After Mike Rowe’s Facebook rant about a liquor store interaction with an attorney went viral, Rowe followed it with an equally viral response to one angry commenter.
It’s not Rowe’s first time getting a big response for a Facebook interaction either. Check out his astounding response to a fan’s job search, which Mike compares to a female friend’s inability to find the right man because she insists on having standards and boundaries.
On June 23rd, Rowe shared a story and photo on his Facebook page. In the story, Rowe is in line at a liquor store when he notices a photo posted in the front window of the shop. It’s a still taken from a security video, and appears to show a man shoplifting in the store.
Impressed, Rowe starts a discussion with the store owner about the photo. He wonders if it cuts down on theft (the store owner affirms that it does, though he also tells Mike he posts a new photo weekly) and why more shop owners don’t adopt the same methodology.
In response, others in line speak up to disagree, including one customer who says he’s a lawyer. Mike identifies him only as “Simon.” In Rowe’s story, Simon explains to Mike that the individual in the photo could sue for damage to his public standing and reputation, leading Rowe to question what might happen if he shared the photo to his Facebook page. The attorney assures Rowe that he could be sued, and affirms upon question from Mike that he’d take the case himself.
It’s in response to this that Rowe shared the photo.
It’s worth noting that despite Mike’s opinions about potential lawsuits, he follows the advice of his own attorney and obscures the face of the man in the photo.
The post went viral, with, as Rowe points out, no resultant arrests, identification, or lawsuits.
One Facebook fan’s comment, however, led Rowe to a response that went just as viral. First, he addresses Mike’s general opinion of attorneys.
“I gather that you identify with those who generally dislike lawyers.”
He goes on to question whether the story was true at all, or, if true, whether Rowe has embellished and dressed up the language.
“The stilted manner of that unnamed lawyer’s speech suggested to me that you had either created a fictional figure to make your point, or that you had greatly embellished what he did say.”
Mike’s response, which returned thousands of like and shares in the Facebook equivalent of a standing ovation, calls the commenter out for his questioning tone while affirming that the interaction did take place:
“Tell me John, are you preparing for a trial? I see from your profile that you’re an attorney in Flint, Michigan. Is this some sort of rehearsal? If so, I’m happy to play along. If not, I’m afraid you’re confirming what a lot of people already think and feel about your own profession. Again – the encounter in the liquor store occurred mostly as I described it. I don’t personally know the guy who identified himself as the lawyer named Simon, but his business card is consistent with both his name and his vocation. I suspect it’s accurate, because I recognized the name of the firm. However, I have not verified his identity with The DMV, The California Bar, or anyone else.”
After pointing out the discrepancy between the poster’s willingness to disbelieve Mike, and willingness to believe testimonials from other commenters on Rowe’s post self-identifying the speakers as attorneys, Mike goes on to call his detractor “Sheila,” a hypothetical teenager “running amuck [sic] on mommy’s laptop.”
More than anything else, Rowe tickled followers with the following line, which seems to oppose the very sort of internet argument into which the whole conversation on Mike’s page dives:
“Trust me Sheila, the search for truth in cyberspace will take you through the wormhole, and there’s nothing on the other side but pedants and nitpickers and bottomless ambiguity. If you’re not careful, you’ll spend all your time proving everything and understanding nothing.”
Rowe does take time out to affirm that he’s not putting all lawyers in one basket, though:
“As for the root causes of our litigious society, I blame bad laws, human nature, and yes – opportunistic lawyers. I do not however, blame the entire legal profession.”
Rowe doesn’t discuss his take on the presumption of innocence, mistaken identity, or risks of vigilantism. Still, it’s worth noting that legislation is moving toward less public posting and shaming, with some police departments, as in this Saint Petersburg Tribune report, limiting access to mug shots to protect arrestees from extortion and other consequences.
What’s your take? Is Mike Rowe right about an overly litigious society, or do even criminals (and alleged ones) retain some rights to privacy, dignity, and reputation?