NBC's Law & Order 'Righteous, Parkinsons-Flavored Indignation'

Andrew Klavan dubs it, “O’Sullivan’s Law,” which I’ve also heard described as Robert Conquest’s Law, but no matter who it’s named after, it’s The Law for a reason:


O’Sullivan’s Law states that any organization or enterprise that is not expressly right wing will become left wing over time.  The law is named after British journalist John O’Sullivan, who cites as proof the ACLU, the Ford Foundation and the Episcopal Church.

He could have cited Law & Order too, NBC’s long running arrest-and-trial television show that has just been canceled after 21 years on the air.  Many may not remember, but when the show began, it was not only excellent, it was also, if not conservative, at least complex in its worldview.  Early episodes took hard looks at liberal laws that prohibited the use of valid evidence against criminals (“Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die”); politically correct excuses that hid dirty motives for murder (“Prisoner of Love”); and even a Tawana Brawley style hoax in which a black girl wrongly accused white police officers of rape (“Out of the Half-Light.”).  When conservative actor Michael Moriarty played ADA Ben Stone—and even for a while after liberal Sam Waterson took over as ADA  Jack McCoy—the L&O prosecutor’s office was less concerned with parsing PC verities than with putting away bad guys.

All that changed over time.  In its later seasons, episodes of Law & Order that were supposed to be “ripped from the headlines,” in fact rewrote the headlines to imitate leftist fantasies.  Conservative speakers on campus caused violence rather than suffered it, Christian girls were stoned for dating Muslims rather than the other way around, evangelicals murdered people rather than fighting desperately for their right to life.  It was, in the end, the world turned upside down to suit the left’s agenda.


At which point, the show became an endless Rolodex of formula and writers’ cliches, which Ace sums up in a post that’s 32 flavors of awesome. Behold, his “Top Ten favorite L&O cliches,” including:

8. Jack McCoy spazzes out and starts spitting and shaking with righteous, Parkinsons-flavored indignation in his final six-minute question to the witness (which is never answered, and isn’t meant to be answered, as it’s rhetoric), delivering a tendentious, palsiated theory of the case (which is not a question at all, and thus not permitted in the not-even-pretending guise of a question, but the judges on L&O know better than to grant an objection to McCoy’s spastic testimony once they hear that D-Minor (see above)), and then we’re going to cut to the jury foreman delivering a verdict (or, to show you that this is a Crime Which Can’t Even Be Mentioned (see above), he won’t deliver a verdict, but will say “your honor, we are hopelessly deadlocked).

I never liked McCoy’s stroke-acting during these completely-objectionable bouts of testifying outside of the witness box. I alway prefered Michael Moriarity’s coolly polite and understated delivery.


It was all over but the gavel sound effects when Moriarity left.


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