
Me: Really, when did he say that?
Him: (thinking) I don’t know.
Shakespeare wrote the line in Henry VI, Part 2. (Part 2 Act 4, scene 2, 71–78)
In it, a fella named Jack Cade is bragging that the world’d be a wonderful place if he were king cause:
- you could buy seven half-penny loaves for a penny
- get ten pots of soup for the price of three
- it would be illegal to drink a small beer
If only the Jack Cade could get people to “worship me as their lord.”
It’s at this point that a villain named Dick the Butcher laughs and says, The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers. To which, Jack Cade goes, Yup, that I mean to do.
Why? Cause that would mean killing the people that ask the questions. Kill the people that protect the little guy.
(“How y’gonna make people sell ten pots of soup for the same price as three pots?” and “Why should you be king?”)
This is true even now: The most dangerous profession in China is a lawyer. It’s why it was such a big deal earlier in spring with the blind dissident, Chen Guangcheng. He was beaten and tortured for trying to make authorities follow their own laws.
Me: So basically, you’re quoting a villain – who’s also a Dick – who’s saying that to be a good and proper dictator, you have to kill the people that think and protect the little guy from empty promises. And the actual line is: The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.
We’ll add this to the list of things that have the air of truth, but no real truth at all.
Of course, only a lawyer like me would parse out every bit of meaning behind a fella trying to say something funny.
Some days, y’just can’t win.