The Cat Lawyer has been Milkshake Ducked

Posted Sunday, February 14th, 2021 by Gregory Forman
Filed under Law and Culture, Not South Carolina Specific, Of Interest to General Public

This cultural tendency to search for everyone’s feet of clay is well captured by the 2016 Milkshake Duck meme. The meme is a reference to a Twitter post by Ben Ward, an Australian cartoonist using the online handle “pixelatedboat: “The whole internet loves Milkshake Duck, a lovely duck that drinks milkshakes! 5 seconds later We regret to inform you the duck is racist.”

A February 20, 2021, USA Today headline that defines our cultural moment’s absurdity: The Cat Lawyer has been Milkshake Ducked. For those who’ve lived in a cave the past week, the Cat Lawyer is a delightful short clip of a civil forfeiture hearing conducted via zoom in which Rod Ponton, a county attorney in Presidio County, Texas, using his assistant’s computer, isn’t quite himself because the assistant’s child had placed a cat filter in the zoom. The filter does an excellent job capturing the lawyer’s now-feline facial eye and mouth movements as he attempts to apologize to the court and remove the filter. His, “uumm”’s and “I am not a cat” are the sounds of a mortification every attorney (and most other humans) has felt when their technology outstrips their comprehension. In the dark days of Pandemic Winter, 2021, Cat Lawyer made everybody laugh.

And then it was revealed that Cat Lawyer had not lived a perfect life. Within twenty four hours of Cat Lawyer being released to YouTube, USA Today’s reported, under the headline mentioned above, that in 2014, when Mr. Ponton was a local prosecutor, he used the power of his office, and roped in federal law enforcement, to harass a former lover. Do we feel better knowing this?

In 2009, I wrote a blog, “Our Worst Moment,” decrying the family court’s cultural tendency to assume one’s worst moment is the true indication of one’s character. It was inspired by the news that Tiger Woods had drunkenly crashed his Escalade shortly after his wife confronted him on his adultery. My point was that our worst moment–unless that moment was truly horrific–was rarely indicative, or at least determinative, of one’s real nature. Unfortunately, Tiger’s incident wasn’t a one-off and the bad example I selected renders that blog more of an apology for Tiger’s drunk driving and adultery than a defense of not judging others on their worst moment.

Sadly, the culture’s tendency to judge one another on one’s worst moment has gotten even worse the past decade, leading to a cancel culture that selectively shames and silences people based on some old and misbegotten social media post. And this cancel culture is indeed selective. Many celebrated Democratic politicians were against same sex marriage at that time of my 2009 blog. None of them have been cancelled for this heresy. I doubt Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton were sincerely against same-sex marriage in 2008; they simply wanted to get elected president and the culture wasn’t ready to elect a president who advocated same-sex marriage. People need the right to apologize (sincerely) for small transgressions and be forgiven. We no longer seem capable of that.

I continue to see this tendency to highlight the opposing party’s worst moments as a viable strategy in family court to prove a lack of character. Unless that behavior was truly horrific or frequently repeated, I tend to perceive it as an accurate demonstration of character–the character of the person presenting this evidence and his or her incapability for acceptance and forgiveness of human imperfection.

To repeat the 1988 acceptance speech of George Herbert Walker Bush, the last Republican Presidential candidate I voted for, “I want a kinder, gentler nation.” We all should. Every one of us has our feet of clay. Does the schadenfreude we feel from this perpetual demonstration of other’s human frailty really outweigh the dread and sadness we feel from being judged so harshly?

2 thoughts on The Cat Lawyer has been Milkshake Ducked

  1. George Sink says:

    Tremendous insight from a beautiful mind.
    Thank you for this gift, Greg.

  2. nadira says:

    The Cat Lawyer Has Been Milkshake Ducked.
    nice ,,post

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