DEAR MISS MANNERS: My 80-year-old husband (who is still practicing law in our community) and I attended a patriotic musical program in a local church. The emcee announced at the conclusion of the program that he supported service members, police officers, firefighters, doctors and all others who served society -- and then, out of the blue, he made some disparaging remarks about lawyers.
We were sitting on the front row and were deeply shocked. The audience did not laugh. In fact, I heard several gasps, as we are well-known in our community and I believe many people were embarrassed for us.
After the program, I told the gentleman as I was leaving that my husband was a lawyer who had practiced in his profession for 55 years helping literally thousands of people who needed legal help. I told him that our nation was founded on laws and both he and I were very proud of his profession and the work that he has done.
The man immediately apologized and said it was just a joke, entirely inappropriate, but that he had used the same joke at the last performance and everyone had laughed. I appreciated his apology, but went home thinking how cruel such tasteless jokes are.
My husband said it was not good manners for me to express my displeasure with his remark. I, however, have had enough of “lawyer jokes” and think those who hear them and are offended should speak up. In my opinion, no one should ever disparage another person’s profession.
GENTLE READER: Disparaging jokes about any profession -- and lawyers get the worst of it, but many others are targeted -- are risky as well as tasteless. More than likely, the gentleman figured this out from its tepid reception. Miss Manners guesses that this was probably a better lesson than any admonishment -- which likely only taught him the unfair and inaccurate lesson that lawyers’ spouses are even more humorless than lawyers themselves.