One of the old school, larger than life lawyers I learned from as a young guy trying to make my mark in the legal profession used to begin his opening statement for every trial the same way. He’d talk about the way his grandmother cooked pancakes. First one side and then the other. And that even though the pancake looked ready to eat after the first side was cooked, the pancake wasn’t finished until you’d dealt with both sides.
That is a down-home, connect with the jury way to say that there are two sides to every story.
Of course long before my mentor ever got to the courtroom to deliver that opening statement, he had sized up his client to determine how good and sympathetic a witness he or she would make in front of the jury. Sometimes an unsympathetic witness can make even a case where the facts are favorable a dicey proposition.
It’s easy to march into court, be it of law or public opinion, when you have the facts on your side and a client the jury will love. When one of both of those aren’t the case, things get harder. The stakes go up. And you start to see what the lawyer is made of.
I remember many years ago a good friend of mine did something that while technically appropriate was very unpopular and perhaps a little shortsighted in the context of a business relationship. Consequently, he made a lot of people mad at him. Even people who didn’t know him or the actual facts began criticizing him publicly. A few other guys and I sort of shook our collective heads and lined up in support of him, if not necessarily his actions. We suffered our fair share of abuse as a result. We did it because he was an old and dear friend of ours and supporting him, even when he did something that we might have wished he hadn’t done, was more important than the reactions of his detractors.
I promised to stop writing about Dave Winer. Because even though he looks from afar to be in full self-destruct mode, there are at least two sides to the story and likely many more than that. Additionally, I have some friends who are close to him and I chose to stand down for that reason as well.
These guys see one of their real world friends getting attacked. They are standing up for their friend even though doing so will subject them to some of the same enmity that is being directed at Dave. The easy thing to do would have been to join in the bashing. They made the hard choice to stand by their friend.
I don’t know who’s right or wrong, and neither do most of the people weighing in on the matter. But I respect what Scoble and these other guys are doing. I hope my friends would do the same.