File under: “Thermonuclear, The Stupid, It Burns”


There are times when I see a quote by someone who is clearly extremely intelligent, but the quote is so utterly dumb, so devoid of any evidence that a single functioning neuron was behind it, that I can only shake my head in disbelief. Thanks to Dr. Val, Dr. Wes, and Walter Olson, I’ve found one more such quote. It’s by a trial lawyer named Gerry Spence, who was awarded the CAOC Lifetime Achievement Award and bestowed this gem of brain-sucking stupidity on the assembled throng of lawyers attending the awards ceremony:

“We have to redefine who we are: We are the most important people in America,” Spence said. “There is no other profession in America that fights for freedom, that fights for what America is about, that fights for justice for ordinary people.”

To make his point, Spence — founder of the Trial Lawyers College, which trains lawyers to be more effective in the courtroom — said to imagine that all of the doctors and healers somehow vanished.

“I want to ask you which would be more important: If all of the doctors in the country somehow disappeared or all the trial lawyers in America somehow disappeared?” he asked. “We can live without medical care, but we cannot live without justice.”

I realize that there are those out there who think I’m more than a bit full of myself, but, really, mine is but an ant–nay, an amoeba!–compared to the elephantine ego that belongs to Mr. Spence and is coupled with a level of self-aggrandizement normally seen only by ancient Pharaohs who built enormous monuments to themselves. Does he really believe there are “no other people” who fight for what America is about or for justice for ordinary people? No other people besides trial lawyers? I suppose he does, although he leaves out the bit about the 30% or more they take off the top. As for living without medical care, Mr. Spence is certainly welcome to do so if he thinks so little of the contribution of physicians to public health. All I can say is: Good luck with that.

As for which profession is more important, doctors or lawyers, well arguing over that is what makes this stupid burn even hotter. In any case, given all the primary care doctors leaving the profession, thanks to declining reimbursement and rising expenses (including malpractice insurance), Mr. Spence may get the opportunity to test his hypothesis sooner than he thinks.