27 J. Legal Education 566 (1975-1976)
Publish and Perish-by Suffocation

handle is hein.journals/jled27 and id is 574 raw text is: JOURNAL OF LEGAL EDUCATION

PUBLISH AND PERISH-BY SUFFOCATION
JoHN F. T. MURRAY*
Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from
giving in words evidence of the fact.
George Eliot
With heartfelt acknowledgement, the theme and purpose of this brief
comment draws its inspiration from the opening scene of the well-known
television show Mission Impossible. Everyone is familiar with the camera
panning in on the hero as he enters an obscure phone booth or men's room
and plays a tape describing the caper which will entertain a fair number of
viewers for the next hour. The closing lines generally state: That is your
mission, Mr. Phelps, if you choose to accept it. This tape will self-destruct
in five seconds. Of course Mr. Phelps always accepts the mission, and
just as certainly the tape self-destructs. What I timidly suggest for the Law
School world is that we have some sort of self-destruct mechanism which
would operate on all the materials written under pressure that have nothing
really new to say to the profession but are nevertheless prepared and pub-
lished in order to accomplish a mission, i. e., get promoted, obtain tenure or
keep the local Law Review alive.
In keeping with the thesis suggested above, perhaps I should stop here and
not further clutter the pages of this distinguished journal by requiring those
of you who are presently reading these words to share with me the labor of
production.1 Nevertheless, the system of which we are all a part requires
that we painstakingly prove our thesis by reviewing the tortuous historical
background under which the present conditions have been developed, ex-
amining the horrible state in which we now find ourselves and suggesting
appropriate solutions to bring us to a rosier future. Being so conditioned
I shall not intentionally undercut my authority to comment by a gross de-
parture from the format most of us follow in the preparation of what is
commonly referred to as a scholarly article.2
Let me shorten the historical survey by conceding that I have nothing but
praise for true scholarship and value highly the development of a functioning
method of delivering promptly to the laborers in the vineyards of the law
new ideas, rational criticism and useful summaries of the subject matter of
the law as it is, as it is being interpreted by the courts and as it should be
reformed for the future. My sole complaint is that the valuable contribu-
* Professor of Law, University of Georgia School of Law.
I Any of you may of course apply your own self-destruct mechanism by turn-
ing to the next article, tearing the pages out of the book, shredding the whole issue
(particularly appropriate if you live or work in the Nation's Capitol) or falling
asleep. On occasion, even Mr. Phelps gets turned off or loses out to the competition
on the other channel. But, a copy of his script is not automatically filed in every
law library in the country.
2 The use of quotation marks reflects my reluctance to so describe this comment.
Yet, the publication of these remarks in this scholarly journal (note the absence of
quotation marks) will be added to my dossier regardless of the value of the con-
tribution or whether it is read at all Like the mountain, it is there.

(VOL. 27

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