misshepeshu: (Default)
I took Critical Legal Theory this semester, and it was easily the most inspirational class I took in law school. During the course of the class, we read "Law and Politics", a law review article by David Kairys published in the George Washington Law Review in 1984. Every time I feel cranky and awful and useless, every time I struggle to remember why the hell I'm taking on so much debt just for the chance to see how mediocre I can be as a law student, I read these passages, and I remember why I want to go into the law, after all.

[The] public-private split embodies a view of the world that is embedded in the law and in society. This dichotomy is a major component of the contemporary phenomenon of hegemony. The public-private distinction lies at the core of people's acceptance of the status quo, even though it seems so easy to choose other, more humane options that could make this country a better place.

The public-private distinction divides life into two spheres. There is the public person, the citizen, who has the right to speak and to vote. In this public sphere, society recognizes total equality, complete democracy, and absolute freedom. These ideals are not always realized, but any court in the United States would espouse them. The private sphere includes nearly all economic activities, the environment, and the decisions that most affect people. Here there is no equality, and we glorify that fact. Private inequality is the American way; one can get as rich as one can get while others sink into hopeless poverty. Inequality in the private sphere is not scorned, rather it is praised and glorified as a positive aspect. There is no democracy; only the owners of property, variously defined, control what happens in the private sphere. There is a limited kind of freedom in the sense that we all have the freedom to buy and sell.

This particular ideal or way of thinking about the world was created and constructed by people. The public-private distinction developed historically. This division of people's lives is not inevitable or natural. It is not so divided everywhere else, and in many places, even in this country at earlier times, this division would be considered a crazy way to structure society. Now, however, it is depicted and accepted as if it were inevitable and natural. When workers or cities challenge a plant closing, the judge may say: "You are talking about interfering with the basic, fundamental, organizing principles of our society." I have to say, yes, I guess I am, but why not talk about it? The response is that we cannot discuss these principles in a meaningful way because they are not on the agenda. The plant closing is a legal issue; our fundamental principles are at stake, and the courts do justice. This is one of the major ways that the law perpetuates and legitimizes an ideological basis of thinking, a system of beliefs, that tends to make the existing social order seem natural, inevitable, normal and neutral.


The law is a human system. It may move slowly, but it IS responsive to human change, and I want to be one of the humans making those changes. (Among other things, I've been thinking a lot about jurisdictional issues, species conservation and global warming, and how the law is flailing for a means to address a harm as pervasive and all-encompassing as climate change.)

That's all. And now: back to finals.
misshepeshu: (Bootylicious!)
Today, for my Intellectual Property class, I read, I shit you not, Juicy Whip, Inc. v. Orange Bang, Inc.

The case itself really isn't all that interesting--it's a patent case involving whether it's kosher to grant a patent to a device that LOOKS like something else but works in a novel way, therefore being all deceitful and shit, with the analysis turning on the utility requirement. But that title, man. I'm convinced the professors included it in our readings solely for that.
misshepeshu: (SPOCK! NIPPLE!)
La première chose: Sarah posted this clip of Whose Line is it Anyway? on Smart Bitches, but I have to spam my LJ friendlist too, because HOLY JESUS DAMN it is awesome. You know why? Because Richard Simmons is in it. And Colin Mochrie uses him like unto a jetski.

...look, just watch it, OK?



I may have to spend a good portion of my day looking up Whose Line clips on the Youtubes. I've forgotten how very much I love that show.

(I also have a bit of a crush on Ryan Stiles. So tall! So painfully dorky! So weird-lookin' and weirdly sexy to me! Goes hand-in-hand with my unholy love for Bill Nye.)

La deuxième chose: I love it when judges have a sense humor, because sometimes, it's those flashes of awesomeness that make the pain in the ass that is law school worthwhile, especially when I'm exhausted and behind in all my readings (hey it took me a month to get there this semester instead of only two weeks! Go me!) and I'm darkly contemplating running away to Hawaii to open a cake shop.

First, some context: Charles Wolff is a Jewish man incarcerated in the fine institution that is the New Hampshire Department of Corrections, and he sued, alleging that the prison denied him a kosher diet, thereby abridging his right to freely practice his religion. As part of the evidence, he tried to file...an egg.

The judge's response? An order to destroy said egg. Written in the style of Green Eggs and Ham.

I now present to you:

Wolff v. New Hampshire Dept. of Corrections, Slip Copy, 2007 WL 2788610 D.N.H.,2007.

ORDER

JAMES R. MUIRHEAD, United States Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff has filed a hard-boiled egg as part of his preliminary injunction request.

Discussion

No fan I am
Of the egg at hand.
Just like no ham
On the kosher plan.

This egg will rot
I kid you not.
And stink it can
This egg at hand.

There will be no eggs at court
To prove a clog in your aort.
There will be no eggs accepted.
Objections all will be rejected.

From this day forth
This court will ban
hard-boiled eggs of any brand.
And if you should not understand
The meaning of the ban at hand
Then you should contact either Dan,
the Deputy Clerk, or my clerk Jan.

I do not like eggs in the file.
I do not like them in any style.
I will not take them fried or boiled.
I will not take them poached or broiled.
I will not take them soft or scrambled
Despite an argument well-rambled.

No fan I am
Of the egg at hand.
Destroy that egg!
Today! Today!
Today I say! Without delay!

SO ORDERED (with apologies to Dr. Seuss).
misshepeshu: (Blackbeard)
I cried today. I wept just about as hard as I'd ever cried over a broken heart or personal tragedy. The weight of the grief is a boulder in my chest and stomach; no matter what I do, I cannot dislodge it. And I'm not entirely sure I want to.

Why? Because we've systematically and brutally stripped the world of its apex predators, and not only are we the poorer for it, we're only just beginning to realize the consequences and ramifications. I've kept this in the back of my mind ever since I saw a documentary some years ago about how reintroducing gray wolves to Yellowstone allowed the beavers to flourish again, but William Stolzenburg's absolutely amazing book, Where the Wild Things Were, made the whole thing hit home especially hard.

The implications of a world in which we're the only apex predator left are chilling my feet and my fingers as I read the book, but the parts that tear at me the hardest are the descriptions of what hunters did to wolves captured alive, and the inventive tortures they came up with, from hamstringing them to dragging them behind horses. This passage, in particular, was what triggered my crying jag; re-reading it and typing it out for you is making me teary-eyed again.

One of the most notorious of [elusive renegade wolves] was Lobo, who with his mate, Blanca, and a phantom pack had run rings around the stockmen and trappers of the Currumpaw cattle range of northern New Mexico. Lobo and his pack were imbued by legend with monstrous size and speed . . . . By the time the flamboyant nature writer and erstwhile wolf-killer Ernest Thompson Seton was called in to take his shot, Lobo, the King of Currumpaw, had a thousand-dollar bounty on his head. . . .

Lobo's mate, Blanca, a white queen of a wolf, was the first to misstep into Seton's trap. Seton and his accomplice, not wanting to ruin the pelt with a bullet hole, used ropes instead. "We each threw a lasso over the neck of the doomed wolf, and strained our horses in opposite directions until the blood burst from her mouth, her eyes glazed, her limbs stiffened and then fell limp." Lobo fell shortly thereafter, held fast by a foot in each of four steel traps. The King of Currumpaw had finally been baited by the alluring scent of his lost mate, whose carcass Seton had shrewdly dragged atop the buried set of traps.


Stolzenburg freely admits to writing with a bias and an agenda. Reading this passage, you can pretty clearly discern what it is. It's a bias and an agenda I share, and as I re-read the passage, I'm swamped with anger and grief--at the brutality of the killing; at the way Blanca's horrible death was dictated, not by mercy or respect for a worthy adversary, but by a desire to not mar the pelt; at the way Lobo was lured to his death. I'm not prone to anthropomorphizing animals or nature; I'm the last person to call nature "benign" or "loving" (look into the eyes of an animal while its skin, guts and muscles are being systematically ripped apart by teeth, or knives, or by something burrowing its way out of its innards, and just try to argue that God or Life Force or Gaia or whatever the fuck is benevolent and full of love in any kind of way we humans can begin to understand). I'm also, however, the first person to acknowledge that many species of animals form long-lasting attachments to companions in ways that are very closely analogous to our own--perhaps even identical in all the ways that matter. And I have a hard time seeing how other people can miss this obvious similarity, and not feel the deepest kinship.

But then people have a hard enough time as it is acknowledging other humans deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion, so I realize I'm perhaps being a cock-eyed optimist in thinking that we as a species can learn to view something with large pointy teeth and jaws that can crush us into pulp as something worth preserving and treating with care and respect--but it behooves us to, not only because the predators are valuable by virtue of being fellow travellers in life, but because they have a disproportionately large ecological impact, often with unexpected ramifications.

When it comes down to it, I'm OK with people being eaten by big jaws that go snap-snap-snap. I eat other animals, and I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with being part of the food chain in that way; if other animals want to eat me, they should have at it. But then, part of my sanguine attitude stems from the fact that the odds of me being eaten alive are pretty much zero, unless I suddenly decide to troll cannibalism fetish sites and offer myself up as a candidate for nomming. And looking at the patterns of competition that exist and all the reasons why we've made damn sure that we're the only apex predators left worth a damn, I'm not sure there's an answer left other than dismantling civilization as we know it. It goes beyond "Let's not eat meat because cattle ranchers are probably the biggest threats to wolves and grizzlies in the United States." It goes to the very way we feed ourselves: aggressive monoculture agriculture is incredibly destructive and deprives the animals of a viable habitat. It goes to the very way we live: our cities are not long-term sustainable by a long shot.

Some days, I just want to write to [livejournal.com profile] pristis and say "Hey, remember that human extinction program we joked morbidly about last year? Can I get on board? How much funding do you think we'll need? Can we actually get frickin' sharks equipped with frickin' laser beams, or would that distress the sharks too much?"

All of this mulling eventually spilled over into what I want to do with myself and law school. I'm pulled in two different directions: intellectual property and environmental law. Right now, I'm tempted to specialize in animal law (Lewis & Clark is one of the few law schools to offer this specialty, and our Animal Law Moot Court is one of the best in the nation), go to grad school, get an ecology degree and specialize in apex predator advocacy when I get out.

And likely die broke, insane and heartbroken. It'll be a life of fruitless struggles, of fighting for the most incremental of steps and praying that they will be enough, of endless, grinding compromises that are less than are needed but all I can ever hope for. This, I think, will be the danger of throwing myself into a cause so deeply personal.

Intellectual property, on the other hand, is a safer avenue. Don't get me wrong: I'm passionate, but I'm not personally invested in quite the same way. My passion for cerebral matters is intense, but it's colder and less likely to consume me from the inside out.

I'm not going to resolve anything tonight, but Where the Wild Things Were has certainly pointed me to an avenue for me to explore. In any case, the book is well-written and heart wrenching and important; Stolzenburg writes beautifully and with passion for his subject, and it's shaking me up and making me re-examine my life in all the best but most painful ways. If you're at all interested in ecology, animals and the way humans have made our mark in the world, pick it up. Do it now.
misshepeshu: (Special guy)
Holy shit, you guys, my partner and I just won best appellate brief! I guess the two of us made the best arguments for, y'know, allowing the government to waterboard terrorists in a ticking bomb scenario. Hahahahaha.

But yay! My brief advocating an utterly repellent legal stance that I don't remotely believe in was the prettiest of all the pretty ponies. I win!

(By the way, thanks for loaning me your copy of Torture and Democracy and staying up late that one night talking to me about torture issues, [livejournal.com profile] lusid2029. <3!)

Also: I'm done with finals. AHHHHHHHHHH DONE WITH FINALS AHHHHHHHHHHHH. I did horribly--and I mean HORRIBLY--in civil procedure. As for the other exams: I don't know. I really don't. I'm pretty sure I'm getting some sort of B variant for most of them, and some kind of C for Civ Pro. The Criminal Procedure final today, in particular, made me think "Wow, I don't see how it was possible to outshine the others in any way." This is an improvement on the conviction I had last semester that I was going to flunk out. Wooo.

And now: working like a motherfucker on the book. Holy shit! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!
misshepeshu: (Special guy)
Last night: Survived my oral arguments. Wore my snazzy new Anne Klein suit. Successfully resisted urge to strike disco poses in front of judges while arguing that the government should have the right to torture terrorists in a ticking time bomb scenario, just to counteract the fact that I looked and sounded like a grown-up. Managed not to stumble too much while making arguments, especially when that image popped in my head. Realized that I was the only person wearing grey instead of black, and that vast majority of other women wore skirt suits. Ooops. Had a blast overall.

Also: Successfully wrote entire entry using only sentence fragments. Go me.
misshepeshu: (Scheming face)
While sitting in Con Law today and discussing the Commerce Clause, "Injunction Junction, what's your function?" popped up in my head spontaneously.

I have the first two lines:

Injunction junction, what's your function?
Making shit happen, or making it stop cold.

But I don't know enough about injunctions to do this properly; however, perhaps by the grace of Wikipedia, I will? And even if I could, the question is: SHOULD I do this?

And once I'm done, should I post this on the discussion forum for my Con Law class?

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