The Dangers of Self-Dentistry

YouTube has been a major benefit to society.  It really has.  I cannot tell you the number of times I have been faced with an insurmountable problem and SGT Google directed me to an appropriate video where some odd individual felt the need to demonstrate how to solve said problem.

Last week we had a catastrophic failure in our kitchen at home.  The cabinet that contains our trash can has one of those “sliding out” features and the tracks became disconnected.  Simply placing the chassis back on the track would have been too easy.  Apparently, the Marquis de Sade invented these things and it requires an advanced degree in mechanical engineering to reattach the damn thing.  Fortunately, after a couple of minutes of trying to solve this mystical problem myself with no success I found some random guy in Wisconsin who filmed himself doing the same repair job.  (I am thankful he did this video but, honestly, I am still baffled as to why he felt he should.)

What is interesting is the amount of raw data available to the masses.  I honestly think this will have a massive impact on higher education as we move forward.  The reality is that many of the videos available have higher production values and, frankly, better content than the dreary lectures professors offer.  If students are interested in a particular “thing,” why would they not acquire the knowledge of that “thing” online in a faster, more easily accessible format than slogging through a semester with an egocentric lecturer?

Perhaps it is the veracity of the presenter?

There have been so many instances of clients coming to us at Artemis with questions about videos they have seen on tactics and, oftentimes, on legal implications of force that… well… to put it bluntly, are just plain wrong.  (This is not a debate on absolutism vs relativism.  If you say x is y, and it is demonstrably x, you flat out got it wrong.  You may have a following that slavishly listens to you and completely accepts your fallacy as fact, but that does not change reality… the position is still incorrect.)

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“Apparently, I have been deemed a prohibited person.”

“What did you do?”

“The only thing that ever happened in my past was an arrest for shoplifting.  I stole a pack of gum when I was 19.”

“Did you use force or the threat of force?”

“No.  I was cited for a misdemeanor.”

“Then you are not a prohibited person.  Do you want to hire us to have the record corrected?”

“Nah, I am going to do it myself… I saw a video on how to do this.”

“You are a dentist, right?”


“I have a toothache.”

“You want me to have a look at it?”

“Nah, I saw a video on YouTube on how to fix a toothache; I’m going to go with that.”

“Ok… good luck with that.”

“Yep… same to you with your legal issue.”

(The above is an actual conversation.)

Practicing law without a license (i.e., providing legal advice) is a misdemeanor.  Interestingly, I have always felt this was a mistake.  The Bar is a guild that sets a minimum requirement for entrance for the purposes of creating a controlled market of legal practitioners.  This ostensibly  creates a limited market that keeps legal prices up.  If we allowed anyone to practice, but still offered Bar membership, essentially there would be two levels of practitioners:  Those who have law licenses that could command a higher premium and those who don’t who would need to charge less… unless they were exceptionally good at what they do, and then they could charge whatever the market would bear.  Of course, this would also necessitate licensed practitioners to provide more robust representation to compete against their unlicensed competitors.

All that notwithstanding, the rules of practice are pretty clear.  If you don’t have a license you can’t practice law.  If there is a commercial relationship between the pontificator and the recipient, then the legal advice could be deemed part of a commercial agreement and, thus, prohibited.  In layman’s terms… if they are selling you something and giving legal advice or some form of compensation, and they don’t have a license to practice law, they are probably breaking the law. 

… and from my experience, they are usually getting it completely wrong. 

But with that, a caveat:  I have read opinion pieces that get into legal theory on 2A jurisprudence written by non-lawyers who are not only spot on, they actually show a nuanced understanding of Constitutional Law that transcends most law professors.  Unfortunately, this happens very, very rarely.

On the flip side I have also read pieces from lawyers… (yes, those guys with actual licenses)…that completely bollox up the whole thing too.  So, in the end, a piece of paper from a guild that says you can form a legal opinion is just a piece of paper.  You, the recipient of that information, must do your due diligence to confirm the veracity of the statements.