Was Freud Wrong?

By: Shannon Chang I didn’t shower this morning.  Nor yesterday.  And according to Freud, that is what I’m naturally inclined to do – bask in my slovenly glory.  Apparently I don’t like being on time either or, for that matter, any other social restriction civilization imposes on me.  I guess that means the less structure I have the better.  But frankly, I find that hard to believe.  I’m not working this semester.  And it was fun at first – getting up late, hanging out, getting to do the things I wanted, but it’s fast losing the luster of novelty.  I’m getting bored.  And for Fromm, that can only lead to bad things because if someone doesn’t have the sense of a productive life, he runs the risk of becoming violent.  Even worse, he’d be violent just for the pleasure of it.  So, maybe Freud was wrong, or at least partially


Is that some Eastern thing? Moral lessons from the “Big Lebowski”

By Duane Hanson The scene is this:  The Big Lebowski is in seclusion in the West Wing of his mansion.  His young trophy wife (in the parlance of our times) has been kidnapped and held for ransom.  Now he needs the Dude’s help.  “What . . . what makes a man Mr. Lebowski?”  is the question posed by the Big Lebowski (David Huddleston)  to the Dude (Jeff Bridges) as he stares plaintively into the fire.  He continues – “Is it, is it being prepared to do the right thing?  Whatever the price?  Is that what makes a man?”  The question invites us to look into the protagonist’s (the Dude’s) morality on display throughout the seminal motion picture of the Coen brothers.  What are we to make of this person, “the Dude,” who is dropped into this complex Raymond Chandler-esque mystery and stumbles his way (miraculously) toward a resolution among nefarious


What "I Am Sam" Can Tell Us About The Law

By Lauren As I lay in bed this morning, willing myself to get up and go to the gym before class, I decided that my sore throat warranted a day off and settled in to watch I Am Sam which was playing on TV.  I had never seen it before, but I realized that I was watching it with a new perspective.  It helped to illustrate the importance of a victim’s story, the objective nature of the law, and the way the law only recognizes physical damage rather than spiritual damage. For those who don’t know, I Am Sam tells the story of a single father, Sam, with the mental capacity of a 7-year-old, who is trying to regain custody of his daughter after a social worker deems him incapable of caring for her and takes her away.  Sam shames Rita, a high-powered lawyer, into taking his case pro bono


On "The Confession" with Alec Baldwin

By: Morgan Gold At the Fordham film festival last week I saw the film “The Confession” starring Ben Kingsley and Alec Baldwin.  The film touches upon many of the Law and Literature themes.  Alec Baldwin plays Roy Bleakie, a New York attorney hired to defend Harry Fertig (Kingsley), the CFO of a major company who murdered three hospital employees after they refused to treat his son (who ended up dying later that evening from a ruptured appendix).  Roy’s defense strategy is to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, hoping Harry will serve a few years in a psychiatric institution instead of prison.  To the “reasonable man,” this strategy seems like the best option.  The reasonable person test asks what most people would do in a situation given geography, religion, profession, etc.  Most people would rather be considered insane than go to jail or get the death penalty.  However, Harry,


Justice is Truth?

By Alana Rubenstein The Jewish High Holidays are rapidly coming to an end.  There are a lot of things to think about during this time period.  Yet, on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, I found myself thinking about Law and Literature. One of the Rabbis at my synagogue was speaking and began his sermon with words “Justice is truth.”  And I couldn’t help asking myself, “Is it really?” According to Black’s Law Dictionary, justice is defined as “the fair and proper administration of laws.”  That has nothing to do with truth though.  The laws of the American legal system are concerned with procedure, efficiency, and some may argue fairness, but they are not especially concerned with arriving at the truth. If they were, settlement wouldn’t be the ideal in the American legal system.  Settlements do not uncover details and stories.  They do just the opposite.  Settlements


Shifting The Focus

By: Nicole Cedar We speak in class so often about how lawyers and judges lack any human emotion, and that they are void of moral character.  But it’s not just the legal field that is devoid of a sense of moral justice.  In the season premiere of Grey’s Anatomy, the chief resident of Seattle Grace Hospital stands outside the emergency room doors, in the freezing cold, in the hopes that an ambulance will roll in carrying with them a patient with a serious medical emergency.  She seeks patients out of boredom, and because she is hoping that by caring for and saving the life of a patient while fellow residents watch and learn, she will increase the “teaching hospital” rankings at Seattle Grace.  When a younger resident questions her desire for injured patients, she claims that she doesn’t really care whether or not someone is injured, or how they are


A Leap of Rationality

By: Jeff Cunningham I am just a simple Jew, no yeshiva boy, so I thought I might quote a not-so-simple Jew, although also not a yeshiva boy, in an attempt to discuss the relationship between religion, faith, and rationality.  Albert Einstein said, “as a circle of light increases so does the circumference of darkness around it,” and I think this idea helps explain my personal experience with my Jewish faith and perhaps its foundation as a both rational and faithful lifestyle.   The only thing I am really certain of in life is that we don’t have much a clue about what is going on, how we got here, or where we are going.  I think most of existence is unknown to us and is perhaps even unknowable.  That being said, I have always been quite skeptical of both religious and scientific certainty.  It seems unsporting to me, though, to


On the "Four Headed Monster

By: Chris Leahy  Last week, Professor Rosenbaum introduced the “four-headed monster” – bureaucracy, technology, specialization and professionalism. These four post-Holocaust concepts, he argued, enable moral detachment and allow a wrongdoer to escape self-doubt or guilt.  We focused on bureaucracies that compartmentalize tasks and responsibilities, diluting individuals’ roles into non-culpable cogs instead of responsible actors.  Such systems, Professor argued, facilitate moral injustice, including genocide.   I was struck by how the concept rang true in the American legal bureaucracy, a compartmentalized arrangement that harbors injustice.  The comparison, I would argue, is most evident in the criminal justice system.  Unlike some of my classmates who contend that the criminal courts succeed in serving justice, I know that this is pure fallacy.   The system stymies moral justice in all the ways we have learned, by repressing story telling, offering only money or jail time, etc.  On a more basic level, however, the system


Evil Law Firms?

By: Abisola Fatade A few weeks ago AMC celebrated the 15th anniversary of Philadelphia and I happened to catch the last 15 minutes of the film.  Watching Denzel Washington expose the sleazy law firm that fired it’s top Associate because of prejudice did not strike me as unusual much as a film about a man in the 1950s “passing” as white, when discovered to be black is subsequently fired, would not have been shocking. What struck me about the film is that it reminded me that rarely are law firms depicted as vessels of truth and justice.  The law itself is portrayed as the great equalizer, and even the justice system is portrayed in a relatively positive light, for if a 12 person jury with its own pre-conceived notions of homosexuals and AIDS could find for the plaintiff then the system can’t be all bad.  However, it’s the law firm