Just Hear Me Out: Why I Chose A Career In Devil’s Advocacy

I want to clear up some misconceptions amongst you smug Human Decency Warriors: yes, I work as a Devil’s Advocate. But no, that doesn’t mean you can make assumptions about my personal beliefs and values.

Sure, I spend my days defending and supporting racists, rapists, corrupt politicians, and the occasional drunk driver, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I am personally in favor of those causes. After all, do you think the people who sort your recycling actually like polar bears? Polar bears are ugly, but we all have to do our jobs.

Now I do understand where the stigma surrounding this field comes from–I was once quite skeptical of the profession of Evil myself, and didn’t enter it without hesitation. Upon graduation, I initially looked at work in other areas–nonprofit management, research, public education–I  even briefly considered putting my excellent argumentation skills to work in defense of Good.

But let’s be real, Good is not a financially stable field in today’s economy, and I had student loans to pay off. When the Office of the Devil offered me a $10k signing bonus for a two-year commitment and my soul, I had to accept.

Still, I tried not to think of my decision as “selling out.” I rationalized that the best way to address Evil was to reform the system from the inside: perhaps they would be open to shifting their brand from straight-up-bad to morally-ambiguous-in-a-cool-and-edgy-way.

But while my youthful ideals were admirable, I would soon discover that Evil is a complex and  deeply established institution with operations in areas ranging from lawmaking and criminal justice to entertainment and global trade. When I realized just how much I had to learn, it became clear that I should focus my energies on becoming the best team member that I could before trying to shake anything up.

And I have come to respect certain aspects of the work we do. For instance, the profession of Devil’s Advocacy carries a standard of transparency that the business of Misguided-Do-Gooders could really learn from. At least when we Devil’s Advocates announce our presence, everyone knows what’s coming. It’s not like we would advertise ourselves as saviors, only to swamp communities with a bunch of incompetent, overgrown college kids looking for a brief experiment in employment. We do have ethical limits, and we draw the line at creating false hope.

So yes, I may be a Devil’s Advocate but God, please stop judging me: there are worse things I could be doing, right?

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2 thoughts on “Just Hear Me Out: Why I Chose A Career In Devil’s Advocacy

  1. I was going to write this whole long, philosophical thing, but then I realize it could be summed up like this:

    I realize that, at any point in time, I’m only a few big mistakes from needing a defense attorney (not that I’m a terrible person; I actually think *most* of us live in that space). If that means that sometimes defense attorneys find themselves advocating on behalf of really evil people … Well, that’s part of having a system in which one is considered innocent until proven guilty, and in which everyone is theoretically entitled to a fair trial.

    So, in short, thank you for doing what you do, and I’m sorry people are jerks about it. (I suspect that many might change their tunes if they ever find themselves accused of a crime they didn’t commit, or of one they did, but in self-defense, or whatever.)

    Like

  2. I think you might have read this more literally than I wrote it, but I like hearing your thoughts anyway.

    To clarify, I wrote this thinking about the types of people who always feel inclined “devil’s advocate” in every social/pollitical discussion, imagining that as a literal job position, and framing it in the style of the “why I chose finance, etc.” explanations which are common amongst formerly idealistic college grads (which I think usually involve some legitimate reasons, but also a refusal to take moral responsibility).

    On the topic of actual defense attorneys, I agree with you that someone should defend everyone. (I just wish money wasn’t such a factor in who gets a good defense!)

    Like

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